Literary Confessions

Lots of people have been doing some form of the “literary confessions” or the “I really should have read this, why haven’t I yet?” meme, so I thought I would too. So let’s see — what are the books it seems I should have read by this point but haven’t yet gotten to?

  1. Shakespeare’s history plays. With the exception of Julius Caesar, I haven’t read any of them. Almost all the Shakespeare I’ve read was for a full-semester college course on the subject, and the professor I had didn’t emphasize the history plays, going for the tragedies and a few comedies instead. I haven’t gotten motivated to read them on my own.
  2. I’ve read some of the Canterbury Tales but not all of them. Actually, I wonder how many people have read all of them instead of reading just the most famous ones. Regardless, it seems like I should have read the whole thing. But no.
  3. Everyman, the play. Can you see a theme in this list so far? If it’s before, say, 1660, the chances are decent I haven’t read it.
  4. The Aeneid. As far as major epics go, I’ve read The Iliad, The Odyssey, and Paradise Lost, but I’ve ignored Virgil.
  5. But on to some more (relatively) modern things. Oliver Twist. I’ve read my fair share of Dickens — Bleak House, Our Mutual Friend, Great Expectations, David Copperfield, A Tale of Two Cities, A Christmas Carol. But no Oliver Twist and no Hard Times.
  6. Billy Budd. I’ve read Moby Dick, but nothing else by Melville. In fact, I’m not that great on the Americans, generally. I’ve read The Scarlet Letter, but not House of Seven Gables or Blithedale Romance; I’ve read relatively little Poe; and I’ve read The Pioneers by Cooper but not Last of the Mohicans or any other of his novels.
  7. The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck. This is one that many people get to in High School or thereabouts, right? I missed it somehow.
  8. Anything by Margaret Atwood. I have Alias Grace and Hobgoblin owns The Handmaid’s Tale, but I have yet to pick her up. Soon, hopefully soon. I follow her on Twitter after all.
  9. Catch-22. Hobgoblin encourages me to read this every once in a while, but without any success. I’m not against reading it, but I don’t think it’s exactly my sort of book.
  10. The Last Temptation of Christ. This is one I would like to get to, but I say that about thousands of books.

So that’s my list. I think I’d better get reading now.


Filed under Books, Memes

14 responses to “Literary Confessions

  1. I am enjoying reading everyone’s lists! This struck me as quite an erudite one (most of them I haven’t read either!). But do try Margaret Atwood, she is just fab.


  2. Virgil’s on my list for the Autumn, although given that I have to make my way through Homer first it may be nearer next Spring when I get there. I’ve just started to dip my toe into the Atwood waters and read ‘Oryx and Crake’ with mixed success. I have to read ‘The Blind Assassin’ for a book group discussion in about ten days time and everyone tells me it is a better place to start. I shall see. As for Shakespeare’s Histories, speaking as someone who knows her Shakespeare well and teaches it I love them, but then I’m English and they do speak very much to the English soul. If you can I would try and see them first. There are some very good versions on DVD.


  3. bookgazing

    I have read all The Canterbury Tales. It was during my first year at uni and we only had to read five specific ones, but I was totally in early over achiever mode.

    I think there’s a little bit of sot of cross over between your list and mine (must get that up soon). Argh Oliver Twist is so awful, in my opinion. Maybe I was just warped by how much focus was placed on having fun with pickpocketing orphans in the tv and film versions, but I think what put me off was Oliver crying all the time.


  4. Rachel

    I have an entire tab devoted to books I should have read and haven’t. Its really extensive and will take me forever, but it’s nice to cross things off the list once and a while.


  5. This pretty mirrors my own confessions. I own “The Good Earth,” “The Last Temptation,” and “Catch-22,” but haven’t read them yet. Haven’t read any of Shakespeare’s history plays, either, and can’t say I really want to. I haven’t read all of “The Canterbury Tales,” either. I tried reading it a few months ago in the original Middle English–which wasn’t as hard as it might seem–but lost interest pretty quickly.

    I’m stunned to learn you haven’t read the “Aeneid” yet. I guess I just assume everyone’s read it. It’s one of the most violent works I’ve read. Not that I’m offended by violence, but I was very surprised by how blood-soaked the story is. Just people slicing and dicing, and Virgil (or his translators, to be exact) spare no details.

    As for “Everyman,” I’d say to skip it. Granted, it’s short enough to read in an hour, but it’s pointless, unless you just want to know about medieval morality plays. It seems like it’s only out there for scholars and such.


  6. A list like this is somehow comforting. I mean, look at all the good books you have to look forward to reading! I can’t wait until you get around to reading Atwood. I will be very surprised if you don’t love her.


  7. Your list makes me feel so much better! Why is it that admitting you haven’t read something seems like a deep dark secret?

    Here are my major confessions: Old Man and the Sea (everyone read this in high school, but none of my classes did) or any Hemingway; The Grapes of Wrath (ditto), Shakespeare’s comedies, Toni Morrison, and Gabriel Garcia Marquez…I’d better stop now.


  8. I think you’re very well read Dorothy. It seems like you’ve covered all the biggies (well, maybe not Margaret Atwood), and now only need to move on to filling in gaps–my gaps are pretty cavernous. I’d like to read Pearl Buck as well–I missed a lot of books like that that others were reading when they were teenagers (or even younger). And I had no idea Margaret Atwood tweets!


  9. I have 3 Atwoods and have yet to pick one up to read it. I got The Robber Bride at one of the Big Book Sales and tried to read it but gave up half way through. The Handmaids Tale and The Blind Assassin are sitting next to it on the shelf. I’ll have to try again. I’ve read nothing by Pearl Buck, although I really want to. As for Chaucer, I’ve only read the Canterbury Tales we had to read in high school. Such fun reading this post.


  10. I just wish I could say I’ve read half of these! That said, I do highly recommend Atwood. I think you’ll be in for a treat.

    Loved seeing your list!


  11. verbivore

    Fun to see these lists and where people focus. I’ve never read Catch-22 either, and I have this nagging feeling that I should, but I never bother.

    I second Litlove’s plea for Atwood. Her first novel, Surfacing, is interesting. Short and simple, but strong, I felt. Not much like her later work. And The Handmaid’s Tale…I loved that.


  12. Thanks for sharing your ‘unread list’, which is almost the same as mine except that mine is much, much longer. Recently I’ve come up with a term to which I need to hang on to in order to feel better, it’s ‘nonobligatory reading’.


  13. If it helps, I haven’t read most of the examples you’ve included for “books read” in this list… though I can recommend “The Handmaid’s Tale”. It took me a long time to get around to reading it, but it’s worth it.

    I’ve been meaning to read the “Aeneid” for a while now, but… is laziness a good excuse for not being well-read?


  14. The Good Earth finally made it to my ‘read’ (past tense – isn’t English hard to read?) pile from the ‘to be read’ pile. I enjoyed most of it very much. History, struggles, success, human characteristics: it is full of so much. Also, for a reader like you it would not take very long to finish.


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