Librarything “most often marked unread” books meme

Via willendorf5761 (Who knew there were already 5760 “willdendorf”s on eljay?)

What we have here is the top 106 books most often marked as “unread” by LibraryThing’s users. As in, they sit on the shelf to make you look smart or well-rounded. Bold the ones you’ve read, underline the ones you read for school, italicize the ones you started but didn’t finish.

Like willendorf5761, I’m not doing the underlining. Bold means I’ve read it, whether for school or for my own purposes (though the only one I recall being a school book is Pride & Prejudice, and I’ve read it since for fun, more than once). Italic means I started and didn’t finish. Plain text means I haven’t even tried.


Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell
Anna Karenina
Crime and Punishment
Catch-22
One Hundred Years of Solitude
Wuthering Heights
The Silmarillion
Life of Pi : a novel
The Name of the Rose

Don Quixote
Moby Dick
Ulysses
Madame Bovary
The Odyssey
Pride and Prejudice
Jane Eyre
The Tale of Two Cities
The Brothers Karamazov
Guns, Germs, and Steel
War and Peace
Vanity Fair
The Time Traveler’s Wife
The Iliad
Emma
The Blind Assassin
The Kite Runner
Mrs. Dalloway
Great Expectations

American Gods
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius
Atlas Shrugged
Reading Lolita in Tehran : a memoir in books
Memoirs of a Geisha
Middlesex
Quicksilver
Wicked : the life and times of the wicked witch of the West
The Canterbury Tales
The Historian : a novel
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
Love in the Time of Cholera (hated it. Cranky review here.)
Brave New World
The Fountainhead
Foucault’s Pendulum
Middlemarch
Frankenstein
The Count of Monte Cristo
Dracula
A Clockwork Orange
Anansi Boys
The Once and Future King
The Grapes of Wrath
The Poisonwood Bible
1984
Angels & Demons
Inferno
The Satanic Verses
Sense and Sensibility
The Picture of Dorian Gray
Mansfield Park
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
To the Lighthouse
Tess of the D’Urbervilles
Oliver Twist
Gulliver’s Travels
Les Misérables
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Dune
The Prince
The Sound and the Fury
Angela’s Ashes : a memoir
The God of Small Things
A People’s History of the United States : 1492-present
Cryptonomicon
Neverwhere
A Confederacy of Dunces
A Short History of Nearly Everything
Dubliners
The Unbearable Lightness of Being
Beloved
Slaughterhouse-five
The Scarlet Letter
Eats, Shoots & Leaves
The Mists of Avalon
Oryx and Crake
Collapse : how societies choose to fail or succeed
Cloud Atlas
The Confusion
Lolita
Persuasion
Northanger Abbey
The Catcher in the Rye
On the Road
The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Freakonomics : a rogue economist explores the hidden side of everything
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance : an inquiry into values
The Aeneid (Studied a chapter or two at school, in Latin.)
Watership Down
Gravity’s Rainbow
The Hobbit
In Cold Blood : a true account of a multiple murder and its consequences
White Teeth
Treasure Island
David Copperfield


What can I say? I’m a finisher. There are only a few books I’ve started and put away unfinished. American Psycho is one; Stranger in a Strange Land is another. Fantasy series in which I finished the books, but didn’t finish the series: Wheel of Time (along with every other sensible person on the planet), and George R.R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire. Which books couldn’t you finish?



Categories: Meta

Tags: ,

21 replies

  1. I never finished Middlemarch. It wasn’t the prose or how big a book, it was the heartbreak. An intelligent woman yearns for an intellectual life and tries to marry into it, and then finds that her intellectual husband sees her as a useful servant who’s also pretty. Oh god, the dawning horror of what she’s done and who’s she’s eternally attached to. That the little scope she had as a single woman was all she was going to have, and her marriage has taken it away from her instead of giving her a larger world. And then realizing that he’s also really stupid! I just couldn’t bear it. Even now I flinch when I see the cover.

  2. OK, I’ve added an asterisk for the books which are actually on the pile on my bedside table waiting to be started. At least they’re not out on the bookshelves.
    Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell*
    Anna Karenina
    Crime and Punishment
    Catch-22
    One Hundred Years of Solitude
    Wuthering Heights
    The Silmarillion (I know, I can’t believe I actually read it all either, but I did)
    Life of Pi : a novel
    The Name of the Rose
    Don Quixote
    Moby Dick
    Ulysses
    Madame Bovary
    The Odyssey
    Pride and Prejudice
    Jane Eyre
    The Tale of Two Cities
    The Brothers Karamazov
    Guns, Germs, and Steel
    War and Peace
    Vanity Fair
    The Time Traveler’s Wife
    The Iliad
    Emma
    The Blind Assassin

    The Kite Runner
    Mrs. Dalloway*
    Great Expectations
    American Gods

    A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius
    Atlas Shrugged (brrrrr)
    Reading Lolita in Tehran : a memoir in books
    Memoirs of a Geisha*
    Middlesex
    Quicksilver
    Wicked : the life and times of the wicked witch of the West
    The Canterbury Tales
    The Historian : a novel
    A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
    Love in the Time of Cholera
    Brave New World
    The Fountainhead (brrrrr)
    Foucault’s Pendulum
    Middlemarch
    Frankenstein
    The Count of Monte Cristo
    Dracula
    A Clockwork Orange
    Anansi Boys
    The Once and Future King

    The Grapes of Wrath
    The Poisonwood Bible
    1984
    Angels & Demons (absolute crap)
    Inferno
    The Satanic Verses (struggled to finish it)
    Sense and Sensibility
    The Picture of Dorian Gray
    Mansfield Park
    One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

    To the Lighthouse
    Tess of the D’Urbervilles
    Oliver Twist
    Gulliver’s Travels

    Les Misérables
    The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay
    The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
    Dune
    The Prince

    The Sound and the Fury
    Angela’s Ashes : a memoir*
    The God of Small Things
    A People’s History of the United States : 1492-present
    Cryptonomicon
    Neverwhere
    A Confederacy of Dunces
    A Short History of Nearly Everything
    Dubliners

    The Unbearable Lightness of Being
    Beloved
    Slaughterhouse-five
    The Scarlet Letter
    Eats, Shoots & Leaves
    The Mists of Avalon
    Oryx and Crake
    Collapse : how societies choose to fail or succeed

    Cloud Atlas
    The Confusion
    Lolita
    Persuasion
    Northanger Abbey
    The Catcher in the Rye

    On the Road
    The Hunchback of Notre Dame
    Freakonomics : a rogue economist explores the hidden side of everything
    Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance : an inquiry into values
    The Aeneid
    Watership Down
    Gravity’s Rainbow
    The Hobbit
    In Cold Blood : a true account of a multiple murder and its consequences
    White Teeth*
    Treasure Island
    David Copperfield

  3. Some of my all-time favorite books are on this list, and you haven’t touched them! I’d recommend Beloved as the best book. On The Road and Middlesex are two of my personal favorites. But you’ve read A LOT more books on this list than I have. I think I only counted about 15 . . . and I know that I have at least a few of them on my librarything tagged as unread.
    Caras last blog post..Truth.

  4. I see that I’ve read most of the British literary canon on the list, and most of the SF. Joyce has been the big one for me that I haven’t finished. I plan to have another attempt on Ulysses this year tho. mr tog read it last year and did end up enjoying it once he got into the rhythm.
    A lot of the books I haven’t even attempted to read are the peculiarly American experience ones, such as Beloved as Cara mentions. I don’t seem to have that much luck finishing the classic Russian novels either.

  5. You know tigtog, I didn’t even realize, but all three of those books I recommended are very much about “American” experiences and feature American history or imagery quite strongly. That’d be my US-centrism kicking in again when I least expect it.
    I do still recommend them as great books, though.

  6. A lot of the American canon is on my to-read list, Cara. A good novel is a good novel, no matter whose culture it derives from.
    The emphasis on the British canon in my list of books-read is definitely a cultural artefact of what books were emphasised on the school curriculum etc. I’m pretty sure the only American novels we were ever assigned were Tom Sawyer and Catcher In The Rye (almost forgot The Old Man and the Sea), so catching up on the American canon has been more of an adult venture, much sidelined by my excursion into SF away from other forms of literature. I bet most of the American authors whom I have read have been SF authors.

  7. P.S. I have actually read quite a few American canon novels that aren’t on the list, too. The novels not considered so impenetrable, I guess. Hemingway, Twain, Steinbeck (just not Grapes of Wrath, and now I think of it we did read him in school), Poe, James, Crane, Fitzgerald. I think we had more American playwrights than novelists as part of our school education – Arthur Miller & Tennessee Williams especially.
    I imagine if I was in school now The Color Purple and Beloved would both feature strongly in the curriculum.

  8. I recommend Anna Karenina, very, very, highly. And War and Peace if you have the time. My book group (all women of a certain age, with jobs, children, partners, the daily juggle) read it a couple of years ago, on my recommendation, and it was the only book we ever read that everyone liked. We spent a fair bit of time worrying about Tolstoy’s misogyny – he does the saint/whore thing so well – but we were fascinated by the way he could get inside his characters’ minds.
    Middlemarch…. there is a very interesting resolution to the ‘talented woman trapped in soulless marriage’ problem. That was another book that my book group read to nearly universal acclaim.
    Deborahs last blog post..Slides are for grown-ups

  9. The best bits of Ulysses are the beginning and the end so I think if you are pressed for time skipping the middle third is A-OK. War and Peace is the opposite being boring-BRILLIANT-boring. I’m allowed to say that ‘cos I’ve eaten apples from trees planted by Tolstoy hisself, I have the cred. Crime and Punishment is a cracker all the way through.
    Amandas last blog post..Stop Making Sense

  10. Interesting list, good post.
    Memoirs of a Geisha is high-class Mills & Boon, great for a holiday or the bus. White Teeth polarises, you might love it or throw it violently away.
    I can see the appeal of Beloved for American readers but unless you’re into ghost stories and the supernatural, it’s a bit turgid.
    Does Zen And The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance on your shelf really make you look smart and well-rounded? For me it’s in the same league as Jonathan Livingstone Seagull and Dianetics.
    I mean really, he doesn’t spend *nearly* enough time talking about how to maintain a BMW.

  11. Because I’m a pedant, and because I put the list up on my blog too, I noticed that this list is a few books short of 106… I found an earlier version of the list – it must have been around for awhile – which has The Correction (never heard of it anyway, or maybe it’s just in there for sad sacks like me) and The Three Musketeers, neither of which I have read. I’ve read 42 of them for sure, but there’s a few where I think, “Did I? Didn’t I?”. Can’t be all that memorable… or maybe those synapses have just died out.
    Deborahs last blog post..Book fun

  12. I’ve read all of those except the 1492 one, Collapse, and Wicked (though I’ve seen Wicked on Broadway.)
    I have heard somewhere else that high school students sometimes are made to read Beloved but I can’t imagine how that could ever work, it’s a very hard book, stylewise but also its content is very very confronting.

  13. Indeed, Laura, and also: cow sex. I wouldn’t want to be the English teacher.

  14. Cow sex, and murdering your own children to save them from slavery. Me neither. It’s bad enough teaching it with adult students.

  15. I tried to read Middlemarch for uni English in second year. It was a year I moved house 7 times. I bought two copies of the book because I packed the first one in an inaccessible box and it was easier to buy a second in time for the class than to find the first.
    I didn’t finish reading either copy. Affluenza eat your heart out. I don’t think I read very much of it at all, which disappointed me at the time because a dear friend had loved it very much. I suppose (given the reviews here) it was more to do with my own state of chaos and possibly the distance between my own experiences and the character’s. Although that same distance didn’t stop me enjoying all the Jane Austen books that are on the list and end in weddings.
    I didn’t finish White Teeth either, despite rave reviews from a few other friends. I don’t think that was just me though. It was hopeless.

  16. Some are probably on the list because they’re recent bestsellers, rather than unread classics.
    Asterisks really are on my Goodreads.com unread list. Double asterisks are those I just now added.
    Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell
    Anna Karenina but I don’t remember anything
    Crime and Punishment but I don’t remember anything
    Catch-22
    **One Hundred Years of Solitude
    Wuthering Heights
    The Silmarillion
    Life of Pi : a novel – I leafed through most of it standing in a bookstore.
    The Name of the Rose
    Don Quixote
    Moby Dick – tried twice. Never got past Ch. 4.
    Ulysses – got through a few lines.
    Madame Bovary
    The Odyssey
    Pride and Prejudice
    Jane Eyre
    A Tale of Two Cities
    The Brothers Karamazov but I don’t remember anything. (See a pattern with the Russian lit?)
    Guns, Germs, and Steel
    War and Peace
    Vanity Fair
    The Time Traveler’s Wife
    The Iliad
    Emma
    The Blind Assassin
    *The Kite Runner
    Mrs. Dalloway
    Great Expectations
    *American Gods
    *A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius
    **Atlas Shrugged
    Reading Lolita in Tehran : a memoir in books
    Memoirs of a Geisha
    Middlesex
    *Quicksilver
    Wicked: the life and times of the wicked witch of the West
    The Canterbury Tales – read excerpts
    The Historian : a novel
    A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
    Love in the Time of Cholera
    Brave New World
    *The Fountainhead
    **Foucault’s Pendulum
    Middlemarch
    Frankenstein – at least I think I read it.
    The Count of Monte Cristo – think I read an abridged version in French class
    Dracula
    A Clockwork Orange
    Anansi Boys
    The Once and Future King
    The Grapes of Wrath
    The Poisonwood Bible
    1984
    Angels and Demons
    Inferno
    * The Satanic Verses (I do own a copy)
    Sense and Sensibility (I own a copy, bound with P&P, but I hated P&P so much I can’t read S&S)
    The Picture of Dorian Gray
    Mansfield Park
    One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
    To the Lighthouse
    Tess of the D’Urbervilles
    Oliver Twist
    Gulliver’s Travels
    Les Misérables – I’m pretty sure I read some abridged version of this in French class.
    The Correction
    **The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay
    The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
    Dune
    The Prince but I don’t remember anything. The pattern continues.
    **The Sound and the Fury
    **Angela’s Ashes : a memoir (I thought this was on my list already but it wasn’t)
    **The God of Small Things
    **A People’s History of the United States : 1492-present
    **Cryptonomicon (I’d been resisting putting this on my list because Snowcrash annoyed by, but I submit.)
    **Neverwhere
    **A Confederacy of Dunces
    A Short History of Nearly Everything
    Dubliners
    **The Unbearable Lightness of Being
    Beloved
    Slaughterhouse-five
    The Scarlet Letter
    *Eats, Shoots and Leaves
    **The Mists of Avalon
    *Oryx and Crake
    Collapse : how societies choose to fail or succeed
    Cloud Atlas
    The Confusion (it’s not on my list only because I haven’t read Quicksilver yet)
    Lolita
    Persuasion
    Northanger Abbey
    The Catcher in the Rye but I remember nothing, even though it’s not Russian lit.
    On the Road – I might have but if I did I remember nothing.
    The Hunchback of Notre Dame – again, I think I read an abridged version in French class.
    *Freakonomics : a rogue economist explores the hidden side of everything
    *Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance : an inquiry into values
    The Aeneid
    Watership Down
    Gravity’s Rainbow
    The Hobbit
    **In Cold Blood : a true account of a multiple murder and its consequences
    White Teeth
    Treasure Island
    David Copperfield (and I remember nothing)
    **The Three Musketeers

  17. Sense and Sensibility (I own a copy, bound with P&P, but I hated P&P so much I can’t read S&S)

  18. Mine’s here, but I’ve enjoyed some of the added comments here so much that I’m going to do a new improved version with a ‘best-remembered scene, character or phrase’ attachment.

Trackbacks

  1. Book fun « In a strange land
  2. A book meme! « Penguin unearthed
%d bloggers like this: