Why I Haven’t Read That Book Yet: The List

 Why I Haven’t Read That Book Yet, Part 6: I Just Haven’t Gotten Around To It

Perhaps this applies to my sister muses as well, but perhaps it’s just me.

All sorts of people assume I’ve read things I haven’t read.  Maybe they figure my high school covered everything their high school covered; maybe they heard me mention that I’d read one book by an author and assumed I’d read the whole bibliography; maybe they figure Hillsdale wouldn’t dare allow anyone to declare themselves an English major without having read everything on that one list from ten years back, when the BBC surveyed readers all over the UK to determine the best-loved books (and set off a chain of people filling out those “Have you read more than 6 of these books?!!” surveys).

Well, I’ve got my diploma sitting on my desk, and yet.  To Kill a Mockingbird?  Haven’t read it.  1984?  No, but I’ve got Animal Farm.  The Count of Monte Cristo, Charlotte’s Web, Secret Garden, Wuthering Heights?  No, no, no, and no.  I can hear the gasps of horror and distant cries for my mortarboard, gown, and cords to be stripped (along with a voice muttering “Eh, Wuthering Heights was kinda weird anyway”).

I suppose part of the reason my skipped books come as a surprise is that I don’t typically acknowledge them.  If a friend wants to discuss Heathcliff brooding and Cathy wandering the moors, well, I’d rather not derail her from her point with picky details of my ignorance (especially if her point is “Check out this Kate Beaton comic“).  So I do a fair amount of smiling and nodding, and usually the moment passes without my having to say “I’m sorry, I didn’t understand that reference.”

This whole week was written as a response to that, I suppose.  But all the reasons, excuses, or rationalizations given thus far are (with the possible exclusion of “I have no excuse; I am a vicious and slothful creature”)  just another way of saying

I just haven’t gotten around to it yet.

It’s further down on my list.

Some other book took precedence.

This is the reader’s lot: one will almost always have more books one desires to read than time to read them.  We prioritize as we can, and though we may lose a book, fall asleep, get distracted, or whatever, we still have a vast pile of possibilities before us.  And as Lewis said,  “Remember that there are only three kinds of things anyone need ever do. (1) Things we ought to do (2) Things we’ve got to do (3) Things we like doing. I say this because some people seem to spend so much of their time doing things for none of the three reasons, things like reading books they don’t like because other people read them.”  (Thanks, Em!)

So.  Carry on, friends.  Read as you list, give whatever reason you wish for the books you ignore, and just be sure to share your thoughts about your reading with us.

I read as I list, too, most of the time.  On the other hand…there are things I list and then proceed to ignore.  In hopes that full disclosure will encourage me somehow, here is a longer list of books I mean to read at some point.  Some of them are what I think of as “Hillsdaleian” books; some were on the aforementioned list from the BBC; some have been recommended by people I respect (or, at least, whose writing I respect).  I listed them chronologically as it seemed more orderly than listing genres and themes.

What’s on your list?  What should I add to mine?

( I’m a little surprised that out of 118 books, only 18 were written before 1800.  Problem?  I am not sure)

8 thoughts on “Why I Haven’t Read That Book Yet: The List

  1. I’m one of those “eh” people about “Wuthering Heights.” I started reading it, but I just didn’t get drawn in. I’m sure that I’ve told you before that I can’t enjoy a story (book, show, movie, play, etc.) unless I sympathize with at least one character. I didn’t like any of the characters in WH, and the same goes for “Mansfield Park” and “Much Ado About Nothing” and I’m sure many others that I can’t think of right now.

    I will admit that I haven’t read most of the things on your list either, but I have read a few. “Atlas Shrugged” took me, oh, eight years, but I thought it worthwhile. “Rebecca” is WONDERFUL (as is the Hitchcock movie and the BBC miniseries, but the former is much less faithful to the book). “Memoirs of a Geisha” bored me to tears, though I can’t remember why, and for some reason I’ve never liked any Willa Cather I’ve had to read. And unless you are really, really into seafaring details, “Moby Dick” is just not worthwhile.

    Speaking of seafaring, if I may be pedantic for a moment, I cannot resist pointing out that there is no one book actually titled “Horatio Hornblower.” I realize that you may know this already and just wrote “Horatio Hornblower” to summarize all the titles in the series. Chronologically, “Mr. Midshipman Hornblower” is the first in the series, but it was not the first book published—they were written and published out of order.

  2. Pingback: Nope, Never Read It | WanderLust

  3. Pingback: Reactions: Macbeth | Egotist's Club

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