The Top 10 Books I’ve Never Read

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We all have secrets. I’m about to come clean on ten of mine.

The first one, maybe the most shocking one: I’ve never read The Great Gatsby. My second secret: I’ve never read The Lord of the Flies. Lined up at number three: I’ve never read The Diary of a Young Girl. The list goes on.

I have a list of ten books that I’ve somehow managed to never read. They are books that, in some instances, have changed history. They’ve become part of our common nomenclature, they’ve been turned into stylized movies, they are mandatory reading in high school classes, and they’ve made their way onto all manner of book lists. On top of all this, some of the books are probably really, really good!

How does this happen? I’m not sure. I read a lot of books. I love reading classics. I’m not scared of reading difficult books. Two of the books on my list have been on my bookshelf for over 15 years, just hanging out with a bunch of other books I’ve actually read. Most of the books are right up my alley. I actually have an interest in reading them. I’m sure there are a few on the list that I pretended to have read at one point or another, maybe at a book club discussion, or in casual conversation. I’m at a loss to explain why I’ve never read them, but I’m going to knock a few off of my list this year. Here they are:

1. The Great Gatsby

I had planned to read it before the movie came out last summer. I didn’t. Of all the classics I haven’t read, this one usually ranks the highest on best book lists. And, it’s not even a long book!

2. The Lord of the Flies

Another short book, I could probably turn this one out in a few days. Yet, I haven’t. From everything I know about it, it’s the sort of book I enjoy reading, which makes it puzzling that I haven’t read it.

3. A Clockwork Orange

Isn’t seeing the movie the same as reading the book? That was my theory for a long time. It’s not my theory any more. I need to get this one read.

4. The Picture of Dorian Gray

One of my favorite places in the world is Père Lachaise Cemetery. One of my favorite places in Père Lachaise Cemetery is Oscar Wilde’s grave. Walking up to it, seeing all the lipstick marks, seeing the Sphinx, reading the inscription: I loved every aspect of the gravesite. Even so, I’ve never read anything by Oscar Wilde. Go figure.

5. Brave New World

Again, file this one under “Makes No Sense.” From what I know of the book, it would fall smack in the middle of my sweet spot of literature. Somehow, I always pass it by.

6. The Diary of a Young Girl

How does one get through high school not having read the book commonly referred to as The Diary of Anne Frank? I can’t answer that, even though I accomplished it. A friend and I once admitted this omission to each other. We then talked about reading it at the same time and making it the focus of a one-time-only book club. Unfortunately, it never moved past talk.

7. All Quiet on the Western Front

Every few months, I find a book about war that catches my interest. I just picked up a World War II book called The Liberator I plan to read. I’ve read five or more books focusing on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Goodness gracious, I’ve read War and Peace! Nonetheless, I’ve never read the book that is, arguably, the best example of war literature—or any literature, for that matter. Shame on me.

8. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

So maybe it’s not going to rival Ulysses for the top spot on the best novels of all time, but back in my heyday, it sure was revered. It was talked about by hipsters in college dorm rooms and coffee shops. This is one I’m sure I pretended to have read at one point my life. I haven’t a clue what it’s about, though.

9. The Handmaid’s Tale

I’m surprised by how many books on my not-read list are books that seem to be exactly the type of book I love reading. The Handmaid’s Tale is not an exception. I’ve read enough reviews of Margaret Atwood’s books to know that this is an author who rocks. Nevertheless, she hasn’t rocked my world—yet.

10. Moby Dick

If I had a dollar for the number of times my dad has told me he had to read Moby Dick in high school. . . This book seems to always make an appearance on respected lists of top books. Many authors who I love name it as their favorite book—ever. The length of the book, though. . .it just seems so scary. I’m afraid this is the book that I’m least likely to ever tackle. Is that a mistake?

Where should I start when tackling this list? I’m open to suggestions. Since it’s been on my bookshelf for so long, I have a feeling it will be A Clockwork Orange.

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