So, which books on this list have *I* read?

Let’s see how I do on this list of Top Twenty Books People Lie About Having Read.

  1. Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland – Lewis Carroll. Yes, I’ve read it. Read the sequel, too, which is much more accessible to geeks.
  2. 1984 – George Orwell. Yes, I’ve read it. I work in politics, and the Left loves to quote this book without understanding a damned thing about it.
  3. The Lord Of The Rings trilogy – JRR Tolkien. …Don’t vex me. Also, it’s not a trilogy.
  4. War And Peace – Leo Tolstoy. Nope!
  5. Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy. Nope!  Got warned off on Russian novelists by Bob Heinlein.
  6. The Adventures Of Sherlock Holmes – Arthur Conan Doyle. Yes, I have read it. Good God, these were popular fiction pieces for the mass market! What is the excuse to not read them?
  8. David Copperfield – Charles Dickens. I think I started it, but never finished it.
  9. Crime And Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky. Nope! See $5.
  10. Pride And Prejudice – Jane Austen. “…And Zombies.” But I read the original.
  11. Bleak House – Charles Dickens. Nope!
  12. Harry Potter (series) – JK Rowling. Started the series, got to about Goblet of Fire(?), never finished it.
  13. Great Expectations – Charles Dickens. Nope!
  14. The Diary Of Anne Frank – Anne Frank. Yes, I’ve read it. Both the version that they let kids read, and the longer, even more depressing version.
  15. Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens.  Nope! …I have read some Dickens, you know.
  16. Fifty Shades trilogy – EL James.  Oh HELL no.
  17. And Then There Were None – Agatha Christie. I have read it. It’s not her best. It, in fact, relies too much on authorial fiat to make the climax work.
  18. The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald. Nope!
  19. Catch 22 – Joseph Heller. I have read it, although damned if I can remember why. I dimly remember that… there were sex scenes that appealed to my teen-aged self? Or something like that.
  20. The Catcher In The Rye – JD Salinger. I didn’t get assigned it in school, so Nope!

Eh. Nine out of twenty, with two partials. Not a great score. But note that I’m not lying about it. Do people really and truly care about that? I mean, if you didn’t read a book, you didn’t read a book…

Via Instapundit.

31 thoughts on “So, which books on this list have *I* read?”

    1. Bob Heinlein claimed, in an otherwise forgettable book, that Russian authors actually gained something in tradition. I took it as true because he clearly got that opinion from Mrs. Heinlein, who spoke Russian fluently.

  1. Shall we make this a reader’s poll?
    1 – Nope.
    2 – Yep.
    3 – Yep. And Hobbit. And Silmarillion.
    4 – Nope. Too many people claimed to have read it (rather than demonstrating they actually *did* read it for it to have been good .. thick books don’t scare me, see #3 above, but *stupid* books are a waste of my time.)
    5 – Nope.
    6 – I’ve not read the entire Doyle, but .. a good bit.
    7 – It was assigned, I read it ..
    8 – I think it was assigned, but I don’t remember anything about it.
    9 – Nope.
    10 – Nope .. but I do plan to see PPZ.
    11 – Nope.
    12 – Entire series, start to finish. Junior Cat was the right age cohort, and Rowling is a good writer.
    13 – See 8 above.
    14 – Assignment, read it, remember it. Did not seek out the more depressing version.
    15 – Seen the movie and a couple different takes on the stage production, not sure if I actually read the original ..
    16 – Nope.
    17 – Nope – read a good bit of Christie, but not this one.
    18 – Yep .. assignment, read it, *LOATHED* it, one of the few books I would happily toss on a fire.
    19 – Nope.
    20 – Nope, wasn’t assigned, kinda happy about that.

  2. As a general note, Charles Dickens was essentially paid by the word.

    1 Yes. Writen as biting social commentary for the times, hidden in a childrens book.
    2 Yes, for high school.
    3 Multiple times.
    4 No.
    5 No.
    6 Somewhere between most and all of them.
    7 No.
    8 No.
    9 No.
    10 No, I think. There are a couple of books we read in high school that I do my best to forget.
    11 No
    12 Yes. Decent books, probably suffers from “No one can tell me no” syndrome later on, with regards to editing for length anyway.
    13 Yes
    14 Yes
    15 Yes
    16 No. Really? What kind of person thinks claiming they’ve read Twilight fan fiction is a positive?
    17 No.
    18 No
    19 No
    20 Yes, in school.

    1. Pride and Prejudice was not bad! I remember reading it for the first time when I was at home getting over a cold, and I was pleasantly startled at how sarcastic everyone was.

      1. Heh. I may have to hunt it down, with or without zombies. The one book I remember from high school was Jude The Obscure, which was more depressing than a Shakespearean Tragedy.

  3. Yes, yes yes, no, no, yes, yes, yes, no, no, no, yes, no, no, no, no, no, no, yes, no.
    Incidentally, Tolstoy’s short stories are pretty good. And funny!

  4. Read them all, because I taught Litchur for 20 years , all but the 50 Shades and the Christie . There are many good reasons to read them or not read them . But , Moe , and friends , I recommend the Catcher in the Rye . It gives a really nice , up close and personal view of what the sniveling, woe- is- me SJW looked like 70 years ago and what the sniveling woe is me probably looks like today . I’m assigning it . Five paragraph essay due next Friday

    1. Heh … We both chose the word “sniveling” to describe Holden Caulfield. As Homer Simpson says, “It’s funny, because it’s true.”

  5. 1. Yes
    2. Yes
    3. Yes
    4. No
    5. No
    6. Yes
    7. Yes
    8. No
    9. No
    10. Yes*
    11. No
    12. Yes
    13. No
    14. Yes
    15. No
    16. No**
    17. Yes
    18. No
    19. Yes
    20. No
    But then again, I may be lying. 😉
    * And I’m on my way to see PPZ tonight!
    ** However, I have seen Fifty Shades of Black, the parody movie. No, you shouldn’t see it. Yes, I knew it was going to be bad before I went. No, I have no idea why I saw it. Yes, I may have a problem.
    (BTW, I don’t understand why ANYONE would lie about having read the “Fifty Shades” books. I mean, unless they were lying about NOT having read it…that I could understand. But from what I hear, they’re basically porn for every woman who would never dare get caught with a copy of Playgirl, or even a Harlequin Super-Romance. Both of which I consider more respectable than the “Fifty Shades” books, basically because no one is trying to pass them off as literature. My former boss loved them, which tells me everything I need to know about her.)

  6. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, 1984, Lord of the Rings: yes. (And The Hobbit, and The Silmarillion– multiple times, I didn’t really feel like I understood it until after the fourth read.)
    War and Peace, Anna Karenina: no.
    Sherlock Holmes, To Kill A Mockingbird: yes.
    David Copperfield, Crime and Punishment, Pride and Prejudice, Bleak House: no.
    Harry Potter: yes. Starting about book four, the books are quite a bit better than the movies, but that’s more of a negative commentary on the movies than a positive one on the books. Still worth finishing reading though, IMHO.
    Great Expectations: no.
    Diary of Anne Frank: yes, but I couldn’t tell you anything about it other than the obvious.
    Oliver Twist, and all the rest: no. Fifty Shades, I’m told, started out as Twilight fanfic, which says more about it than I ever could.
    My girlfriend, however, has read every single one other than Fifty Shades, which she refuses to on general principles.

  7. 1 Of course
    2 Yes
    3 Duh.
    4 No
    5 No
    6 Yes, but I think I might have missed one.
    7 Yes
    8 Yes
    9 Partial. It’ll give you flashbacks to adjudication of D&D alignment.
    10 No
    11 Pretty sure I have, but it made no impression
    12 The first two. I liked the first one better when it was titled Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
    13 Yes. Avoid this one. The protagonist is a whiny, entitled piece of crap. He could have taken advantage of his situation to better himself, but instead, he fritters his opportunities away. (Actually, it might do some college students some good, if they were introspective enough to get the point.)
    14 No
    15 Yes
    16 You’re kidding, right?
    17 Not this one.
    18 Partial
    19 No
    20 No

  8. 15 Yes answers and a partial, but then I was an English major

    1. YES Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland
    2. YES 1984
    3. YES The Lord Of The Rings trilogy a couple of 3 times, plus the Hobbit, etc.
    4. 1/3 and got bored War And Peace
    5. NO Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy.
    6. YES The Adventures Of Sherlock Holmes – Arthur Conan Doyle.
    7. YES To Kill A Mockingbird – Harper Lee.
    8. YES David Copperfield – Charles Dickens.
    9. NO Crime And Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky.
    10 YES, BOTH Pride And Prejudice – Jane Austen. “…And Zombies.”
    11. NO Bleak House – Charles Dickens. but not sure why not
    12. YES , twice so far Harry Potter (series) – JK Rowling.
    13. YES Great Expectations – Charles Dickens. at least twice
    14. YES The Diary Of Anne Frank – Anne Frank.. & taught and taught the play
    15. YES Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens.
    16. NO & NO & NO Fifty Shades trilogy – EL James.
    17. YES And Then There Were None – Agatha Christie. AND played the video game !
    18. YES The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald.
    19. YES Catch 22 – Joseph Heller. t
    20. YES and HATED IT The Catcher In The Rye – JD Salin A Separate Peace is even worse.

  9. Only read The Great Gatsby and Anne Frank, both for school. About halfway through the first Harry Potter book, only because I am reading it with my 7 year old son.
    Not really interested in reading much of the others. Give me a Michael Connelly Bosch book and I’m good.

  10. Do people really and truly care about that? I mean, if you didn’t read a book, you didn’t read a book…

    There’s the thing: you and I (and I expect all the regulars here) read books to get something from them. There are those for whom books serve primarily or only as social signaling. No, I don’t get it either; but then, I am definitively Odd.

    1. Pretty much this.
      Having certain books visible on the shelf – used to be, among management circles I traveled, having an English translation of Sun Tzu was a thing – are a signal to others that “you are of the hive”.
      It’s .. more or less “cargo cult intellectualism” .. the same way Sanders’ economic policies are “cargo cult” – if a person has the right books, then they have the right kind of mind, and are acceptable.
      p.s. nobody ever understood why Sun Tzu went next to Scott Adams, or what Frank Herbert and John Ringo were doing there at all …

  11. What the hey were you doing in Junior High / High School that you got away without having to read Dickens?
    [I’ve always loved reading, but I really hated Dickens.]

    1. They should NOT make one read Dickens in Junior High, probably not even high school. Later on he is hysterically funny and interesting. i still remember the absolute astonishment I felt when I was required to teach Great Expectations — had hated it when a student — upon re-reading and a few life years under the belt and it was wonderful!

  12. Read them all, some assigned, except Fifty Shades (a trilogy? good grief, why?) and the entire Potter series. I lost interest after the Goblet of Fire.
    Quite a few on the list are favorites, re-read many times.

  13. Yes: Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland, 1984, The Lord Of The Rings, The Adventures Of Sherlock Holmes (all of them, and the pastiches by other authors, too), To Kill A Mockingbird, Harry Potter (most of the series), Great Expectations (I barely remember it), The Diary Of Anne Frank (mandatory reading in school), And Then There Were None (and a bunch of better ones, including Murder on the Orient Express and The Murder of Roger Ackroyd), Catch 22 (I love many of the scenes, such as Yossarian’s encounter with the psychologist), The Catcher In The Rye (I disliked the sniveling little preppie twit).
    No: War And Peace, Anna Karenina, David Copperfield, Crime And Punishment, Pride And Prejudice (people keep telling me I should read Jane Austen), Bleak House, Oliver Twist, Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy (yecch!), The Great Gatsby.
    Missing from the list: Stranger in a Strange Land (and all the others by Heinlein), Fathers and Children (Ivan Turgenev; Yevgeny Bazarov is in some ways a better version of Holden Caulfield), The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (a required cultural reference!), Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality (Eliezer Yudkowsky‘s epic Harry Potter fanfic; recommended!).

  14. I’ve read 1984, The Lord of the Rings, Bleak House, somewhere around half of Harry Potter (don’t remember where I gave up, honestly, but I read at least six of those), and To Kill A Mockingbird.

    Kind of surprised Bleak House is on that list. At least, if I hadn’t been assigned to read it as part of a high school English class, I wouldn’t know it existed: doesn’t seem like one of Dickens’ better know works. I remember it being OK (if … bleak) once I got used to Dickens’ particular cadence, but it was dreadfully obvious the man had been paid by the word. Didn’t leave me desirous of reading more, when I was done.

    I am not tremendously well or widely read, truth be told. I’ve made a couple abortive attempts at The Brother Karamazov, but it’s an awfully long book and well outside my usual choice of genre.

    And I have a copy of P&P&Z, but haven’t cracked it. Never touched the original Austen.

  15. Books for ” Display Purposes Only ” : Finnegan’s Wake . I used to advise students to ask someone displaying that whether they had read it . If the answer were ‘Yes ‘ I would recommend that they have nothing more to do with the fellow . A) He was a liar or B) He was mad . The correct answer is ” Well , I tried , I tried a couple of times….”

  16. 1. Dunno. I think I’ve read selections from at least one of them.
    2. Read parts of it. Read all of Animal Farm.
    3. Was rough, but yes.
    4. Read most of it, I think I skipped the Freemason sections as being too occult.
    5. Nope.
    6. Read some of the Doyle Holmes stories.
    7. Yes.
    8. Nope
    9. Nope
    10. Nope
    11. Nope
    12. Read the last book in, IIRC, a bit under three hours, decided it made the series work excellently, never read again. I haven’t read much Potter fanfic in years.
    13. Nope
    14. Probably not
    15. I saw a cartoon version, but still no. (I read The Tale of Two Cities, which I think was Dickens.)
    16. Haven’t read this or Twilight yet, won’t knock it until I try it, and maybe I might want to learn about what works for those markets.
    17. I’m still half heartedly working my way through Christie’s corpus. I like Tommy and Tuppence especially.
    18. Yes. Overlooked this mention when I’d planned my response to twenty. See #20.
    19. No.
    20. So I was given a choice between this and two others, and after consultation, decided I would hate Gatsby the least. Opening scene of Gatsby, and I was ready to have the DEA/Revenuers raid the place, slaughter, starve the survivors to death in a dank hole, and maybe shoot somebody’s dog. Hated Gatsby. Talked the instructor into letting me do a research piece on Prohibition instead of a book report. Did the research and wrote it up. Became an apologist for the, IIRC, Anti-Saloon League. Even if the FUBAR state of the beer industry/saloon system was in part created by meddling with the Whiskey industry. So, no. Why couldn’t the requirements have been a nice book like Dave Drake’s Redliners? (Okay, I probably wasn’t ready for Redliners. I might’ve been offended by the sexual content in Kratman’s books.)

    I went on a Crane Brinton kick when I was in middle school.

  17. yes to 1 – 2 – 3 – 5 – 9 – 12 – 13 – 15 – 17…….

    and all due respect to Heinlein, there’s nothing wrong with Dostoevski….The Brothers Karamazov is one of the greatest books i ever read….i was 11 the first time i read it, and must have read it at least 10 more times….The Idiot was also quite good… but Crime and Punishment was probably his worst…..

  18. All but 50 Shades and Harry Potter. I read the first two Harry Potter books under duress (there was nothing else to read except a street map of Florence and an Italian pamphlet on Spiritualism) and felt that I now knew the formula and had no need to read any more slight variations on it.

    i read most of the others just because I was working my way from the top left of my mother’s bookshelves to the bottom right, and she liked 19th century and early twentieth century novels. Didn’t necessarily understand everything (for instance, it took me years to figure out how Tess of the d’Urbervilles got pregnant),

    19 & 20 were floating around my college dormitory.

    LoTR was traumatic because I checked only the first two volumes out of the library, which left me at 11 pm on a Saturday with Frodo in the clutches of the giant spider and a cruel, insensitive father who couldn’t understand the importance of driving me back to the university library before it closed for the weekend.

  19. I think there’s a few more that should be added to that list:

    Fahrenheit 451
    Animal Farm
    The Road To Serfdom-I call this one of the mandatories
    The Law-Bastiat-ditto with this one
    Economics in One Lesson-Hazlit
    America Alone-Steyn is equally amusing & a big ass downer, love him!
    The Man In The High Castle
    God And Man At Yale
    McCarthy & His Enemies-you gotta read “God And Man At Yale,” might as well throw in at least one more throwback. Do it! What are you, some crypto-Nazi? A queer? 😃
    The Fountainhead
    Atlas Shrugged-only read this if you are a “true reader,” if not, you’ll hate it with white hot intensity
    Free To Choose-Friedman-this is such an important book, IMO
    Adios America-Coulter-love her or hate her, she writes a helluva researched book & they’re humorous. Due to our current situations on the borders, I think this is her best
    After America-more Steyn. If you weren’t depressed by America Alone, this will fix that, for sure
    Parliament Of Whores-O’Rourke-my personal favorite, besides
    Eat The Rich, but you hardly can miss with any PJ O’Rourke

    Ok, all I can think of, off the top of my head. I will say schools that still assign “War & Peace,” should be defunded, forthright! It’s a slog & a half, even for book nerds like me. Never read any 50 Shades, Lord of The Twilight Vampires, Harry Potter type stuff. No idea if any of it is good, but I know they’re all pretty popular.

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