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    Classic Novels: How Many Have You Read?

    As I have said many times, I am probably the world’s worst read romance novelist. I am in awe of how many books my fellow Riskies and our commenters are able to read, but I just can’t keep up, even though my love of books is deep and heartfelt.

    Somehow (don’t ask me how), Janet’s and Megan’s blogs about movies made me think of movies I’ve seen and those I haven’t. That led me to books. That led me to wondering just how poorly read was I.
    There are tons of must read lists on the internet, but most were too long or included obscure (to me) titles I figured most people would not have read. Others seemed to be confined to one person’s opinion. I settled on Booklist’s Classic Novels list. This would be a good test of how poorly read I am.
    Here’s the list and my scores as well:
    The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
    yes
    All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque
    no
    Beloved by Toni Morrison
    no, but I think I’d like this book
    The Best Short Stories by O. Henry
    I’m not sure if I’ve read them all, but I’ve read O. Henry
    Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
    surprisingly enough, no. My schooling somehow did not include this book.
    The Call of the Wild by Jack London
    no
    Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
    yes, read by choice, not for class
    The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
    yes. A must-read for any adolescent
    The Complete Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle
    (don’t hit me!) no
    Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky
    no
    Cry, The Beloved Country by Alan Paton
    no. I confess, I had not heard of this book.
    Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes
    yes
    Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton
    yes
    The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck
    yes
    The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
    no
    The Great Gadsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
    no
    Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
    no
    Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
    yes, thanks to a wonderful Black Literature course in college
    Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
    yes, of course
    Lord of the Flies by William Golding
    yes
    Moby Dick by Herman Melville
    yes
    My Antonia by Willa Cather
    no, but I’m certain I read some of her short stories
    Native Son by Richard Wright
    yes, that Black Lit course, again
    1984 by George Orwell
    no. It was never required of me
    Of Human Bondage by Somerset Maugham
    no
    Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
    maybe…but somehow I think I read it as a play
    The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
    yes
    Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
    yes!!!
    The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane
    no
    Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe
    yes
    The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
    yes
    A Separate Peace by John Knowles
    no, but I would like to read this one
    Silas Marner by George Eliot
    yes
    The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
    no
    The Stranger by Albert Camus
    no
    A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
    yes
    Tales by Edgar Allen Poe
    yes, at least some of them
    Tess of the D’Ubervilles by Thomas Hardy
    yes
    Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
    no, but another one I’d like to read
    To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
    yes. In fact, my high school English teacher, Miz Lee, was Harper Lee’s cousin, but I’d read the book before then
    Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
    no
    War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
    no – are you kidding?
    Wineburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson
    no. Another collection of stories I’d not ever heard of.
    Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
    yes
    My score is 23 out of 44, a tad above 50%. I suppose that would be a failing grade, wouldn’t it?
    I have excuses! Although I was an English major in college, I steered myself primarily to English authors, not American ones. In fact, that Black Literature course, innovative for its time, was probably the only course I took covering American authors.
    Even more appalling, I asked my adult daughter if she’d read some of these books. She took lots of English in high school and some in college. She’s even worse than I am, which makes me wonder about the state of schools these days. She never read Moby Dick, for example. Or The Old Man and The Sea. She did read The Grapes of Wrath, but for an economics course, not English.
    Who is brave enough to share their scores? If you graduated high school in the last 10 years, we might need to give you consolation points.
    Visit me again on Thursday at Diane’s Blog. I’m going to talk about asking for what you want, and NOT in The Secret kind of way. And on Wednesday I’ll be writing something historical for the Harlequin Historical Author blog.
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