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
All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque
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
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
Cry, The Beloved Country by Alan Paton
no. I confess, I had not heard of this book.
Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes
Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton
The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
The Great Gadsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
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
Moby Dick by Herman Melville
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
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
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane
Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe
The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
A Separate Peace by John Knowles
no, but I would like to read this one
Silas Marner by George Eliot
The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
The Stranger by Albert Camus
A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
Tales by Edgar Allen Poe
yes, at least some of them
Tess of the D’Ubervilles by Thomas Hardy
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
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
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.