Nicole recently posted her responses to a book meme. I tend to shy away from memes, but in the spirit of self-congratulatory smugness, I’ll actually participate in this one. Because I happen to have read a lot of the books in the list, I can feel all proud that I’m more educated than you are! (Actually, for whatever reason, this list has a lot of overlap with our book group reading list, so I’ve read a lot of these books in the past decade, not just in my lifetime.)

In the list below, I’ve bolded books I’ve finished, italicized books I started but did not complete, made blue the books that I particularly love, and used red to indicate books I particularly dislike. The only problem with this list? No Proust.

The Aeneid

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay

American Gods

Anansi Boys

Angela’s Ashes : a memoir

Angels & Demons

Anna Karenina

Atlas Shrugged


The Blind Assassin

Brave New World

The Brothers Karamazov

The Canterbury Tales

The Catcher in the Rye


A Clockwork Orange

Cloud Atlas

Collapse : how societies choose to fail or succeed

A Confederacy of Dunces

The Confusion

The Corrections

The Count of Monte Cristo

Crime and Punishment


The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

David Copperfield

Don Quixote




Eats, Shoots & Leaves


Foucault’s Pendulum

The Fountainhead


Freakonomics : a rogue economist explores the hidden side of everything

The God of Small Things

The Grapes of Wrath

Gravity’s Rainbow

Great Expectations

Gulliver’s Travels

Guns, Germs, and Steel: the fates of human societies

A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius

The Historian : a novel

The Hobbit

The Hunchback of Notre Dame

The Iliad

In Cold Blood : a true account of a multiple murder and its consequences

The Inferno (and Purgatory and Paradise)

Jane Eyre

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell

The Kite Runner

Les Misérables

Life of Pi : a novel


Love in the Time of Cholera

Madame Bovary

Mansfield Park

Memoirs of a Geisha



Mrs. Dalloway

The Mists of Avalon

Moby Dick

The Name of the Rose



Northanger Abbey

The Odyssey

Oliver Twist

The Once and Future King

One Hundred Years of Solitude

On the Road

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

Oryx and Crake : a novel

A People’s History of the United States : 1492-present


The Picture of Dorian Gray

The Poisonwood Bible : a novel

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

Pride and Prejudice

The Prince


Reading Lolita in Tehran : a memoir in books

The Satanic Verses

The Scarlet Letter (reading right now)

Sense and Sensibility

A Short History of Nearly Everything

The Silmarillion


The Sound and the Fury

A Tale of Two Cities

Tess of the D’Urbervilles

The Time Traveler’s Wife

To the Lighthouse

Treasure Island

The Three Musketeers


The Unbearable Lightness of Being

Vanity Fair

War and Peace

Watership Down

White Teeth

Wicked : the life and times of the wicked witch of the West

Wuthering Heights

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance : an inquiry into values

What about you? Has your book group managed to read a lot of these books in the past ten years, too? Or are you just an uneducated little waif?

8 Replies to “Well Read”

  1. Nikchick says:

    The most embarrassing part about my responses to the meme are how many of the books I’ve started and not finished but was enjoying reading/listening to! I just have terrible discipline when it comes to reading…I allow myself to be distracted by a new shiny thing. I was looking at my book shelves last weekend and there are dozens of books on them with book marks still in them, as if I’ll get back to them someday.

  2. dave in bend says:

    Good grief! I read “Reading Lolita in Tehran : a memoir in books” as “Ray Liotta in Tehran”. Yeesh, I need more coffee. However, Ray Liotta in Tehran may actually make an interesting book!

  3. Jeff says:

    Don’t blink or you’ll miss my list…

    Angela’s Ashes – listened on tape (JD was playing it)

    The Canterbury Tales – read most of it in high school (Brit Lit)

    The Grapes of Wrath – I actually read this one cover to cover in high school (American Lit)

    The Iliad – parts of it in high school (Humanities Class)

    The Inferno – again, in high school (Humanities class)

    I was supposed to read The Scarlet Letter and Tess of the D’Urbervilles (and probably lots of others) back then, too… but I didn’t want to… so I didn’t read them.

    I’d like to read more, but reading just puts me to sleep… so I don’t think I’ll be joining any book clubs anytime soon.

  4. Amanda says:

    Wow, I’m feeling pretty smug myself with the number of these books that I’ve read (or at least attempted to read).

    But JD! Please, I beg you. Explain to me your disdain for A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. I do not understand.

  5. Joel says:

    This meme reminds me of the game Humiliation, as David Lodge described it in his novel Changing Places: Each person playing names the most famous work of literature that they’ve never read. For everyone in the group who has read it, they get a point. The person with the most points “wins”, but, of course, is probably a little humiliated. In the novel, an English professor wins by confessing that he’s never read Hamlet, and is subsequently passed over for tenure.

    I’ll go first! I’ve never read The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

  6. Tiffany says:

    Every time I see a list like this I wish that I would have had the foresight to starting tracking all the books that I have read in my life. I wish this for a few reasons:

    1. I have read a lot of books (nowhere near Jds list) but I think it would be nice to see the tangible list.

    2. I seem to forget the titles. This happens most with what I call ‘crap reads’. Those books that I read to not think. One summer I read all the P. Cornwell that I could find, but I cannot tell you which ones I read because the plots are so similar. It goes not help that the covers change overtime. On multiple occasions I have picked up a crap read only to get a couple chapters in and realize I have read it before.

    3. People seem to ask my for book suggestions. I HATE recommending books. Just because I like a book does not mean you will.

    I guess all I can do is start the list now, I can start with the book group list for the last few years.

  7. Josh says:

    Whoa! Hold on a minute….What kind of list contains both The Hobbit and the freaking Silmarillion, but fails to include Lord of the Rings? Do you automatically disallow any novel made into a series of films by Peter Jackson? I mean, I can understand the impetus to do so, what with riding the wave of backlash against a successful fantasy film franchise and all, but shouldn’t the original novel still make the cut? 😉

  8. mrs darling says:

    I’ve read only ten of these and one was the Poisonwood Bible which I really liked.

    Btw, I lived through The Scarlet Letter in a past lifetime. Thats why Ive read it 4 times.

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