Let me begin by admitting that I have never read the following works either. I may have attempted some of them, but didn’t finish a single one. Also, please don’t try and convince me that you’ve read any of the following from cover to cover. I will stubbornly refuse to believe you. It is a far, far greater thing for some pretentious douchebag to think you illiterate, than to be a pretentious douchebag yourself.
[Please don’t get your panties in a bundle. This is just for fun.]
10. Foucault’s Pendulum by Umberto Eco
I could break the rules a little bit here, and say every book Umberto Eco has ever written, but I won’t. Foucault’s Pendulum is the only one I tried to read, so I’ll leave the rest alone for now. It has something to do with intrigue, Paris, The Knights Templar, and conspiracies. If that sounds similar to The Da Vinci Code, it might be because Dan Brown could have ripped off this book and dumbed it way down to write his best-seller. I wouldn’t know, because I only ever read about 100 pages of it (Foucault’s Pendulum, that is. I did finish Dan Brown’s book). I once lied to a guy I was dating, telling him I had finished Foucault’s Pendulum and loved it. It feels good to get it off my chest now. I may attempt it again next time I get a terrible bout of insomnia.
9. Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie
A lot of people probably ran out and bought this given all the controversy back in the late 80’s. I don’t know if any of them actually finished this 500+ pager, though. I checked it out from Borders back when I was an employee (when there actually was such a thing as Borders). Upon cracking it open, I quickly had a great deal more sympathy for the Ayatollah Khomeini.
8. Moby Dick by Herman Melville
That’s right. I have a degree in literature and I have never, ever read this. I’ve never even attempted it. How did I get away with that? Well, see, there is a much shorter work by Melville called Billy Budd. I read that for one of my American Literature classes, and wormed my way out of reading Moby Dick. If you have ever read Billy Budd, you would likely understand why I was not inspired to read more Melville. When Alfre Woodard’s character in Star Trek: First Contact quotes Moby Dick and then later admits that she has never read it, I felt a wave of familiarity wash over me that I have not felt since.
7. 100 Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
I can maybe buy that you were able to get through Love in the Time of Cholera, but not this one. Sorry. Moving on…
6. Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
It is not just that this 7000 page book is a huge, pretentious, bore. It is not just that Ayn Rand was a Nazi sympathizing cow. It is not just that douchebag hipster Libertarians adore Rand. It is about all of those things combined. If you made it through this book, you’re a douche. If you brag about it to me, I will slap you. Hard. I even included a photo of Rand to show how gross she was.
5. The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien
I read The Hobbit in high school and waded through Lord of the Rings in college. Those are all enjoyable reads. This, however, is a big old hot mess. I should know. I have wasted a lot of time on big fantasy epics (ask me about Terry Goodkind someday). I am a sci-fi/fantasy geek of the highest order. And even I will not attempt this. Stay away.
4. Gravity’s Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon
This keeps turning up on all kinds of reading lists online. I have owned a copy of it for years. I’m looking at the spine of it right now, sitting on my bookshelf. If you are visiting my house and see it sitting there, feel free to steal it. You won’t read it either, though.
3. Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace
2. A James Joyce Tie: Finnegan’s Wake and Ulysses
Let’s get Finnegan’s Wake out of the way first. You have not read this, and never ever will. There are professors with PhDs in literature who won’t even attempt this. It is ranting nonsense, and nothing more.
Now for Ulysses. Though nearly impossible to read, this in some ways is closer to resembling something you may feel like you could read. No. You can’t. Put it down and give A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man or Dubliners a try. Those are both achievable goals, and will give you a lifetime fill of James Joyce.
1. The Bible
You may have read passages of this. You may review verses here and there in your bible study groups. You may have read whole chapters or even a few entire books here and there. But anyone other than a biblical scholar who claims to have read this thing cover to cover is a big honking liar. No one actually reads the bible cover to cover, or ever has. Okay, maybe hundreds of years ago when there were no other books to read (and I mean NO other books to read). And that was by default only.
In any case, most modern day followers of this collection of stories make it abundantly clear they’ve never read the thing.