As an English Literature graduate, I definitely have THE GUILT.
What is THE GUILT? I hear you ask. Well, quite simply, it describes the tightening of my gut when I survey a bookshop and remember once again all the books that I should have read, but I haven’t (and in most cases, have either no intention, or no desire to). Let’s call this THE GUILT1. I’ll get to THE GUILT2 and 3 over the next few days. You lucky sausages!
When I was searching for my novel to collect (https://thebetsypowell.wordpress.com/2014/04/21/to-kill-a-mockingbird/), I came across The Guardian‘s Top 100 Books of all Time (http://www.theguardian.com/world/2002/may/08/books.booksnews), and was once again filled with THE GUILT1.
According to them, the greatest book of all time is Don Quixote – I’ve definitely not read this. Nor have I read:
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
Crime and Punishment by Fyodor M Dostoyevsky
The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy by Laurence Sterne
Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
Moby-Dick by Herman Melville
Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
The Trial by Franz Kafka
Ulysses by James Joyce
And there were many more than that; many many more. Worse still, there were plenty that I hadn’t even heard of! – Absalom, Absalom! by Faulkner and The Devil to Pay in the Backlands by Joao Guimaraes Rosa, anyone? In fairness, I had read most of the ones written by Englishmen (and women), but it doesn’t assuage my guilt much.
In an effort to make myself better, I put the question to you guys – what books do you feel guilty about not having read? – and the answers were cracking.
“Every time I walk into a library I feel guilty about all the books I haven’t read! Seriously, though, there is a very long list. The authors that come to mind right now are Tolstoy and Updike, for some reason.” – Grace
“I just can’t get through Mansfield Park. I’ve tried three times and every time I see it on the bookshelf I feel like I should persevere but just can’t be arsed!” – Claire
“LOADS. I’ve never managed to finish Wuthering Heights, despite several attempts, and shamefully I only completed Jane Eyre a year ago too. I have only read Bleak House (at uni) but no other Dickens. Oh and To Kill a Mockingbird – never read. I’ll stop there before I shame myself any further.” – Lauren
“There are SO MANY books I feel guilty that I haven’t read, including Great Gatsby, all of Dickens, Jane Eyre, Moby Dick etc. Most of the classics.” – Ashley
“Jane Eyre. Just can’t get through it.” – Rachael
“Most of Henry James. Ditto Virginia Woolf. War and Peace.” – Hilary
“I should probably read Hard Times with it being based on my home town, but Preston is depressing enough with reading it!” – Ally
Just like that, I was feeling better; even more so when I stumbled across this caveat at the bottom of The Guardian‘s feature: “This list of the 100 best books of all time was prepared by Norwegian Book Clubs.” I mean, no disrespect to Norwegian book clubs, but that’s a pretty niche subset.
And, Don Quixote? Really?!…