As I’ve mentioned before, being an English teacher means people automatically assume I’ve read just about every book ever published. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve admitted to someone that I haven’t read something, only to have them say (with a smug little smirk), “What?! I can’t believe YOU haven’t read that. Even I’VE read that book.”
In recent years, I’ve been quite a bit better about reading books that the unofficial book club of America has read, but there are still a few titles people are consistently shocked that I haven’t picked up yet. Here are a few examples:
1. The Da Vinci Code
I think this is the one that shocks people the most. When this book hit its heyday in 2003, it seemed that everybody and their grandma was reading this title. I don’t know what it was, but the stubborn part of me that occasionally rears its grizzly head just couldn’t let me pick this title up–it seemed just a little TOO mainstream for my “very sophisticated high school sophomore” taste.
This might possibly be a book that I refuse to pick up just because I want to be difficult about it (much like a couple of my immediate family members refuse to read Harry Potter just because everyone else likes them). Whatever the reason (and despite many people telling me otherwise), I just don’t think I’ll ever pick up a Dan Brown novel.
2. Lord of the Flies
It seems that while I was reading Ayn Rand and Chinua Achebe in my sophomore honors English class, everyone else read Lord of the Flies (and seemingly hated it). While most people who have read this discourage me from reading it, I will eventually pick up this title as it’s on my 100 Most-Recommended Classics list.
From what I can tell of the plot line, however, it seems like it’s basically The Hunger Games, but without all the excitement and general likability.
Whenever I admit I haven’t read Macbeth (or Julius Caesar), people seem to think it indecent. How could any self-respecting teacher of English language and literature not have picked up this widely-read classic by the Bard himself? (And even worse, I only vaguely know the story…oops!)
To counteract the shocked looks on people’s faces, I defend myself with these three points:
1. I have, in fact, read a decent amount of Shakespeare (but not an indecent amount, thankyouverymuch). Considering that all English majors are required to take a Shakespeare class and that most of my high school classes made us read at least one of his plays each year, I’m not totally Shakespeare illiterate.
2. I actually am not a huge fan of Shakespeare (I’ll pause while a collective gasp is emitted from the crowd). It’s not that I have anything against the man himself or his work per se, but it’s more that the drama genre just has never really been my thing.
3. I did once see a play of this drama. But maybe I conveniently leave out the fact that I left at intermission because I was bored out of my mind.
4. Where the Red Fern Grows
I think my students (who have read this book themselves) are the most shocked when I admit I haven’t read this childhood classic (them and my mother, anyway). It’s not that I doubt its brilliance or likability, but I have a hard time carving out time for it because A) I know how absolutely sad it is, and B) I’ve had so many students read this and do book reviews of it (which requires a very detailed summary of the entire plot) that I kind of feel like I’ve already read it.
I will eventually pick it up though, as it’s on the Newbery list I’ve been munching my way through. (Thank goodness for those book lists, eh? They apparently help me to see reason.)
This is the one that I need to remedy the quickest–even I can’t believe I still haven’t read this dystopia that launched a thousand dystopias. I even own this book and still haven’t read it.
Really I have no excuse for this one.
(Other notable titles I have not read: A Tale of Two Cities, Watership Down, Black Beauty, or Gone With the Wind.)
How many of these titles have you read? And which books would you say that “everyone has read but you”?