Sunday, May 18, 2008

A book meme

Some of the books currently on my "to be read" shelf. Some have been there far too long.

LibraryThing is an online service to help people catalog their books easily. Why anyone would want to catalog their books online I'm not sure. But like many voluntarily adopted online social networking sites, LibraryThing comes up with interesting information about our habits. One of its databits has led to a meme that is floating around the net. (My partner who haunts the community of knitting blogs passed it to me from And she knits too.)

What we have below is a list of the top 106 books most often marked as "unread" by LibraryThing users. They took the trouble to catalog them -- but their owners admit to not reading them. They sit on the shelf though, perhaps to make their owner feel smart or well-rounded.

The meme comes with these instructions: Bold the ones you've read, underline the ones you read for school, italicize the ones you started but didn't finish.

So what did I learn about myself when I did this? Once upon a time I was pretty widely read. Nowadays I mostly read blogs, audiobooks (including one of those below), and improving, if sometimes depressing, non-fiction. I almost always finish books I get around to starting.

How about you?

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell
Anna Karenina
Crime and Punishment

One Hundred Years of Solitude
Wuthering Heights
The Silmarillion
Life of Pi : a novel
The Name of the Rose
Don Quixote

Moby Dick

Madame Bovary
The Odyssey
Pride and Prejudice

Jane Eyre

The Tale of Two Cities

The Brothers Karamazov
Guns, Germs, and Steel: the fates of human societies

War and Peace

Vanity Fair

The Time Traveler’s Wife
The Iliad
The Blind Assassin
The Kite Runner
Mrs. Dalloway

Great Expectations

American Gods
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius
Atlas Shrugged
Reading Lolita in Tehran : a memoir in books
Memoirs of a Geisha
Wicked : the life and times of the wicked witch of the West

The Canterbury Tales
The Historian : a novel
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
Love in the Time of Cholera
Brave New World
The Fountainhead
Foucault’s Pendulum
The Count of Monte Cristo
A Clockwork Orange
Anansi Boys
The Once and Future King
The Grapes of Wrath

The Poisonwood Bible : a novel


Angels & Demons
The Inferno (and Purgatory and Paradise)
The Satanic Verses
Sense and Sensibility
The Picture of Dorian Gray
Mansfield Park

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

To the Lighthouse

Tess of the D’Urbervilles

Oliver Twist

Gulliver’s Travels

Les Misérables
The Corrections
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
The Prince
The Sound and the Fury

Angela’s Ashes : a memoir

The God of Small Things
A People’s History of the United States : 1492-present
A Confederacy of Dunces
A Short History of Nearly Everything
The Unbearable Lightness of Being

The Scarlet Letter
Eats, Shoots & Leaves
The Mists of Avalon
Oryx and Crake : a novel
Collapse : how societies choose to fail or succeed
Cloud Atlas
The Confusion

Northanger Abbey

The Catcher in the Rye

On the Road
The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Freakonomics : a rogue economist explores the hidden side of everything
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance : an inquiry into values
The Aeneid

Watership Down

Gravity’s Rainbow
The Hobbit
In Cold Blood : a true account of a multiple murder and its consequences

White Teeth
Treasure Island
David Copperfield
The Three Musketeers


cali said...

Remember to support your local independent book store...if you still have one.

Amazon does not collect taxes in CA and many other states. This is robbing our public libraries and schools of a lot of revenue.

sfmike said...

A third of those books would be in italics for me. I DO stop reading books if they're not meant for me to read at a particular time.

Having said that, the list is fascinating.

Nora Leah Sherman said...

I love this game! Thanks for posting, Jan. And btw, I love your blog. I always learn something new, often something scary, but that's not your fault, its the Administration's. Had to post this meme on my tumblr. Curious to see if my followers do the same. These are those ubiquitous books you see on everyone's shelves. I silently judge them, thinking, I've bet they've never read that. Ha!

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