You’re an avid reader. Perhaps you wonder what those ten famous books are and even more important, whether you have climbed the heights and added some of them to your Been-There-Read-That list. It’s only natural and I fell for it too. The cliché is of course War and Peace (hey, I read it) and there are several novels that came out of the cascading literary movements throughout the years: Clarissa, Middlemarch, A la recherché du temps perdu, Ulysses, The Recognitions, A Dance To the Music of Time, Infinite Jest. Were any of these on the list of ten? This intriguing article was in the Telegraph online and before you get too excited, here are the ten famous books that are either too long or too complex to be completed by the normal reader. What do you think?
Remember, this is the
Top Ten Most Famous Books We Never Finish
- Hard Choices by Hillary Rohdam Clinton
- Capital In the 21st Century by Thomas Piketty
- Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace
- A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking
- Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
- Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg
- Flash Boys by Michael Lewis
- Fifty Shades of Grey by E. L. James
- The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
- Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
Okay, raise your hand if you head just exploded. I guess that word “famous” is open to interpretation when discussing books. After all, how many copies of Naked Came the Stranger were sold in comparison to the sales of Finnegans Wake? I don’t have those figures in front of me but I can easily believe that Stranger outsold Finnegan and therefore might be considered the more famous novel.
What’s funny to me isn’t that a trashy fiction like Fifty Shades of Grey made the list but that The Great Gatsby was on the list. Gatsby is required reading in High School in the United States and is pervasive on all the “best” lists; it’s short, it’s easy reading, it has multiple crutches available like Spark Notes, discussion questions are well known, and … wait … the Telegraph is a British news service. Why would the British be required to read Gatsby, especially with it’s very American themes? You might also ask what Clinton’s book has to interest the British, or Wallace’s tome, or Sandburg’s, or Lewis’s.
In conclusion I can say that the Telegraph published a stupid article on books and reading. If you go to the site, read some of the comments: they’re choice but often a bit sad (did someone agree that they just couldn’t finish The Great Gatsby?).
Now for a confession: I have yet to finish reading Boswell’s Life of Johnson and Burton’s Anatomy of Melancholy is used more as a bookstop than it is read. Mann’s Joseph and His Brothers sits quietly on the shelf as does Musil’s The Man Without Qualities. I guess we all have a few books that we just never get around to finishing. You can check out some of the books I had a lot of trouble with by visiting Painful Reading on this site.