These are the top 106 books most often marked as “unread” by LibraryThing‘s users (as of today). As usual, bold what you have read, italicise what you started but couldn’t finish, and strike through what you couldn’t stand. The numbers after each one are the number of LT users who used the tag of that book.
But I’m going to do 20 or so a day, because, you know — commentary. Plus it’ll keep me posting all week.
Also I’m putting an asterisk by books that are physically in my reading pile (as opposed to the I Intend to Read That Someday pile stacked up in my head). Think Starry Night.
range & Mr Norrell (149)
The partial strikethrough is for the repetitive footnotes and the four hundred pages that could have been cut.
Anna Karenina (132)
Herein lies a tiny autobiographical bit in “Mayfly”: I quit after Anna threw herself under the train. I didn’t mean to…it just kinda worked out that way. Fifteen years later and I still haven’t read Part 8.
Crime and Punishment* (121)
I blame Constance Garnett. I keep meaning to pick up the Pevear & Volokhonsky.
This I’ve read two or three times, a used copy that was already beat up when I got it. The front cover has torn off and is tucked inside the pages. Fun fact: Catch-22 was almost Catch-18…
One Hundred Years of Solitude* (115)
But I have memorized the first line of Love in the Time of Cholera.
Wuthering Heights (110)
I’ve read this at least six times, but that was back when I was young and foolish and thought it was a better book than Jane Eyre (see below). Still love the dead rabbit bit, though.
The Silmarillion (104)
Bear in mind I also skimmed over the elf songs in Lord of the Rings (gasp! shock! horror!).
Life of Pi: a Novel (94)
The opening framing device was kind of pesky, but the rest of the book is swell.
The Name of the Rose* (91)
Damn Sean Connery static.
Don Quixote (91)
This blew me away — funny and heartbreaking and therefore deeply human. Also deeply influential.
Moby Dick (86)
I read this as part of my AP English prep the summer before my senior year. I read it as I did most of The Classics that summer: floating on a raft in my parent’s swimming pool. If I get skin cancer we can chalk it up to death by verbosity. Oh, and you should check out Defective Yeti’s National Novel Reading Month.
Also, Finnegan’s Wake.
Madame Bovary (83)
Also, Sentimental Education
The Odyssey (83)
Stamped its tropes hard and fast in my ten-year-old mind.
Pride and Prejudice (83)
Winner of the most repeat readings award — a dozen times and still counting.
Jane Eyre (80)
My godmother gave me a fancy hardbound copy of this when I was eleven or so. I dutifully read it within the year, but I wasn’t into it and I thought Jane was whiny. A few years latter I was all about the Catherine and Heathcliff drama. And then for some reason I re-read Jane Eyre, and saw how much I didn’t get. Cathy has her psycho charm, but Jane rocks.
A Tale of Two Cities (80)
My sophomore year English class read the book and then watched the Ronald Colman version of the film, during which my friend Karen and I kept passing notes about Lucie’s outrageous hats. We also adopted “knit knit knit” as an expression of veiled but intense disapproval of our fellow students.
The Brothers Karamazov (80)
See Crime and Punishment.
Guns, Germs, and Steel: the Fates of Human Societies (79)
You know, at first I thought I’d read this, but now I’m pretty sure I didn’t, even though I still feel like I know it, somehow. Perhaps I absorbed it from the cultural ether.
War and Peace (78)
I’m pretty sure I made it as far as the mushrooms…
Vanity Fair (74)
I have good intentions.