And…You’re Saying I Should Read That? A Top Ten List

Those books everyone says you should read…? From depression to heartbreak to the totally obnoxious – these are books I’m just not sure I want to read. Ten of them, specifically (as hosted by The Broke and The Bookish). And I figured my lack of any sort of introduction would be forgiven by including a gratuitous photo of Paul Newman reading. Right? Right.

Paul Newman Reading

10. The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton. Described as profoundly tragic. Please…tell me why I should read this.

09. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston. I think it’s just a lack of interest on my part. I’m sure it’s good.

08. The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand. I am of the opinion that if this is your favorite book, we are never going to be friends.

07. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini. I feel like everyone has read this one…

06. Les Misérables by Victor Hugo. I’ve seen it. That’s as close as it’s going to get to be read. Have you seen the size of that thing?

05. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy. For all of my good intentions in life, this one probably won’t happen.

04. The Silmarillion by J. R. R. Tolkein. I own this. It’s sits proudly on my shelf collecting dust. The idea is nice, but the thought of going even deeper into the myths and legends of Middle-Earth scares me away.

03. Sophie’s Choice by William Styron. I’ve read Requiem for a Dream, clearly I’ve already reached my literary misery quota. I’m sure it’s probably good, but no. I will never read this. Ever.

02. The Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean M. Auel. Stephen King describes this series as  “sex among the cave people”. Color me intrigued, but still…no.

01. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce. I read Ulysses. That’s enough, right?

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  • Bonnie @ For the Love of Words

    hahaha I feel the same about the majority of these (although I am a big Clan of the Cave Bear fan). I attempted Atlas Shrugged and immediately crossed off anything Ayn Rand from my TBR because omgawd no. War and Peace and Les Mis and even Anna Karenina scares me. Count of Monte Cristo. Anything enormous and classic is bound to scare me. Or modern classics, like Infinite Jest. I attempted that one too so I get points for that. I got to about page 20. lol

    • Rory

      You’re the reason I’ve actually considered giving Clan of the Cave Bear a shot. Because…just maybe.

      War and Peace. I should. I know I should. But I know I won’t at the same time.

      Ayn Rand. Never in this life. Not in the next one either.

      • Bonnie @ For the Love of Words

        I’d like to give it a re-read, see if my younger self had any sense. Someday.

  • Laura Frey

    I am pretty much here for the Paul Newman pics. Kidding…

    The House of Mirth: read it precisely because of what you wrote: profoundly tragic. If you don’t like profoundly tragic books… I don’t think I can help you.

    Les Mis didn’t feel as long as it is. Though I did renew four times from the library…

    Clan of the Cave bear was extremely educational because I was like ten years old. I’m glad I read it when I did but it would be totally embarrassing now.

    W&P: attempting to read this year. C’mon! … that’s it, the extent of my argument 🙂

    • Rory

      Honestly, me too. Paul Newman reading pretty much takes the cake.

      I like profoundly tragic books. I just have to be in the right mood to handle it. Sometimes they completely crush me, beyond what I think is normal.

      Haha, Clan of the Cave Bear. I’ve heard rumors, that according to the text, oral sex was “invented” in that book.

      • Laura Frey

        Hahaha YUP, and it was “invented” for me too. I remember thinking PEOPLE DO THAT?! I was completely scandalized.

  • Kate @ booksaremyfavouriteandbest

    Well I’ve read Les Misérables and always feel quietly smug about it 😉 War and Peace… I WILL do it. One day.

  • Nish

    I tried reading Fountainhead and War and Peace. Truly, not worth the effort. Funny, I too look suspiciously at people who claim to love anything by Ayn Rand.

  • Cathy746books

    I am actually reading House of Mirth at the minute and it is surprisingly good!

  • Shannon @ River City Reading

    Whenever I watch Les Mis I really want to read it, but then I fell all…why bother? Which is so not a bookish thing to say, but that’s just a huge book.

  • Aarati

    Some classics have made your list. Unfortunately I’ve to read A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce for my post-grad class this year. Here’s my TTT

  • tanya (52 books or bust)

    I agree with you on a significant number of these titles. What does that say about us? That we are book lovers, but don’t follow the trends?

  • Charleen

    I haven’t read any of these, but after unexpectedly loving And the Mountains Echoed, Hosseini’s other books are definitely on my list.

  • Deb Nance at Readerbuzz

    If you’ve read Ulysses, I give you a pass on anything else you feel you should read. You’ve done the hard thing.

    Here’s my list of Books I’m Not Sure I Want to Read.

  • Heather

    If you don’t read any of the others on this list, please read Their Eyes Were Watching God. It’s so good.

  • Kate @ Fictional Thoughts

    Les Mis is HUGE! Could just about use my copy as a door stop. But I thought it was a worthwhile read. It’s long but it didn’t feel that way when I read it. I loved the musical and the book just expands on everything so much more. Storylines in the musical which I thought were a bit weak made more sense in the book when more detail is given and more is shown. It’s one I recommend if you like the musical!

  • Acid Free Pulp

    I feel very similarly about all of these for the most part (although, I’ve not heard of The Clan of the Cave Bear). I’m always partly intrigued by Les Miserables; I don’t know why and its length is surely daunting. You had me laughing at number 8. Very true indeed. My sophomore English class had to read Anthem. My sixteen year old self was unaware of the hoopla surrounding Rand and was terribly unpleased with the book. I continue to roll my eyes at die-hard fans.

    I suppose my addition to list is Donna Tartt. I have no real opinion of her, but really have no motivation to read her books, either.

  • Naomi

    Like Laura, I was pretty young when I read Clan of the Cave Bear. It was on my mother’s shelf. Maybe I should ask her if it’s still good when you’re all grown up! My guess, though, is that you can give that one a pass.

    I liked the Kite Runner.

  • C.J.

    I’m currently reading War and Peace a few chapters a week, no deadline, no pressure. It’s kind of like one big soap opera right now. If anything, I’ll just try to finish it so I can feel quietly smug.

  • Words for Worms

    Oh gosh, I still haven’t read The Kite Runner either. You’re not the last one!

  • Christy

    You’re not missing anything re: Kite Runner. It was fine and not necessarily a waste of my time, but I don’t think it’s a must-read.

    I want to re-read Their Eyes Were Watching God. I read it when I was a teenager, and I feel like my reading tastes have changed a lot since then.

    Totally agree re: Fountainhead.

  • Carolyn O

    House of Mirth is so gorgeous — Wharton is a genius prose stylist. I’d recommend it just for the writing.

    And The Silmarillion is awesome, but not for you if you’re not interested in more Middle Earthiness.

    I am totally with you on 2, 3, 5. 6, and 7. And yes, Ulysses is enough!

  • Care

    Applause for Ulysses! I read Clan of the Cave Bear and don’t remember anything nor my reaction to it. I only chose to read Les Mis in HS to show off, I admit it. And then TOTALLY LOVED IT!!! Bawled through the last 60 pages. So good. I am only recently captivated by the long books but still have no interest in W&P. I’m listening to The Count of Monte Cristo (yep, it is 48 hours long) – fabulously fun.

  • Melinda @ The Book Musings

    I’m actually really keen on reading Sophie’s Choice and The Kite Runner, but I’m with you on Les Miserables

  • maria helena

    Both Les Misérables and The Kite Runner are in my tbr pile but I never seem to make it to them. War and Peace is worth reading.

    Also, don’t judge me but I loved The Clan of the Cave Bear when I read it. I was 13 or 14 (and can clearly not be held accountable for my opinions at that age…)

  • Allison @ The Book Wheel

    I actually liked The Fountainhead. And Atlas Shrugged….

    • Rory

      What craziness is this?

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