A shelf in my living room with some well-loved classics
I was an English major in college and I’ve read a lot of books. I keep a mostly updated list of what I’ve read recently here. But still, there are so, so many books that I haven’t read and still want to read. It’s not an overstatement to say that I feel actively anxious that I won’t have time, in my life, to read every book I want to read. For some reason the classics still daunt me in a major way. Do you know what I mean? Are there classics that you still wish you’d read, perhaps, like me, wish you’d read in the context of a class, guided by someone smarter and more accomplished than you? There’s one that stands above all others for me on this list, and that’s Frankenstein. I’m fascinated by Mary Shelley, and I know I would love this book. Maybe I will just finally go ahead and read it. What’s holding me back? I’m not sure.
But there are other books, too. Books I wish I’d read when I regularly sat around a round mahogany table among smart, thoughtful, tired classmates, all of us being prompted to think about what we were reading. Books I wish I’d had someone motivating me to read. Books I even wish I had written papers on, even if I had to take a copy of that paper to a basement print lab on a hard disk to print it. Oh, the 1990s.
The list of books I wish I’d read in college is endless. But when I think, off the top of my head, of those volumes I most wish I had read, these are what comes to mind:
The Divine Comedy, Dante
Moby Dick, Melville
The Lord of the Rings/The Hobbit series, Tolkien
I was interested in what books were on the lists of others, and so I asked on Twitter and Facebook. The answers were super interesting:
Anna Karenina, Tolstoy
Dickens – 4 votes
“all things Faulkner”- 2 votes
Jane Eyre, Bronte
the work of George Eliot
“words by Plato and Socrates”
Pride and Prejudice, Austen
Wuthering Heights, Bronte
To Kill a Mockingbird, Lee
more Shakespeare – 2 votes
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Kesey
Moby Dick, Melville
War and Peace, Tolstoy
Last of the Mohicans, Cooper
What books loom like this for you, in some should-have-could-have-wish-I-had land of regret and mystery?
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