The Ten Best Books I’ve Never Read

Book spines

While I love making lists of books that I have read and loved, I thought it might be interesting to take a look at some classics that, for one reason or another, I never got to.

  1. Moby Dick, by Herman Melville (1851). Everyone knows the story about Captain Ahab and his quest for revenge on the white whale that destroyed his ship and ate his leg. Detailed descriptions of whale hunting, however, and copious use of literary devices like songs, soliloquies and stage directions makes it sound tedious to read.
  2. Uncle Tom’s Cabin, by Harriet Beecher Stowe (1852). I started reading this book many years ago, but only got a few chapters in. I think there was quite a bit of dialect, which tends to make me impatient.
  3. War and Peace, by Leo Tolstoy (1869). I love Anna Karenina, and would love to read this book too someday. I started reading once, but only got so far before I put it down. The sheer size and scope of the book intimidates.
  4. Middlemarch, by George Eliot (1874). I have an acquaintance who raves about this book. It sounds like something I’d like, and I really wanted to read it. But I couldn’t get past Chapter One. Like many classic authors, I find the writer’s actual life more interesting than their novels. Mary Ann Evans is one of them.
  5. Ulysses, by James Joyce (1922). No. Just no.
  6. Brave New World, by Alduous Huxley (1932). I have this one on my shelf, but it’s still unread. I’m not sure why; I enjoy dystopian fiction to some degree.
  7. Animal Farm and 1984, by George Orwell (1945, 1949). I included these together, since it’s my list and I can do what I want. Political allegory tends to bore me. 1984 looks more promising, another dystopian story I might like. Maybe someday.
  8. The Old Man and the Sea, by Ernest Hemingway (1952). I like Hemingway, having read several of his novels and short stories. But something about an old man fishing on a boat in the sea (and not much else) doesn’t appeal. It’s on my shelf.
  9. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee (1960). With all the hype about Go Set a Watchman lately, you’d think I’d finally read this much beloved tale. Nope. I haven’t seen the movie, either. Like most of these books, I’m familiar with the plot and its themes, so don’t feel compelled to read.
  10. The Color Purple, by Alice Walker (1982). I remember Oprah going on and on about this one, and I’m sure if I sat down and read it, I’d be moved to tears. Just not yet.

Messy books


Some of these I still may get to; others definitely not. The good thing about all of these tales is that each and everyone one of them has at least one film adaptation (probably more), so I could at least say, “No, but I saw the movie.”

What about you? Have you read and loved (or hated) any of these books? What’s on your list of great books you’ve never read? Leave a comment and we’ll talk about it!


3 thoughts on “The Ten Best Books I’ve Never Read

  1. I’ve never read #1 – #5; the others — #6 – #10 — I have.

    Bonus for you: the ones I did read are considerably shorter than the ones I haven’t. You, too, could get through them.

    As for #6 -#10: a copy of War and Peace sits on my bed-side bookshelf. I bought it years ago. I lift it off the shelf every other month or so, if only to remind me how heavy it is and how I’ll (likely) never read it.

    Liked by 1 person

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