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10 Books I Should Read, but Haven’t

You have one of these lists, right? They’re different for all of us, but if you’re a reader, that list just seems to grow and grow. It’s those books you should read, but haven’t, the books you’re always meaning to read, but don’t. For some of us, the list consists of classics, for others, it’s genre standards. It doesn’t matter what’s on your list. For one reason or another, these books have found their way onto your radar and never left. You may have gone so far as to purchase some of them and they’re sitting on your bookcase right now making you feel guilty. Anyway, I decided to blow the dust off my own Top 10 list of Books I Should Read, but Haven’t:

  • 1984, George Orwell
  • Gilead, Marilynne Robinson
  • The Stand, Stephen King
  • Don Quixote, Cervantes
  • Frankenstein, Mary Shelley
  • The Old Man and the Sea, Ernest Hemingway
  • Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, Susanna Clark
  • Slaughterhouse Five, Kurt Vonnegut
  • The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • At the Mountains of Madness, H.P. Lovecraft

Any similarity to your list? Of course not! Okay, so what are some of the books you should read, but haven’t?

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{ 28 comments… add one }
  • Bruce Hennigan June 23, 2011, 7:42 PM

    Moby Dick, Herman Melville
    Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand (according to my son!)
    Jayber Crow, Wendell Berry
    Phantastes, George MacDonald
    The Book of the Dun Cow, Walter Wangerin, Jr.
    ‘Salem’s Lot, Stephen King
    The Brothers Karamazov, Fyodor Dostoevsky
    In Cold Blood, Truman Capote
    The Long Goodbye, Raymond Chandler
    Gilead, Marilynne Robinson (I agree with you on this one!)

  • Heather Sunseri June 23, 2011, 8:03 PM

    I need to read several of the classics, actually. But I have read the Great Gatsby, and my husband and I just talked about the fact that he has not. It’s one of my favorites.

    Pride and Prejudice (Been meaning and wanting to, but thought the movie was pretty good)
    The Help (Sitting on my bedside table)
    The Book Thief (Been on my shelf for several years)
    Same Kind of Different as Me (friend loaned me months ago for a “quick” read)
    When Helping Hurts (Meant to read b/f mission trip next week)

    There’s 5. I’m too tired to think of 5 more right now. I’ll get back to you. Maybe.

  • David James June 23, 2011, 9:55 PM

    A couple of yours that I haven’t read on are on my longer list, but probably not my short list. I’d have to think about my short list as there really are so many that I need to read. But I do know I want to read both 1984 and Don Quixote. Two of the books you’ve mentioned I have actually read, and that’s Frankenstein and The Stand. I like both, but I highly recommend cracking open The Stand as soon as possible. It’s a long read (especially if you’ve got the complete and uncut version), but one that is quite satisfying along the way and will stay with you long, long, long, loooooong after you’ve closed the cover on the final page. That I can promise you. 😉

    • Mike Duran June 24, 2011, 8:27 AM

      The bigger the book, the longer it seems to remain on my list (see: The Stand, Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrel, Don Quixote, etc.)

      • Katherine Coble June 24, 2011, 2:15 PM

        I’m with David. The Stand is one of those books I’d pay people to read if I ran the world. It is so thoroughly wonderful, amazingly vivid and moving. Plus, it’s ripping fun. I know you and I seem to be opposites in loving long books. (For me, the longer the better). If it helps you feel less daunted, The Stand is one of those books–like George RR Martin’s– that can be treated almost like a collection of short stories. The narration shifts POV among several characters and each section in itself a short character-conflict-resolution arc that moves the whole novel forward. So it’s easy to take in small bites if the brick-sized tome as a whole seems off-putting.

  • Jenn Fletcher June 23, 2011, 11:44 PM

    Frankenstein is great-one of my favorite reads. Great Gatsby was alright. I need to, and want to read 1984, Slaughterhouse House and Jane Eyre. For some sexist reason people think since I am female and have a bachelors in literature that Jane Eyre would be a favorite of mine but I haven’t even bothered reading it.

  • Jay June 24, 2011, 4:09 AM

    I just finished At Mountains of Madness, from a Lovecraft collection. Very good.

    Not fiction, but I’ve been meaning to read Human Action by Ludwig von Mises put I keep putting off buying it.

  • Carradee June 24, 2011, 6:02 AM

    Slaughterhouse Five
    Mere Christianity
    Pilgrim’s Progress
    The Forest of Hands and Teeth
    The Iron King
    Gone With the Wind
    A Tale of Two Cities

    Those are the first 10 I came up with. 🙂

    • Mike Duran June 24, 2011, 8:31 AM

      I read Dracula last year, partly out of obligation as a “horror writer”… and really enjoyed it, much more than I thought I would.

      • Carradee June 27, 2011, 4:21 AM

        I’ve heard that from a few folks about Dracula, and I even have a copy, but I can’t seem to get around to reading it. >_>

        Lord willing, one of these days…


  • Katherine Coble June 24, 2011, 7:41 AM

    I read pretty much everything I can get my hands on. I honestly don’t have any books that I “should” read or feel guilty for not having read yet.

    What I do have are books that other people LOVE but that I cannot stand. So I’ll give you the top 10 of those instead.

    Anna Karenina
    Pride & Prejudice
    The Poisonwood Bible
    Infinite Jest
    The Help
    Twilight et. cetera
    Anything by William Faulkner
    Anything by Ernest Hemingway
    Moby Dick
    Great Expectations

    • Tim George June 24, 2011, 8:07 AM

      Probably will agree on The Help but am obliged to read it because Jackson, MS is sort of my hometown (thought I never plan to live there again). Totally agree on Faulkner because I lived in his hometown at one time and anyone will intelligence is supposed to like him. Plus, had to read Absalom, Absalom and the Unvanquished my freshman year in college and I’ve never forgiven the professor or Faulkner since. Hemingway, how many ways so I despise thee? Too many to count.

      • Katherine Coble June 24, 2011, 2:08 PM

        You may or may not like it (The Help). I just felt it sold all the involved cultures short by simplified characterisation and did the South yet another disservice. As to Messrs. Faulkner and Hemingway, I confess both men seem to owe much of their good reputations to the Mid-century Liberal Arts boom. I cant think why theyd be so acclaimed save for bunches of people being told they have to like Faulkner & Hemingway to appear sophisticated.

        Pat Conroy summed up Faulkner and most other Southern fiction in a lovely and succinct way:
        “Mama cried when she heard what Daddy did to Sister the night the hogs ate Grandma.”

        • Tim George June 24, 2011, 3:28 PM

          Now here we were bonding and everything Katherine and you go and offend my southern pride with such a broad stroke 😀

          Here are a few classics by Southern writers that stand the test of time:
          All the King’s Men by Robert Penn Warren
          The Collected Stories of Eudora Welty
          The Moviegoer by Walker Percy
          Just about any short story by Willie Morris.

          Though your disdain for Faulkner and Hemingway have cemented the certainly of a continuing friendship.

          • Katherine Coble June 29, 2011, 1:23 PM

            You should note how careful I am with qualifiers! 🙂

            I DID say “most other”…. because as much as I loathe the Southern Gothic stuff like Tennessee Williams and Faulkner and that ilk, I am not only a fan of the works you mention (except for one story by Eudora Welty–Death of a Traveling Salesman) but also some of the more recent stuff by Fannie Flagg, River Jordan and other Southern writers.

    • Mike Duran June 24, 2011, 8:34 AM

      Hemingway has been on my list for longest, partly because he is so often referenced, for good or ill. I’ve never read him and feel I must. That way I can at least comment on his work intelligently.

  • Tim George June 24, 2011, 8:09 AM

    The Brothers Karamazov is at the top of my need to read list.

  • Dave Wilson June 24, 2011, 9:05 AM


    Can I suggest you start with Gilead? Robinson is an amazing writer. After reading it in paperback, I went back to the bookstore to buy a hardcover so I could underline portions during my next reading.


  • Alan Oathout June 24, 2011, 9:47 AM

    And Then There Were None (Always felt like I should read an Agatha Christie, and according to one list, this is the top selling mystery of all time)

    The Man Who Was Thursday (G.K. Chesterton…just curious)

    The Glass Bead Game (I’ve read all of Hermann Hesse’s important works, except for this…his last novel)

    The Strange Man (Greg Mitchell…Intrigued by the setup. In theory, I should love this one)

    Atlas Shrugged (Ayn Rand….always wanted to see what the fuss was about.)

    Gilead (Marilynne Robinson…David Long used to rave about this “back in the day”…and I usually loved the Lit he recommended on his blog)

    The final two novels in the “Last Chronicles of Thomas Covenant” series (Stephen R. Donaldson. I devoured the first and second chronicles…don’t know why I’m procrastinating on the third set)

    Anything by Lisa Samson (I feel so out of it…..)

    Levi’s Will (Dale Cramer. I was impressed by the craft in his first two novels, before he went All Amish. If anyone could make me like the genre, this guy probably can)

    She (H. Rider Haggard. Popular British writer of the late 1800’s. Precursor to all Lost World adventure tales)

  • Rebecca LuElla Miller June 24, 2011, 12:46 PM

    * War and Peace , Leo Tolstoy
    * Crime and Punishment, Fyodor Dostoevsky
    * Gilead, Marilynne Robinson
    * David Copperfield, Charles Dickens (or any other novel by him besides The Christmas Carol)
    * The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien
    * Don Quixote, Miguel de Cervantes
    * The Iliad (or The Odyssey), Homer
    * Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand
    * all three of the Last Chronicles of Thomas Covenant series, Stephen Donaldson
    * The Way of the Wilderking (Book 3, The Wilderking series), Jonathan Rogers
    * Phantastes, George MacDonald
    * Robinson Crusoe, Daniel Defoe


  • John Robinson June 24, 2011, 2:51 PM

    In my “yet to read” pile:

    War and Peace
    Crime and Punishment
    Gone With the Wind
    In Cold Blood
    The Stand (Mike, you talked me into it! *G*)
    Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell

    Plus a few more.

    At the Mountains of Madness is absolutely bonechilling; Lovecraft ‘s head was a dark, dark place. And back in my hippie days I read every title Kurt Vonnegut had written up to that time (Cat’s Cradle, God Bless you, Mister Rosewater, Player Piano, all of ’em ). Slaughterhouse-Five in particular caught my attention. I read it fifteen times, and caught the movie once (the film version stunk on toast).

  • Tracy Krauss June 24, 2011, 8:41 PM

    From your list the ones I have read are 1984 (LOVE IT!!!), FRANKENSTEIN (okay) and THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA (Yawn… sorry, Ernie …)
    I still haven’t read THE SHACK. I started once and couldn’t make myself continue. Everyone raves about it though, so I might bow to the peer pressure yet …

    • Leann Guzman June 28, 2011, 3:45 PM

      If it helps any, I didn’t like The Shack. So now you know not EVERYONE raves about it.

  • Lyndie Blevins June 26, 2011, 12:56 PM

    Dear Mike, I was I knew you. If I did, I would ask, ‘didn’t you got to high school?’ But I don’t, so I can’t say anything like that.

    From your list – THE Old Man and THE SEA is the shortest. It is also the most ‘guy’ book, – as far as you can get from romance. That is unless, fishing has it’s own seduction for you. CALL of the WILD would top it for being a ‘guy’ book.
    I would give THE STAND a go, the story is so compelling, you don’t really notice the length.

    My List:

    THE GREAT GATSBY ( a re-read)

  • Nissa Annakindt June 26, 2011, 1:39 PM

    My list USED to contain ‘The Resurrection’ by some dude named Mike Duran, but I got round to it and was glad I did.

    Most of the books on my ‘ought to read’ list are related to blog tours and other events where I have promised to read a book (which somehow kills some of the joy of reading it.)

    Also on my must-read list:
    everything by G. K. Chesterton
    Summa Theologica by St. Thomas Aquinas (does it come in a cartoon version?)
    The Nibelungenlied in German (a school assignment I never finished from 1978)
    Mein Kampf (a major sleeping pill)
    and a bunch of books I inherited from my dad that I will read the day I can’t resist learning more about Dwight Eisenhower or the Nixon administration.
    As for your list, Mike, I’d skip the Hemingway and go straight for the Mary Shelley and Stephen King, but that’s just me.

  • Marion June 26, 2011, 1:58 PM

    1984 by Orwell
    Robinson Crusoe by Defoe
    Lord of the Flies by Golding
    Black Boy by Wright
    Song of Solomon by Morrison
    Old Man and the Sea by Hemingway
    East of Eden by Steinbeck
    Memoir of Antproof Case by Helprin (I’ve read Winter’s Tale and Soldier of the Great War..both are excellent.)
    Pillars of the Earth by Follett
    Book of the Long Sun series by Wolfe. (I just bought them recently.)

  • Leann Guzman June 28, 2011, 3:53 PM

    With reference to the high school comment, I went to our church school, where “literature” was missionary biographies. Even in college, I managed to get a minor in English without ever having read most of the classics. So, my list of books I feel I should read is very long. The only one on your list that I’ve read is 1984. But when I can choose a page turner over something I’m only reading out of obligation, guess what wins every time?

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