Just listening on Radio 4's PM to the top ten list of books people claim they have read which they actually haven't. My main claim to fame in the not reading stakes is doing Homer's Iliad and Odyssey as one of my special subjects for my degree and never actually reading The Iliad in its entirety. Still haven't. And they were read in translation, I should say, lest anyone think I have a brain brimming with linguistic zip and ping.
This is the list, in order of most lied about:
- 1984- George Orwell
- War and Peace - Tolstoy
- Ulysses - James Joyce
- The Bible
- Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
- A Brief History of Time - Stephen Hawking
- Midnight's Children - Salman Rushdie
- In Remembrance of Things Past - Marcel Proust
- Dreams from My Father - Barack Obama
- The Selfish Gene - Richard Dawkins
I really, genuinely, absolutely have, read three of them, though perhaps not every word.
So, what are your literary no-go areas?
And in case anyone is wondering, I did get my degree (Ancient History and Classical Civilisation), and quite respectably too. I maintained then, and would probably still now if pushed, that if you were doing Homeric Society as revealed (or not) in the epics, then you could skip the bits in which they were fighting. Sadly, when it comes to Homeric descriptions of war and Bernard Cornwell's, I do prefer Bernard Cornwell's.