What books do you pretend to have read?

Book Riot did an informal poll of its readers about books they pretend to have read.  Here are the top 20:

  1. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (85 mentions)
  2. Ulysses by James Joyce
  3. Moby-Dick by Herman Melville
  4. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
  5. The Bible
  6. 1984 by George Orwell
  7. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
  8. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  9. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
  10. Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
  11. Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace
  12. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
  13. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  14. Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James
  15. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
  16. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky
  17. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
  18. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
  19. Harry Potter (series) by J.K. Rowling
  20. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens (21 mentions)

“Pretend to have read” is a slippery category — Pretend to whom?  Your snobby literary friends?  Your co-workers standing around the water cooler?  Your girlfriend the English major who won’t sleep with you if you haven’t finished Ulysses?  Does anyone really care nowadays what you’ve read and what you haven’t read?  Presumably the folks that Book Riot readers hang out with do.

Can you spot the one that isn’t as classic-y as the rest?  I thought you could.  As the Book Riot writer suggests, presumably people pretend to have read Fifty Shades of Grey so they don’t get left out of interesting conversations.

Of the books on the list, I haven’t read Pride and Prejudice and Wuthering Heights (among the nineteenth century classics), and Fifty Shades of Grey and The Infinite Jest (among the recent novels).  I’ve dipped into the Harry Potter books with my kids, but haven’t read any of the novels straight through.

There, I’m glad I could finally get that off my chest.

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