Book Riot did an informal poll of its readers about books they pretend to have read. Here are the top 20:
- Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (85 mentions)
- Ulysses by James Joyce
- Moby-Dick by Herman Melville
- War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
- The Bible
- 1984 by George Orwell
- The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
- The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
- Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
- Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
- Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace
- Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
- To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
- Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James
- Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
- Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky
- Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
- Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
- Harry Potter (series) by J.K. Rowling
- 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.