Books I will never read
The other day I was talking about books and literature with my friend Warren, and I explained to him my formula and rule for reading these days. The formula is simple:
(# pleasure books read per year) (# years life left) = max reading potential
It’s a fairly morbid formula, given that you have to estimate your lifespan. I’m hoping for 72, and read about eight pleasure books a year, so have around 220 books left before I kick it. If I get bonus years, hooray.
My theory as a librarian and a former literature graduate student is that people have far more books than they have read/can read. Not really hard to prove that theory. For many years, I felt somewhat intimidated by many friends in those circles and their prodigious reading, but as I get older, less so, and I certainly reject nearly all “oh, one must read that book because …” claims. Too few books left to let others decide what I must read.
So, in that spirit, I offer my list of books I will never read. I encourage others to produce their lists, either here in the comments or on their own blogs. Would be fun to compare notes. An asterisk means I tried and gave up before finishing and don’t care to pick it up again. Without further ado:
- Anna Karenina*
- War and Peace
- Doktor Faustus* (T. Mann)
- Finnegan’s Wake
- all Jane Austen novels
- ditto for any text by Arno Schmidt
- myriad Shakespeare plays: Macbeth, The Tempest, Richard III, Romeo and Juliet (Baz Luhrmann does it for me), etc.
- all William Faulkner
- Paradise Lost
There are, of course, thousands of others I will never read, but these are books I have zero desire to touch. Do note that this is in no way a judgment or valuation, so don’t feel obligated to defend them. I’m not afraid of extremely challenging texts, having enjoyed reading Ulysses and Der Zauberberg multiple times, so I’m not just a reading wimp.
UPDATE: Responding to my wife’s taunting in the comments, I am adding to my list:
- Die Blechtrommel (The Tin Drum) by Grass
- Dan Brown novels