Confessions and Lies

I've read a lot of books but, this may come as a shock, I haven't read them all. I know, one would guess by the know-it-all, yet adorably charming, tone I take on this blog I would have read every single book ever published. Fortunately, I have not (what would be left to do?), and have no problem admitting what I have and have not read. Some people, though, are big fat liars, as an old article in The Guardian reported (my words, not theirs). Maybe it's all the drinks people consume at cocktail parties, the need to one up the snooty doctorate student who won't shut up, or just embarrassment, but whatever the reason, people have been found to fib a bit about how well-read they are. I'm sure their excuse for not being able to recall details is, "God, it was so long ago, high school or college, I don't even remember." It makes those who actually did read and forget look bad- honesty is the best policy, friends (that is unless you're dealing with horrible hair cuts, weight gain, or mediocre sex).

So, what kind of books did people lie about reading? The participants (British, since The Guardian is a UK publication) generally lied about older, longer texts, and a few popular pieces of non-fiction works, like one by our very own president. The top ten books lied about, in order, were: 1984, War and Peace, Ulysses, The Bible, Madam Bovary, A Brief History of Time, Midnight's Children, In Remembrance of Things Past, Dreams From My Past, and the Selfish Gene. I'm 99.9% sure that lying about reading The Bible reserves you an express ticket to hell, just to give
you a heads up.

So, my confession- I don't lie about reading books, but there are definitely some that I should have read, given the fact that I was an English major and now teach the subject. Before I confess, let me just say I didn't skip assigned books, these just never came up on reading lists and I haven't read them on my own. All right, let my humiliation begin:

1. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
2. The Bible by God (just kidding, that's just what a student wrote once. And I don't feel as if I should have read it for religious purposes, just because the
re are a billion references to it that I'm sure I sometimes miss)
3. Animal Farm by George Orwell
4. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
5. Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace
6. Middlemarch by George Eliot
7. Underworld by Don DeLillo (I've started it... I promise, I'll finish this summer!)
8. Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
9. The Life and Death of Che Guevara: Companero by Jorge G. Castaneda (it's bothering me I can't add the tildes)
10. Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut

All right, I feel guilty, and I'm not even one of those dirty book liars. Dammit.

Fess up folks!


  1. Haha, I'm so glad you wrote about this - there are some books I was supposed to read and sometimes act like I read, but didn't. Such as The Jungle, The Great Gatsby, To Kill a Mockingbird, and The Scarlet Letter, to name a few. I think I had better things to do in high school :)

  2. I am definitely not well read and will sheepishly admit it in public. Most of the books on your list (except for #2 and #3) I haven't read. To confess even more, I actually haven't even heard of #4, 5, or 9.

    And I think that lying in public about your own personal knowledge can extend way beyond books. Like geography, for example. I grew up in a small town in California's Central Valley, an hour away from Sacramento. Whenever I discuss my hometown with people native to CA, at least half of them claim to know where it is and declare "Oh yeah, down in So Cal, I've heard of that." The sad part is, I think most of us do it so we don't look like idiots, but in the end we end up looking like bigger idiots for pretending to know what we are talking about.

  3. I've never read "Lord of the Flies" (never came up); Gave up on Ulysses twice. I remember in high school that my teacher passed out copies of "Last of the Mohicans" for us to read and said we wouldn't enjoy it. I read the cliffs notes (this was before the movie existed). I'm still not ashamed of that one because I'm still appalled that the teacher said that.

  4. I've never read #1 or #10 either! I'm especially shocked at myself for not reading #10 -- I love Kurt Vonnegut. And I am way to embarrassed to buy #1 at my local book store...then my gig will be up and the clerks will all know I'm a literary failure :P haha