Reading Lucy Mangan's post on the Penguin Blog (#IHaveNeverRead: Lucy Mangan confesses.) got me thinking. Lucy writes about 'books we have somehow just never quite got around to reading' and then confesses to those that she has never read, and the reasons why.
There are, without doubt, a number of the 'have you seriously not read that' books that I have not read. The great works of literature, the books that change whole genres, books that got the world in a tizzy, books that are written with such sublime beauty and style... books that constantly make the 'top 100 books you must read before you die' lists.
But, slightly smugly, I have just finished studying several of these top 100 lists and can state that I have read a large percentage of them. The ones I have not read either appear on the list below, or I actually have not got the inclination or desire to read. Maybe that is wrong of me, and I am constantly trying to broaden my horizons, but I like what I like and there are only 24 hours in a day (of which I try to sleep for 9 of those) and I need to eat, work, be a mum, walk the dog... excuses excuses, perhaps. But the reality is we are drawn to things as individuals, and although the mass pull of the flock of sheep often takes us in a different direction, we will pretty much always wander back to our own literary path.
As it happens, this year I have challenged myself with trying new genres and authors outside my comfort zone. I have purchased a stack of 'quick reads' and am learning a few things about what I didn't know I liked. I am only purchasing books that I have seen reviewed and are rated highly, even though they may not be my normal cup of tea. So far I have read some fantastic books that I would never have normally glanced at. I have also read some that I wish I had not even glanced at!
Anyway, I am sidetracking from the point of this blog (as I often do). Lucy Mangan's post got me thinking that it's time to read those books that I have always wanted to read, but for some reason put off. Here are the five books that sit at the top of that list:
1. The Handmaiden's Tale by Margaret Atwood
I have read so many of Margaret Atwood's wonderful books and I love them, disturbing as some may be. So I have absolutely no idea why I have not read this one yet. Acclaimed and often listed as her best, I have 'meant to buy it' for so long that I actually forget. Tcht.
2. The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
I've watched the TV series, seen the film and listened to it on audio cassette (yes, I did say cassette). I watched and listened to my big brother laugh hysterically as he read the books as a teenager, yet I never read them. Why? Well, when you've watched something and heard something as a kid, you feel 'you've done it' and that's that. Move on. But as you get older you realise that it is not the same. I want to read and laugh like my big bro did.
3. A Miss Marple Book (any) by Agatha Christie
I fell in love with Miss Marple when she was played by Joan Hickson from 1984. The stories were my first (not even a teenager yet) exposure to the world of murder mysteries and I loved them. Transfixed, I watched every one of her appearances as Miss Marple, yet I have never picked up even one of the actual books. Shame on me.
4. Aesop's Fables
I have actually read a few of these as a child, rudimentary infant school teachings. However, they are quoted throughout day-to-day life in various guises and I know the sayings so well, and indeed the meanings, but I actually do not know all the stories in full. They are such wonderful tales and characters that I have always wanted to sit down and pour over the complete works. Now I will, as I read them to my daughter. Perfect.
5. Forrest Gump by Winston Groom
This may appear a strange choice of book, isn't it a movie? Yes, it was a multi-award winning film starring multi-award winning Tom Hanks, but this film made a real impact on me and that is why I want to read the original book, which was written eight years earlier.
As a carefree teenager, my friends and I headed to the cinema to see a film I'd never heard of and knew nothing about. Educated in cinema going through Back to the Future, Ghostbusters and Robin Hood Prince of Thieves, it came as a revolutionary smack in the face to watch the quirks and transitions and relationships of this strange character, Forrest Gump. Wow, amazing to discover that stories didn't have to be simple, standardised and rules need not apply. The world of possibilities literally opened up in front of my eyes. That's what happens when you live in a sheltered bubble... it has to pop at some point.
So there you have it, my five books #IHaveNeverRead. Your turn now, what books have you always meant to pick up and dive into?