What books has everyone read but you?

What books has everyone read but you?

For the 2015 Reading Challenge, I’m blogging through one category per month, in order. (Don’t worry—you don’t have to read them in order.)

So far we’ve covered:

  1. a book you’ve been meaning to read
  2. a book published this year
  3. a book in a genre you don’t typically read
  4. a book from your childhood
  5. a book your mom loves
  6. a book that was originally written in a different language

This month we’re tackling category #7: “a book ‘everyone’ has read but you.”

The 2015 Reading Challenge. I'm starting now!

It’s easy for me to add new books to my reading list. And it’s easy for me to prioritize reading great books I just found out about, or books that were just recommended by someone with good taste, whether those books were published this year or a hundred years ago.

I have a harder time prioritizing those books that I’ve known about forever but haven’t gotten around to reading yet. This is your chance to cross one off the list.

Your list of books “everyone” has read may overlap your list of books you’ve been meaning to read, and that’s okay. For my own lists, I have some pretty obscure titles on my “books I’ve been meaning to read” list. Today’s list contains books that people talk about—whether that’s in literary circles or in pop culture—and I’m clueless, because I haven’t read the book.

For a less light-hearted take on this category, check out this parlour game David Lodge invented for his campus novel Changing Places, aptly called “Humiliation”: players take turns naming works of classic literature that they haven’t read. The player with the most egregious omission wins the game. In the novel, a professor wins the game because he’s never read Hamlet—and that admission gets him fired.

This is my incomplete list of books “everyone” has read but me. I can’t wait to read yours. 

Series: 2015 Reading Challenge: a book everyone has read but you
Starring Sally J Freedman as Herself

Starring Sally J Freedman as Herself

I only recently discovered that "everyone" has read this title but me. I read a lot of Judy Blume as a kid, but this title was never on my radar. So in all the buzz surrounding the release of Blume's In the Unlikely Event, I was surprised to hear how many people cited this as their most favorite, beloved, life-changing, childhood-defining novel. I picked up my copy from the library yesterday. More info →
A Little Princess

A Little Princess

Frances Hodgson Burnett wasn't on my childhood bookshelves. I'm making amends: I read The Secret Garden earlier this year, and this title is next. The gorgeous Puffin in Bloom edition is waiting patiently on my bookshelves. (It's so pretty it could absolutely be a book I chose for the cover.) More info →
Murder on the Orient Express

Murder on the Orient Express

I just listened to the audiobook (narrated by Dan Stevens) and it was fantastic. From The New York Times: “What more…can a mystery addict desire?”A classic for a reason. More info →
The Light Between Oceans: A Novel

The Light Between Oceans: A Novel

Every time I talk about gripping novels, un-put-down-able stories, or books worth binge-reading, someone always says, "Didn't you just LOVE The Light Between Oceans?" This book has been recommended too many times by too many thoughtful readers for me to pass it up. More info →
Eat Pray Love

Eat Pray Love

I didn't read the book, I never saw the movie, and it really didn't bother me any. But I love Gilbert's TED talks and have watched them multiple times, and I can't wait to read her next book Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear coming out this fall. I feel like I ought to read the book that made her career—especially since everyone has read it but me. More info →
The Book Thief

The Book Thief

This book has 843,378 ratings on Goodreads. That's more than Wuthering Heights, Persuasion, Middlemarch ... or even Gone Girl. My husband has even read it and given it his seal of approval, which means it's definitely time to move it off my TBR list. More info →
Watership Down

Watership Down

People are shocked when I tell them I haven't read this modern British classic, and I can't tell you how many times I've checked it out of the library only to return it weeks later, unread (again). (It doesn't help that the hardcover my library carries is massive.) But serious readers speak so fondly about it, and it shows up on so many book lovers' favorite-books-of-all-time lists, that I want to see what I'm missing out on. More info →

Have you ever been the last to read a book everyone's talking about?

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  1. Jill says:

    I listened to Eat Pray Love shortly after it came out and really liked it (mostly…the India section was hard to get through.) Hearing Elizabeth Gilbert read it might help with the criticisms above about feeling like it was whiny and self-indulgent. Hearing someone talk about a life changing experience might elicit a more empathetic response than reading printed words.

  2. I feel like much of my TBR list is catching up on books everyone else has read. Here are some of the more egregious ones:
    The Bell Jar
    Lean In
    A Prayer for Owen Meany
    Still Alice
    The Light Between Oceans
    The Shadow of the Wind

  3. Maryalene says:

    Can you believe I’ve never read anything by Jane Austen? I feel like such a fraud for being a devoted MMD reader and having never read Jane.

  4. Jeanne says:

    In South Africa I feel that it’s the crime series by Deon Meyer, originally written in Afrikaans, but translated into 28 languages. I’ve read 2 in the series, but everyone I know keeps talking about them!

  5. Great topic! My reading choices seem to differ significantly from most of my friends. I’ve never read any Stephen King, Agatha Christie, or James Patterson. There are also many classics I haven’t read, such as Moby Dick, which is one of those books people seem to pretend to have finished!

  6. I’ve tried to read Watership Down several times but it just doesn’t “take” for me. I can’t imagine growing up without “The Secret Garden” (the edition with illustrations by Michael Hague is my all time favorite) or “A Little Princess”.

    One book I finished recently that “everyone” else has read: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. It was a slog for me and I have no idea what “everyone” saw in it, but at least I can say I satisfied my personal curiosity about it.

    And I love Agatha Christie. “The Murder of Roger Ackroyd” is a must read, I think.

  7. Angela says:

    The only book I’ve read on your list is “Watership Down,” but I read it when I was a kid and thought it was Boring. Yes, with a capital B. I might have hated rabbits after that book. I might have also disliked it because my grandma (who was a teacher) forced me to read it just like she forced me to read Dickens, Twain, and other books I thought were boring but have stayed with me and now sit on my shelves. I have to go thank her now 🙂

  8. liz n. says:

    It probably goes without saying that when I saw the title of this post, I crossed my fingers in hopes that you would say you’ve added “Watership Down” to your TBR list!

    The day you post about actually reading it–whether you like it or not–I will consider my work here to be done.

    I really hope you like it, my most favorite book of all time and forever! But no pressure… 😉

  9. Lindsay says:

    The Book Thief has become an all time favorite for me. I also enjoyed Eat, Pray, Love and The Light Between Oceans. My book for this category is The Screwtape Letters by CS Lewis. It’s been on my TBR list forever.

  10. Molly says:

    There are some classics that fit this category for me such as Jane Eyre, Tess of the D’Ubervilles, Animal Farm, and 1984. I am actually reading The Red Badge of Courage for my “book I should have read in high school” title. There are also a number of modern titles that seem to have passed me by. I tend to shy away from titles that are instant media sensations, so I have to say Fault in Our Stars is the title I have in mind for this category.

  11. Lee Ann says:

    What did you think of The Book Thief? My library e-reader loan ran out when I was about halfway through it, and I’m unsure if I want to check it out again. Is it worth finishing?

  12. Molly says:

    I changed my mind. Rather than purchasing another book (Fault…) I decided to read something I already have so Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood it is. I’ve seen the movie a couple times but never read the book.

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