Five Books I Wish I'd Read
I try to keep this blog focused entirely on evolution, but Kevin Drum passes along an irresistable question: "What 5 books are you vaguely embarrassed to admit you haven't read?"
First, one book that I haven't read but isn't on the list: The Origin of Species. I've read parts of it, but far from every word. The reason I don't feel ashamed is that I've read Darwin's Ghost by Steve Jones. The premise of Jones's book is that he goes through the Origin and updates it, writing it the way Darwin might have if he knew everything that scientists know today. That makes it, to my mind, a more important book to read for people in 2005 who want to understand this subject. I know I'll have some critics who are sure I'm a fool to have a blog like this without having read Darwin's most famous work, but I feel OK about it. And a couple of people who have posted critical comments on this blog might like to know one book I have read: The Bible. Every word, you ask? Yes, every word.
With that, here's my list:
1. The Grapes of Wrath
I've read and much admired other works by Steinbeck, but for some reason I've never gotten around to reading this one. I'm sure there's no substitute for this book for people who want to appreciate the struggle of Americans during the Great Depression, but it just hasn't made its way into my "to read" pile.
2. A Tale of Two Cities
Again, the other books I've read by Dickens I've loved. And I've read maybe the first 20 pages of A Tale of Two Cities and think they're about the most beautiful 20 pages I've read. But it's challenging reading, and I haven't continued. When I was a high school English teacher I tried to teach this, but it was way too difficult for my students, I'm sorry to say.
3. Anything by Studs Terkel
I, along with every other person who lives in Chicago, love Studs Terkel. I've seen him speak in person twice in the last year, and even into his 10th decade he's got a sharp mind and a quick wit. But I've never read any of his books. Shame on me.
4. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
I haven't read Ulysses, either, but I'm not the least bit embarrassed to admit I haven't read Ulysses because I suspect that nearly everyone I know, even English majors, would admit to not having read it, at least not every word. But Portrait of the Artist doesn't strike me as the Herculean task that Ulysses does, so there's really no excuse for my not having read it.
5. The 9/11 Commission Report, the Koran, histories of Islam, biographies of Osama bin Laden, etc.
It's the duty of every citizen to stay well-informed about what's going on in the world, but I have to acknowledge that I'm not particularly well read here. I've read excerpts of the 9/11 Report, but really, I should have read the whole thing. And America's future is deeply entwined with the future of the Middle East, so I should know more about the people and their religion.
The worst thing about this is that I own The Grapes of Wrath, A Tale of Two Cities, and A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. I make this vow to you: I will read all three before the year is over.
I'd love to see your list in the comments.