I am a bookworm. I love books, I love reading, and I love talking about books and reading!
Those of you who are friends with me on Goodreads will know that I read quite a lot and I really enjoy it. I’m constantly adding new books to my TBR list, faster than I can tick off the ones already on there.
Having said that, I’ve come to realise that there are some books that I really want to have read… but that I don’t actually want to read.
Today, I’m going to share the books that are in this limbo for me, and explain the reasons why I wish I could have read them without having to read them.
Whether it’s a sense of personal achievement, or maybe a not-so-subconscious desire to be considered a “real” book lover, there are many reasons why I want to have read the following books. On the other hand, there are many reasons why I don’t actually want to go through the experience of reading the books.
To be clear, this is a list of books that I haven’t read (or at least, haven’t fully read), so I’m not saying you shouldn’t read them for yourself if you feel inclined to do so. These are just my personal opinions and I don’t expect that everyone will feel the same about them!
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Into the Wild has been on my TBR for years. I am fascinated by this true story of a man who decided to check out of “normal” life and take himself off – funnily enough – into the wild. It’s a desire with which I can strongly identify.
The problem is, this story doesn’t have a happy ending. I won’t spoil it for you, but the fact that this is a true story and I know it comes to a heartbreaking conclusion, has made it impossible for me to pick it up.
As captivating as I know this book would be, I just can’t bring myself to delve into the sadness I know it includes.
Don’t get me wrong it’s not that I avoid all books that don’t have a happy ending, but there’s just something about knowing what’s coming in this case that has created a mental block for me. Maybe I’ll be resilient enough to read it one day – I hope so, anyway.
As a feminist, I like to dive into a range of books on women’s rights and expand my knowledge on feminist history.
The Second Sex regularly features at the top of feminist reading lists and I desperately want to have read it and absorbed its wisdom.
However, with a staggering 340,605 words (according to ReadingLength.com), I can’t help but feel completely overwhelmed. I struggle with maintaining my concentration when reading a standard 200-ish page book, so knowing that this beast is more than four times that length has led me to put off picking up this classic.
I realise my logic is flawed. I could break it down into quarters and tackle it as if I was reading four standard-length books. However, I’m a glutton for instant gratification. ReadingLength.com estimates that reading this book would take almost 23 hours…
I hope that one day I can move past this mindset and conquer this weighty tome, but for now, it remains in the depths of my TBR.
This book is hailed as a classic; an established fixture on most must-read-before-you-die lists.
I have started reading 1984 approximately eleventy-billion times.
Okay, probably more like five or six times, but it feels like more.
With each attempt, I never make it past the first couple of chapters. I’ve spoken to a few people about this and I am reassured that yes, it does start off slow, but it gets amazing once you’re a few chapters in. I take heart, and begin again… only to find myself struggling to get past chapter two.
I’m not exactly sure what it is that puts me off. It’s not that it’s boring, but I guess the pacing is kind of slow. Apart from that, I really don’t have an excuse for not sticking with this book. I just hit a wall and can’t seem to break through.
I feel a certain amount of pressure, as a self-professed bookworm, to have this book under my belt. Sadly, for now, it remains unread.
Yes okay, these are technically two books, but they are linked so I’ve lumped them together.
That’s part of the problem.
736 pages. Almost 300,000 words. We’ve been here before.
I realise I could split them into the two texts that they actually are, but I’ve got it in my head that I can’t read the Iliad without reading the Odyssey straight afterwards, so all I can see is that huge page count.
But alongside this problem that I’ve created for myself, is the worry that I just won’t get it. I mean, I know the basic plots, but I’ve convinced myself that I won’t grasp the nuance in the way an academic reader would… I guess I kind of have impostor syndrome about reading a book? They feel completely out of my league. Wow, my brain does some weird tricks.
Anyway, these factors have culminated in me wishing that I could plug these books into my brain and download it straight into the old knowledge bank, without having to do the hard part of actually reading it. I could join the ranks of the smartypants classics readers I so admire!
But sadly, this isn’t an option – at least, not yet. So, it languishes in my TBR.
#5. The Bible
I am not a Christian. I have had experience with Christianity, but it didn’t feel right for me. Having said that, let me be absolutely clear: I am not about to talk shit about people who identify as Christian. My issue here is with the Bible as a book (well, collection of books), not Christians as people.
Something about the Bible has always fascinated me. I’ve made several genuine attempts to read the Bible in its entirety. I tried various translations and paraphrases of the Bible: NIV, ESV, MSG, NKJV and KJV.
I’ve tried using different reading plans: starting with the New Testament, starting from Genesis, chronological order, or even just starting with the shortest book in an attempt to trick my brain with a sense of instant gratification at completing a book quickly.
But each time, it hasn’t taken long for me to become discouraged. The misogyny, the sexism, the contradictions, the repetition, the angry/jealous/vengeful deity, the archaic rules, the persistent need to suspend disbelief… it’s difficult to keep reading when my brain is screaming “What the fuck??” every five seconds.
I’ve always wanted to have read the Bible because I feel like it’s an interesting part of human history – regardless of my opinions on its contents. I don’t only want to read books with which I agree; I want to read about different viewpoints and broaden my knowledge.
But I just can’t do it. I’ve read a good chunk of it, but I just cannot put myself through reading the whole thing. Reading the Bible from cover-to-cover is no small feat. It’s long, parts of it are boring as hell, and I’m regularly reminded that even the most brief and vague sentences have resulted in the abuse, discrimination, persecution, and even murder of innocent people (see: Leviticus 18:22).
I’d like to have read the Bible in full; I’d love to know what it’s all about and be able to discuss it from a place of complete understanding. Unfortunately, I just can’t bring myself to sit through the entire thing.
So there we have it. Five books that I want to have read but don’t want to read. I’ll let you know if I manage to summon the motivation to tick any of them off my TBR… but don’t hold your breath!
Are there any books you want to have read but don’t want to read?
Let me know in the comments!
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