DAY 21: Book You Tell People You’ve Read, but Haven’t (Or Haven’t Actually Finished).

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Well this is probably going to be another short but sweet post I imagine because seriously, who tells people they’ve read something when they haven’t?! (Apologies if you actually HAVE done that) I could understand someone doing it at a young age I guess if they wanted to look cool or intellectual, but I don’t see why anyone would feel the need to do that. There is nothing wrong with saying you haven’t read a book, no matter how popular or critically acclaimed it is. There are so many wonderful novels in the world and it is impossible to read all of them! So instead I am going for ‘a book you tell people you’ve read but haven’t actually finished’ because I do have two books that fit this criteria.

As I have mentioned before I don’t often abandon books, so these were the exceptions to the rule rather than the norm. The two that I am going to be talking about were books I was made to read at school, figures!

First up is Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens. Ohh boy how I HATED this book with a passion. I had encountered the film several times in the past and at least twice I had been forced to watch it in primary school. I hated Oliver and his silly decisions, I hated Fagin and Dodger’s love for stealing and their mistreatment of others.
“Stealing is morally wrong!” Cried my young self, ‘”how can these people steal from someone?!”
Ohh to be so young and naive…
I found Nancy equally insufferable – ok, to cut a story short, I just hated everybody and everything about Oliver Twist.

i hate everything

When I encountered it again as the book version in secondary school English I wanted to punch someone. Why was this story following me around?! It’s safe to say while I understood the themes at an older age I still hated it, especially Dickens painfully drawn out writing style. I remember myself internally screaming, wondering why he had to describe the streets of London over five pages instead of in one paragraph. I never got the chance to read Oliver Twist in full, which at the time I was grateful of. For some reason at my school we would study a text but leave some chapters out that weren’t that key or relevant to the essay question we were being set. Consequently there are various gaps in my Oliver Twist experience and the school left the ending out altogether. As I had already seen the film I knew what happened, but I do find it bizarre that the curriculum did that, it seems weird and wrong to only give students half the picture of a novel. What are they trying to do? Teach us not to finish what we started?

Oliver Twist put me off Dickens for what I was sure would be a lifetime. I swore I would never go near him again; he had blotted his copybook as the saying goes. Then, last year the world was celebrating the 200th anniversary of his birth and the world went Dickens crazy here in England (he is after all, one of our rare claims to fame). Suddenly all these documentaries, TV movies like The Mystery of Edwin Drood and Great Expectations, (A film adaptation of Great Expectations too!) and reruns of various old other Dickens adaptations were everywhere. It was hard to escape and eventually I came round to the idea of giving his books another go. If ALL these people thought he was truly amazing, surely I was missing something? I bought sixteen of his books with the beautiful Vintage covers and red spines for an amazing deal that made them less than £1 each, bargain! 😀 This summer I read Great Expectations and adored it, which makes me wonder what I would think of Oliver Twist now, would I still despise it? Only one way to find out I guess. 😛

SDC14787edited

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The second book or technically play I guess that I tell people I have read but haven’t actually finished is Romeo and Juliet. Again we studied the text up to about two thirds of the way through, enough so that we could answer and essay question and then they didn’t bother to finish it off. Instead they showed us the film with Leonardo DiCaprio. (No complaints there, am I right ladies?) Again this was a story that if I could have gone back in time and prevented the author from writing it, I would have. Granted that might affect the entire course and progress of literature but hey-ho, I’m willing to take the risk! I found Shakespeare painful at the best of the times, (stupid iambic pentameter) but a story about two teenagers falling in ‘love’ after five seconds, acting like complete idiots and being self destructive simply because they couldn’t control their own hormones? Ugh. At the time it seemed to me like the most degrading, insulting and ridiculous teenage depiction I had ever come across and it really angered me. I mean, now I’m older I understand that the stupidity is kind of the point of it. The discussion of whether it was true love or infatuation etc. etc. and all that fun stuff, but it still annoys me too much for me to care, if I’m brutally honest. I know Shakespeare was important in so many ways but I just don’t like the guys work, I’m sorry.

In the case of both of these books I do consider them ‘read’ and that’s why I call them so. I trudged through enough of their pages to get the full essence of the story, and even though I didn’t get to read the end of them I know how they conclude. Oliver Twist I will return to eventually, but Shakespeare? I have my doubts…

Ok, this post didn’t turn out so short and sweet did it? :S Oh well, I am just incapable of not rambling!

Have you ever told someone you had read a book when you hadn’t? If so why? Do you consider unfinished books read? What are your experiences with Shakespeare and Dickens? 🙂

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Header Image: My own, please do not reuse.
Dickens Books: My own, please do not reuse.
Cat Meme: http://www.flickr.com/photos/riceowlett/3233561835/

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37 thoughts on “DAY 21: Book You Tell People You’ve Read, but Haven’t (Or Haven’t Actually Finished).

  1. I’m reasonably sure that I’ve never told someone that I’ve read something that I didn’t. I also don’t count unfinished books as being read. If it doesn’t grab me within the first 62 pages (the old ‘100 minus your age’ test) then I drop it like it’s hot. I have 150+ books on my tbr list, not to mention all of the gems I run across in the library that I’m not even looking for, so I don’t have time to read something that’s going to put me to sleep or make me roll my eyes or sigh in frustration. I only make time for good books.

    As for Shakespeare and Dickens, I’m cool with them both. I love Shakespeare and have yet to read something by him that I didn’t like. (Not that I’ve read all of his stuff yet.) Dickens is a bit different. I liked Oliver Twist, but couldn’t make it through David Copperfield. *Yawn* I actually can’t remember other things I’ve read by him. I’m sure that there are one or two.

    Great post!

    • I wouldn’t normally consider books I haven’t finished read, but in the case of these two I do make an exception because I read around 92% of both of them and also know how they end because we analysed the film endings. I certainly wouldn’t dream of reviewing something I hadn’t read from cover to cover though!

      Hehe, you know I’ve heard of the 100 minus your age test and I think it’s an awesome idea. 🙂 I hope I will be able to start doing that eventually because at the moment I’m one of those compulsive readers that slogs through all the way to the end. 150+, finally someone with a tbr pile that’s just as bad as mine! 😛 Your way is definitely the best way.

      I’m a little worried that I will never appreciate Shakespeare. Who knows, maybe I’ll attempt him again someday and feel astonished as to why I didn’t like him in the first place but it seems unlikely. I’ve come across a lot of people that can’t get on with Dickens so your not alone.

      Thank you for reading all my rambles!

    • It does seem a little pointless to me and surely the person your talking to will find you out pretty quickly!

      No I haven’t, but I hope I can attempt it soon. I know it’s one of his most famous tales. 🙂

  2. Ok I’m with you on Dickens (I had a similar experience with Great Expectations during eng-lit A Level) but I’m a massive Shakespeare boff (though that may have something to do with the fact that I also did drama and theatre studies!) I get what you mean about the childishness of Romeo and Juliette but I think I’m just a sucker for love stories! haha.

    I’ve never told someone I’ve read a book when I haven’t, that could get awkward if they then started trying to ask you about it! opps!

    I’ve only abandoned a handful of books, and usually as a rule I think ‘we’ll I’ve started it, I feel like I have to see it through.’ but there are some books that didn’t engage me as a reader, or that I put down one day and never went back to. There are so many books that I absolutely couldn’t put down, so I kinda think if I put it down and left it so long I couldn’t have enjoyed it that much! But yes I do tell people I’ve read books that I haven’t finished, because as you say, if you feel you’ve read enough to get the jist of the story, or you’ve read half of the book or more I feel like it’s justified 🙂

    • Haha there’s nothing like intensely studying a book to put you off an author! He might be worth giving another go though because I hated Oliver Twist but loved Great Expectations, so maybe you should attempt a Dickens book you didn’t have to study. 🙂 Ohhh no, not a Shakespeare boff. 😉 Lol. I think maybe if I saw his work as a play I would enjoy it more…maybe. I did find it a bit childish, but maybe I’m just a cynic!

      Definitely, that’s what I think! If the person’s asking you that probably means they’ve read it and might start asking you questions about it.

      I think that’s quite similar to my mentality, I always hope that the book might get better as it goes along, and if I’ve invested money in it or taken the time to get it out of the library I feel the need to read it all the way though. I think putting it down and forgetting it is a very easy thing to do when you read so many books, especially if it’s not engaging!

      Thanks for reading and commenting Sophie. 😀

      • Definitely! I was the same with The Picture Of Dorian Grey by Oscar Wilde, but in hindsight it was actually a pretty good book! Yeah I studied Great Expectations for A-Level coursework, didn’t even get through the whole thing! Ironic seeing as it was studying it for GCSE that made me want to read the rest of it :/ hahaha! ‘fraid so 😛 yeah a lot of his works are plays so you might have a point there…or you might just not like Shakespeare!

        Yeah I’ve read so many books where they’re really slow and then they pick up in the latter half of the book, so most of the time I think ‘I’ll give it the benefit of the doubt.’ I think so too, if you CAN put it down and forget all about it, it obviously wasn’t engaging!

        Aww, no problems! Back at ya 😀

      • Hehee you know that book drove me barmy as it was, if I’d had to study it I may have gone insane. 😛 It’s great that you can appreciate it in hindsight though! I’m sad to say my Oliver Twist vengeance has yet to wear off! I hope when I reread it I may be able to change my opinion. 🙂 I think I had a similar situation with Of Mice and Men, I was sick of the sigh of it after studying the novel but thinking back I quite like the story.

        Haha, too true! It’s always a bad sign.

  3. A vote for A Tale of Two Cities, yay. 🙂

    I’ve never told someone I’d read a book and not read it…and I’ve never not finished one either!
    Wuthering Heights is my school book I hated. It is on my TBR now you’ve dared me into reading it. 🙂

    That is a cool set of Dickens!

    • I just rotated the pic so I could read the titles. Didn’t realise I’d read so much Dickens! Twelve of those I’ve read and I’m halfway through number 13.

    • Never not finished one? Never ever?! Wow, that’s pretty darn impressive. 🙂 I wish I could say that. I think these are the only two that count, unless I include books I read at a very young age 4-8 maybe because I used to have a very bad attention span when it came to reading! If I didn’t like it I’d just move on to something else, those were the days…

      What about if I dare you to read Wuthering Heights this year? Would that work? *Mischief face.*

      Thank you! I think I might have to attempt A Tale of Two Cities as my next Dickens, unless Christmas comes before I can pick it up, in which case I hope it can be a Christmas Carol. 🙂

  4. I don’t think I’ve ever told someone I’ve read a book when I haven’t! Seems a bit of silly and pointless thing to do to me.

    As for Dickens and Shakespeare I enjoy both. We never got to read anything as good as Dickens at school but we did study Romeo and Juliet….for four years in a row….it is only in hindsight I enjoy this play because at school I was sick of the sight of it! As someone who studied theatre my argument for Shakespeare is he didn’t write his plays to be read he wrote them to be performed. It wasn’t till I started to see them performed live that I really fell in love with them. As for Dickens I’ve never disliked him but in my first read Nicholas Nickleby I really did struggled with the style and language. The more Dickens novels I’ve read though the more I have enjoyed Dickens’s style.

    • I know right? I mean, I guess I can see how it would happen with classics, but that’s about it because you’re bound to be found out pretty quickly.

      Haha my younger self would disagree with Dickens being anything near good to study but my older self knocks that little kid on the head and tells her to appreciate good literature. 😛 Four years in a row?!?!?!! Ohh my gosh that’s PAINFUL. :O I don’t blame you for being sick of it! I was fed up with half a year of it, let alone four. You poor thing. It’s amazing and great that you appreciate it now though, I’m not sure I could say the same. I’ve heard that said as well but have yet to see one of his works as a play. Maybe one day. I do think there is some credit to your view thought because I enjoyed the film more (although that may be because of the weird mash up because I saw and older version and didn’t get past an hour).
      I think Dickens is a tricky one, he can be long winded! 🙂

    • Hahaa he is renowned for his draw out writing, but I have to say in Great Expectations I also found it exquisite and really beautiful. I was so surprised! I don’t know if that means I will get on with all Dickens now that I am older or if it was a one off…I guess we’ll find out soon enough. 😀

      Thanks Lindsey, glad you approve. 😉

  5. First off, LOVE that picture of the … what is that, a cat?! XD So cute and funny. And rather like how I feel a lot of the time (okay not really, but I felt like being emo for 2 secs). I completely sympathize. I am a professed Shakey fan, which we’ve discussed, but I also dislike (I wouldn’t say hate in my case) R&J, especially compared to other work I’ve read. R&J themselves make the story really annoying, though I do like side characters like Mercutio, the Priest, Tybalt, etc. I don’t blame you for considering this one read – after all, we ALL know how it ends!

    As for old Dickenpoo, I like him as a matter of generality, but I can’t think of a single thing of his I’ve read that thrills me. I have never actually finished a Dickens book, but a few of them (Great Expectations, A Tale of Two Cities, and Hard Times) are staring me down from the shelves. I mean, I like what Dickens could string together and say with an air of Victorian humor, but he really does have to be one of the driest authors I’ve come across (no contest to Louisa May Alcott, though – bleugh).

    I’m glad you liked Great Expectations (that gives me hope that I’ll be able to enjoy it!) and I love the set of Dickens books you got! Great deal for very nice books! I can’t *entirely* ever dislike Dickens though because it was the “Oliver!” musical adaptation of Oliver Twist that made me desperately want to go to England at such a young age XD And the rest is history! But, having never read Oliver Twist, I can only imagine how it drags on – and without a doubt, the characters are deplorable! And Nancy… oh let’s not even talk about her. People think Bella Swan is bad?! PFFT.

    Great post today Becky! 😀

    • P.S. very good question as to why your school would begin/jump around in some literature. Makes no sense to me, but I definitely recall reading only a couple sections of Moby Dick in 10th grade (around age 15) and that was it! We never pressed on! Education systems these days… *mutters* Granted, I am grateful. I later had to cover Moby Dick in college and I could. not. stand it. XD

      • Haha it is indeed a cat! A very uh…disturbed looking cat. 😛 Heheee I like it because it can sum up certain emotions perfectly when you are just not pleased about something THE CAT SAYS IT ALL. Really? That’s very interesting that even as a Shakespeare fan your not big on R&J. The two characters drove me absolutely insane, they were insufferable for me. I do vaguely remember that a few of the cameo’s were more interesting but I couldn’t get past the pure stupidity of the leads who made one silly desicion after the next. I get that they were young but…sheeesh. It’s almost like the two of them read Twilight and instead of taking it as a bit of fun took relationship advice from it, LOL. Hehe we all do know how it ends! Which again probably takes something away from it.

        Dickenpoo, love it! I don’t blame you for not getting through one of his books, they’re very long winded and my school self would be nodding enthusiastically with you. At least Hard Times is short! I’ve never tried Alcott but I saw the film version of Little Women and didn’t really get on with it…

        I hope you end up liking Great Expectations! Thank you. 🙂 I love looking at them on my shelf but it’s quite intimidating also, that’s a lot of Dickens books to read if I don’t end up liking him very much. :S LOL, I can’t say I have any love for Oliver Twist but I’m glad you got some enjoyment out of it!

        It is very odd and irritating as well, I want to know how stories end not jsut how they begin. Thanks for reading and leaving your wonderful comments as always Lauren. 😀

      • Oh yeah – Shakey fan but R&J are losers! (Although I, too, am willing to watch the Leo version from time to time 😉 ) OMG seriously, since you say that about R&J reading Twilight, I just picture them going on a double date with Bella and Edward – glowering at each other and trying to be the most emo obsessed-with-each-other pair in the universe. The musical West Side Story is loosely based on R&J and again, I can’t stand any of the scenes with the “Romeo & Juliet” characters -.- Come to think of it, it’s really not a movie I like much at all, but the one guy, Bernardo, he’s pretty good looking ;D
        I have faith that one day I will pluck up the time/courage/determination to read Dickenpoo again, and I think I’ll start off with Great Expectations! Of course, you’re welcome – thanks for all the great conversation! 😀

      • Who wouldn’t watch, Leo? He’s a babe.
        HA! That’s hilarious, can you imagine how PAINFUL a double date between those two would be? It would be sickening if you were sat at the table next to them trying to eat you pasta dish or whatever listening to them saying, “I can’t live without you. You are brighter than the sun. I would pillage a village for you to prove my love!” and then your pasta would get stuck in your throat and you choke. LOL.

        I think I’ve vaguely heard of the link between R&J and Westside story but I’ve never seen the film, it’s never really appealed!

        It’s great that you’re still willing to pick up Dickens in the future and Great Expectations is a great place to start. 🙂

  6. This was a great post and I agree with what you said so much! I was also overexposed to Oliver Twist as a child (I swear I saw that film at least five times every Christmas) which put me right off Dickens. Then a few years ago I read Bleak House (actually I didn’t finish it technically making it a book I lie about having read) and the three pages of fog and five pages of rain confirmed my suspicions.

    But last year I also got convinced by all the fuss over his 200th birthday and I read The Old Curiosity Shop which I loved! I’m looking forward to reading more Dickens now 🙂

    As for Romeo and Juliet, generally I like Shakespeare (although I prefer watching it to reading it, reading plays is a bit weird in my view) but that ones never done it for me. Maybe it’s because I’m a very unromantic person but I thought it was all a bit blah really. Actually I read a really good post the other day where someone listed all the problems with R&J which I think might amuse you: http://mmjordahl.com/2012/04/08/romeo-juliet-and-the-problem-with-teenage-romances/ 🙂

    • Thank you so much! It’s great to know I’m not the only one out there with Dickens angst. 😛 I don’t understand why they are so obsessed with Oliver Twist when there are so many others they could choose from. I really hate the film and like you had to watch it quite a few times, and I think that’s the biggest reason I hated the book. Bleak House is his biggest book I think so I don’t blame you for giving up! I adored Great Expectations but it still took me ages to finish and that was shorter. I believe Dickens was paid per word or sentence he wrote so that explains a lot! I don’t know much about The Curiosity Shop so I hope I will enjoy it as much as you did. 😀

      I do find reading plays odd. We had to cover a view and it still felt strange every time. The thing is, I’m a romantic person but I don’t find R&J in any way romantic and I don’t understand how people see it that way.

      Love that post, it’s so spot on all the R&J comments! Thanks for sharing it. 🙂

      • I think there’s more of us than the Dickens lovers would have us believe! I hated that film as well although the story’s probably quite good (apart from the unbelievable, sappy ending which I intensely dislike). Bleak House isn’t actually bad it was just all that talk about the weather. Literally 5 pages of “The dog looked at the rain. The horse looked at the rain. In the meadow it was raining.” We get it already!! I think a lot of his stories were serialised in the papers so it makes sense that he had to drag them out. The Old Curiosity Shop was a really good read – it was funny and had a really good story to it but it is another big one!

        I didn’t dislike reading them in class as we always read them out as a group so it made more sense but I would never choose to pick one up and read it as a book.

        I thought you’d like it when I read your post because so much of what you say overlaps. She writes really good, ranty pieces!

      • It seems you may be right, which makes me feel a lot better. 🙂 I think it was the film that really sealed my hatred for the whole thing, I really couldn’t stand all those bratty kids and terrible song (only in my opinion of course, many people love them).
        Hahaa ohh no! He does tend to say things the long way round, sometimes it’s impressive while others it is over the top. Yepp he was well known for his serials and have to say the way he wrote highly impresses me! I can’t imagine having to work out a story in parts like that to keep people reading and working to such a tight deadline, I think it would be a real test of good writing. 🙂

        Haha it did, I was surprised how much. Thank you for sharing it!

  7. I understand why people do it, especially with the classics. But I mean you’re always going to get caught out in the end, especially if you then get questioned on it. AWKS. Ha.
    What’s more interesting is considering books that people say they HAVEN’T read when they actually have… I’m thinking of 3 books in particular… The first one rhymes with Nifty Blades of Hay? ahem.

    • Definitely! That’s my issue, if you lie about a book it is so easy to get caught out, unless of course the other person loves the novel so much that they go into a monologue about it. 😛 Very AWKS!

      That’s a good point actually, I’d say there are more of those around these days. Nifty Blades of Hay, ohhhmygosh, I love it!!! I’m going to call it that from now on. 😀

  8. I’m always completely and totally up front about the shamefully embarrassing number of books that I haven’t read. There are lots of them. I’d rather say ‘no I haven’t read it but I’m working on it,’ instead of attempting to sound clever then just floundering mid-conversation. I’m literature ignorant and proud.

    • I think that’s a great trait, Charl. 🙂 I would much prefer to talk to someone who is honest about books rather than parroting what someone else has said or lying and telling me they’ve read a book when they haven’t. there’s no point to it!

      I’m working on it is a good line, I should remember that one. 😉

  9. Oh Becks, this post crushed a bit of my soul.

    (JUST KIDDING! No harm done. :D)

    …and just for the record, I never actually explicitly stated that I read a book when I didn’t, but a few times I did give the impression that I did when someone was discussing said book. (So I think that counts)
    This was probably my immature self not wanting to look stupid. I’m candidly honest nowadays though. Two years ago, for this question, my main answer was Frankenstein. As a horror fan, I was embarrassed that I hadn’t read it. But that has since been rectified 😀
    And a while back I think I revealed to you that I hadn’t finished Great Expectations. I’m making progress I think… LOL. 😀

    • Heheeee! Which part? Was it the Shakespeare section of the soul or the Dickens one? 😉

      LOL oh Nisha, that is SO the same thing, but I’ll forgive you. 😛 I get why people do it with classics because you get some people that are so snobby that they can make you feel inferior if you admit you haven’t read something, and it’s even worse for people that want to be knowledgeable because it makes us feel worse for not having read something!

      Ahh Frankenstein, I can understand why you felt the need to cover that one up as a horror fan, I’m glad you got the opportunity to read it since then though. 🙂

      You are! Yippieeeeeeee! 😀

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