Friday fluff: ‘Fess up

So in the always scintillating world of literary academia, people occasionally play a game that goes like this: you name the book you’re most embarrassed about not having read. Whoever names the most important/seminal/all-around classic book wins — the joy of winning is, of course, mitigated by the mocking that ensues. (There are two absolute trump cards for this game, by the way: if you study American literature but you have not read Huck Finn, congratulations: you’re a winner! If you study English literature but you have not read Hamlet, you too are already a winner!)

Now, we’re not into shame here at SP, so we’ll play this game in a happier manner: what’s the book you can’t believe you haven’t read yet? The movie that you just know you should have seen? I’ll start: I haven’t seen Apocalypse Now. This despite the fact that I’ve read Heart of Darkness at least half a dozen times, have seen parts of the Hearts of Darkness documentary about the making of Apocalypse Now, and have blithely answered student questions about the movie (whose content I’m very familiar with). I know a ton about the movie, but I’ve just never sat down and watched the damn thing. I will one day, I swear!

If books and movies aren’t your thing, what’s your secret weak spot in your hobby/career/passion? There will be no mockery here — just some giggling solidarity.

121 thoughts on “Friday fluff: ‘Fess up

  1. Since it’s almost Christmas, I’ll make this holiday themed.

    I’ve never read A Christmas Carol or seen It’s A Wonderful Life

  2. I am a pretty big movie TV/person, but I haven’t seen the Godfather. Somehow I have just never found the time to sit down and watch it!

  3. I admit that I’ve never seen The Godfather or any of the sequels. (Did I mention I have a degree in Writing for TV/Film?)

    For books… I’m woefully under-read. Thanks rural public education!

  4. Apocalypse Now is a horrible film, a blatantly racist conflation of all “natives” and a really awful acting job on Brando’s part. I wouldn’t bother…

    I haven’t read Moby Dick.

  5. Never seen Million Dollar Baby, and I love Clint Eastwood… so it’s just weird. And never read DaVinchi Code. I hear it’s pretty popular.

  6. My lists of unread books and unseen movies would be frighteningly long (thanks, late ’70s/early ’80s educational system that eliminated classics from the English curriculum and instead let me get English credit for classes like Creative Writing, which had no required reading). So here’s a cultural “haven’t”: I was born in NYC, have lived within 60 miles of it for my entire life, and I haven’t been to the Statue of Liberty.

  7. I’ve never seen the godfather.

    Also, I love to cook, but I do not know how to cook rice. Not, not know how to cook rice well, or so it tastes good: but I have never, ever, not once in my 25 years, ever made white rice.

  8. Yunyin, that totally counts!

    And people, Moby-Dick is like 75% dull, but 25% passionate love between Ishmael and Queequeeg, complete with a whole pornorrific chapter on naked sailors frolicking in sperm (from a sperm whale). I’d say on the balance it’s worth it. ;-)

  9. I have never read anything by Austen or any of the Brontes. Or Tolstoy. Or Melville. It’s ADD, folks, long-form fiction over about 200 pages takes me for freakin’ EVER, especially if the writing is very dense and detailed. I can get through 700-plus pages of nonfiction about Sam Cooke or Neil Young because I can skip around and go back later and not feel like I missed anything because, well, I sort of already know the lead character and many of the supporting players, so if any details are missed I won’t be totally lost. But if I “ADD out” and that happens to be the page where Character A noticed the mole on Character C’s forehead and that turns out to be a huge turning point for the plot, I’m so screwed.

    How embarrassing.

  10. This is the second time this has come up this week (Entertainment Weekly asked the same question) so I’ll give the same answer I gave them – Citizen Kane.

    Any classic movie buff who has never seen Citizen Kane should get 30 lashes with a wet noodle (yikes! I just channeled the ghost of Ann Landers!)

  11. I guess right now would be the time when I say I don’t watch TV (other than one extremely vapid CW show), rarely watch movies and can’t stand fiction. When people find out I’m a professional writer, they practically shit themselves when I tell them I haven’t read anything on a best seller list since probably 1997. Classics? The last classic I read was assigned in college. I don’t even remember what it was.

    Yet, I read about 10 newspapers a day and know more about classical music than anyone I know in person.

    Ironically, this comes at a time when I was just handed an assignment to come up with sappy xmas quotes from literature for work.

    Oh, the last harry potter book I read was in 2001.

  12. I’m a feminist and pretty into literature, and I’ve never gotten through Germaine Greer’s ‘The Female Eunuch’. I’m also doing my degree in anthropology and I’ve never read Margaret Mead’s ‘Coming of Age in Samoa’ (this is very bad for an anthropologist… don’t tell my profs!)

    As for film… I too have never seen Citizen Kane. *shame*

  13. Haha, Jmars, I never went to the SoL OR the Empire State Building all the years I lived in New York! Also never did a White House tour when I lived in DC, never went to the Space Needle when I lived in Seattle, never saw the Hollywood sign up close when I lived in LA. Probably in all cases I just thought, “Ah, they’re not going anywhere, I’ll get to it someday.” But sometimes someday never comes, huh?

  14. Heh. I’m a costume designer and I have never made a pair of tailored trousers. I’m a fraud!!!

    And I have not read “Lord of the Flies,” I never learned my states and capitols, the periodic table or the list of US presidents. I perpetually feel as though I missed the day of school where they told everyone how to be an adult, and I seem to have missed the rote-memorization day too. Ah well.

  15. I have a degree in English lit and have never read Wuthering Heights. Or King Lear. I’ve read every Shakespearean sonnet, but only Julius Caesar of the histories (I hate them!).

    I did theatre through high school and college, but never read MacBeth.

  16. I’m a former English major who went to college during the “no more dead white men! let’s make everything about multiculturalism!” era, so I’ve never read a single thing by Faulkner and have only read some of Hemingway’s short stories. But the big “I can’t believe I haven’t read this” book for me is “Jane Eyre.” My friends love it, many of them read it in school. I just kept managing to miss it.

    As for movies, there’s about a zillion I *want* to see, but I think top of my “I’m a movie fan, why I haven’t I seen this movie?” list are those foreign movies everyone thinks are the classics of all time, like “The Umbrellas of Cherborg” and “The Bicycle Thief.” For American movies, this may sound funny, but I’ve never seen “American Pie.” There’s a whole generation of “band camp” jokes I never get. :)

  17. I have an English degree (in a closet somewhere) and I really liked “Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man” but have neither touched “Finnegan’s Wake” nor given “Ulysses” a shot. And I have never read any Austen. Also, I live in Vegas and have not been to a Cirque show.

    I cannot beat my sister, however, who has not seen any “Star Wars” movies. Talk about your cultural/collective consciousness vacuum.

  18. I was an English major who’s never read Ulysses. (I’ve also never read Huckleberry Finn, but I will, by God!)

    I have never seen “It’s A Wonderful Life.”

    There is a special circle of hell waiting for me because I am the only person alive who thinks The Shawshank Redemption was shit. I found it to be a boring, over-rated movie. (All those nice criminals!)

  19. For those of you who haven’t seen Citizen Kane – give it a try. Better yet, see “RKO 281″ with the yummy Liev Schieber first; the story about how the movie got made makes seeing it much more interesting! :)

    I grew up on the banks of the Mohawk River and have never read “Drums Along the Mohawk”, nor seen the movie.

    This is fun! :)

  20. I’ve never read War and Peace. I tried but it was just so long! And frankly, boring as hell.

    But if I “ADD out” and that happens to be the page where Character A noticed the mole on Character C’s forehead and that turns out to be a huge turning point for the plot,

    Ha! In Lord of the Flies I “ADDed out” over the part where the body in the parachute lands. And then they were all talking about the beast and I just had no idea where it came from and what they were referring to. I can read long books, but not books with long descriptive passages. More than a pargaraph or so with no dialogue and I inevitably zone out.

  21. Have an M.Ed. in Counseling Psychology and half of a Psy.D. in Clinical Psychology but never read “The Interpretation of Dreams” all the way through. Lived in Aspen and didn’t ski. Visited Vegas and didn’t gamble. Lived in London and never rode the London Eye, visited Madame Tussauds or Westminster Palace. Currently live in Chicago and have never been to the Shedd Aquarium, Adler Planetarium or the Field Museum. Never saw “Citizen Kane” except for shots of Orson Wells mouth muttering Rosebud that always seems to make every clip show. The list goes on and on. I get a perverse thrill when I think about all the things I haven’t read, seen or done. It just means there’s a lot of interesting stuff ahead.

  22. Hmmm… I have never seen The Godfather, or any of the sequels… don’t own a single Beatles album… and the last two chapters of “Ulysses” seem destined to remain perpetually unread…

    I think I have covered most of the German and Austrian literary classics (my native language/culture), mostly due to a rather strict university curriculum. Don’t think I would have touched them on my own.

    One recent exciting discovery, though, was the original “Nutcracker” novella by ETA Hoffmann, on which the Tchaikovsky ballet is based. It is MUCH darker, complex, ironic and multilayered than the ballet would ever have you suspect. For grownups, really. Recommended if you can track down a translation.

  23. There are SO MANY classics I haven’t read. It’s not because they weren’t assigned (although several weren’t) but more because I didn’t feel like reading them either in High School or College and somehow managed to pass all Literature/Fiction Writing classes without reading the assigned materials.
    I did however, read Catcher in the Rye, because I felt like it, all in one day. My sister raved about it, it was never assigned to me, she had a nice hard cover edition, so I sat down to see what the excitement was about. I read it in one sitting…. I wasn’t impressed.

    As for movies, I’ve never seen any Godfather movie, I don’t think I’ve ever seen Apocolypse Now and as a Geek (with a capital G) I hate to admit I haven’t seen any of the Star Trek movies…at least, not all the way through from beginning to end – I’ve seen some pieces here and there, but nothing to where I understand what the film is about.

  24. penguinlady, I have a question about Citizen Kane. I’ve often heard it’s the best movie ever made, but is that because of the story, or because of how innovative it was? I’ve avoided seeing it mainly because the plot does not interest me, and I’ve always suspected that it’s the greatest because of innovations, which really doesn’t interest me. If the story is truly great, I will definitely see it.

    Books I haven’t read? There are many. After my bout with “War and Peace” when I was 12, I have avoided reading anything else by any Russian author. So no Anna Karenina, no Crime and Punishment, nothing like that. I know it’s not right, which is why I fully intend to rectify the situation…someday. But “War and Peace” broke me.

    I’ve never seen “Gone with the Wind”. I read two pages of the book and instantly did not like it. So I never bothered with the movie. Another mistake I’m sure, and I will make this better…someday.

    I also live close to NYC but I’ve never actually been.

  25. I’m an actor, and I’ve never seen Casablanca or Citizen Kane. Yeesh.

    I’ve also never finished anything by Jane Austen. ::::sigh:::: I just can’t bring myself to like her books, even though I think I “should.” :P

  26. While working, I just realized another one: I’ve got an MBA, but can never remember the formula for calculating compounded annual growth rates. I always have to look it up

    Meowser, yeah, it’s definitely the “well, it’s right there so I can go anytime” but with work, commuting and well, life, it’s hard. The DH and I now make a big deal out of going to New York once or twice a year and “staying over.” It’s so weird to be a tourist in my home town! But at least it got me to the top of the Empire State Building!

  27. I don’t read books or watch movies just because they’re classics. If they bore me, I won’t read/watch them or finish them. I have been surprised at some of the classics I thought I wouldn’t like but did (like Dickens). Most of the movies touted as classics that I haven’t gotten around to, I don’t really care to see. I probably will never watch the Godfather movies, for instance.

    I keep thinking I would like Anna Karenina if I gave it another chance, though. I tried it as a teen and again as an early 20-something and couldn’t get past the first 20 pages or so either time.

    I also find that some “classic” novels I can’t get through on paper are much more fun as books on CD. That’s the only way I managed to finish (and enjoy) A Tale of Two Cities.

  28. Ahh, Tari, who needs to own a Beatles album? The Beatles are frickin’ everywhere (here, there, and…). Turn on the water, there they are.

    But as someone who has seen Spinal Tap enough times that she could act it out with sockpuppets, and will dissolve in helpless giggles if you so much as mutter the word “Stonehenge,” I have to say, you probably won’t find it a chore to watch if you ever choose to do so. Although I understand that there are some famous musicians who simply find it too painful to watch because all that shit actually happened to them! (Harry Shearer has said that they made up almost none of it; it all came out of experiences they all had in various bands they were involved with.)

  29. You all will love “The Godfather”. Even though it looks like it’s just about boys and is boring. There’s really a lot more to it. Great clothes (Andy Garcia in that bella figura suit in III, che fuerza).

    Also great acting and great dialogue. (Which I’ve heard is based on the magnificent “Godfather” books by Puzo, which — haha — I’ve never read.)

    A warning though, once you’ve done it, it will be like Michael (Pacino in grand forte style) says in III:

    “Just when I was OUT, they pull me back IN!!” — and whenever it’s on Bravo you will be forced to change the channel or forced to sit down and watch it. Again.

    No “Lord of the Flies”. (I do think, though, that a pass should be available to those who’ve read Cormier’s “Chocolate War” series.) No “Catch-22″. No Tolstoy ever.

    Don’t think I even knew there was a book called “The Interpretation of Dreams”. Is it by Jung?

    Didn’t see “Syriana”. (Hides face in shame; hopes George gets another Oscar. At least a nomination for “Michael Clayton”. )

    “It’s a Wonderful Life” is sappy but a blessing.

  30. I’ve never seen “Gone with the Wind”. I read two pages of the book and instantly did not like it. So I never bothered with the movie. Another mistake I’m sure, and I will make this better…someday.

    Both book and movie are jaw-droppingly racist, even for their times.

  31. I’m the queen of not having read or seen something I KNOW I would enjoy!!

    Let’s see….I studied feminism and never read The Feminine Mystique.

    I love Jane Austen movies but I’ve never read a Jane Austen book.

    I love horror movies and have never seen Deliverance.

    I have a strong academic background in African American Literature including Richard Wright, Alice Walker, Zora Neale Hurston, Audre Lorde, Nikki Giovanni and yet, I have never read a single Toni Morrison book. Always wanted to, just never got around to it. I even own Song of Solomon and Beloved! I KNOW!

    I’ve read just about every single Tolkien book (even some of the histories!) EXCEPT the Hobbit.

  32. Oh, and as a journalist, I’ve never read ANYTHING by Hunter S. Thompson, nor have I read All the President’s Men. I saw the movie of the latter.

  33. lucizoe, the only reason I even have the states and capitols memorized is because of Animaniacs. LOL You should have seen the look on my teacher’s face during my geography final as I hummed the tune to “Turkey in the Straw.” so I could get all the answers.

    As for books that I have not read…Oliver Twist comes to mind. Of course that could be coming to mind because of the reading I was doing about the real life Sweeney Todd and they had many references of compairison in the article I was reading.

    As for movies, I’ve never seen It’s a Wonderful Life.

  34. citizen cane and apocolypse now? They go to eleven.

    I am a PhD candidate in natural resources, and I haven’t been motivated to read Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring”. It also took about 10 tries to read “A Sand County Almanac”.

  35. As an English and Psych double major in undergrad, it seems pitiful that I haven’t read any original work by Jung. That said, one of my psych profs made us read original work by Freud, and that was some kind of painful. At least now that I have my PhD in psych, I can say with honesty that I have read Freud. (As if that ever comes up with patients…)

    It also seems bizarre that I’ve never gotten through a Jane Austen book. I’ve read The Jane Austen Book Club and other books about people who love Jane Austen, but I can’t seem to get through an entire book without getting totally bored. Go figure. Actually, its probably shameful that I haven’t read near my fair share of the “classics” either.

    Have you heard of that book “How To Talk About Books You Haven’t Read” by Pierre Bayard? They were talking about it lots on CBC Radio last week. I figure if I just read that book, I can pretend I’ve read all the others I should have read by now!

  36. 1. I’ve never seen any of the Godfather movies. *blush*

    2. I’ve fallen asleep watching Citizen Kane in college. *re-blush*

    Can’t think of any must-read books that I haven’t read… There are some, of course, but I don’t care about not having read Shakespeare (aside from the obligatory class readings).

  37. I have never watched Dirty Dancing.

    I KNOW! I am going to be kicked out of the chick club. I’ve seen PARTS of it – on tv clip shows,etc. but never have seen the whole thing from start to finish.

  38. Debbie B. there is no earthly reason to read the Davinci Code. I hate Dan Brown’s writing. His characters are all 2-dimensional and lack any sort of depth whatsoever.

    My secret shame: I have never seen Casablanca, even though I own it. I bought it for the Boy. He’s watched it. Repeatedly.

    And while I have read Hemingway, I hate him.

  39. How fun and confessional (but only in a fun way)…

    I lived in St. Petersburg, Russia, for a year, but never was inside the Hermitage (Gah! What?! It was always “na remont” (closed for repairs) on the three times I stopped by).

    I worked as a food writer for four years, but never wrote a restaurant review.

    I’m a dance teacher and choreographer, but my ballet work is AWFUL, and I haven’t ever taken a pilates class, either.

    I love to cook, but I don’t know how to roast a chicken properly.

    I’ve never seen Pulp Fiction and, owing to my seriously low tolerance for blood and violence in film, I never will.

  40. I have read neither Huck Finn nor Hamlet. I have seen neither Citizen Cane nor The Godfather. And I was in college before I heard “Stairway to Heaven” for the first time.

  41. I feel less shame about things I haven’t read/seen and more shame about how many ‘classics’ I’ve seen/read and just didn’t like. Godard’s “Breathless”, the Godfather movies, “Wuthering Heights.”

    However, I have been acting for 15 years and have never finished any of Stanislavski’s acting trilogy. I got 30 pages into “An Actor Prepares” and never picked it up again.

  42. Meowser, I too am a Spinal Tap fanatic. Whenever the opportunity comes up I’ll say “Turn it up to 11.” and I’ll occasionally get a blank stare in response – ah, they never saw Spinal Tap, and they don’t know what they’re missing!

  43. I’ve never made it through a Neal Stephenson.

    I went to university in Manchester – and happen to be queer – and still never went out in the gay village. Not once.

  44. I’ve never seen Citizen Kane, even though I’m supposed to be the classic movie freak of my group. It’s kind of a guilty secret I haven’t confessed to them yet! as far as books go, a week ago I would have said Kurt Vonnegut’s “Slaughterhouse 5″, but I dodged that bullet by finding a copy this weekend and finishing it last night :-) hmmm…maybe Marilyn Wann’s Fat!So? It’s been on my wishlist, but the FA books are harder to stumble across at the used bookstore.

  45. Hey definitive.dot – the “deal” with CK was that Orson Welles “broke” all the standards in Hollywood at the time. It seems trite to say that he “revolutionized” film, but he did. His direction was dynamic and emotional; compared to other movies at the time, you’d think it was made at least 10 – 20 years LATER. There are other ways, but I don’t want to get into a whole critique.

    Plus, it was a thinly disguised criticism of Hearst – when Hearst was still alive and the stories about his quirks were still being traded around. That simply Was Not Done. It ruined Welles’ career for quite some time.

    Again – highly recommend “RKO 281″ for more background.

    To get back on topic: I’m a fat woman who’s never tried Atkins! :)

  46. For the most part I don’t hang my head in shame about much that I haven’t done. I regret not remembering more about books that I *have* read and movies that I have seen.

    I was just reading an article/interview with Harold Bloom and I came away from that thinking he’s a pompous ass. When asked this question, he said he figured he’d read everything important. Also, he piled a load of horse manure on how terrible Harry Potter is. It’s not literature, but I will not feel poorly for enjoying the HP series.

  47. Gingembre! Dude, I can’t make it through a Neal Stephenson either! And it KILLS me b/c the premises are always so interesting-sounding to me. Something about it though, I just go comatose by like page 100.

    How about the guilty pleasures too? Or things we’ve read that we wished we hadn’t? My guilty pleasure is Bridget Jones. I have a love-loathe relationship with those books, but I think I re-read them every so often because I’m a bit of an anglophile and I love the way her mother talks. Durr!

    Everyone should definitely read Bartleby the Scrivener, speaking of Melville. OK, so I admit that Cripsin Glover is my current celebrity crush, but the novella is awesome even without CG in the film version. My ultimate office space fantasy is for my boss to ask me, “Could you finish my work today so I can chat with the other managers?” as per usual. My response, of course, would be, “I would prefer not to.”

  48. Dude, I can’t make it through a Neal Stephenson either! And it KILLS me b/c the premises are always so interesting-sounding to me. Something about it though, I just go comatose by like page 100.

    Thirded! I tried and tried and tried to read one of his books because a friend of mine just raves about them, but it just was not happening.

  49. Alyce – I also think Harold Bloom is a pompous ass.

    There’s a lot that I haven’t read, despite being known as “bookish” usually I read *about* books and so then I can discuss them and sound like I kinda know something even though I really don’t.

    The one that kind of shames me, because I own the book and really really want to read it (and have recommended it to others, despite having not read it, because I’m a liar) is One Hundred Years of Solitude. I just can’t make myself pick it up, I don’t know what my problem is.

    Re: CK, I fell asleep the first time I watched it and by modern movie watching standards it’s pretty dull and the plot is not really anything special (IMHO). I’ve seen it a few times now and I appreciate what Orson Welles was doing. I’d recommend if you didn’t like it to give it another try.

    There are zero “important” movies that I haven’t seen. There’s some obscure art films or foreign films I’d like to see but haven’t, but none of the big Hollywood Classics.

  50. As a Women’s Studies grad student with some definite sociology leanings, I’m ashamed that I’ve never read Marx. Lots of Marxist writers, no Marx.

    I’ve not seen TONS of “classic” movies… the Godfather, Casablanca, Apocalypse Now, Citizen Kane. I just haven’t seen that many movies. Whenever someone says, “You know that scene in [fill in the blank]?” The answer is always, “No.”

  51. I have a degree in piano and I have never played any Rachmaninoff. Also, I have a degree in music history (ok, same degree, I just went to one of the rare schools that requires its historians to play an instrument to a very high level) and I can’t stand Mahler at all. Heresy!

    I live in Cleveland, like baseball, and have never been to Jacobs Field.

    I also haven’t seen the Godfather movies.

    I have, however, read Ulysses.

  52. I’m not really into movies, so the list of “classics” I haven’t seen would fill a trilogy, and then some. Same with TV – just don’t watch much.

    But books….I’ve been reading science fiction and fantasy all my life, yet I have never read Lord of the Rings. Or The Hobbit.

    In related hobbies, I sew, but not only do I not have a serger, I’ve never used one. (I finish my garments using other techniques.)

  53. sweetmachine – Naked sailors? Gosh. My husband’s read Moby Dick but I haven’t. He didn’t mention that bit.

    Anyway, my unread classic is Pride and Prejudice. I actually had to do it for a set book at school, and I think I sat through the first lesson, thought “Oh, so it’s about some idiot woman trying to marry off her daughters…BIG DEAL”…and totally switched off. I think I got through the exam by getting brilliant answers on the other syllabus books, and half-attempting an answer on a book that we hadn’t even been set! (I had a big habit of not finishing exam papers.) I still feel the same about it. And about the TV adaptation. I honestly can’t see what some women see in Colin Firth. And I’ve never felt the urge to seek out anything else by Jane Austen, either.

    Also…I have a more or less unread copy of On the Road under my desk at work. I just cannot get into it. I can’t understand it. I read The Dharma Bums and thought it was brilliant and that I could really get into Kerouac, but his famous, seminal work leaves me completely cold.

    Oh, and although I have read Naked Lunch, I still haven’t a darned clue what it’s actually about.

  54. But as someone who has seen Spinal Tap enough times that she could act it out with sockpuppets,

    Meowser….now that you’ve said that, that’s probably the only way I would *want* to watch Spinal Tap!!

  55. One of my friends has never seen: The Sound of Music, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, The Wizard Of Oz or Mary Poppins.

    As for myself, native Londoner and all, I’ve never seen The Changing of the Guard, been inside Madame Tussauds, Buck House or the Tower of London. i also ran away and hid in the loo when Princess Margaret visited my school.

  56. I honestly can’t see what some women see in Colin Firth.

    While I’m with you on reading Austen, (we had Persuasion as a set book at school and I couldn’t read it for love nor moneyl), however, Colin Firth??! In Mr Darcy mode?? Are you kidding me?!

  57. To my eternal shame I’ve never read To Kill a Mockingbird. I’ve also never read a Dickens novel out of choice (I was forced to read the one about Pip (see I’ve even blanked on the book’s name) at 14 and was so bored to death that I can’t face another).

    I’ve never seen “The Godfather” or “It’s a Wonderful Life” or “Casablanca” either.

    And sweetmachine, you’re not missing anything by not having seen Apocalypse Now. My husband “encouraged” me to watch the Redux version and I have never been so bored in a film in my entire life.

    BuffPuff :lol: at running away when royalty visits! It’s about all they deserve. I also haven’t seen any of the sights in London, but bearing in mind I hate the place so I haven’t even been to the Tate Modern apart from once even though I love modern art!

  58. I am terribly amused by how many English majors we have among the Shapelings.

    I really adore Neal Stephenson, but he does go off on an inordinate number of tangents, and if you’re not down with his particular brand of geekiness, he’ll lose you. Not fascinated by the switch from specie currency to “virtual” finance in 17th century Europe? Skip the Baroque Cycle then — that’s the plot. Cryptonomicon has good human storylines but if you’re not intrigued by the history of computing, you’ll snooze through at least 50% of the text.

    As for me, I’m a math major and I’ve never read Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman or Godel, Escher, Bach. Also, I’m a libertarian and have never read any Friedrich Hayek or Ayn Rand, or The Moon is a Harsh Mistress.

  59. Now, I HAVE read the Lord of the Rings trilogy many, many, many times over…but have not read the Hobbit. Maybe it was because of that horrendous animated version done by Rankin-Bass in the late 70’s or early 80’s that I just couldn’t stomach the book. I didn’t finish watching the animation, either. And I haven’t seen “Ace Ventura, Pet Detective.” And I won’t. Won’t, won’t, won’t. :)

  60. SM- I totally disagree with others on the thread about apocalypse now! If only to dig the cinematography. There are some really inventive camera shots. I never really thought about whether the film was derogatory towards indigenous peoples, but that isn’t the sense I got from the movie.

  61. Kristin: Actually, I think Stand and Deliver is the quintessential math major movie, if only because we all had to watch it in our AP Calculus classes in high school.

    I haven’t seen Pi, though.

  62. My husband can’t believe I’ve never seen The Karate Kid. (I was a freshman in college! I wasn’t about to go to some trendy teen movie when the film society was showing Eraserhead!) I don’t think I’ve voluntarily watched Dirty Dancing all the way through, either, though I’ve probably seen the whole thing in bits by now.

    I hadn’t seen The Godfather until just a few months ago. My initial reaction: “Wow, this movie’s so full of clichés!”

    Never seen Apocalypse Now. Never read Lord of the Flies. Never read 1984 (I graduated in ’83. It wasn’t required reading until the following year). I know I’ve read The Great Gatsby, but for the life of me I can’t remember a single thing about the story. Never seen an episode of Sex and the City (is it “and” or “in”? I can never remember), and hope I never have to.

  63. Pattie! Me too on the Star Trek. I’ve never seen any of the movies all the way through. I also don’t like any of the sequel TV series either. They’re too earnest. I do love the originals though.

    Also, my undergrad degree was English Lit and I’ve never read Hamlet or Macbeth. I took two semesters of Shakespeare and the assumption was that we would have covered those in high school, so we read exciting things like Troilus and Cressida instead.

    And finally, I am 36 years old, I spent some of my teenage years babysitting like everybody else, and even was a nanny for two different families. I teach part time and spend a lot of time with kids. I have never in my life changed a diaper.

  64. And I’ve been told I really should read Ayn Rand.

    Yeah, NO ONE should read Ayn Rand. Instead you should read Matt Ruff’s Sewer, Gas, Electric, which features a tiny holographic Ayn Rand, or you should (I’m told — we don’t have it yet) play Bioshock.

    mshell67, Harold Bloom is a very famous literary critic who writes books with names like Genius. He wrote a really influential book decades ago and now he uses his relative fame to sneer at Harry Potter and talk about how great Shakespeare is. IOW, don’t worry about it. ;-)

  65. I recently spent a week in Seattle and did not consume any coffee.

    And I am a computer science major who doesn’t play video games. Not that playing video games has anything to do with computer science, but all the nerds do it.

    I’ve never read any classic feminist theory (except for a couple of chapters of The Feminine Mystique) or feminist literature. Does Margaret Atwood count as classic? Someday I want to read Mrs. Dalloway.

  66. Kerry: awesome! David Lodge is wonderful; I should have known he’d write about that.

    Brief plot summary: members of the Euphoric State English department play the game; IIRC, points are tallied by a show of hands: whoever has read the work raises their hand, and you get that many points.

    One character, up for tenure, is torn. He’s highly competitive, and can’t bear to lose the game — but he doesn’t want to lose tenure either. Finally, the pressure gets to him, and he blurts out that he’s never read Hamlet. In typical David Lodge fashion, he of course loses tenure — only to be hired instantly at another institution because of the whole episode.

  67. ….ummmm…..I’m getting my PhD in Ecology and EVOLUTIONARY Biology, and I’ve never read Darwin’s Origin of Species…. :S I keep trying, but he gets so long-winded and I end up putting it down for a day, which stretches into months or years…

  68. I just got my BA in English and I’ve never read Beowulf. I’ve also never seen “Apocalypse Now”. Despite loving Tolkien, I have yet to read The Silmarillian (sp?)

  69. 1st time commenter here. I am not a native speaker, so I haven’t read many of the books mentioned here.

    But my issue is with Brothers Karamazov. My boyfriend read it and raved about how great it was. But you see, I speak Russian, so I feel like I should read the book in the original. Yet, my boyfriend has the book in English.

    So I have this unsolvable dilemma, do I read the book, which I have, in English, or do I buy the book in Russian (which just seems like a waste because I HAVE the book). Sigh…. So far this resulted in me just not reading the book.

  70. Kerry– I have played this game before, with a group of English majors. One of them had not read Romeo and Juliet.

    Kira– you stole my answer. I’m getting a master’s in conservation biology, and have never read “The Descent of Man” or “Silent Spring” either.

    I have also never seen a full episode of Sesame Street.

  71. I read Brothers Karamazov in English. Buy the book in Russian–originals are almost ALWAYS better than translations, and this one (imo) is worth it. :)

  72. I have a strong academic background in African American Literature including Richard Wright, Alice Walker, Zora Neale Hurston, Audre Lorde, Nikki Giovanni and yet, I have never read a single Toni Morrison book. Always wanted to, just never got around to it. I even own Song of Solomon and Beloved! I KNOW!

    Dude, I know.

    I think it might be because “The Bluest Eye” is so damn depressing. A self-hate primer, if you will. A Judith Moore “Fat Girl” predecessor.

    Although, aren’t Janie and Teacake just the hottest couple ever? That was such a smoking romance that the chapter they got together for permanent was when I was sure somebody was going to end up dead.

  73. Never read 1984 (I graduated in ‘83. It wasn’t required reading until the following year).

    I don’t care who you are, that’s funny right tharr.

  74. I too am a Spinal Tap fanatic. Whenever the opportunity comes up I’ll say “Turn it up to 11.” and I’ll occasionally get a blank stare in response -

    A BLANK STARE?!?!

    They must think it’s their job to be as confused as Nigel.

    Then of course, that’s nitpicking, isn’t it?

    OK, I will stop now.

    (But if you’ve ever done community theatre, or are involved with someone theatre-obsessed (who may be slightly “not exactly Broadway material”), and have not seen “Waiting For Guffman”, I must warn you against simultaneous drinking and watching. You will laugh until your stomach hurts.)

  75. I’m a librarian, but when I was getting my degree I never took a reference class. “But I’m not going to BE a reference librarian,” I wheedled, “I’m going to be a CHILDREN’S librarian.” And even if I had to work at the reference desk, I figured, most librarians only have to work reference for a couple hours a day.

    And now I have a job as, yes, a reference librarian (among other duties). And my library is small enough that I get to be on the reference desk… all… day… long. Every day.

  76. I have a minor in literature and I never took any classes in American Lit.

    I’ve never read Grapes of Wrath and I pretended to see the movie after reading the cliff notes so I didn’t have to watch it with my history class.

  77. HoboLawstudent, I never cooked rice until I met my Philipino husband and was introduced to the rice cooker. You just measure the water and rice, dump it in, and a little bell dings when it’s ready. Its Awesome.
    As for books not read and movies not seen, well, in college all my friends were film majors, so they force-fed me a lot of movies.
    I was never able to finish “Wuthering Heights.” I just thought Heathcliffe was an asshole and Katherine was a spoiled bitch, and I couldn’t wait for both of them to just die, already!
    (BTW, “It’s A Wonderful Life” is playing as I write this.)

  78. Not a classic yet, though I’m sure they’ll be considered to be – Harry Potter. I haven’t even read a page of any of the 7 books. I didn’t even know the darned things existed until book 4 or something, and by then everyone was making such a big deal out of them, I decided that they couldn’t live up all the hype. By the time she got to book 6 I was mildly interested but it would be so much catching up to do and I just don’t have the time…and I would hate to only get through a book or two and then be frustrated forever by not reading the rest.

  79. I’m an english lit major as well and I ‘ve never read Heart of Darkness. I was supposed to I just couldn’t do it. And, I;ve never seen Scarface.

  80. Liz, I haven’t read any of the Harry Potter books but the movies are phenomenol!

    I haven’t seen Star Wars, Star Trek, or Breakfast at Tiffanys.

    ove ya! lol

  81. I’m a biblical archaeologist, and I can’t be bothered to read most of the Bible. Psalms, Proverbs, most of the Prophets, meh. Whetevs. And I have bibles in more languages than most people speak. On the other hand, despite its complete irrelevance to my profession, I constantly reread the dirty bits, like Song of Solomon.

  82. Also hopping out of lurkiness to confess. I’ve never seen Grease all the way through – keep falling asleep about twenty minutes in.

    I’ve never read 1984 either, which is pretty shameful.

  83. Another reader with an English degree.

    I haven’t read Macbeth, any Austen, any Brontes, any Tolstoy, any Dostoyevksy.

    No Citizen Kane, finally saw Casablanca last week. Braveheart puts me to sleep. I should think about popping that in the DVD player when I have insomnia, hadn’t thought about it.

  84. Yet one more reader with an English degree.

    I’ve yet to finish Paradise Lost. More than likely, I won’t. And you can’t make me. :-)

    And I’ve seen Citizen Kane. I can’t say I’m fond of it. I’ve seen Apocalypse Now. Hated it. And I’ve never seen the Godfather. I just couldn’t stay awake.

    And for the person who hadn’t read any Toni Morrison…go for Tar Baby. That’s a good one, and it’s not depressing.

  85. I’ve never seen Schindler’s List. Somehow, every time it comes up between the Holocaust and ooooh, anything else, anything else wins.

  86. I thought of all the Spinal Tap love on the thread this morning when my best friend was teasing me (I’m very jumpy, so he loves to make like he’s about to startle me and then he just sits there, which is about ten times worse from the suspense) and when he mocked my scaredy-cat nature, I indignantly replied, “I’m just as God made me!”

    Despite being a huge nerd, I’ve never read any Tolkien and have only seen two episodes of the original Star Trek. (And in both of them, Chekov gets, erm, lucky and Kirk doesn’t — what are the odds? Those must be the only two episodes like that, period.) I am particularly ashamed of never having seen “The Trouble with Tribbles.”

  87. When studying for my PhD orals, I simply could NOT get through Ulysses. Hated it. Tried, really, but couldn’t. Read the Coles notes instead.

    At the exam, the FIRST question I was asked was about. . . you guessed it. Well, I did pass, in case you’re wondering. . . and it didn’t matter that I’d never read it. But I suppose now (more than 20 years later), I really SHOULD get around to it. . . clearly, I haven’t gotten over the guilt!! (Though it does feel better knowing a couple of you up there in the comments couldn’t push through it, either).

  88. I have a minor in Latin, but am really clueless about traditional Roman history–emperors and wars and whatnot. I was always much more interested in their art and culture.

    Also, I’ll happily talk smack about Faulkner but have never actually read any of his stuff, and don’t intend to. Both because of the opinions of (very smart) friends. Speaking of American literature, I’m underread in general…no Huck Finn, The Scarlet Letter, Red Badge of Courage, etc. When given assigned reading options, I always tended toward nice european books. :)

    But wait, not all of said european books…I had never read any Jane Austen until a few months ago, despite loving the movies. Pride and Prejudice rocks, but I just haven’t been able to finish Emma.

    I’ve seen the three new Star Wars movies, but not the original three.

  89. I love Love LOVE _Bartelby the Scrivner_ and just cannot get past the first fifty pages of _Moby Dick_. Didn’t know there was a Bartleby movie.

    I hate Hemingway too. And I can’t read James Joyce. Or Joseph Conrad. I was assigned Lord Jim for a lit class and just couldn’t do it. So I haven’t read _Heart of Darkness_ either. I think I just can’t do extremely visually detailed books because I can’t picture things in my head like other people seem to do. I don’t get anything out of them.

    I’m a total Austen and Bronte and Eliot fan, but I haven’t read _The Mill on the Floss_ yet. It’s my planned reading for Christmas vacation.

  90. killedbyllamas, I’m also a Classics major and I’m there with you about the Emperors.

    Books: Until recently, I hadn’t read Wuthering Heights (and I’m still not that big on Charlotte Bronte). I still haven’t read Ullysses or Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man or Lord of the Flies.

    Movies: There’s still a few Hitchcocks I haven’t seen (eg. Topaz, Rope, A Lady Vanishes) and I’m trying to locate a copy of the Great Dictator. The Blue Angel has been in my To Be Watched pile for about a month now and I’ve never watched that before. (My obsessive DVD collecting helped with removing gaps in what I haven’t seen, but GACK! I sound like a film snob. Maybe I am.)

  91. Like sam, I have never, ever seen Grease. The one chance I had was at a huge party somewhere in the early to mid 80s, where the (very wealthy) host family was showing off their spiffy new VCR and it was playing in the background — and every single other girl there had seen it something like fifty times already, so everyone was chattering madly over it and I couldn’t hear any of the dialog.

    Then one of my friends went on to date an actor who’d played a minor role in it, and he was a total asshole to her.

    Plus, I’m 39 years old. I think by now it’s too late.

    Never read Ayn Rand (my mother said, “I read Atlas Shrugged in college and it was so important to me all that year. Then I got over it.” so I don’t feel so bad about that gap in my reading history).

    The only Bergman film I’ve ever seen is Fanny and Alexander, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything by either Fellini or Antonioni.

    Also, meowser? This: It’s all downhill on soap shoes is so ridiculously wonderful I want to marry it and have its slippery little babies.

  92. Yeah, everyone: Ayn Rand will fuck you up if you’re impressionable enough. I read it in high school and spent awhile totally into her and then ended up being embarrassed that I had recommended it to all my 11th grade friends when I read the stuff again as a grown-up.

    I’m mostly OK with the Libertarians, but Rand is one of those authors who’s trying to tell a story that “proves” her ideologies and that makes for a kind of shitty story. Plus, seriously, who can stand that rape scene where the character ends up sort of liking it? Can’t remember which one but it’s in one of the two Ridiculously Thick books. If you want to read a Ridiculously Thick book, read the Children’s Hospital (it’s a McSweeney’s), which effing rocks.

  93. There are piles and piles of books that I haven’t read yet but which I should read because I’m an English student and …. gah. Finals. I’ve never read War and Peace or Vanity Fair or Madame Bovary. How’s that for starters?

    In terms of movies, I’ve never seen any James Bond movies. It’s just not my thing, but people always seem so weirdly upset over this. “What do you mean, you’ve never seen a Bond movie? Not even a Sean Connery one?” Etc. It was worse when I’d never seen Star Wars, but I finally broke down and watched all of them a few years ago.

    I’ve never seen Schindler’s List, either. Or Silence of the Lambs, or Apocalypse Now… The list goes on. In conclusion, there are too many things I haven’t done yet to really be worried about it.

  94. One more that hasn’t seen Schindler’s List. I also haven’t seen Titanic but I’m not embarrassed about that. :)

  95. Never watched Eraserhead, which in the circle I hung around with for a few years, was tantamount to heresy.

    I hate Shakespere. All of it. Cannot stand it-as a one time english major who will eventually finish her degree, this is also heresy.

    And I enjoy Ayn Rand, which in the last ten years, seems to have become a crime. :) Atlas Shrugged at least avoids that rape scene in The Fountainhead.

  96. I’ve yet to watch The Exorcist despite being a horror junkie. And I’ve yet to read Toni Morrison’s “Beloved”. Haven’t read anything by Milan Kundera also. Ashamed, ashamed.

  97. I just thought of a secret week spot (non literary). Despite being thirty something, I still have to look at the batteries every time to figure out which end is the little plus and which end is the little minus, so I get them into my handheld device correctly.

    Alas, my literary and other intellectual weaknesses are far too many to enumerate. One of the sad truths about working in a large bookstore is that it drives home every day just how many books one has not read.

  98. >>Wow! This movie’s full of cliches!

    I think that’s the worst part when you skip important parts of culture … you miss the chance to enjoy them fully because by the time you get to them, you’ve already experienced all the other bits of culture that were influenced by them. So nothing seems original. Even though it was original! Or else the work has seeped into the culture so much that you already know the ending and everything else about it. Completely different experience when there’s no suspense.

    I don’t watch TV and after years of hearing people talk about “The Sopranos” around the water cooler I’m finally into the DVDs…desperately trying not to be spoiled!

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