Despite evidence to the contrary, I'm an honest person.

For serious. I am.

This is the face of someone who always tells the truth.

But there are a few subjects that I am . . . well, not dishonest about. But they certainly make me squirm, and I'm always quick to change the topic whenever they arise in conversation. I'm talking about novels, of course.

Or -- more precisely -- Novels I Haven't Read.

I imagine that everyone who considers themselves a great reader has a similar list. A list of books that, for whatever reason, they just haven't gotten to yet. Important books! Books they're sure to like! But books that have been set aside for other books again and again and again.

Against my better judgment, I'm coming clean. That's right. I'm publicly revealing MY SECRET LIST OF SHAME.

But before I reveal MY SECRET LIST OF SHAME, allow me a moment of explanation. As I'm easy to guilt by nature, there are many unread novels I feel bad about. Moby Dick always springs to mind. The only part I've read is Chapter 94, which is the same chapter anyone who has ever taken a class on GLBTQ literature has read.

I am, of course, referring to the sperm squeezing.

In case you're unfamiliar, allow me to enlighten you with this excerpt:

"Squeeze! squeeze! squeeze! all the morning long; I squeezed that sperm till I myself almost melted into it; I squeezed that sperm till a strange sort of insanity came over me; and I found myself unwittingly squeezing my co-laborers' hands in it, mistaking their hands for the gentle globules. Such an abounding, affectionate, friendly, loving feeling did this avocation beget; that at last I was continually squeezing their hands, and looking up into their eyes sentimentally; as much as to say . . . Come; let us squeeze hands all round; nay, let us all squeeze ourselves into each other; let us squeeze ourselves universally into the very milk and sperm of kindness. Would that I could keep squeezing that sperm for ever!"

Awesome, no? And it goes on forever! Much longer than that passage.

Anyway, as much as it makes me want to read Moby Dick (and it truly does), Moby Dick is, let's face it, A REALLY REALLY LONG BOOK. A really really long book about whaling. And every time I remember that -- the longevity and the whales -- it sinks a little lower on my "to-read" list.

But I'm not embarrassed about Moby Dick. Because I'm definitely not the only writer who hasn't read it. Did I mention it's really really long? And about whaling? (And other stuff, obviously, but mainly WHALING.)

Besides. I've seen the movie.

No, the books that embarrass me are the ones directly related to my field. Five young adult novels that everyone in my (admittedly smallish) industry circle seems to have read but me.

Okay, I lied.

These are the four young adult novels that everyone else has read, and the one classic novel that I can't even speak its name aloud because of the extreme humiliation factor. Because EVERYONE who loves my favorite kind of books -- kissing books! -- has read it.



Or not.

But why am I sharing my guilty secrets with you now? Because I'm tired of feeling ashamed every time these books are brought up in conversation. So I'm going to read them. This May.

And I know I could've done this without ever admitting to you that I hadn't read them in the first place, but . . . where's the fun in that? Besides, this way, maybe you'll share some of your dirty, non-read secrets too! In my comments perhaps, to make me feel better? Pretty please?

And maybe those of you who are feeling extra-bold can vow to read some of your shameful secrets this month too? I mean, think of it this way: May is the PERFECT month for a shameful bookfest. Because by the time the month is over, summer will officially be here, and then we'll feel scot-free to read as many vampire romance novels as we wish!


Ah hem. I am stalling.


Here they are on my nightstand, fresh from the library, awaiting to be read:

Mr. Tumnus tries to block my guiltiest secret of all.


(1) The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Vol. 1: The Pox Party by M.T. Anderson

Why? Because it won a billion awards. And already I own Volume 2. And how great is the title?

(2) Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

Why? Because she's a fantastic writer. (Fever 1793 was soooo good.) And this is required reading for, like, every high schooler now.

(3) The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Why? What? Of course I've read The Book Thief! How did it get on this list??? Ugh, this one is MAJORLY cringe-inducing to admit. You can pretend you don't see it here. I'm fine with that.

(4) Uglies by Scott Westerfeld

Why? Can I please stop explaining why? This is so humiliating. Everyone only says this is the coolest sci-fi series ever. That's all.

And (gulp) . . . my most SHAMEFUL SHAME of all . . .

(5) Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

Why? I am going to go die now. Okay? Bye bye.


  1. You will have many more boys to add to your "book characters I want to marry" after this! Have you seen the new BBC remake of Jane Eyre? (I have and haven't read the book.) It is sososososo good!!!!

    And even though Rudy from The Book Thief doesn't exactly qualify as HBM, he could be HGB (hot german boy?).

  2. Jane Eyre is my favorite book!!!

    I won't try to shame you though, since you promised to read it.

    I haven't read Speak either. I'm guilty too!

    Just let me know how you like Jane Eyre because, seriously, it's THE TOP of my list of favorite books.

    Oh, you should read Wuthering Heights if you haven't already. It's by Charlotte's sister, Emily.

    Go Bronte sisters!

  3. (Psst- I haven't read any of those either. Sigh, time to go blow my paycheck on books. Again.)

  4. Moby Dick sucks.

    Soooo.....you really didn't miss much.


  5. Okay, the Jane Eyre confession in fine print was too funny!

    I did read Moby Dick, and I certainly wouldn't read it again. I've also read The Book Thief and Jane Eyre, but I'm guilty of not reading the others.

    Okay, confession:

    I haven't read anything by John Green, Maureen Johnson, or Lauren Myracle(sp?). I will, but I haven't yet.

    And I've been very slowly making my way through War and Peace since my friend gave it to me for my birthday in December. It's not even that I don't like it. I do. It's much better than Moby Dick. But it's a book I can put down, and there are so many other shiny books calling to me.

  6. I have tremendous book guilt, both about YA I feel like I should be reading, and because I read YA instead of Lit Fic, and my English Degree is ashamed of me.

  7. Steph, you are officially off the hook—I haven't read ANY of those YA books! Though I did read Jane Eyre in high school because it was assigned...

    I have Book Thief and Uglies on my shelf waiting to be read. I guess I should look into the other ones.

    My shame in YA? I'm reading my first John Green novel right now because I felt so bad for never taking a look. And I just barely took care of my guilt over never having read Gaiman. Just finished The Graveyard Book. I also feel really awful for never having read Cabot, but I don't really know where to start.

    The worst thing to admit ever—I've never actually READ Pride & Prejudice. I know, stone me now. I totally deserve it.

  8. Moby Dick is one of my favorite books, but it's so weird. You should flip through and find the play that happens in the middle of it, just so you can talk about how truly strange the whole thing is.

    I haven't read The Book Thief, either. And the only Jane Austen novel I've read is Pride and Prejudice! Then there's The Catcher in the Rye. (I know, for shame.) But probably the worst one of all is Verdegris Deep, by Frances Hardinge. She's one of my favorite authors, and I went out of my way last year to track down a copy of the British edition of her newest novel (which was renamed Well-Witched here in the U.S. - ugh!) It's been sitting on my bookshelf for five months now, and I haven't so much as cracked the cover. I'm going to go hide my head under the futon now.

  9. I have no guilt at all about Moby Dick. Maybe some day I'll read it, but probably not. I have read Jane Eyre, but so long ago I could really do with a re-reading. As for the YA's, I tried Octavian Nothing, gave it a hundred pages and couldn't get into it (though I hear and believe it is fabulous); LOVED The Book Thief, and haven't read Speak or Uglies, about both of which I share your shame. My list of shame is much longer, if I were to really examine how many classic YA books I haven't read! Seriously, your shame is nothing compared to my shame. Ha ha! It's like a shame competition.

    (Ashville Dilettante, I liked Verdigris Deep, but didn't think it was as brilliant as Fly By Night. I like the British title better, by the way. You?

  10. Don't worry about it. Uglies really isn't that great. The first book is okay, the second one is okayish, and the third...i never even made it past Chapter 6. Besides, Jurassic Park is a waaaaay better Sci-Fi.

  11. I suspect that most people have read about half of the books they claim. As for me, I've read ....

  12. Laini - Yes, I liked the British title (and cover) much better. I know I'm admitting what a shallow, shallow book nerd I am, but that's pretty much the only reason I went after the British version. It's so shiny!

  13. I don't think anyone should shame you for what you have or have not read. Reading is a joy - if you read a book strictly out of guilt? I have to admit that Jane Eyre is one of my all time favorites but I also loved the Twilight series and all kinds of things inbetween. I haven't read The Book Thief but I enjoyed The Immortal Instruments trilogy immensely. I haven't read Speak but I saw the movie and will read the book. Take that shame out of the closet girl and read whatever you like!!

  14. And I'm ashamed to admit Jane Austin lovers that I haven't read even one of her books. And I don't intend to. Life is too short to spoil one's reading pleasure from a sense o duty.

  15. girl that is not even 1% of my shame list :) You are doing good! I admire your strength ;)

  16. Natalie, I haven't read anything by Gaiman or Cabot either, and I know how you feel. I've stood there in the library looking at the row of books by Cabot until my baby child loses patience with me.

  17. Every reader has books they want to read, but I found your a list a little shocking, so shocking that I had to leave a comment.

    Moby Dick is a period piece, and I wouldn't call it great literature, nothing worthy of being put on a shame list.

  18. You are hilarious. I confess I don't know your work. I'd read now though.

    The older I get, the less I care about what I should have read. I haven't and won't read Moby Dick. Why? Because it's Moby Dick. ROTLMAO

    Having said all that, I don't go around freely admitting what I haven't read either, but I'll fess up if asked.

    Enjoyed this. Thanks.

  19. I can so do you one better. Never heard of any of those books. Well, except, of course, Moby Dick. Which I never read. Ahhhhh. Confession is so freeing.

  20. Ding! Dong!
    I was laughing through this whole essay. AND I refuse to read Moby Dick and I LOVE Jane Eyre. I read it the first time at the age of ten. LOL (I am now 47).

  21. As I remember it, even the movie was really long AND about whales!!! I did read the book a hundred years ago. I had to laugh because I did not remember the sperm squeezing passage. As for Jane Eyre...you would probably love it!

    Great post!


  22. Heh. I have TWO degrees in English. College degrees. From top schools. And I haven't read any of those.

    Well, except for Moby Dick, which I read in 9th grade. I hated it so badly that I couldn't recall a single word once my eyes had left it.

    You're not alone. In fact, I'd go so far as to say you're in great company.

  23. i really havent heard of any of those books except for jane eyre! and yes, i've read it.

    my book of shames would probably have to be Catch-22 and Naked Lunch.

    i like your blog!

  24. Anonymous2:08 AM GMT-5

    Totally agree, you are not alone-)

  25. You're not a alone! I actually own tons of books I should've read a long time ago but something gets the best of me. I've actually begun reading Lolita and The Book Thief but never got around to reaaaally reading them. I'm almost finished with Jane Eyre but it has taken a lot of time for me... don't know why. But I still have Emma and Sense & Sensibility by Jane Austen looking at me on my desk, plus 1984 by George Orwell, and The Idiot by Dostoevsky, not to mention Moby Dick! ... I feel even more ashamed than you after revealing so many secrets. Off to bed after that one!

    Have fun with your books! :)

  26. No shame. I haven't read those either. Except for Moby Dick. I have to say I enjoyed it. I read it about 10 years ago when I was spending some time in Mystic, Connecticut on business. They have an old whaler in their seaport museum. The tour guide said they do a continuous oral reading on Herman Mellville's birthday every year. Imagine that!

    Well, I must have had the sperm squeezed out of me after reading that book. I didn't pick up a novel of any kind for 3 years after that! : )