How Many Of These Classic Books Have You Read?

img_1341We’re in an end-of-year, light-hearted mood today, so let’s take a quiz about what our accumulated reading habits “reveal” about ourselves, for better or for worse. Are you game?

This quiz is called “How Many Of These Classic American Books Have You Actually Read?”

I took the aforementioned quiz, dutifully checking off the books I read in high school or college (or at least, I checked the books that I remember reading–the tail end of the 70’s now seems long ago and far away. (To be honest, the entire late-70’s decade has become slightly fogged-over in my memory, somewhat obscured by a brume of natural herbal smaze).img_1342

My quiz result?

It was this: “You must be an English major.

Wrong. Back in college I was a Political Science major, with a strong interest in journalism (there was no Journalism major at my liberal arts school, so I spent every free moment working at the campus newspaper, and a local TV news outlet). In those days, I had very little interest in fiction. I did eventually end up taking a few English Literature courses, mainly because I saw those courses as being located somewhere within the realm of a Kingdom known as the “Land of Easy A’s”. Whatever “serious” literary books I read, I read them only as a result of the requirements of a course syllabus. My then-ambition was to become an ink stained wretch, not a literati (or literatus, per my Ghost of Latin Teacher Past).

Okay, so you know the worst about me–that I am an English major poseur, at best. What about you? Can you take the “Which Books Have You Read.” quiz, and share your results?? ?

43 thoughts on “How Many Of These Classic Books Have You Read?

  1. Je suis un poseur aussi~ Actually, an architecture, but eventually/finally an urban planning (because of [no] calculus ~ maybe too much reading) major ~ with a job that had enough down time to grab a few pages during the dark of midnight shifts~

    Some I remember from as far back as high school, and some are on my “yet to read” list.

  2. Yeah, I’m supposed to have been an English major, too. But back when I was in school many of these books were considered to be either part of a broad education (e.g., The Grapes of Wrath) or pop culture relevance (e.g., Cuckoo’s Nest).

  3. I took it and it asked me if I even read? LOL!

    Yes I love to read, but almost all of the books on that list I consider among the “forced to read” category by teachers. I have always rebelled against the “forced to read” list.

    Gone with the Wind I read willingly. and though I’ve had it downloaded but have not yet read, I would willingly read the book on Frederic Douglass. But the rest are forced homework assignments.

    • I INHALED Gone With The Wind when I was still in grade school. I lived in South Carolina at the time, where it was required reading in kindergarten, I seem to recall. ?

  4. Bk – I got the same…do I even read., Bruh? Yes, a lot, but often do not like what “everyone else” is reading. And I must be one of the few that can stand neither Steinbeck nor Gone with the Wind.
    In fact, in HS, one of the only times in memory where I willingly spoke up in class was because of a Steinbeck novel. My English Lit teacher was so surprised by my outburst that he kept me arguing about it the whole hour.
    Give me an Agatha Christie any day!

  5. 28 (although there were a few more I think I might have read–like Gone With the Wind, but I don’t think I did. Know I’ve never seen the movie in its entirety.) As for scores, anything over half, I think, gets that “English Major” result, but these quizzes aren’t designed to be accurate. Almost all the books I read, I read while in high school, some college.

  6. 27 out of 45 and I was a journalism major. And when I was a boss guy in magazine publishing, in charge of hiring/firing and keeping the troops happy, someone submitting a resume with “English major” on it, was nearly always a sure sign that I would not be interviewing that person.

    Personal experience is that English majors like to read; they fall in love with words, especially if they wrote those words.

    Writers/journalists just want to get the story out there, the deadline met.

    And I’m sure I just PO’d a bunch of people with these comments.

    • Not at all! And along those lines, here’s one thought from our irreverent stand up wag, George Carlin:


  7. I got 10 out of 45 and it said I must be an English Major, too. I read many, many books, just not the so called “Classics”. My question is what makes a book a classic? Some professor types sit around and decide? I agree with BK – homework assignments.

    • Yes, I’m hoping that some reputable faculty body somewhere will declare certain potboilers to be “the new classics”. If that happens, the greater portion of my adult reading experience will instantly become respectable.

  8. I’m a Computer Science major with a Math minor. Do I even read, bruh? Yes, I do. Like 9 out of the 45! How about list some good ones like The Outsiders, 1984, and David Copperfield!

  9. I also got “You must be an English major.” And they were right; I got my undergrad and graduate degrees in different English disciplines.

    To be fair, I gave myself credit for Moby Dick, but I never managed to finish it. I hated it. I still think it counts, though, because some of the novels on the list I read for pleasure, not for class.

    • Okay, I cracked myself up just now. I first read the word “class” in your reply just now as meaning “a social stratum sharing basic economic, political, or cultural characteristics, and having the same social position”. Then I realized you meant “class” as in “classroom.” Which shows how non-Literat(um) I truly am. ?

  10. 29 out of 45. I’m a journalism major with a minor in English. I had to read Hemingway in class — what a pretentious load of nothing. I not only read “The Last of the Mohicans,” I saw the movie. Daniel Craig has never looked so good.

  11. “You checked 0 out of 45 on this list! Do you even read, bruh?” I didn’t check the ones I started (sometimes multiple times) but never finished. (Grapes of Wrath. Moby Dick.) I read magazines and the Bible and how to books whenever I want to learn something. And I always want to learn something.

    I almost answered this with “Read? Of course I don’t read. I don’t have time to read. I’m a writer.” But I was afraid someone might not know the intended humor.

  12. I’ve read at least 32 of the 45. I honestly can’t remember if I’ve read East of Eden (seen the movie more than once, and read lots of other Steinbeck, so probable), The Sound and the Fury, or The Red Badge of Courage. I started Moby Dick. I could never read The Last of the Mohicans after reading Twain’s Fenimore Cooper’s Literary Offenses. But I’m with EV on the movie. DDL was at his lifetime hotness peak. Confession: I’ve never read To Kill a Mockingbird, or seen the movie. I have it on my KindleNook. I have ABs in Cinema and International Relations.

    While a number of those books were read in HS/Uni lit classes quite a number of them were read on my own as an adult. In some cases, both. I guess I’m just a literary sucker.

    • To Kill A Mockingbird is the one book I would have loved without the blunderbuss of a class syllabus as a requirement. I recommend you dust off your Kindle screen and dig in! ?

  13. Not only hadn’t I read many books out of that list, more importantly I remember next to nothing about ANY of them, which shows you their staying power. As someone observed above, what would happen if teachers/professors re-thought their assignment list. Better yet, let the STUDENTS pick the books.

    I know from experience with these forced reads that I gained nothing from reading them. But boy, what a turnabout it would have been if they had let me disect books that were actually MEMORABLE! How might my writing path be different now?

    • “Better yet, let the STUDENTS pick the books.”

      As an incoming Freshman, my picks would have been Portnoy’s Complaint and Fear of Flying. I’m not sure that my course’s syllabus would have added to anyone’s comprehension of The World Of Literature, but some Freshman’s horizons would definitely have been expanded by the required reading list…

  14. As an Australian, I was pleasantly surprised to find I had read 8 books on the list of American classics. I’ve seen some movies (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, The Last of the Mohicans) but not read the books. I’ve heard of quite a few more, it’s time for a library visit.
    The only one I remember from compulsory high school reading is The Crucible, but I am sure others have been on family members’ school reading lists.

    • You should definitely check out the entire collection of unvarnished, full-blown American craziness as represented in our Officially Sanctioned Literature, Pat. Or, as Mark Twain said: “God created War so that Americans would learn Geography”. ??

  15. I got the same, English major. I never completed my degree, but I remember reading many of them. I was surprised that I had read 20 of the 45. Many that didn’t make the list I have also read. I remember an assignment in college to read Toni Morrison’s book, Beloved. That was a book at the time I would have never read on my own. But, guess what? I loved it! It made an impression on me more than any other. Sometimes, those assignments are a blessing in disguise.

  16. I’ve read most of these and got a “must be a professor or lying.” I was a music teacher but have always loved to read and have been doing it for MANY years. it helps to be old.
    p.s. I almost hate to admit it here but I loved Middlemarch and have read it more than once. I liked the Mill on the Floss less.

  17. Ooh, I think you’re the official
    Winner of Most Well Read in Zone. Congrats and thanks for stopping in, Nancy!

  18. A business/management major…..I read nine. I read only one book my Ernest Hemingway and then I had to force myself to finish it… Ah, so many books, so little time (for some of us). I did write down a few titles as potential future reads.
    I love quizzes. This one was good.

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