8 Really Great Books We’ve Lied About Reading (Sorry)

July 17 2017

We have a confession to make. We bet you’ve done it, too, nodding along when your friends bring up the book that everyone has read. We’re just fudging, right? You can’t read everything, can you? No judgment, now: here are 8 books we’ve lied about reading. But please don’t take our lies as condemnation—these are fantastic books. We’re just really, really busy…

Gone Girl
by Gillian Flynn

I missed the initial hype the summer it was popular. After that, I just waited for the movie! Now I compare everything to GONE GIRL without actually having read it. I just assume everyone gets what I’m talking about.
—Will

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Gone Girl
Gillian Flynn

Some say she’s cold and unfeeling, calculating to a subhuman degree, and basically totally nutso. I say Amy Dunne is just a smart, sensitive woman in a man’s world, frustrated by patriarchy, down with to-do lists, and dedicated to the fine art of revenge! This powerhouse of a novel sees crime writer Gillian Flynn come into her own as a dramatic storyteller in full command of her many gifts.

Crazy like: A fox! Amy is a hottie!

Best crazy moment: The box cutter. ’Nuff said.

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To Kill a Mockingbird
by Harper Lee

I don’t do sad books, but I knew enough about this one to be able to discuss it and to know I didn’t want to read it. I’ve never had to lie about it though because people wrongly assume I’ve read it. I let them.
—Allison

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To Kill a Mockingbird
Harper Lee

Wendy’s Fictional Dinner Party Guest: Atticus Finch

Perhaps it’s a cliché to want to have dinner with Atticus Finch—lawyer, father, all-around good man. Atticus is known for his conscience, grace, compassion, and morality. I suspect that his words would be full of insight and wisdom, and challenge me to sit straighter in my chair.

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MENTIONED IN:

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Close
Angela's Ashes
by Frank McCourt

I told the editor of ANGELA’S ASHES that I’d read this book so she would stop leaving copies of it on my desk. It’s not that I don’t want to read it—I really, really do! I just haven't found the time yet, and my office quickly runs out of shelving space for books.
—Taylor

Read the full review of ANGELA'S ASHES.

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Angela's Ashes
Frank McCourt

"When I look back on my childhood I wonder how I managed to survive at all. It was, of course, a miserable childhood: the happy childhood is hardly worth your while. Worse than the ordinary miserable childhood is the miserable Irish childhood, and worse yet is the miserable Irish Catholic childhood." So begins the luminous memoir of Frank McCourt, born in Depression-era Brooklyn to recent Irish immigrants and raised in the slums of Limerick, Ireland. Frank's mother, Angela, has no money to feed the children since Frank's father, Malachy, rarely works, and when he does he drinks his wages. Yet Malachy -- exasperating, irresponsible and beguiling-- does nurture in Frank an appetite for the one thing he can provide: a story. Frank lives for his father's tales of Cuchulain, who saved Ireland, and of the Angel on the Seventh Step, who brings his mother babies. Perhaps it is story that accounts for Frank's survival. Wearing rags for diapers, begging a pig's head for Christmas dinner and gathering coal from the roadside to light a fire, Frank endures poverty, near-starvation and the casual cruelty of relatives and neighbors--yet lives to tell his tale with eloquence, exuberance and remarkable forgiveness. Angela's Ashes, imbued on every page with Frank McCourt's astounding humor and compassion, is a glorious book that bears all the marks of a classic.

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MENTIONED IN:

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Close
Nineteen Minutes
by Jodi Picoult

I will confess right now, in the company of my closest book friends, that I’ve never read Jodi Picoult. Maybe that’s not such a big deal—except that when I first took my job, she was one of the biggest authors we published. (Shh, don’t tell my boss!) It wasn’t for lack of interest, just lack of time. Sadly, NINETEEN MINUTES seems more timely than ever. I think it’s time to crack this one open.
—Wendy

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Nineteen Minutes
Jodi Picoult

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The Grapes of Wrath
by John Steinbeck

I’m still partially in denial that I managed to finish EAST OF EDEN (which is almost a full 200 pages longer than this!) and not this beloved classic. I’ve tried and tried so many times, but work/school/other fun reading has gotten in the way. No longer! This one is coming with me on my vacation this summer, and it’ll be the only book I pack, to avoid distractions.
—Julianna

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The Grapes of Wrath
John Steinbeck

Tulsa, OK: You may want to spend more time in Oklahoma than the Joads, who were driven from their homestead during the Dust Bowl migration of the 1930s. Steinbeck’s powerful landmark novel is perhaps the most American of the American classics.

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MENTIONED IN:

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Close
Animal Farm
by George Orwell

The first time I lied my way through this book was in high school and I don’t even remember if I got away with it. The second time was in college and I had five books a week to read that semester, so I think I wrote a paper based on what I absorbed from a Wikipedia page and cherry picked quotes for support. Pretty sure I got an A on that one.
—Chris

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Animal Farm
George Orwell

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MENTIONED IN:

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Close
The Return of the King
by J. R. R. Tolkien

I always enjoy reading THE HOBBIT; I somehow powered through THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING and actually loved THE TWO TOWERS, but THE RETURN OF THE KING haunts me. Every time I pick it up to finally complete the Lord of the Rings trilogy—and move on from Tolkien admonishing me from beyond the grave—I manage about 30 pages before giving up. I don’t know why. So when I discuss the Lord of the Rings with people, I act as if I have read every line of each book (I admit, I skipped a lot of the poetry, too, especially anything featuring Tom Bombadil). I mean, I know how it ends—everyone does—but I feel until I finish this book, I have to give up my geek card.
—Kerry

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The Return of the King
J. R. R. Tolkien

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MENTIONED IN:

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By Helen Fisher | January 26, 2021

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Close
Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix
by J. K. Rowling

Here is one of my deepest, darkest secrets as a children’s book professional: I stopped reading the Harry Potter series after book #4. It’s not that I don't like the books or that I don’t want to read them, but as a kid I just sort of lost steam on the series, and now I don’t remember the first four books well enough to pick up at #5, so I’d have to start again at #1. And that always seems like a daunting time commitment. People tend to be horrified, even personally offended, when I admit I haven’t finished the series, so often it’s easier to pretend I have. Cat’s out of the bag now, I guess...
—Sarah Jane

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Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix
J. K. Rowling

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MENTIONED IN:

5 Poignant Novels about the Search for Family and Belonging

By Helen Fisher | January 26, 2021

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By Sienna Farris | January 25, 2021

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By Courtney Smith | January 22, 2021

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By Abby Zidle | January 21, 2021

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By Maddie Ehrenreich | January 20, 2021

Readers’ Choice: Your Favorite Reads of 2020 (and What to Read Next)

By Off the Shelf Staff | January 19, 2021

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