A Novel Reading Challenge, Part 1

By: Aryanne Ferguson

In the fall of 2009, I decided to listen to books-on-tape during my commute. I’d just received my MFA and I was vaguely ashamed that I’d never read William Faulkner. This was a shame caused by the MFA program, because before I’d signed up I had no feelings about Faulkner. So in 2009, I went to the library and rented the audio cd collection of The Sound and the Fury. I made it to work and halfway back before his superior vocabulary utterly defeated me. I gave up. I never tried to read Faulkner again.

Source: desenhosprimitivos.tumblr.com

Last week I picked up Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying for about fifty cents. Reader, now that I’m 5 years older and hopefully wiser, please help me conquer my fear by finishing a Faulkner novel! This article about un-finishable novels inspired me to go public about my shame. And do I dare tackle a novel on this list? But I’m getting ahead of myself—Faulkner first!

I’m glad it’s not just me who is excruciatingly bored by some canon works of fiction (I’m looking at you, Catch-22), but what can we do as writers to make sure our work doesn’t fall into this trap? So far all I’ve got is hope and pray. And maybe it’s not so bad to make this list, Reader, you’ll be in prestigious company.

Is there a book you have been embarrassed about not reading? Tell me about it in the comments. 

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