confessions of a literary impostor

Dear readers – I have a secret to tell you. A confession of sorts.

There are SO many books I haven’t read. SO MANY. Books that are considered classics. Books that I’ve always intended to read. Books I actually lie about having read…

It’s especially embarrassing for me because I spent four years at University studying literature. Once I tell people this, they expect me to have read EVERYTHING. When I’m watching a quiz show with a group of people, and the host asks a literature-related question, everyone in the room turns to me, expecting me to know the answer. Sometimes, I do. But other times? No freaking idea. And you can’t call a friend for help when you’re playing at home. When I don’t know the answer, or, even worse, I guess incorrectly, they all glare at me, as if I’m some kind of impostor.

In a way, they’re right.

“But you told us you were a literary genius!” is what their betrayed looks tell me. When, in fact, I’m quite hesitant to even mention my studies at all, for this exact reason…

I’m guessing you want authors and titles? Specific information, to make my shame complete. Alright. I’ll name just a few of the books I haven’t read. Have you got your pointing fingers ready?

I’ve never read Pride and Prejudice. Or The Great Gatsby. Or War and Peace, or Brideshead Revisited, or To Kill a Mockingbird or even Huckleberry Finn.

But wait. It gets worse.

I’ve never read anything by Charles Dickens. Not a single word. I’ve never read Virginia Woolf or Henry James or Salman Rushdie or Marcel Proust or E M Forster. I haven’t read Chuck Palahniuk or J M Coetzee or Paulo Coelho – and, to make matters worse, I can’t actually pronounce any of their names.

(…and I had to Google how to spell them…)

Worst of all: James Joyce. I’ve never read anything in full by James Joyce!! What kind of a literature student has never read James Joyce?

There you have it. And that’s only part of the list. So many books…I’m so ashamed.

a typical Sydney bus - eep!

One of these days, I’m going to be hit by a bus.

It could happen tomorrow. It could be twelve years, two hundred and twenty seven days from now. I could even live until I’m one hundred and eleven. But whenever it happens, I’m sure the last thought that will run through my head before I die will be something like “Hang on – I can’t die yet! I still have too many books to read!”

I need to read more.

I also need to watch out for buses…


I’m going to come straight out and say it:

My name is Michelle, and I am a literary impostor.


I can’t stand it any longer. The nagging feeling has been yammering away in my thoughts for ages – I need to do something about my reading! Something drastic.

While thinking one night (it was New Year’s Eve, to be exact) about the sheer number of books that I want to read in my lifetime, I realised that in order to read them all, I’d need to invent a time machine…

…and that, dear readers, is EXACTLY what I’ve done!


…to be continued

Author: Michelle

Reader, writer, wannabe. Literary critic (with training wheels on). Blogging my way through the 20th century's classic novels in chronological order.

4 thoughts on “confessions of a literary impostor”

  1. So… a book a week from the year 1900 onward? Wow, good luck. You’re capable, but if I can make some suggestions –

    I don’t just want you to review books. I want you to take us through the selection criteria. Second hand book shop trawling. I want a check list that you’re going to work through. I want them to all be books that you haven’t read. Heck, I want to help you. Can I send you my copy of Tarzan of the Apes? Written by Edgar Rice Burroughs in 1912. The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler, 1939.

    How long does it take you to read a book? When do you start? What book are you starting with?

    1900. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Read it?

    1. Hi MJ! Yay!! My first comment here!!! Thank you so much!! Also, you MAY have correctly guessed the title of the first book I’ll be reading…shh!! (c:

      How long does it take me to read a book? Too long! I’ll have to improve on my reading speed a little. No – scratch that. A lot. Eep.

      I have a hit list for the books I’d like to read up until 1910, but after that, I’m open to suggestions and requests! There are a few books I’m planning on targeting over the years, but much of my reading for this project is still undecided…

      I’m planning on posting my first review next Saturday or Sunday. Fingers crossed.

  2. … and I just noticed that one of the books in your top banner that you’ve photographed IS actually The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.

    I’m reading ahead on your blog, aren’t I? Or is that the point? :)

    1. When Angus and I shot the image for the banner, I realised that there are actually a few spoilers in there (c:

      I am hoping that readers (if there actually are any…) of this blog will begin to anticipate what I’ll be reading next…

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