The Shelf of Abandoned Books – A reading challenge

image by paul/

image by Paul/

It’s not a real shelf, it’s a virtual shelf that only exists on this blog here. I am the proud owner (and I hope I’m not alone in this) of several books that I bought because I thought: Everybody read those books, they are classics, so I have to read them. And then, I either never even opened them or I read the first few pages and fell asleep, a fact that I don’t blame on the style of writing but rather on my state of mind at the time. I didn’t give those books away yet because inside of me there was always some hope left that I’m actually going to read them. Now I shall put them on my Shelf of Abandoned Books and shall further challenge myself to read them and write about my feelings and experiences while doing so. Here are all the classics* that I once purchased and then never touched again, except for moving them a bit during the occasional dusting.


  • The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco
  • The Count of Monte Christo by Alexandre Dumas
  • In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
  • The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by Lyman Frank Baum
  • David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
  • Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
  • Persuasion by Jane Austen
  • Quo Vadis by Henryk Sienkiewicz
  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  • Confessions of Felix Krull by Thomas Mann
  • Catch 22 by Joseph Heller

These are the ten classic novels that I attempt to read over the next few months and I shall post about this adventure. “But your list contains eleven books!” you might say. Yes, dearest reader, it does, but Catch 22 is kind of an exception because I managed to read half of it without falling asleep. But then my final exams started, so I put it away and never picked it up since.

So, I hope you will be my companions on this journey through words and stories, maybe even have a look if you have any abandoned books in your own home and give them a (re-)try.

* Some people might argue at which point a novel can be called a classic novel. I’m going with the definition that is given on Wikipedia: “A classic is an outstanding example of a particular style, something of lasting worth or with a timeless quality.” And I think we can all agree that the books on my ‘shelf’ are all oustanding examples of a certain period of time or of a certain genre of literature, and we can also say that they have timeless quality because either at least their titles are known or there are still movie/TV/theatre adaptations coming along.