5 Acclaimed Authors No One Reads

by Katie Fetting-Schlerf on March 30, 2012

It’s easy to hate on Twilight and The Hunger Games, but there is something eminently readable about both.  Clear, simplistic language and heroic, one-dimensional characters cuddle a lazy reader, enticing attention typically reserved for soap operas and professional wrestling.

On the flip side, however, are the authors everyone feels they ought to like, but don’t.  Below are five of the most admired scribblers no one reads.

Nathaniel Hawthorne

House of Seven Gables

So The Scarlet Letter was pushed on us in high school, but if it weren’t for my fear of parental laceration, I would have preferred Goosebumps.  And The House of the Seven Gables?  That’s seven too many gables for this girl…

James Joyce


Modern Library ranked two of James Joyce’s novels in their top three of the 20th Century—but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve started Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man… and failed.  And Ulysses?  Waiting. For. The. Movie.  (It seems like stream of consciousness should be somewhat dependent on the reader remaining conscious…)

Herman Melville

Moby Dick

His most interesting book is about a whale.  That seems to sum it up.

Salman Rushdie

Satanic Verses

Many have referred to The Satanic Verses as the book everyone HAS, but no one has READ.  (Like Steven Hawking’s A Brief History of Time — Time just wasn’t brief enough!)  The most interesting thing about The Verses isn’t even in the book: FATWA!  But not even Ayatollah Khomeini’s homicidal green light on Rushdie can get me past page 1.

David Foster Wallace

Infinite Jest

Tell me you’ve cracked that copy of Infinite Jest.  I haven’t.  My Written Word cohort Nick Bernard, however, probably has.  His particularly erudite review of The Pale King (posthumously published this year) almost made me want to read it.  Almost.

If you’ve read these people (and I’m just a Philistine), talk it up in the comments below!