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Introduction I was shocked to discover, upon graduation from an inexcusably long degree program in English Literature, that I was not well-read. I had never finished Moby Dick. I had never even started Don Quixote. Catcher in the Rye had missed me. Steinbeck had been forced on me by a teacher who liked reading aloud, but I'd never read him myself. The list went on and on.

I contemplated rectifying the problem. Then I contemplated spending the next ten years reading mostly dead Americans.

I am determined. I have decided. I will be thoroughly ill-read.