unread bestseller
n. A book that many people purchase but few read in its entirety.
There's the National Book Critics Circle Awards, another nice "high-culture" opportunity for Jonathan Franzen, author of jumbo unread bestseller The Corrections.
—Alexandra Jacobs, “The Eight-Day Week,” New York Observer, March 11, 2002
1983 (earliest)
A 500-page novel set in a 14th-century monastery and written by an Italian professor of semiotics is hardly the stuff of conventional best sellers. But "The Name of the Rose," by Umberto Eco, has proven to be just that. …

A few cynical observers suspect that snob appeal has played a considerable role in the book's rise. Says Howard Kaminsky, president of Warner Books, which bought the paperback rights for $550,000: "Every year there is one great unread best seller. A lot of people who will buy the book will never read it." It serves, he has said, as a "passport" to intellectual respectability. "It doesn't hurt to be seen carrying a copy at the Museum of Modern Art. It hints you've got something more in your mind than getting picked up."
—Alexandre Still, “Miracle of the Rose,” Newsweek, September 26, 1983
Here's my all-time Top 10 unread bestsellers list:
  1. The Bible

  2. A Brief History of Time, Stephen Hawking

  3. The Satanic Verses, Salman Rushdie

  4. The Name of the Rose, Umberto Eco

  5. The Closing of the American Mind, Allan Bloom

  6. Doctor Zhivago, Boris Pasternak

  7. Gravity's Rainbow, Thomas Pynchon

  8. The Bell Curve, Charles Murray and Richard Herrnstein

  9. The End of History, Francis Fukuyama

  10. Beowulf, Seamus Heaney (trans.)
Filed Under