Monday, August 03, 2009

100 (or so) Books

A few months ago, a list put forth by the BBC made the blog rounds. 100 Books. The BBC estimated that the average person would have read only 6 books off this list.

Now, I’ve read substantially more than six (and I have a feeling the more literarily inclined DSW will have read far more than I), but I still found myself with a discomfiting number of "Oh, I should have read that!" moments.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it:
1) Look at the list and bold the ones you have read.
2) Put an ‘X’ after ones you’ve started but not finished.

3) Italicize the ones you LOVE with a passion that cannot be described.
4) Star (**) those you plan on reading.
5) Tally your total and post it in a comment here. (You do not get partial points for wanting to read or having read part of… that’s just to keep you honest.)

And now, without further ado, THE LIST:

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen (Oh, Jane, how do I love thee…)
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien XX (I read the Hobbit & the whole Fellowship, but I just couldn't get any farther.)
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte (Someone needed to give the Bronte sisters some happy pills. Of course, think of the literature lost if they lived in the days of Prozac.)
4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling (What is with lumping the series all together? There are clearly more than 100 books here.)
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
6 The Bible (yes, the whole thing, and I'm not even religious)
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte (Can I smack Catherine & Heathcliff over the head with something heavy?)
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell (I am such a sucker for dystopian literature.)
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman (I think I spent as much time arguing with my friend Leslie about whether or not this was a crap series as I did actually reading it. I was not a fan. She was vehemently in favor.)
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens (See Wuthering Heights above for smacking of Pip & Estella)
11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles Thomas Hardy **
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller (Amazing book. Beyond brilliant)
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare (I'm counting this one even though I missed two of the histories. No one has read King John. I defy you to find one person who has actually read that play. One!)
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier**
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks (Never even heard of it. Ignorant me.)
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveller’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger (I find I love this one in spite of the fact that it made me cry buckets and was irritatingly fatalistic. Can't wait for the movie.)
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot**
21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens**
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy** (This one was assigned reading in college and I skipped it. It's been eating away at my soul ever since...)
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh** (Shut up, Brian. I’ll get to it.)
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky** (See War & Peace and eating away at my soul...)
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck (I’ve got a weird thing for Steinbeck. He flips my switch. Don’t ask me why.)
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll (Weird. Seriously weird.)
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy**
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens **
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
34 Emma - Jane Austen
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis
(Dude, Item 33? The Chronicles? I protest the redundancy. I’ve read the whole series but I am appalled by the BBC’s lack of precision.)
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini (Crap book. Absolutely hated it. If you liked it, you are wrong. Email me if you'd like an in depth argument of all the ways it sucks.)
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden** (I'll probably read this just because someone gave me a copy.)
40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown** (I'll get around to it. I have to work myself up to Dan Brown lest I dent my walls chucking them across the room. I had a small problem with the jumping out of a helicopter without a parachute part of Angels & Demons. I bitched about that for days on end.)
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez (In Spanish! Take that! I am a literary mogul!)
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan (And after I saw the movie I have no urge to ever read this. Blech.)
51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel**
52 Dune - Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens**
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon**
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez X
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov**
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas X
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac** (Must read, if only because I have a freakish need to travel constantly.)
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding
69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie**
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville (Yeah, the whole thing.)
71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses - James Joyce (Never never never. I had to read Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man. After that Joyce never gets another second of my life.)
76 The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath X
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome (I’ve never heard of this book… but the title sounds kinda dirty… I find myself intrigued)
78 Germinal - Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession - AS Byatt**
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens (Read this? Only every single Christmas!)
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert**
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte’s Web - EB White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton (Again, never heard of it. I’z so unedumacated.)
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad X
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole**
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute (And yet again, never heard of it. *sigh*)
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas

98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare (And is there a reason this isn’t included in Complete Works above?)
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo
(And I love the play, too.)

My number is 47. I’ve read not-quite-half of them. I’d say that’s not too shaming. Although, I have to say, I’m not too keen on the BBC’s list. There’s an odd mix of popular and classic which leads me to wonder how they picked these 100.

How do you come up with a list that lines Douglas Adams up right next to Shakespeare? And I love Jane Austen, but why everything she ever wrote and no Mark Twain? No Ayn Rand? No Robert Heinlein? No Vonnegut or D.H. Lawrence? Narnia is on there twice but no Mary Shelley? Faulkner? O’Hara? Robert Penn Warren? Who made this list? I guess these are the 100 books you should read growing up British.

My questions for you: How many have you read? (If you've read them all, I will be suitably awed, amazed, and ashamed of myself.) What books should be on this list but aren’t? What books do you think should be required reading for everyone?

And later this week... a list of must-read romance novels to test your smut-o-meter.


Jess said...

My understanding of how the BBC picked the books was that they asked people to nominate their favorite novel. So this is a list of the Hundred Best-Loved Books. (I'm at 63).

Kendra said...

I looked at the list, but refuse to count. Most of the ones I did read were for school. And do Cliff Notes count? How about the movie version? Can't wait for the romance list!

Vivi Andrews said...

Oooh, interesting about the Best-Loved Books - thank you, Jess. It makes me wonder how many people put forward books they actually liked versus books they thought they ought to like in order to appear intellectual.

Anna Richland said...

Okay, so you gave Rebecca the intend to read stars. As I posted early in my blogging career here, yes, this book grabbed popular imagination because the first line is so remarkable - but I much prefer Frenchman's Creek (a pirate hero who treats her much more as an equal rather than Max DeWinter, a condescending, aloof, older aristo). Although that shouldn't stop you reading both!

Anna Richland said...

A second comment, on the list: I am at 29, but I too fail to understand why Jane Austen's and Dickens' books are all listed separately but HP is one item, LOTR is one item, Shakespeare and Chronicles of Narnia are each one item (despite duly noted redundancies). Seems to skew the numbers in favor of a few types of readers.

Dune but not Foundation? I could go on about specifics but deleted my rants in interest of getting some sleep.

And Vivi - Lolita and Handmaid's Tale are both great - reading them back to back would be very creepy. And very interesting. And fit with your intent to read Rebecca. Although I don't think those three books will present men in a very good light. Not. At. All. Not, in fact, a hero in the bunch.

Lilah said...

Well, I can't remember whether I read Persuasion or not in my Austen phase, so my number is either 46 or 47.

I am rather impressed that you've read the entire Bible even though you're not religious...that's quite an undertaking.

I disagree with Anna on Rebecca (I loved it), but I do agree with her on including Dune but not Foundation. The Foundation series was one of those that just opened up my brain to a whole new experience. In fact, I recently started reading the series again.

I'm a sucker for dystopian literature too! They put A Brave New World on the list, but I prefer Ira Levin's This Perfect Day.

Oh, and why isn't Ayn Rand on the list? My boyfriend (now husband) had me read Atlas Shrugged and other than the cheesy romance part I loved it.

If you finish Angels & Demons, consider yourself having read The Da Vinci Code, because they are the same book. What a waste of time; I hate fads.

I would recommend A Prayer for Owen Meaney, even though I didn't quite like the ending for the narrator. I was also reading Jonathan Safron Foer at the same time - he is an EXCELLENT author I would recommend to everyone.

Your remark on One Hundred Years of Solitude made me laugh. Then I saw The Little Prince on the list, and I've read it both in English and the original French, and I thought to myself, Does that make me a mogul too? It's a pretty short book after all.

Kate Diamond said...

No! I am only at 40! And this after a week at a teacher training... so I'm feeling doubly lame on the teacher AND the writer front.

Although I'm annoyed. I've read TONS of Shakespeare, but not the Complete Works. And I've read all of the New Testament, but not the entire Old Testament. Like my students, I want half credit.

(Also annoyed, for most of the authors on here I've read some of their work but not necessarily what's posted. Really? I should get credit for "Hard Times"... it's very Dickensian!)

I also feel that I should perhaps get double credit because, not only have I read Heart of Darkness multiple times, I teach it every year to SOPHOMORES. That's right. 15 year olds and Kurtz.... the horror! the horror!

Vivi Andrews said...

Thanks for the rec of This Perfect Day, Lilah. With all the suggestions I'm getting and the ones I already needed to read, my TBR pile is getting precariously high. :)