Friday, March 02, 2007

Got books?

"100 Best Books"

The DHM thinks I've read everything, but I really haven't. You can see which of these books she's read here, and that's probably more than I have.

One problem with a list like this is not so much that we can't agree on what goes on it (are we talking most enjoyable, or most literary, or most mind-stretching, or longest-lasting, or what?), but that when you read too many of these lists you start to feel both guilty and resentfully stubborn about those you still haven't bothered with. Meaning that the more times you're told you ought to read something, the less likely you might be to get into it. Classics (adults' and children's) tend to get a cod-liver-oil smell about them, and while some of them deserve it, many of them don't...I mean, that's why most of them became classics, because so many people loved them.

On Cindy's blog recently there was a whole stream of slightly-embarrassed (or "I'm-not-embarrassed-at-all, that book stunk") comments from people who just really really don't like reading Dickens, or Jane Austen, or whatever. Of course there are some books that just rub you the wrong way, but we should also admit that sometimes there are other factors that spoiled an otherwise worthwhile book for us--associating a book with a bad English class or with someone getting carsick all over it; or just not having enough background to make sense out of what we were reading. When I was in grade 9 I kept taking Northanger Abbey out of the school library, and I just could not get past the first couple of chapters. I really, really tried, but I couldn't figure out what that book was about. When I finally got into it a couple of years ago, I couldn't stop laughing--who knew Jane Austen had that much of a sense of humor?

So I've learned that, often, it's never say never about classics. If I haven't read them yet, it's usually because of time, not taste. But here's the list, with the caveat that I do not think all of these rank as classics either.

Quote from the DHM:
"Asked to name the ten books they could not live without, the British Public chose the 100 books listed below. I've bolded the ones I've read, italicized the ones I want to read, left alone the ones I don't have an opinion on and put a :P after the ones I have no interest in reading. Some of my choices will show you what a brilliantly superior reader I am and others will show you what uncultured Philistine I am, and probably all of us will disagree on which is which." (I'll mark them in the same way.) (Bit of a Humph here--I think there are maybe two Canadian books on this list? Three if you count Yann Martel.)

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen

2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien

3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte

4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling

5 To Kill a Mockingbird -- Harper Lee -- I was so embarrassed a couple of weeks ago when we were watching Jeopardy Teen Challenge. The answer to the Final Jeopardy question was Harper Lee, and I insisted it was going to be Carson McCullers...oops. Outsmarted by the highschoolers.

6 The Bible

7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte

8= Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell

8= His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman :P :P

10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens

11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott

12 Tess of the D'Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy

13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller - maybe sometime.

14 Complete Works of Shakespeare -- I've read a lot of the plays, but not all of them.

15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier -- seen the movie several times but have never read the book

16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien

17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks

18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger -- read parts of it. :P

19 The Time Traveller's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger

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

25 The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams -- I've seen the TV series and read some of Adams back in university, but I never finished this

26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh

27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky -

28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck :P

29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll

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 (how come this is listed separately from #33?)

37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini

38 Captain Corelli's Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres

39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden

40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne

41 Animal Farm - George Orwell

42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown :P

43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez

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 :P

50 Atonement - Ian McEwan

51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel

52 Dune - Frank Herbert :P

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 -- no, but the Apprentice has read it

60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez

61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck --saw the movie with John Malkovich, does that count?

62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov :P

63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt

64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold

65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas

66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac -- read parts of it, but not enough to say I've read it

67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy

68 Bridget Jones's Diary - Helen Fielding

69 Midnight's Children - Salman Rushdie

70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville -- someday, maybe, when there's time enough at last

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 -- no, but I have read Dubliners and Portrait of the Artist as A Young Man, if that means anything

76 The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath

77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome

78 Germinal - Emile Zola


79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray


80 Possession - AS Byatt

81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens


82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell

83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker

84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro

85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert -- the Veggie Tales version was enough

86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry

87 Charlotte's Web - EB White

88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Alborn

89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle -- read them AND watched most of the Jeremy Brett TV episodes--Mr. Fixit and I are Brett fans forever

90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton --

91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad

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

97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas

98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare -- this gets a separate listing too?

99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl

100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo (you can tell I am not big on big fat novels)

1 comment:

Tim's Mom said...

I can see why some books got separate listings. These were books that polled individuals listed, and some people probably listed Hamlet as a favorite, while others listed "all of Shakespeare's works." Apparently enough to have made it into the ratings!

I'm not doing a version of this list because my list of what I want to read constantly changes, and there are too many books on the list (a third to half) that I've never heard of.

Still, it was fun going through your list. Maybe I'll read some of the ones you listed as wanting to read.

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