Tuesday, November 23, 2010

What I've Read

So my friend Lori posted this list on her Facebook page and I figured that I might as well blog about it. It is a list of the top 100 books per the BBC (or more accurately the viewers). Books that I have read are shown in bold. Those that I have at least read some of are shown in italics. This will give a good sense of where the big gaps are in my reading habits.

1) Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
2) The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien
3) Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
4) Harry Potter series – J K Rowling
5) To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
6) The Bible
7) Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte
8) 1984 – George Orwell
9) His Dark Materials – Phillip Pullman
10) Great Expectations – Charles Dickens
11) Little Women – Louisa May Alcott
12) Tess of the D’Ubervilles – Thomas Hardy
13) Catch 22 – Joseph Heller
14) The Complete Works of Shakespeare
15) Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier
16) The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien
17) Birdsong – Sebastian Faulks
18) The Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger
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 Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
26) Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh
27) Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoevsky
28) The Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck
29) Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll
30) The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahme
31) Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy
32) David Copperfield – Charles Dickens
33) The Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis
34) Emma – Jane Austen
35) Persuasion – Jane Austen
36) The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe – CS Lewis
37) The Kite Runner – Khalid Hosseini
38) Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis De Berniere
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
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 Maddening Crowd – Thomas Hardy
48) The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
49) Lord of the Flies – William Golding
50) Atonement – Ian McEwan
51) Life of Pi – Yann Martel
52) Dune – Frank Herbery
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 Ruis Zafon
57) A Tale of Two Cities – Charles Dickens
58) Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
59) The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime – Mark Gaddon
60) Love in the Time of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marques
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
66) On the Road – Jack Kerouac
67) Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy
68) Bridget Jones’s Diary – Helen Fielding
69) Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie
70) Moby Dick – Herman Melville
71) Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens
72) Dracula – Bram Stroker
73) The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett
74) Notes from a Small Island – Bill Bryson
75) Ulysses – James Joyce
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 – Kazup Ishiguro
85) Madame Bovary – Gustave Falubert
86) A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry
87) Charlotte’s Web – EB White
88) The Five People You Meet In Heaven – Mitch Albom
89) The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
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
99) Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl
100) Les Miserables – Victor Hugo

That is 27 read and 6 partials and I am more than pissed that I have to count the works of Shakespeare as a partial. I’ve read 23 of the plays and I really don’t feel like I should be penalized for not having read King John. No one reads King John. Anyway, not bad for someone who is a science geek who never had a literature class above English 103. (Kim, my English major significantly better half, has read probably well over half of these.)

I don’t list this as much to show off what I’ve read and stroke my ego but rather to get a sense of where are the gaps in my reading. Since this is a BBC list my gaps are obviously amongst British authors. I haven’t read any Jane Austen and have barely touched the Brontes. I wish I had a better reason for that other than male chauvinism but that really is the answer. Remember at one point in time I had to specifically make it a goal of mine to read at least one female author every year. For some reason I got it stuck in my head that stuff like Pride and Prejudice were “girl books” and I didn’t have to concern myself with them. Yes, that is actually as stupid as it sounds.

I’m also woefully lacking in Charles Dickens and his cohort Wilkie Collins. Here I want to blame my precociousness as a youth given that it backfired on me. I probably started to read Great Expectations when I was in seventh or eighth grade and could just never get into it. There was Pip and a convict and for some reason a really detailed inventory of a cupboard and it just never clicked, most likely because I was a twelve year old kid trying to understand Victorian England. As a result, I’ve never gone back to it. Well, my goal for next year is to really fill this gap in my literary knowledge.

The Russians, on the other hand, have been my nemesis forever. Those books just stare at me from the shelves and taunt me with their difficulty. As a result I haven’t read War and Peace or Crime and Punishment or, for that matter, War and Punishment or Crime and Peace. I still don’t feel that I will be able to claim to be a true connoisseur of literature until I conquer the Russians but that will be a challenge.

Of what I have read I have hit most of the 20th century classics while missing some of the more popular stuff (no Tolkein even though no one will ever believe that.) I’ve always been lacking in terms of mainstream fiction though I really do want to read The Time Traveller’s Wife and The Lovely Bones. I don’t know if I can say that I am well rounded in my literary tastes but I have a pretty significant background especially given this is not what I’ve ever officially studied. I’m probably not as well read as I think I am, which is good because that just means I have more books to read and that is never a bad thing.

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