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Another reading list

October 24, 2009
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I’m not making much progress against either the Esquire 75 or Jezebel’s alternative 75 “must reads”1. That’s not to say that I haven’t been reading, or that I haven’t been enjoying what I’ve read, but my belief that I am a reasonably “well-read” person has taken a bit of a hit from these lists. That’s why I was pleased to see the Guardian’s Books you can’t live without: the top 100. It’s even got The Magic Faraway Tree on it!

This, therefore, is the list I’m going to try to crack (although… The Bible? Really? I’m going to make an exception for that. Oh, and The Complete Works of William Shakespeare. I mean, honestly.)

Anyway, the full list – with strikethroughs – after the jump.

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  (I have some of them, and I’ve read the first one… I guess that doesn’t count)

5 To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee

6 The Bible  (Not a chance)

7 Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte

8 Nineteen Eighty-Four – George Orwell

8 His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman

10 Great Expectations – Charles Dickens

11 Little Women – Louisa M Alcott

12 Tess of the d’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy

13 Catch-22 – Joseph Heller

14 Complete Works of Shakespeare – William Shakespeare  (Again, I have them…)

15 Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier

16 The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien

17 Birdsong – Sebastian Faulks

18 Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger

19 The Time Traveler’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

26 Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh

27 Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky

28 Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck

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 (I don’t understand the duplication, here. Surely TLTW&TW is included in The Chronicles?)

37 The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini

38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis de Bernières

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 (Maybe after I finish the Bible…)

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

50 Atonement – Ian McEwan

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

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 Stoker (Now I really wish I’d joined the Dracula group post Infinite Jest, instead of the Gravity’s Rainbow group.  I’m not sure I can even find my copy of GR now…)

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 – 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 (I’ve read these, and the Narnia books, so many times – does that earn me a pass on Five People?

91 Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad

92 The Little Prince – Antoine de Saint-Exupery (I can’t believe I haven’t read this. This will be my first “achievement” – I think I’ll read it tomorrow. Edited 25/10 to add: read it on the number 70 tram out to Burwood yesterday afternoon and loved it.)

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 Misérables – Victor Hugo

The good news? I’ve read a lot of these already.  The other good news? There is a bit of crossover to the other lists, so Middlemarch, Moby Dick, Ulysses, Cold Comfort Farm and a couple of others will make inroads in two places.  The bad news? Well, I’m stating upfront that I’m not reading the Bible, but… I don’t think “reading the list” is a good enough incentive to get me to pick up The Da Vinci Code, The Lovely Bones or The Five People You Meet In Heaven.  Seriously.  Life’s too short.

As of today, then, I’ve read 62 of the 100.  I’ll try to remember to check back…

25/10 – 63/100 The Little Prince

26/10 – 64/100 A Christmas Carol

7/11 – 65/100 Swallows and Amazons

= = = = = = = = =
1. In fact, in the past year I have only crossed one book off the Jez list and nothing from the Esquire list.

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. Tequilamockingbird permalink
    October 24, 2009 4:30 pm

    The Da Vinci Code! I tried to watch the film version last night and couldn’t even get to 9.30 until flicking over to check out one of the more crap Bond films on ch 7… Is it me or is there something wooden and dead about Tom Hanks? It isn’t botox it’s just dead on the inside… This is a great list. Any idea what you are going to start with after The Little Prince?

    • injera permalink*
      October 25, 2009 12:01 pm

      I’ve decided to try to read the ones that have been sitting on the bookshelf for years, so I’m tossing up between Middlemarch, A Christmas Carol (another one I can’t believe I haven’t read already!), Bleak House and The Wasp Factory. I think I’ll probably go with CC, but will probably grab a copy of Cold Comfort Farm at some point and slot that in there.

      As for Tom Hanks, he earned such goodwill for me from Big that I was surprised at how much he lost with Forrest Gump and Castaway. In order to preserve my teenage memories, I now just avoid anything he’s in. It must be some sort of emotional botox. Now I’m going to have to go over to IMDb to see if there’s anything I’m forgetting…

  2. October 24, 2009 9:04 pm

    I wonder if there is a way to un-read any of those books on the list. Lists are cool, lists are fun, but there’s just too many lists these days. You can’t walk into a bookshop these days without seeing some new book titled, “1,000 you must experience before you die”.

    I’m over some smart alec list maker….who really should extend the range of their hobbies and interests…..telling me which 1,000 things to experience in their particular field.

    1,000 list makers you should avoid. Now there’s an idea worth persuing.

    • injera permalink*
      October 25, 2009 12:08 pm

      I nearly passed out when I saw the slew of 1000 lists that appeared a couple of years ago. There have got to be some fairly arbitrary inclusions on a list of that many “must dos”.

      Plus… Jazon Mraz alone is reason enough to avoid the words “1000” and “things” in proximity.

      Which books on the list would you unread? And why? I wouldn’t mind having the time I spent with A Town Like Alice back. And I’m wondering if Robert Crumb’s Book of Genesis will earn me a Bible strikethrough…

  3. October 27, 2009 4:02 pm

    Wiiilllsonnn!!! Now because of damn Castaway, and instead of reminiscing fondly about Big or Turner and Hooch I think of Wilson. A soccer ball with a blood face. Actually, we named the M’s placenta Wilson when I was pregnant. That was probably too much information. Anyway, good luck with the lists and it’s very impressive that you’ve read such a large chunk of this one already. You’re right. Reading The Bible would be going too far.

    • October 27, 2009 5:39 pm

      Hahaha! Turner and Hooch! I’d forgotten about that. I was, however, discussing another sad-eyed dog today: Woodrow, from Wonder World. Did he really fall out of a helicopter?

      I’m reading the short books first, I’ve decided, so am looking out for a copy of Lolita…

      • Tequilamockingbird permalink
        October 29, 2009 9:14 am

        I loved Lolita. It is so beautifully written and has this thick sadness to it… this does get a bit tragic toward the end but is well worth reading. Amazingly Nabokov wrote it in English then translated it into his native Russian. Also Martin Amis is a massive fan and anyone that is a friend of Amis’ is a friend of mine… by the way there is no Amis (snr or jnr) on the list!

  4. October 28, 2009 9:46 pm

    I have lugged A Suitable Boy around for 20 years, and still have not read it.

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