Thursday, November 09, 2006

Thursday Thirteen

As usual (I must have had my head buried in a book or something), I wasn’t paying attention in class. As a result, I'm not very clear on the assignment. I've come up with one of my own instead, which I think combines some five different challenges/memes/interesting ideas: a Thursday Thirteen List of Thirteen Classics to Read in 2007.

The first rule I gave myself when composing this list was stolen from one of the winter reading challenges, this rule being that I wasn’t allowed to use this list as an excuse to go on a shopping spree at Amazon. I had to choose books that Bob and I already have in our collection. The second rule I gave myself is one I don’t think anyone is doing yet, but I’m probably wrong. This rule was that the list was to be as representative of as many places around the world as I could make it while sticking to rule number one.

One of my biggest problems was trying to choose between adult classics and children’s classics (many of which I’d like to re-read, as I haven’t read them since I was twelve or so, and many which I’ve never read and would like to). I finally decided I’d have two lists: thirteen adult books and thirteen children’s books (the latter will stick to rule #1, but not rule #2. Our children’s book collection, although large for two adults who don’t have children, can’t compare to our adult book collection and just isn’t all that cosmopolitan). This Thursday I’m giving you the adult list. Next Thursday will be the children’s lists.

So, here’s what I’ve got on the adult list and why:

A Bend in the River by V.S. Naipaul, because this book practically meets criteria #2 all on its own: Trinidadian author of Hindu parents writing about an Indian living in a newly-independent African nation.

The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky, because Bob talks about this one so much I really just need finally to read it. Besides, although I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s one of my favorite books (that term is reserved for such comfort reads as I Capture the Castle or those that get me rolling on the floor with laughter like Three Men in a Boat), Crime and Punishment is one of the greatest books I’ve ever read, and it took me forever to get around to reading it as well.

Bread and Wine by Ignacio Silano, because it’s extraordinarily pathetic how little I know about Italy and Italian literature. Of course, reading this book is just going to highlight my ignorance even more, but perhaps I’ll learn something along the way.

The Charterhouse of Parma by Stendhal, because back when Bob was also working in the publishing industry he picked up a beautiful Modern Library edition of this book. His father read it and raved about it. I’ve been wanting to read it ever since, but, somehow can’t quite seem ever to get around to it.

A Dream of Red Mansions by Cao Xueqin, because you could accuse me of shamelessly picking a book by its cover if you could see this 3-volume set decorated with Chinese watercolors that Bob picked up in China years before he met me. However, I also read about this when I was reading Jung Chang’s Wild Swans this past summer and decided I really wanted to read it then.

Faust by Johann Wolfgang won Goethe, because not having read this is like not having read The Bible when it comes to reading and trying to discuss so much literature that’s been written since.

The General in His Labyrinth by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, because I absolutely love One Hundred Years of Solitude and Love in the Time of Cholera (one of the few adult books I’ve read more than twice in my life), but I’ve never read anything else by Garcia Marquez.

The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo, because (as I’ve mentioned somewhere before), I’ve been meaning to read Le Miserables forever, but always find it too daunting. Thought I’d start with this shorter work and see if it inspires me further to tackle Le Miserables.

The Last Temptation of Christ by Nikos Kazantzakis, because I started it years ago, and though I really liked it, for some reason, never got through it. I want fnally to get through it.

Lorna Doone by Richard D. Blackmoore, because there’s a funny (which may turn out not to be so funny once I’ve read it) story as to why we have this book, which I’ll write about at some other point.

Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe, because doesn’t everyone read this in high school? I must have been absent that week or something…

Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child, because, yes, I do read cookbooks cover-to-cover, but this one has always seemed a little scary. I’ve been buoyed, however, by having read Julie and Julia in 2006. After all, she read and cooked her way through it. I’m just going to read it.

Now, if you don’t hear from me for weeks on end, it’s because I’ll be reading. To be a little more precise here, I’ll be reading about 7000 pages, and we haven’t even gotten to the children’s books (not to mention everything else I’ll be reading for my two book discussion groups and from my TBR list, which has grown – and keeps growing – at an exponential rate, thanks to all of you). And, although, at this point, I don’t plan to devote an entire post to each book, I will let you know from time-to-time how it’s going and what I think of my choices.

1 comment:

Rebecca H. said...

Nice list! There's a lot of stuff on there I'd like to read -- the Stendhal, the Naipaul, the Kazantakis. I adored Crime and Punishment too, and I hope you love The Brothers Karamazov!