Saturday, February 17, 2007

The Mysterious Book List

Our beloved little Lady died very unexpectedly yesterday, and I plan to post a memorial to her soon, but I’m not ready today. Thank you to both Cam and Charlotte, from whom I got this irresistible list (as if I haven’t bored everyone enough in the past few months with multiple book lists). Retreating into books and thinking about them is a natural thing to do for me at a time like this, and this made for a nice and easy post on a day in which the real sun may be brightly shining and reflecting off the snow, but where dark clouds hang for Bob and me over the places where the little footprints should be.

I have no idea where the list originated, nor how these books were chosen (I’m wondering if someone just listed everything she had on a bookshelf or something. I say "she" because of such entries as Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants and Bridget Jones’s Diary. All you men out there who have read these books can tell me I’m being horribly sexist, but none of my male friends has ever told me he's read either one). If it wasn’t something as random as that, I have no idea, because it seems an extremely odd list. These were the instructions:

Bold the ones you’ve read, italicise the ones you want to read, cross out the ones you won’t touch with a 10 foot pole, put a cross (+) in front of the ones on your book shelf (I’m counting anything that’s on any of our bookshelves, whether it’s Bob’s book or mine), and asterisk (*) the ones you’ve never heard of. As others have done, I’m leaving the ones about which I feel indifferent unmarked.

1. + The Da Vinci Code (Dan Brown) By now everyone knows how I feel about this one.

2. +Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen) Perfect to read, perfect to listen to on tape, perfect to watch on DVD.

3. + To Kill A Mockingbird (Harper Lee) Oh how I wish Harper Lee had written more, but how could she?

4. Gone With The Wind (Margaret Mitchell) Really would like to read, but have too many other things to read first. Besides, I’ve seen the movie.

5. The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (Tolkien) Been there, couldn’t do that, won’t try anymore (this goes for the next two as well).

6. The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring (Tolkien)

7. The Lord of the Rings: Two Towers (Tolkien)

8. Anne of Green Gables (L.M. Montgomery) Have no idea why I’ve never read this, but I do hope I get around to it one of these days.

9. Outlander (Diana Gabaldon) Tried it. Couldn’t for the life of me figure out what all the fuss was about. Abandoned it.

10. * A Fine Balance (Rohinton Mistry) Never heard of it. Someone who has, please enlighten me.

11. + Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Rowling) I’ve only made it to the third Harry Potter, but plan to read all of them eventually (repeat this sentence for each Harry Potter on the list).

12. Angels and Demons (Dan Brown) I suppose if I were locked in a room with nothing else on the shelf to read except a stack of National Enquirers (and I’d devour the NEs first).

13. + Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Rowling)

14. + A Prayer for Owen Meany (John Irving) Way, way up, very near the top on a list of my all-time favorite books (and one of the few books I’ve read in my adult life more than twice)

15. + Memoirs of a Geisha (Arthur Golden) Really, really do want to read it.

16. + Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (Rowling)

17. * Fall on Your Knees (Ann-Marie MacDonald) Again. I need enlightening.

18. + The Stand (Stephen King) Because both Bob and Hobs have told me I need to read it.

19. + Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban(Rowling)

20. + Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte) Another all-time favorite. Soon, it too, will be one I’ve read more than twice as an adult.

21. + The Hobbit (Tolkien) I don’t suppose it counts if a teacher read it to the class, and you spent the whole time drawing and coloring and paid absolutely no attention whatsoever?

22. + The Catcher in the Rye (J.D. Salinger) One I’d like to reread at some point.

23. + Little Women (Louisa May Alcott) Multiple times.

24. + The Lovely Bones (Alice Sebold) What a lovely book that was.

25. + Life of Pi (Yann Martel) This is one of my brother’s favorite books, and he gave it to me. Sadly, I have yet to read it, although I’m sure it’s going to be fabulous when I finally do.

26. + The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Douglas Adams) Funny, funny, funny.

27. + Wuthering Heights (Emily Bronte) I’ve written about this one before.

28. + The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe (C. S. Lewis) Didn’t care for it nor any of the Narnia books as a kid as much as everyone else seemed to. Liked it a bit better as an adult, but still much prefer other children’s fantasies.

29. + East of Eden (John Steinbeck) I’m woefully behind when it comes to reading everything by Steinbeck. Have read Of Mice and Men, and that’s it.

30. Tuesdays with Morrie (Mitch Albom) Found this much more interesting than I expected when I picked it up at a friend’s house just to “browse” it, and was still reading it an hour later. Had to check it out from the library to finish it.

31. + Dune (Frank Herbert) Read it for a college course. Found it extraordinarily tedious.

32. The Notebook (Nicholas Sparks) Want to read to see what all the fuss is about, but have a feeling I’m not going to like it, so keep putting it off.

33. + Atlas Shrugged (Ayn Rand) I just have no desire to read any Ayn Rand.

34. 1984 (Orwell) ? I’ve written about this one before, too. At most, I’ve skimmed it, which means I haven’t really read it.

35. + The Mists of Avalon (Marion Zimmer Bradley) I think I want to, but again, not really sure I’m going to like it, so it’s not a high priority.

36. + The Pillars of the Earth (Ken Follett) Absolutely, completely surprised that I loved this one (Ken Follett? Never in a million years would I have thought I’d say that about a book of his) recommended to both Bob and me by friends whose reading tastes we trusted.

37. The Power of One (Bryce Courtenay) This really, technically, should have an *, I suppose. Have only just heard of it, know nothing about it, and don’t feel anything about it. Really.

38. I Know This Much is True (Wally Lamb) Sort of want to read it, because of the subject matter, but a little worried, because She’s Come Undone rang hollow for me.

39. The Red Tent (Anita Diamant) Want to read it, but am afraid I’m going to find it way too depressing.

40. The Alchemist (Paulo Coelho) Again, it’s not too far up on the list, but I’m somewhat intrigued.

41. The Clan of the Cave Bear (Jean M. Auel) Tried. Just couldn’t get into it.

42. The Kite Runner (Khaled Hosseini) Very mixed feelings about this book that didn’t unmix themselves, even by the time I got to the end of it. Interesting story. Not particularly well written, and way too many coincidences for my taste. Still, I learned a lot about a culture I really know nothing about. And some of the characters were very likeable.

43. Confessions of a Shopaholic (Sophie Kinsella) I might like it if I read it, but I’m not drawn enough to it to find out.

44. The Five People You Meet In Heaven (Mitch Albom) Well, I didn’t expect to like Tuesdays with Morrie, but a little of that sort of stuff goes a long way with me.

45. + Bible (Haven’t read the Apocypha) Fascinating, fascinating read (if you can get through the long, boring parts)

46. +Anna Karenina (Tolstoy)) I’ve written about this one as well.

47. The Count of Monte Cristo (Alexandre Dumas) Seen the movie, really want to read the book, just haven’t gotten around to it.

48. + Angela’s Ashes (Frank McCourt) And I keep promising myself I’m going to stop reading memoirs about horrible, harsh childhoods, and then I end up being seduced by them.

49. The Grapes of Wrath (John Steinbeck) Already commented on Steinbeck.

50. +She’s Come Undone (Wally Lamb) See #32

51. +The Poisonwood Bible (Barbara Kingsolver) I know, I know, I know. Everyone under the sun has told me: I have to read it.

52. + A Tale of Two Cities (Dickens) Ditto.

53. Ender’s Game (Orson Scott Card) I’m just not into this sort of stuff.

54. + Great Expectations (Dickens) Ditto 51 and 52.

55. + The Great Gatsby (Fitzgerald) I want to re-read it soon.

56. * The Stone Angel (Margaret Laurence) I need enlightening again.

57. +Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Rowling)

58. The Thorn Birds (Colleen McCullough) Read it years ago. Don’t think I’d like it if I read it today.

59. + The Handmaid’s Tale (Margaret Atwood) I’ve read other Atwood and loved it. Don’t know why I haven’t read this classic.

60. The Time Traveller’s Wife (Audrew Niffenegger) Will read soon.

61. + Crime and Punishment (Fyodor Dostoyevsky) One of The Greats.

62. The Fountainhead (Ayn Rand)

63. + War and Peace (Tolstoy) Another one of The Greats.

64. Interview With The Vampire (Anne Rice) Used to think I wanted to read this, but I’ve lost interest (despite being a huge fan of vampires).

65. Fifth Business (Robertson Davis) I love what little of Robertson Davies I’ve read. Must read more.

66. + One Hundred Years Of Solitude (Gabriel Garcia Marquez) Another one I want to re-read.

67. The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants (Ann Brashares) All the young women and teen girls I know just love this one.

68. Catch-22 (Joseph Heller) Have never been all that interested in this one until recently when my brother-in-law told me he once had a student who compared it to Aristophanes. I love, love, love Aristophanes, so it’s now on my TBR list.

69. Les Miserables (Hugo) One day, I hope I’ll be able to say, “I’ve read it!”

70. + The Little Prince (Antoine de Saint-Exupery) Lovely little book. I haven’t read it in years, though.

71. Bridget Jones’ Diary (Fielding) Laugh-out-loud funny.

72. + Love in the Time of Cholera (Marquez) Another one of The Greats.

73. + Shogun (James Clavell) Only interested because Bob loves Clavell, so maybe one day, I’ll get around to reading it.

74. The English Patient (Michael Ondaatje) I really just don’t feel one way or the other about it. Same with the movie.

75. + The Secret Garden (Frances Hodgson Burnett) As a child and as an adult. Enchanting.

76. * The Summer Tree (Guy Gavriel Kay) I like the title, but never heard of it.

77. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Betty Smith) I plan to reread this one this year. Loved it at age thirteen. Hope I still will.

78. + The World According To Garp (John Irving) One I should reread. I haven’t read it since I was fifteen.

79. * The Diviners (Margaret Laurence)

80. + Charlotte’s Web (E.B. White) And Stuart Little, which is oddly absent from this list, as well.

81. * Not Wanted On The Voyage (Timothy Findley) Haven’t a clue what this is.

82. + Of Mice And Men (Steinbeck) Ahhh. There’s the one Steinbeck I’ve read.

83. Rebecca (Daphne DuMaurier) Read and reread.

84. * Wizard’s First Rule (Terry Goodkind) What is this?

85. + Emma (Jane Austen) Read and reread.

86. Watership Down (Richard Adams) Have always been meaning to reread.

87. + Brave New World (Aldous Huxley) Hope to read soon.

88. * The Stone Diaries (Carol Shields) Another one whose title sounds interesting

89. Blindness (Jose Saramago) Thanks to Dorr, I want to read this, and even checked it out of the library once, but had to return it before I’d gotten to it.

90. Kane and Abel (Jeffrey Archer) How have books like this ended up on such a list?

91. In The Skin Of A Lion (Ondaatje) Why so much Ondaatje?

92. Lord of the Flies (Golding) Sort of want to read it, but know it will upset me terribly, so never get around to it on purpose, I think.

93. The Good Earth (Pearl S. Buck) Fabulous, fabulous, fabulous both for its insight into another culture as well as insight into human needs and psychology.

94. The Secret Life of Bees (Sue Monk Kidd) Someone convince me this is one I need to read. No one really has yet, despite all the hype, but I can't say I don't want to read it at all.

95. The Bourne Identity (Robert Ludlum) Again, why is this on such a list? Am I missing something?

96. The Outsiders (S.E. Hinton) One of those highly-praised YA novels, like Judy Blume books and The [hideous] Chocolate War, that always made me wonder, “Doesn’t anyone ever think that maybe what teenagers need most is not to read about horribly realistic things that portray being a teenager as a terrible time, but things that will make them laugh?”

97. White Oleander (Janet Fitch) Want to, but haven’t yet.

98. A Woman of Substance (Barbara Taylor Bradford) Barbara Taylor Bradford? Where’s Jackie Collins, then?

99. The Celestine Prophecy (James Redfield)

100. Ulysses (James Joyce) until this year when Bloglily started posting on it, this would have been a cross-out. But now, she’s intrigued me.

Okay, time to stop listing and writing about books and go read.


Anonymous said...

This list is so much fun! It also made me realize there are a lot of books I won't ever read. And lots I have, and like you, why haven't I ever read Anne of Green Gables.

By the way, Ulysses sits on my nightstand, between French Women for All Seasons: A Year of Secrets, Recipes and Pleasures and this week's very fat New Yorker. I have been enjoying it, but need to stay in bed for a day and do the whole thing in one go.

mandarine said...

I know my wife would be devastated if Mandarine (le chat) were to leave us -- I would certainly find it very sad, all the more so now that I share some special bond through the blogging business. But I am sure bonds are much more special with dogs than they are with cats.
I am not sure what the proper etiquette is when a friend loses a dear companion, however animal that companion might be. Maybe sympathy is more appropriate than condolences, even if it is exactly the same word, one in Greek, the other in Latin.

The list is great. Maybe a little bit too Anglo-Saxon-lit-oriented for me to have a go, though I take pride in having read more Steinbeck than you. I bookmark the page for my next e-book spree (probably next Christmas). I am amazed at how much is on your bookshelves but would not want so much paper in my house -- obviously I have not been a librarian in a past life like you.

Anne Camille said...

I'm so sorry about your little Lady.

Rebecca H. said...

I hope you two are doing okay -- so sorry about Lady.

I've got A Fine Balance on my TBR shelves -- it's a longish novel set in India -- I think a family drama type thing. I listened to another Mistry book, Family Matters, on audio and liked it pretty well.

Emily Barton said...

Thank you, everyone, for your well wishes. We're hanging in there, but it has definitely been tough.

Rebecca said...

So sorry to hear about Lady.

Read The Count of Monte Cristo - I promise you, no film can begin to do it justice. It obsessed me for the week it took me to read it.

Heather said...

Hanging in there is all you can really do for now. Sorry about Lady. Virtual hug to you!!

Anonymous said...

Emily, so sorry to hear about your loss. How sad.

Interesting list. And I'd be very curious to hear more about how it was compiled. Of course you'd never get any agreement for a list of 100 "must-reads" or something like that. A few random comments:

--I know you were kidding with that comment about the movie but "Gone With the Wind" is SO worth a read, if only to see the unbelievable detail Margaret Mitchell goes into beyond the confines of character development. Really incredible and I'm surprised (but ultimately relieved) that a Macmillan editor didn't drench that manuscript with red ink. I mean, 1037 pages?? It's also fascinating (and a bit uncomfortable) to read her phonetic transcriptions of the slave dialects.

--I forgot what you've said about "The Da Vinci Code" but my advice is "JUST SAY NO" to Dan Brown.

--I was scared for a minute that "Anna Karenina" wasn't on this least and breathed a sigh of relief when I spotted it. I've read that at least 5 times. I love it, but it makes me wonder how I could ever dare to call myself a writer.

--Girl, drop whatever manuscripts you're reading for your job and dive into "East of Eden" and "The Grapes of Wrath" immediately! You can go back to your job later, I promise your authors will understand.

--Oy, if "The Notebook" is anywhere near as hackneyed as the movie version that I saw with my daughter, RUN!

--What could be more heinous than the Nazis' penchant for book-burning? Yet I might bring it back if we could hurl Ayn Rand's books into the flames...

--I admit I was a sucker back in the day for "The Mists of Avalon" and the "Clan of the Cave Bear" books. I loved them. Does that admission threaten my masculinity?

--"The Red Tent" is a great read. I love books that show us how the "other" characters responded to familiar events. I wouldn't worry at all about it being overly depressing.

--About "The Five People You Meet in Heaven," I just can't make myself read a book that is advertised and mercilessly pushed in every Starbucks. I realize that's a dumb and snobbish stance (like my inability to read anything on Oprah's Book Club) and I just found out that Starbucks bought a ton of copies of my brother-in-law's upcoming CD to sell in their stores so I hope other people don't feel that way.

--I LOVE "The Handmaid's Tale" (talk about depressing!) and have thought of it MANY times during the current Bush administration. Which reminds of the excellent "Children of Men," not on this list but definitely worth a read (and far better than the movie version that is out right now).

--Also loved "The Time Traveler's Wife" but I am a real sucker for time travel books. I think this is one of the best. I heard they're making a movie of it right now which will be very hard to pull off.

--Does anyone else agree that "The Celestine Prophecy" is horriby written? Yet I guess at the time I "got something" out of it even though I'd never read it again in a million years. I do recommend "The Alchemist" though.

Litlove said...

I'm so sorry to hear about your loss, Emily. Pets are like small and less obedient children (well that could be because I have cats; dogs might be easier) and thus quite unbearable to lose. Thinking of you.

Froshty said...

Fall on your Knees was an Oprah Book Club selection and my friend Betsy recommended it to me, but I couldn't get into it. It's interesting that you have Prayer for Owen Meany and Robertson Davies in your list. Owen Meany reminds me of some of Davies's books. I really liked the Red Tent--it was one of the books that Betsy recommended to me that I liked. I love, love, love Steinbeck, and East of Eden is my favorite of all his novels. He introduces one of the first sociopaths in literary fiction in that book.

Emily Barton said...

Okay, Danny, I can see I need to rearrange my TBR list a little. Froshty, John Irving loves Robertson Davies himself, and you're right, they're very similar.
And Litlove, thank you.