Tuesday, May 13, 2008

LibraryThing Meme

As promised (with considerable overlap in commentary from yesterday’s list), here’s my version of the LibraryThing meme that's been all over the place, but I think I first saw it at Zoe’s Mom’s. The list consists of the books most tagged "unread" on the site. By the way, has anyone else noticed that the titles seem to differ from list to list? For instance, supposedly, there are 106 titles, but the list I copied only has 105. However, other lists I saw had books like Atonement and Beowulf, both of which I've read and The Book Thief and Possession, both of which I haven't read. Even those of you who claim to hate math should be able to do the math and figure out something odd is going on if I've got 105 books on a list that claims to hold 106 titles, and I'm missing at least four. Perhaps this is the blog meme equivalent of playing "Telephone." Maybe the final person will get a list 54 titles long. Or, being someone who does not play around at LibraryThing much, am I doing something wrong? Does the list change daily, and should I have gotten my list directly from their site? Oh well, I didn't, so you're stuck with this one.

bold = what you’ve read,
italics = books you started but couldn’t finish
crossed out = books you hated
* = you’ve read more than once
underline = books you own but haven’t read yourself

In the spirit of trying to be more positive than negative, I thought it was unfair only to mark those books I hated and not those I loved. I know you could argue that if something has an asterisk by it, I must love it, but not so. When I was in college, I often had to read books I didn’t particularly like more than once for different courses, and I’ve loved plenty of books that I’ve only read once. Thus, the books I love have bold L’s next to them.

1. Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell – no one who normally recommends books to me has ever recommended I read it, so I’ve shied away from it, but we have an advanced reader copy in some box somewhere that we picked up at Book Expo America one year.

L 2. Anna Karenina – you can read more about this book and me here.

L 3. Crime and Punishment – the first time I tried it, I couldn’t get through it. The second time, I thought it was one of the greatest (“great” as defined yesterday) books ever written.

4. Catch-22 – I've been meaning to read it for years. Maybe this will be the year?

L 5. One Hundred Years of Solitude – one of these days, I’ll be able to put an asterisk next to it.

6. Wuthering Heights – Dorr recently made me want to revisit this one, which highly disappointed me the first time I read it.

7. The Silmarillion -- I think by now, because I'm sure I've mentioned it everytime I've done one of these sorts of memes, and his name has come up, everyone knows how I feel about Tolkein. In case you don't: I don't like him.

8. Life of Pi: A Novel – here's another one I’ve been meaning to read for years.

9. The Name of the Rose – it wasn’t for lack of enjoyment that I didn’t finish it, and one day I plan to pick it up again and make it all the way to the end. Usually, when I tell people I didn’t get through it, their response is, “How could you not have gotten through it?”

L 10. Don Quixote – despite having it shoved down my throat in all the Spanish courses I ever took, having to translate passages from the windmill scene, as if it’s the only book ever written by any Spanish-speaking person, and that's the only scene in the book, I sighed almost the whole way through it when I finally read the whole thing (in English) a few years back.

11. Moby Dick – so many people whose reading tastes I so admire have told me how much they love it, but I just cannot give it a fourth go. I think three is plenty.

12. Ulysses – just seeing the title terrifies me.

13. * Madame Bovary – I understand why it’s considered “great,” but I’ve rarely read a more unrealistic female character. I had to read it three times in college, which is three times way too many for a book I hated.

14.The Odyssey – it’s been way too long and about time we got re-acquainted.

L 15. Pride and Prejudice – if you’re one of those people who has it and hasn’t read it, you’re in for a real treat.

L 16. Jane Eyre – please see yesterday’s post.

17. A Tale of Two Cities – it’s one of the ones from my thirteen classics challenge last year that I never read. I’ve downloaded it from Librivox, though, so it will get read in the not-too-distant future.

18. The Brothers Karamazov – this one started off on my list of thirteen classics last year, but was dropped when I became overwhelmed with the lengths of all the books I’d chosen. I substituted another book, which didn’t get read either.

19. Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies – I've never even heard of this one (now watch me find it in one of our bookshelves some day soon).

L 20. War and Peace – I’m hoping to get around to reading the newest translation soon.

21. Vanity Fair – again, it didn't go unfinished for lack of liking or interest, but rather, because I started it just before taking on a new job, and I was too overwhelmed to read anything other than mysteries during the first few months of that job. It's another one I’d like to make it all the way through one day.

L 22. The Time Traveller’s Wife – this one's a rare thing: a contemporary novel that I really loved.

23. The Iliad – I read it in college. I don’t remember much, except, you know, what anyone who watches movies and TV might remember.

L 24. * Emmait’s my favorite Austen. I’m weird for that, I know, so no need to tell me so, or to say, “How can you possibly like that better than [Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, etc.]?”

25. The Blind Assassin – the title's familiar, but in a moment of sudden brain death, I can’t remember what this is. Is it something like a Robert Ludlum? Nah, then surely people would be reading it, right?

26. The Kite Runnerthis one and I had a tempestuous love/hate relationship throughout my entire reading of it. Ultimately, like many a lover one regrets having had, I decided it just wasn’t very good.

L 27. * Mrs. Dalloway – I loved it in college and again when I re-read it after reading The Hours.

28. Great Expectations – I just haven’t read that much Dickens.

29. American Gods – I haven't yet, but I want to read it.

30. A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius – I wanted to read it a long time ago, but I’ve pretty much lost interest at this point.

31. Atlas Shrugged – I missed out on reading it as a teenager, when everyone seems to think Rand is the most wonderful rebel ever, and I can’t imagine anyone enjoys reading it after the age of 21, at which point, most come to hate it (reading Old School confirmed this opinion of mine), so have never bothered.

32. Reading Lolita in Tehran – a friend of mine recommended it to me when it was first published. I finally bought a copy on sale at Barnes and Noble at Christmas last year, so I’ll read it one of these days.

33. Memoirs of a Geisha – again, another one I want to read that a friend gave me quite some time ago now.

34. Middlesex – again, not for lack of interest did I stop reading it, and I plan to revisit it.

35. Quicksilver – here's another one I don't know.

36. Wicked : the life and times of the wicked witch of the Westit was so very, very disappointing, as I love the premise, but I just could not get into it.

37. The Canterbury Tales – doesn’t everyone read it in high school and college?

38. The Historianit needed editing, but it still kept my attention.

39. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man – I keep thinking I ought to try this one, but then think better of it with all the other things I’d much rather read.

L 40. *Love in the Time of Cholera – this is my favorite Garcia Marquez (as noted yesterday). I’ve read it three times now.

41. Brave New World – it's sad that I haven’t read it, I know.

42. The Fountainhead – please see Atlas Shrugged.

43. Foucault’s Pendulum – what is it about Umberto Eco that I love him but just don't seem to be able to commit myself to him?

L 44. Middlemarch – I loved it in college; don’t know what I’d think of it now.

L 45. * Frankenstein – I’ll never forget how surprised I was the first time I read it to find out how beautiful and sad it is.

46. The Count of Monte Cristo
– I know, I know, Becky, you told me months ago to drop everything and read it. Can you believe I still haven’t?

L 47. * Dracula – it's still the best vampire book I’ve ever read and a fabulous audiobook.

L 48. A Clockwork Orange – I love the movie, too, if “love” is the right word for something so very disturbing.

49. Anansi Boys – I just didn’t like it, which may have had more to do with the narrator on the audio book than the book itself.

50. The Once and Future King – it was just bad timing when I tried to read it. I wasn’t in the mood. But I know I’ll really like it one day. It's right up my alley, and I adore Le Morte D'Arthur.

51. The Grapes of Wrath –I tried last year, but it took too long for them to get to CA, and, by the time they did, I'd lost interest (I know, very lame). However, I'll finish it one day, because I so love the way he writes; it's so memorable that I'm sure I'll be able to pick it up where I left off without having to start all over again.

52. The Poisonwood Bible – maybe I’ll finally get around to reading it now that I’ve read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. The trouble is, too many people have told me I just have to read it, and so I’m balking.

53. 1984 – I’ve mentioned before that I’m just not sure whether I have or haven’t read this one.

54. Angels & Demons – isn't it refreshing to find no one's reading it?

55. The Inferno – can you believe I’ve never read it?

56. The Satanic Verses – for some reason, I’ve always had a mental block when it comes to Rushdie. I'm just convinced I won't like him.

L 57. Sense and Sensibility I’m so envious of all these people who have all this Austen to read for the first time.

58. The Picture of Dorian Gray – someone tell me: should I? I’ve never felt one way or the other about it.

59. Mansfield Park – I guess I should be envious of myself, because I’ve got this one left to read for the first time.

60. One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest – I wish I’d read it before seeing the movie, because it was impossible not to picture Jack Nicholson.

L 61. * To the Lighthouse – this is the book that made me fall in love with Virginia Woolf.

L 62. Tess of the D’Urbervilles – such a difficult (like watching one of those horror movies where you keep yelling at the characters, “No, no. Don’t go in there!”) but extraordinarily beautiful book that, as I said yesterday, is one of the best examinations of the horrific plight of women I’ve ever read.

L 63. Oliver Twist – ahh, finally, it's a Dickens that I’ve read, and one I loved, as well.

64. Gulliver’s Travels – I just got a copy of it at the library book sale, so I can re-read it.

65. Les Misérables – it's been in my TBR tome for about as long as I’ve been alive.

66. The Corrections – here's another one I once wanted to read, but I've lost interest.

67. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay – again, one that’s been highly recommended by so many people, I’m afraid it might not hold up to my expectations.

68. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – please see comment on above title.

69. Dune – maybe the fact that I cram read it for a course in college has something to do with my hatred. Then again, I cram read Middlemarch and loved it, so maybe not.

70. The Prince -- this is one of those books one feels one really must read, so one never does. Right?

L 71. The Sound and the Fury – there must be something wrong with me. So many of my favorite books are on this list.

72. Angela’s Ashes – I didn’t find it to be anything near what it was cracked up to be.

73. The God of Small Things – I've never had any real interest.

74. A People’s History of the United States : 1492-Present Day – huh? This is something others have been reading enough for it to land on a list of books people buy and don’t read? I must be missing something.

75. Neverwhere – where's Coraline, the one Gaiman I have read and finished? I guess it's the only one everyone else has read and finished, too. Still, it's odd three of his books are on this list, isn't it?

L 76. A Confederacy of Dunces – funny. I bought this one at a used book store in Philadelphia 20 years ago and it helped get me through my first visit to a city I thought was the most miserable place on earth (as you can probably guess, I’ve since changed my mind and have become very fond of Philly), having no idea it would one day be the closest big city to where I live.

77. A Short History of Nearly Everything – we’ve got it, but I haven’t done much more than read the cover copy. Despite the title, it’s not exactly what I’d call “short.”

78. Dubliners – less intimidating than Ulysses, but still I haven’t read it.

L 79. The Unbearable Lightness of Being – I read this for the first book discussion group to which I ever belonged and have meant to re-read it ever since I bought Bob a copy of it when we were first married.

80. Beloved – I have yet to figure out what all the fuss is over Toni Morrison.

81. Slaughterhouse-Five – I must get around to it, mustn’t I?

82. The Scarlet Letter – I know there are times Bob doesn’t want to be associated with me when I go on about not liking Nathanial Hawthorne. In fairness, I ought to give Hawthorne another try, but look at all the other stuff I’ve got to read.

L 83. Eats, Shoots & Leaves – how could an editor do anything but love this book?

84. The Mists of Avalon – it’s kind of disingenuous for me to italicize this one, because I only read about eight pages.

85. Oryx and Crake : A Novel -- I've only read two of Atwood's books, so I'm way behind.

86. Collapse : How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed – never heard of it (I don’t know. Maybe I am from some other planet or something)

87. Cloud Atlas – I was about to underline this, but then I realized I was confusing it with Cloudsplitter, so I don’t own it and haven’t read it.

88. The Confusion – another one I’ve never heard of (but maybe I’m just mixed up about that. Sorry! Couldn’t resist).

L 89. *Lolita -- you’ve already heard me wax poetic about this one. Or maybe you haven't?

L 90. * Persuasion – every single Jane Austen? Really?

L 91. * Northanger Abbey – I guess people are watching the movies, buying the books, and not reading them or something.

92. The Catcher in the Rye – I enjoyed it, but wouldn’t exactly say I loved it.

L 93. On the Road – here's yet another one it’s time to re-read.

94. The Hunchback of Notre Dame – and here's another one that fell off the thirteen classics challenge list. (Hmm…did I actually read any of the books I had on that list?)

95. Freakonomics – much ado about nothing.

96. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance – no interest.

97. The Aeneid – it's another one of those college reads I barely remember.

98. Watership Down – but I was only thirteen, and I was on vacation at my aunt's, and I was really much more interested in my Agatha Christies than a book about rabbits that seemed to go on forever. I’ve always wanted to give it another try. The Plague Dogs, at age fifteen, nearly did me in.

99. Gravity’s Rainbow – I’m not the least bit surprised to see this title on the list. Don’t so many of us read The Crying of Lot 49, get all excited about Pynchon, buy this one, planning to read it, and then lose interest? No? That’s just me? Oh well…

100. The Hobbit – my fourth-grade teacher read it to the whole class, but I don’t count that, since I just basically drew pictures and tuned him out. I’ve tried it twice since, but I just have no interest in Hobbits, I guess.

101. In Cold Blood – you’d think, after I saw the brilliant play Tru many, many years ago, I would have raced out and read everything he ever wrote, but no, I haven’t read anything yet.

102. White Teeth – yet another mysterious title. Anyone recommend I read it (or any of the others I haven't known, for that matter)?

103. Treasure Island – is it just a “boy’s book?” Should I try again?

104. David Copperfield – so much Dickens on this list (then again, he was a prolific writer), but I guess there’s even more Austen (who was not, unfortunately, so prolific).

105. The Three Musketeers – just never really been all that interested despite high praise from everyone I’ve ever known who’s read it.

Read: 40 (Less than half. Huh. What have I been doing all my life?)

Loved: 27


Thus proving that maybe I do tend to be more positive than negative. Now, everyone needs to leave me alone. Seems I’ve got lots of reading and re-reading to do.


ZoesMom said...

Your list is so different than mine that it makes me want to do this all over again.

I would echo a lot of your responses especially on The Unbearable Lightness of Being and In Cold Blood.

Amanda said...

I recommend Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell. I loved it.

Patricia said...

Geez I didn't recognize MOST of the books on your list! I do recommend "Life of Pi". I purchased it and set it aside forever...but once I started to read it I loved it and found it very funny. I don't get time to read much but am enjoying my selections more so now. I just started reading Jane Austen a few months ago although I've seen most of the famous movies from her works.

I'll have to keep looking at your lists and my sister's lists and pick some books to try from those. I find it hard to get an excellent books off the bookstore shelves these days.

By the bye, I did NOT like the Time Traveller's Wife at all. Too twisted and weird and my mind is still unwrapping all the back and forth stuff!

Anne Camille said...

I own 15 of these that I have not read. A few I've never heard of. 36 either read completely or partially. Guess I buy a lot of books that other people buy too. My list of unread books is far lengthier than 105 books. Not enough hours in the day to read!

Eloise said...

So much Jane Austen - do people get given box sets that they never touch or something? It's very sad. I'm glad I'm not the only person who couldn't finish Wicked. I thought it was dreadful and it tainted The Wizard of Oz for me.

Emily Barton said...

ZM, maybe we should read In Cold Blood together this summer and then both post about it on the same date.

Ms. Make Tea, all right, a recommendation from someone who's opinion I respect. I'll have to go see if I can find it then...

Lady P, oh, your sister seems to be reading much more interesting stuff than I, so I'd get most of your ideas from her. However, I DO highly recommend your continuing with Austen and reading THE VICTORIAN CHAISE LONGUE (from my favorites list. You'll have to buy it used online) and Wallace Stegner (BIG ROCK CANDY MOUNTAIN or CROSSING TO SAFETY) and anything by Rose Macaulay.

Eloise, box sets. That must be it. And I am so glad to find a fellow WICKED hater. Do you agree with me that it could have been SO good if done right? And, yes, it did taint the all-so-wonderful WIZARD OF OZ.

Kate S. said...

The Blind Assassin is another one for your Margaret Atwood list. It's the Atwood novel that won the Booker a few years back. Most of the contemporary books on these bought-but-never-read lists seem to be such prize winners. It's one of the few Atwood novels that I haven't read, but I've got an audio version cued up on my iPod and a lot of commuting to do, so I expect that I'll get to it soon!

Susan said...

This was hilarious to read! And we agree on some things - apparently you and I have been avoiding alot of the latest 'must reads' like the Corrections and 'Curious Incident' which frankly bores me just writing.....but you hated Dune? *gasp* One of my favourites? and you love Virginia Woolf, who I can't stand! Vive la difference!!! I have yet to read Jonathan Strange, but as it's on two of my challenges, I am getting to it sometime this year. I haven't done this list/meme, I keep putting it off.....I love how you did it, though!! (and thanks for helping my sis out!)

Emily Barton said...

Susan, isn't it funny how some of us can seem to have such similar tastes in books, yet still find those differences like DUNE and Virginia Woolf? It's what makes the book world so much, though. And I'm glad to help your sister, but no need to thank me until we know whether or not she actually enjoys anything I recommend. :-)!