Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Big Read (MeMe-ish)

I stole this from Jill, who posted her version today. It's pretty in keeping with Celebrate Reading Month.

Looking at the draft of this post, I am freakishly intimidated by my own list. Let me explain that when I was a sophomore in high school I decided to spend my summer break reading everything famous to impress my future English teacher (yeah, not only was I a nerd, I was a major brown-noser). So many of these books I really read under false pretenses and not necessarily for enjoyment.

The Big Read, an initiative by the National Endowment for the Arts, has estimated that the average adult has only read 6 of the top 100 books they've printed. How do you do?

1) Look at the list and bold those you have read.
2) Italicize those you intend to read.
3) Underline the books you LOVE. [I can't figure out how to underline in blogger, and also, I tend to like almost everything, so this would get awful loaded. I've taken a pass on #3.]

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
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee

6 The Bible [many parts... does that count?]
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell

9 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 [I haven't read all of them, but I can recite some of them in chunks and one of them in particular. Cf Mrs. Miller.]
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveller's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger

20 Middlemarch - George Eliot [Precie, you got two back-to-back hits, here.]
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
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini

38 Captain Corelli's Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
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
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

52 Dune - Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth [I will probably never read this because it's so long. Does anyone advise me otherwise?]
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
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett

74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill
75 Ulysses - James Joyce [Again. Not gonna happen.]
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
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

To be honest, I will probably never read any of the books on here I haven't read unless I have really specific reasons to pick them up. I only read new fiction these days (keeping abreast of the market!) or nonfiction (for content!) and am woefully lazy about "classics."

The one exception is POSSESSION, which I have wanted to read for a long, long time, but keep buying and misplacing.



learningtoread said...

If you won't read Rebecca, I can't read your blog anymore.

I'm sorry, but that's just the way it has to be.


Seriously, though, it's really effing good and NOT like the film (much edgier than Hitchcock was allowed to be). du Maurier is AMAZING and I want TO BE HER RIGHT NOW.

Brian said...

As David Mitchell is still a player in new fiction, I recommend his CLOUD ATLAS. And WATERSHIP DOWN... Well, if you read only one of the books you haven't read on that list, it should be WATERSHIP DOWN. I proposed this to a book group once and they all frowned and grumbled about reading a book with rabbits but after they read it, everyone was glad they had and they couldn't stop talking about it.

Just sayin'.

Ghost Girl said...

Watership Down is fabulous and a must-read.

And what's up with the underline?! I can do it everywhere else but in the comments...

I have to find out how to do it.

Dennis Cass said...

1. Glad to see BLEAK HOUSE on that list. My favorite Dickens.

2. Will not comment on the presence of THE FIVE PEOPLE YOU MEET IN HEAVEN. Nope. Not gonna comment.

3. Appreciate the list and the exercise and Moonrat for posting it, but wonder if anyone else worries that endeavors such as these buy into the idea of reading as an obligation as opposed to a vital (not to mention pleasurable) part of life.

moonrat said...

Interesting point, Dennis. For me, this list is a blend of "loved" and "had to." That's something I can never quite shake--every book I read is something I read because, on some level, I "should." Strange modern reading culture.

And I see everyone is intent on having revenge on me for all the books I've allowed to be recommended to them lately... Thanks, guys ;)

Josephine Damian said...

Learning: Ditto. And be sure to include MY COUSIN RACHEL on yiur reading list.

Brian: CLOUD ATLAS looks good to me. Thanks for prompting me to finally read it.

Dennis: There's at least 6 modern books that are trash, not classics, and don't deserve to be on this list.

Moon: First, aren't I guest blogging today? You got my email didn't you?

Understand your only reading new titles from a biz POV, but since the majority of new books are trash (platform trumps talent these days), you're doing yourself a huge disservice as a writer by feeding your creativity with a steady diet of modern-day junk food.

Josephine Damian said...

PS: I've read 25 of these books. POSSESSION is a total must read.

moonrat said...

JD--yes. Your post goes live at 2:40!

Josephine Damian said...

JD will be at the beauty parlor at 2:40 getting color!

JD's roots are showing! The horror!

JD will be back at Moonie's by 4 PM to annoy everyone. :-)

Later, peeps.

John said...

As a depressing spin on this exercise, go through the list and strike through all the titles you have to confess you will probably never get around to.

Oh, and don't forget to include all the CELEBRATE READING books, too!

JE "shoot me now" S

moonrat said...

Sigh. John. This has rather turned into "Celebrate Amazon Month," hasn't it...?

Linda said...

Great list, but yes, do read REBECCA, WATERSHIP DOWN, and Wilie Collin's WOMAN IN WHITE.

I totall agree with a few of the 'modern' classics - shouldn't be there.

And, hmmm.... I thought I was guest blogging yesterday? Pray tell? Peace, Linda

Jill Myles said...

I think they're the highest selling titles (as someone pointed out to me) rather than classics. :)

I thought it was interesting that Phillip Pullman's Dark Materials trilogy scored so high. While I didn't particularly care for it at the end, I found it to be a fascinating read because he does some really neat stuff in there. I think you'd like it, Moonrat.

It's weird because a lot of the books here I absolutely HATED because I found them difficult to read and sometimes depressing. I liked MEMOIR OF A GEISHA but not enough to go nuts about it. Same with THE LOVELY BONES. THE DA VINCI CODE was, IMO, the most easily-readable one out of the lot, and the one that made me giggle the most at its presence.

So that being said, is there something you can recommend that is on this list that is an easy-to-sink-into read that will totally blow my mind? :)

moonrat said...

Jill--oo oo!! Pick me, pick me!!

Sink into-able:

-THE TIME TRAVELER'S WIFE (i kinda heart this book a lot)

-THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHTTIME (read in one sitting, in a bath, and caught a cold because i'd been sitting in cold water for so long since i'm not a fast reader)

-ANNE OF GREEN GABLES (in the unlikely event that you haven't already)

cindy said...

i've read 24. i'm not too bothered by lists of "must reads" because i don't like people telling me what i should have or should read.

basically, i definitely DO read, but i read what interests me. moonie, i doubt you have anything to worry about!

i'm surprised you've avoided tolstoy all this time, tho?

Froog said...

I think I'm on 49 - but a few of them are long ago, did I just skim it, did I just plan to read it and not get around to it. And improbably boosted by the inclusion of things like Cloud Atlas (clever, clever, clever rather than good - but by all means read it and form your own opinions).

writeidea said...

Wow, I've read fourty on your list and can see a number that I've intended to read, so it's a great reminder. I've started A Suitable Boy more than once, but keep getting distracted.

I agree, you must read Rebecca. What a great book.

Jill Myles said...

Thanks Moonie! I'm heading to the bookstore this afternoon anyhow. I'll see if I can't snag a copy of one of those.

(And I own the boxed set of the Anne of Green Gables books!)

ChrisEldin said...

As long as nobody knocks Winnie the Pooh, I'm good.

Nancy Matson said...


You *must* read Possession. It is one of my favorite books ever. I read it first when I was stranded in Greece and was in a cheap hotel, and the only books in English available to me were Possession, some travel guides, and possibly a lame romance. I couldn't believe my incredible luck.

Something tells me you'll really like it, too -- it's real burn-through read.

ggwritespoetry said...

I've read 22 books here. Some as a teenager for English IV novel study class, but most because I love them. Jane Eyre, Hamlet, Little Women, Lord of the Flies, Animal Farm, Mice and Men,(and not listed here, Fahrenheit 451) I LOVED... but 100 Years of Soliture BLEW MY MIND... I still read it whenever I get the itch. I love this book so much that when I go to thrift stores, I will grab/beg for/borrow/steal/and/or purchase old cheap copies of it just so that I can give them away for other people to read. It's a bad habit... Ohhh, just checked my shelf... am running low on copies... gotta go find some more soon. Seriously, if you haven't already, give it a gander.

drwally said...

I think this is bunk. The original list comes from a BBC reader survey of favorite books; which is why Harry Potter is crammed in there with literature, and the article estimating average reads cannot be found anywhere.

Also the survey was from 2003, and the lists floating about on people's blogs now is markedly different.

Lorra said...

I've read about three-quarters of these, mostly years ago. I'm surprised that Herman Wouk's "Winds of War" and "War and Remembrance" didn't make the list. Am I the only one who has never been able to shake off the impact of those books?

moonrat said...

Lorra--the list is pretty flawed, but it's great in a way because people like you show up and suggest books i've never thought to read!!

you love wouk, eh? i've seen those books around but never heard a personal endorsement. so thanks!

Gary Corby said...

I scored 38 read. Phew! I was worried I'd come out with an uncultured score.

Some of the choices are...interesting. Very pleased to see plenty of SF. But I can't say Iain Banks deserves a place over lots of other great writers. Heinlein springs to mind.

Where are Mary Renault and Patrick O'Brien?

Rana said...

I think you should read HIS DARK MATERIALS - it is truly a great book and a fun read. It's briliant, really.
This list in missing so many good books though, which should have come instead of Dan Browm or the shadow of the wind...
like - Saramago from Portugal. or Elsa Morante - one of the best female writers of the last century (Italian). HISTORY is one of the best books ever. highly recommended.
Thanks for your blog, I enjoy reading it!