Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Never Judge A Book...

...by its position in a Top 100.

These days, it's not enough that you read books, you have to list the books you've read. Memes. So called because they're all me me me. For this one, I have Marie to thank, but it's something to do while the dinner's cooking. And it's about books, and how can you not be interested in a list of books.

According to The Big Read, the average adult has only read 6 of the top 100 books in their list. Like all Top 100s of anything it's flawed, but we'll go along with their list since, well, since that's the point of the exercise. The 'rules':

1) Look at the list and bold those you have read.
2) Italicize those you intend to read.
3) Underline the books you love.
4) Strike out the books you have no intention of ever reading, or for whatever reason loathe.
5) Reprint this list in your own blog so we can try and track down these people who’ve only read 6 and force books upon them.

So, here we go then:

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte

4 The Harry Potter Series - JK Rowling - what else are the movies for except saving you having to read all the books?
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
6 The Bible
(ish. I mean, who's going to read it from cover to cover, but I was forced to attend Sunday school in my childhood and damn it I'm getting a credit!)
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 - most
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
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. Brilliant.
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 (I have read Of Mice And Men though.)
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame (Can't believe I've never read it!)
31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy - Best. Novel. Ever.
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
Curious how this doubles up on this list, but I've read it twice, so I guess that works out okay.
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini Sounds dull.
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden - saw the movie though.
40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell

42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown Yeah, right.
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 Gotta love 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 On the bookshelf, ready to go.
57 A Tale Of Two Cities
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 - know nothing about it, except that Shakira contributed to the movie soundtrack, so gonna have to get the album at least
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck - and there it is
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 Harrowing.
68 Bridget Jones' Diary - Helen Fielding - Not just pants, but big pants, apparently
69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist
- Charles Dickens
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker. Fab.
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 - Never heard of it, but Marie's just put me off it!
89 Adventures Of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle - plus Return and Case Book etc.
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad Joseph Conrad rules. Nostromo should be in here.
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 Read. And just watched it - again - the other day.
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

So I make that 44 (edited: somehow missed A Tale Of Two Cities on the first pass - that's the trouble with cutting and pasting someone else's list, I guess!). And I haven't underlined any, but that has more to do with not being able to find underline on the blog editor than not having loved certain books. Obviously there'd be more than 44 if this was a more decent list.

There's just no accounting for taste. Not even mine. But life's too short to read everything. Just not short enough to prevent us making lists, apparently. :)


Stuart Douglas said...

Bloody hell Simon, the amount of great books that you don't intend to read!

Thought that's balanced by the amount of Proper Classics that you've read that I never will :)

SAF said...

To be fair, I only actually ruled out five. The others (non-italicised, non-anything) I may get around to. (Of course I could probably get around to more if I didn't stop and make lists, but then where would be the fun :) )

*But*, that said, I'm always willing to be persuaded, if you wanted to tell me all the Harry Potters or Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code, say, are actually worth trudging through ;)

Stuart: "that's balanced by the amount of Proper Classics that you've read that I never will :)"

Yeah, balanced, that's me :)

SAF said...

Oh, and of course there are a host of other books that aren't on this list that I feel a need to get around to first. For example, I feel ashamed that I've not read the Flashman novels, and I know you for one would consider that a crime! :)

Persephone said...

Doesn't sound like you're too fussed about underlining, but it's < u > < / u > (without the spaces), if you feel like promoting your favourites.
Incidently, I've just finished Lamb, after seeing your mention of it; enjoyed it immensely. (Why is everyone so apologetic about having read the Bible? Christopher Moore evidently has and says in his afterword that people who know the Bible well are not the type to enjoy his book. That's a kind of reverse-priggishness, I think...)

SAF said...

Persephone: "Doesn't sound like you're too fussed about underlining"

Perhaps not, but I'm always happy to learn something new. :) Thanks!

In fact, I may just go and put it into practice now... :)

Anonymous said...

The best, for me, Jane Eyre :)

SAF said...

Jane Eyre is indeed fabulous.

Stevyn Colgan said...

Blimey. What a small world. I popped over here from Marie's blog to find a chap who was mewling in his mum's arms as I was hitching up my short trousers at St Marys School, Penzance. Yup, I lived there from 66 until 69 when the family moved to Helston. And I always wanted to write for Dr Who too. Still working on it! Great blog.

SAF said...

Wow, small world indeed. And this is a great area of it for authors. :)

Welcome, and good fortune with your writings!

Stevyn Colgan said...

It's a pretty weird list isn't it? Four Jane Austens but the three Philip Pullman Lyra books counting as one choice? And 'The Da Vinci Code?' eek. And, as you point out, 'The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe' is part of the Chronicles of Narnia. But where is Douglas Adams and Mark Carwardine's 'Last chance to see?' Or 'A clockwork orange'? Or 'Frankenstein'? Or Aubrey's 'Brief LIves'? Or anything by T S Eliot? Or even J P Martin's 'Uncle' - the most underrated book of all time? It's missed many of my favourites!

Oh, I scored 23. I'm so unread.

iCowboy said...

If you want a good short read that predates the doom-laden thinking of 'Brave New World' and '1984'; I really recommend E.M. Forster's 'The Machine Stops' from 1909. It won't take long and it is amazing how much of the modern world it predicted. It's available for free from feedbooks.com - http://www.feedbooks.com/book/2073

Mind you, what can you make of a list that has Dan Brown* but no H.G. Wells? Why the Bible but not the Quran or Mahabarata or the Icelandic sagas? The whole thing sounds like a marketing exercise like the best movie lists that roll around with depressing regularity.

BTW. To save you the effort, I found 'Captain Corelli', 'Atonement' and 'Life of Pi' to be three of the most overrated books since Herr Gutenberg decided to muck around with a wine press. If you're ever stranded on a desert island with these wretched books, make a nice fire and enjoy the excuse to ignore them a little longer.

*FFS! 'The Da Vinci Code' is just 'Foucault's Pendulum for Dummies'.