Thursday, September 11, 2008

Reading List

I'm stealing this from Ailee's blog. It's a meme, and I usually don't do memes, but I'm curious as to exactly how extensive my historical reading habits have been.

Basically, what you have down there is a list of one hundred books. Given these titles, I will do the following:
  • Any title in bold represents a book that I have read.
  • Any underlined title represents a book that I have read and loved.
  • Any title in italics represents a book that's "on my list", i.e. something that I aim to read in the future.
In addition to that, because this is still a blog, I'll be writing a few unbidden thoughts and side comments here and there. I will not make this a venue for formal criticism, so I'm likely to have propriety fly out the window at some point.

Ready? Set? Go.

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen

2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien

I remember reading this, although I can't seem to remember most of the passages. I do recall that Tolkien had a tendency to drone, though.

3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte

4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling
What, no middle ground? I've read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, but I haven't picked up any of the other volumes. I have no plans to do so, either -- it just doesn't strike me as my cup of tea just yet.

5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
I first read this in 1992 as part of a requirement for English class. Since then, I've read it at least two more times, and I've seen the Gregory Peck movie for good measure. This is very nice stuff -- I especially like how the book places its socially-relevant theme off to the side in favor of showing us a more personal side of the characters.

6 The Bible
Yes, I've read this from cover to cover. The version that I went through did not include the Apocryphal books, though, so I didn't technically complete this. While I do respect the lessons nestled within its pages, I confess that I'm still confused over how the ultra-religious will treat every word as though it were some fragile antique.

7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte

8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
I've started reading this, but I find it difficult to finish, for some reason.

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
Obviously I haven't read every single Shakespearean work... but then again, who has? Again, I curse the lack of middle ground on this list, but not before pointing out that I've gone through Julius Caesar, Macbeth, Othello, Romeo and Juliet, and The Merchant of Venice, with Hamlet racing desperately to catch up.

15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier

16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
That's odd... why would this book merit a separate entry from the Lord of the Rings trilogy? I mean, it's not like you would be motivated to read one without the other...

17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks

18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
It's quite an American novel. Every time I think of this book, however, I'm immediately reminded of Masamune Shirow. (One bonus point to anyone who can make the connection.)

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
Tolstoy is another of those really long-winded authors. I prefer his short stories, to be honest.

25 The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
I've avoided the movie for the sole purpose of being able to read the book right.

26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh

27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
I have a copy sitting somewhere in the pile of books at the back of my closet. Maybe someday I'll get back to reading this.

28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
I hear good things about this book. If anything, it might be an interesting shift to read about poverty in an American context.

29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
I read practically every Lewis Carroll work that I can find, which makes this one particularly strange. I haven't been able to track down a good copy of this yet; if I can find something with illustrations by Teniel, then I can probably die happy.

30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
I've read excerpts of this book, as well as the Disney condensed version. Regardless of what Grahame meant to write, I feel that Mr. Toad completely steals the show here.

31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy

32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens

33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
Another one with no middle ground. The only book that I really liked was The Last Battle, though. There's a marked difference between introducing a world to your readers and writing an end for it.

34 Emma - Jane Austen

35 Persuasion - Jane Austen

36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis
Didn't I see this a few numbers ago?

37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini

38 Captain Corelli's Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres

39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
I didn't have much of a good experience with James Clavell's Shogun, and as such, I tend to avoid Orient-centered novels written by Western writers. This one, unfortunately, is not an exception... although I did like the movie.

40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne
As with others above, I've read excerpts. The cartoons have made this far more accessible to the modern audience, though, and I have good memories of the Disney movie and serial.

41 Animal Farm - George Orwell
Now this one, I love. Orwell crafts a story that starts out in a very subtle manner, then slowly scratches away at the very same subtlety until you can see the terrible reflection inside. There are so many good scenes in this book that I'm hard-pressed to enumerate them all.

42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
Just because it was popular doesn't mean that I'll want to read it.

43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
I think that Marquez uses magical realism very well here, but would it have killed him to divide the book into logical chapters, much less paragraphs, at some point?

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

48 The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood

49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding
I've always thought of Piggy as an unjust -- though realistic -- metaphor. Poor Piggy.

50 Atonement - Ian McEwan

51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel
I still have no idea what kind of story this book is trying to tell. Regardless, the idea of being stuck on a boat with a tiger is an odd hook.

52 Dune - Frank Herbert
Yes, I made a few promises that I'd read this at some point. Stop pestering me.

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

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
I picked this up in Singapore a couple of years ago, and I liked it enough to finish it within two days. I thought that the narrative was genius, and that the chapter numbering was highly creative. The only complaint I had was that the discovery of the murderer was a bit of a letdown, but I felt that the book made up for it by its nasty, world-spanning twist.

60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez

61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
I thought that the movie was good, which made me want to read the book.

62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov

63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt

64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold

65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
Dumas's plotline has been done a great many times since his novel, which I think testifies to the strength of the idea. Hopefully the characterization turns out to be as good as I expect.

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
Dickens's character interaction is a little too "serendipitous" for me. You could slice the book into clumps of pages and make a soap opera out of the pieces.

72 Dracula - Bram Stoker
This book is a good mix of foreboding fear and subtle sexual themes, but I don't find it too memorable for some reason. Modern vampire tales have obviously played up either the angst or the erotica, and rather than suggest that they were better than this eminent patriarch, I would rather see something in between.

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
It's funny, how I can see variations on this story all the time, and never have any contact with the book at all.

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
One thing I never really understood is how one can spare a pig merely for the web that is spun above its head. Maybe I need to read the book.

88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
I must have something against popular novels, or something like that. I don't have any compulsion to read this at all.

89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
More missing middle ground. I've read all the novels and a majority of the short stories, and Holmes never ceases to amaze me. If it weren't for their circumstances, they might make for a great comedy team-up.

90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton

91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad

92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
Ironically, I don't have this as a favorite because, frankly, I wanted to read more of the Little Prince.

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
More inconsistency. Weren't the works of Shakespeare further up the list?

99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
I love Roald Dahl. He has a very distinct narrative style where he describes events and situations with an almost childlike glee. I suspect that this is why his line of books aimed at younger readers are so popular -- it makes a good combination with whatever his imagination can cook up.

100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo
I like what I've seen of the story from movies and the stage, and I'd like to see how Hugo originally wrote this.

That's a grand total of fifteen books read, out of the one hundred on the list. I did mention that I wasn't much of a reader, mind you. That, and I probably consume a higher proportion of short stories than most.

One thing that I notice is the fact that I seem to go against the crowd. The modern bestsellers among the items above mostly don't seem to register with me; I suspect that I like reading whatever people aren't looking at, as opposed to whatever flies off the shelves. It's like a residual version of my "road less traveled" viewpoint.

There are, of course, some things not on this list that I feel should really have a place in there. Where's Neil Gaiman, for example? I also wouldn't mind Terry Pratchett, Stephen King or Isaac Asimov in there. For that matter, where's Love Story? Jonathan Livingston Seagull? Siddhartha? Fahrenheit 451? The God of Small Things? Watchmen?

Aw, heck... I'll just get back to work now. Better to try and write something that might someday make this list, than to complain about the selection itself.


Tibibord said...

"43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
I think that Marquez uses magical realism very well here, but would it have killed him to divide the book into logical chapters, much less paragraphs, at some point?"

Sumbong kita kay Alex, haha.

Sean said...

Tibibord: Sorry, dude, but that was my biggest peeve with the book. I liked the occasion(s) of accidental incest, the notion of a girl who could be blown away by the wind, and the image of levitation via chocolate, but I do have to mark my place at some point.

jeff reiji said...

"18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger -
I'm immediately reminded of Masamune Shirow. (One bonus point to anyone who can make the connection.)"

- Heard the name, googled it, but I'm not familiar with his works.

1984 - was able to finish it in almost one sitting. don't know why, probably because I just finished watching the film V for Vendetta when I read it.

Sean said...

Reiji: Masamune Shirow created Ghost in the Shell, which was later adapted into an animated television series subtitled "Stand Alone Complex". One of the central figures in that series was a mysterious online entity known as "the Laughing Man", who disguises himself with a data construct composed of a JD Salinger quote. :)

On 1984, I'm actually familiar with the story already, but I'm still looking to read Orwell's version. It could be that my tiny brain is only capable of processing a single plot at a time. :)

Tibibord said...

Found 1984 ughsome. I only finished it out of pride.

Sean said...

Tibibord: 1984's heavier than it looks. What I'm looking forward to reading, though, involves the characters' romantic relationship -- I keep wondering how such a thing can take place in such a stifling world. That's probably what motivates me to keep going, I think.