August 28, 2009

On books

My German book club is reading a book called 'Hawaii' by James Michener. Unfortunately, it's one of those epic books that start with way too much color commentary about the dawn of creation when the tectonic plates were shifting. Although I haven't been able to get past the first two pages, I did leaf through the book sufficiently to form an impression of hundreds of pages of horrible things endured and committed by an enormous ethnic cast across multiple generations, punctuated by really boring dialog.

I ask you: Who needs it?

At the moment I am reading Cafe Dumas by Arturo Perez-Reverte, who also wrote The Flanders Panel. So far I am intrigued but a bit baffled by his esoteric similes, such as '...a youthful expression, like that of a cartoon rabbit in a dead-end street.' What the hell does that mean? Or: 'In literature, time is like a shipwreck in which God looks after His own.' Excuse me??

Arturo. Don't try so hard.

G recently posted a list of 100 books people claim to have read. How do your own reading habits stack up?

Be honest, now.

Instructions: Look at the list and put an 'x' after those you have read and a * after those you loved.

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen -X**
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien -X
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte- X**
4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling -X***
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee- X*
6 The Bible- X - parts, anyway, but wow is it boring
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte- X
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell- X
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens-X
11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott-X
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy-X
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller - X
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare - yeah, right, the complete works?
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien-X
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulk
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger- X
19 The Time Traveler’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot - X
21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell - I tried but failed
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald - X
23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy-X
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams- X*
26 The Sound and the Fury - William Faulkner - guy book
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky- depressing git
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck- X - or in Chinese, 'The Angry Raisins'
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll- X
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame-X
31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy- X**
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens - not sure
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis -X*
34 Emma - Jane Austen-X*
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen-X*
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis-X*
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- X*
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell- X
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown-X
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez-X
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving - X*
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery-X**
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood -X
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding- X
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel
52 Dune - Frank Herbert-X*
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons-X*
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen-X*
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon - X**
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens- X
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley- X*
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime - Mark Haddon- X
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez- X
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-X
69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville- I started it and quickly realized I'm more of a Jane Austen girl
71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens-X*
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett-X
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses - James Joyce
76 The Inferno – Dante - X - had to read it in HS, bit pointless I thought
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal - Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray-X*
80 Possession - AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens-X
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro - X
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte’s Web - EB White- X*
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle - X*
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery-X
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams- X good but sad, I liked Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nihm better
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- X
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory- X
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

So, I've read 54 of these, of which I really liked 23. What does that mean?


  1. Love the list - really interesting.
    Agree with you about Mrs Frisby though!!

  2. I laughed at your reading of Hawaii. Michener does like detail. The only book I have of his that I LOVED that was Centennial. Maybe because I knew the territory he was writing about..or ..I don't even know. But he started out with a rock and built up through the dawn of time with animals and then humans etc. For some reason that fascinated me and I couldn't put it down. Maybe because each item or location he pointed out changed with each era with different stories through time. Now Hawaii? I couldn't get the same feel. Loved the movie though!

  3. Michener was always too dense for me.

    This post reminds me of Obama's reading list.

    Bets on how many think he's really reading the biography of Adam Smith!

  4. That list was a big Facebook thing in my circle--I was at 45, I believe--although if I got credit for individual Shakespeare plays (as opposed to the complete works), I'd be over 60.

    And as for Michener. . . .I think the best "comment" I ever saw about him was on a "Simpson's" episode: The family visited a bookstore where the "weekly special" was: "Michener: $1.99/LB."

  5. I have probably only read like 10 of those. I am so uncultured.

  6. My dear.. it means that we all have different reading tastes! Thank goodness.

    I find it bizarre that the entire works of Shakespeare is on the list as is Hamlet as a separate one...

    I've read loads of these books. That's what happens when you get sent out of sewing class and spend years hiding away in the school library!

    I really enjoyed Hawaii when I was abut 13... not so sure I'd want to read it again now though.

  7. I can't handle lots of description. I end up majorly peeking ahead to see if there is dialogue and action in the near distance.
    I thought I was a big reader but of that list I probably only read less than half.

  8. This would be an easy list for me!!! I don't like to read fiction. I have not read any of them. Is there a movie of it?? I like reading life stories.

  9. I'm missing "Buddenbrooks" by Thomas Mann somehow. I strongly recommend this book. Should at least be more exciting than the bible.

  10. Hey, I don't know why I am such a bad filer of addresses, and I don't see an e-mail on your blog. Could you send yours to me again, or point it out so I can self-help?
    Also, I heartily recommend The count of Monte Cristo. It's actually one of my favorite swashbuckling books.

  11. I'll go through the list of 100 later, but re: Hawaii by Michner...I genuinely loved it and I think it is because I was actually in Hawaii doing some island hopping while I read it. And then even the lava pouring out of the ground was interesting 'cause it was...well...right *there*.

    I find that sometimes a book is like a meal--environment and the company plays a large part in how enjoyable it is.

    Finally, my 2p on the Dumas Club: I just damn well enjoyed it. It was so many years ago that i can't remember this fascination with odd simile, but I can't help but wonder if something was lost in the translation. (literally) Kinda like when someone tries to translate Schadenfreude into English using only one word. :-)

  12. Just realized you said Cafe Dumas not The Dumas Club!! My mistake...oy vey. --A


Related Posts with Thumbnails