Tuesday, August 25, 2015

"100 'best' novels"

Lynn linked to this, and mentioned the ones she's read (and ones she wants to read). I guess I'll do it too:

Robinson Crusoe: Had to read this for "Senior Seminar" in high school. I actually enjoyed it even though it has really in depth detail. I liked the detail on how Crusoe lived. (We also read, I think it was called "Friday," by a French author (in translation)  which was a re-telling, and I didn't like it as well because it fell into the modern trap of "we have to put some sex in there so people will read it" and it was WEIRD sex (at least to me as an innocent highschooler.) Let's just say the island became Crusoe's girlfriend and leave it at that)

I started Gulliver's Travels but something about it depressed me, or I was going through a rough time and I got depressed about it and gave up on it.

Jane Eyre: read it a couple times as a teen. Loved it as a teen. Tried to re-read it recently, found it somewhat overwrought.

Wuthering Heights: Read it in Book Club. I found it also a bit overwrought and the whole "I'm going to waste away for the one I love" thing isn't for me. I think I actually enjoyed the movie more, even though I know lots of people say the movie is flawed.

David Copperfield: read it as summer reading in high school, don't remember too much of it.

Moby-Dick - got most of the way through earlier, I need to pick this one back up.

Alice's Adventures: read both this and Through The Looking Glass several times. I had the annotated version by Martin Gardner and really enjoyed it and felt I learned a lot. They're not just funny strange books for children; there's a lot of metaphysics in them.

Middlemarch: I maintain that this is one of the best books I've ever read. I should re-read it sometime. It's probably my favorite novel ever. Much of that is because it shows people making bad choices in life but then learning how to ameliorate those choices, rather than doing the "modern" thing and totally walking away from them.

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn: read in high school. We also read a lot of the then-current criticism of it for the "n word" and also some information pointing out Twain was really an anti-racist. (And anyway, he put the n-word in the mouth of a dislikable and ignorant person)

Dracula: Read it in high school. I liked it, re-read it after that class was done. It's creepy and well-written, it's suspenseful without awfulness and gore.

The Wind in the Willows: I probably read this eight or ten times as a kid. I LOVED this book. I used to act out scenes from it with some of my stuffed toys. I felt sorry for Mr. Toad when he went to "gaol."

The Thirty-Nine Steps: I enjoyed it but admit to being a bit surprised it made the list.

The Great Gatsby: I understand why this is seen as a great book but I always found it depressing because all the characters seemed pretty much useless in it. No one DID anything with their life.

Brave New World: Creepy as heck, and I think it's probably the dystopian future we will get, if we get a dystopian future, and it may be the one we DESERVE.

Cold Comfort Farm: I loved this one. Very, very funny. I should re-read it. I loved the cows named Feckless and similar. I loved the girl who thought she was an elf.

Nineteen-Eighty-Four: Yeah, I read a lot of dystopian stuff as a teen. This one I also found creepy as everything.

The Catcher in the Rye: I loved this as a teen, do not think I would still love it today, I would probably roll my eyes at Holden and all his concern about "phonies"

The Lord of the Flies: Was made to both read this and watch the black and white movie of it in high school. Also a creepy book. (They made us read an awful lot of creepy and depressing stuff) I didn't like it because I feared in that situation I'd be the Piggy.

 To Kill a Mockingbird: A book I'm very fond of for how it captures an era and how evocative it is.

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie: Uncomfortable in places, one of those books where you look at one of the characters and go "Why on earth are you doing that, don't you know you're screwing up your life" (about her affairs)

A Clockwork Orange: Also read in high school. How do you say "Creepy as hell" in Droogish? (Again: there's an awful lot of dystopian futures on this list)

The Bell Jar: Made me sad, but I suppose that was the aim. I didn't feel like it changed my life in the way that some people seem to say it had. I was already an adult (in my 20s) when I read it, so that might be why.

Breathing Lessons: I read most of Anne Tyler's stuff back in the day. I don't remember this one all that well, but as I remember she was really great at capturing dialog, and especially those sort of hypocritical loops that some people get mired in. I think "The Accidental Tourist" was my favorite of hers.

(Hah. I guess I find a lot of "great" books creepy, but maybe the subject matter is what makes them seen as great? I don't like "creepy" all that well, I like "people who face problems and overcome them" better)

There are a number of "I want to read" on that list:

Tom Jones, because I've heard it's extremely funny.

Tristram Shandy, for similar reasons

Emma, which will probably be the next "classic" novel I read.

Vanity Fair - I have a nice Heritage Press copy of this, really should read it some time.

The Moonstone - I read "The Woman in White" and really enjoyed it. I also think I have a nice older edition of this somewhere.

Little Women - yes, I confess, I never have read this all the way through.

The Way We Live Now - I enjoyed the other Trollope I've read and this is usually considered to be his "best."

Three Men in a Boat - after reading "To Say Nothing of the Dog," I think I want to read this, some references were made to it.

The History of Mr Polly - because it is one of the few on this list I'd never heard of before.

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes - which is also supposed to be very funny.

The Heat of the Day: WWII era London is fascinating to me and I think I would find a novel written about the Blitz interesting.

Mrs Palfrey and the Claremont: Because I just like British "domestic" novels.

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