Wednesday, October 11, 2017

A book list

Lynn did this, so I guess I will, too. There's a big list of 200 books everyone should read at least once. Like all these lists, there are some I have read, some I want to read, and some you probably couldn't pay me to read.

So, here goes:

Some of the have-read:


I had the big  Martin Gardner "Annotated Alice" when I was a teen, learned a lot about metaphysics and the jokes Carroll made. Of course now the fad is to think of him as "squicky" because he idolized small girls, but I think Victorian attitudes were different (i.e.:"Presentism" causes problems)
Read it in high school. One of the many pieces of literature that came out of the first World War that is a pretty good condemnation of war.
I remember the tropes ("Some animals are more equal than others") better than the story.

Alternately amusing and depressing. I remember this mainly for the discussion of whether it's better to totally discard your past (I think the symbol was a large stuffed toy panda?) or if you need to carry a little of your past with  you
Read it as a child; one of the early books written to make children aware of animal cruelty, I think. I still shudder a bit at the idea of check-reins, even though I know they have their place in some instances. (Nothing is ever as simple - all good or all bad - as it looks on the surface)
Took me a long time. I really detested Mr. Skimpole and kept hoping Ester would find happiness
Read in high school for a class. The dystopia we will probably get, and perhaps the one we deserve
I know I read it because of the teddy bear, but I think I was FAR too young to understand the full implications of the story (again, I was in high school)
Loved it as a 14 year old; probably couldn't stand it now. Phonies are everywhere and you just have to learn to put up with them.
Read it many times as a child. Pretty much a wish-fulfillment novel.
Also read several times as a child; I still reference Charlotte's children in one of my classes when I talk about unusual dispersal mechanisms: they ballooned out of there on silk threads. (Also, I always thought it unfair that Charlotte did all the work but Wilbur got all the credit)

I love this novel and try to re-read it every year. 
I loved this: it was very funny. I probably need to re-read it some time soon.
Read it in high school, don't remember much of it.
I thought this was a better book than "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory," though that's the well-known one
Creepy and wonderful - a genuinely scary story. 

Probably a good book to have read; I didn't particularly enjoy it. There are some unsettling characters in it.

I read it in junior high. Found it somewhat tedious. 
Probably my favorite Dickens - has lots of interesting characters and settings and you can genuinely cheer for Pip.
Arguably the greatest American novel but one I found kind of depressing each of the three times I read it. That is perhaps the point - the characters' lives are all hollow.
I think I once said this was like being beaten over the head with a feminism stick and I stand by that. I didn't like it and I suspect if we get a dystopia, it won't be a Christan-like one as the book posits. 
I like the Harry Potter books. Have not yet read the last three - I know they get progressively darker and more of an allegory for fighting a totalitarian regime; I admit I prefer the more carefree depictions of feats and Quidditch. 
  • Heidi by Johanna Spyri
Another childhood favorite; I still talk about "running away to the side of a mountain and raising goats" because of this book. It has great wonderful cozy descriptions.
Read it as a young teen, don't remember it all that well.

Read this one a number of times as a kid. I liked it, too. My copy was a gift from one of my aunt and uncles. 
Liked it as a young teen, probably would find it tedious now.
Read this VERY young (like, 8), probably didn't get what it was really about.

Another huge childhood favorite. (Most of the books I seem to really love were children's books). I re-read this on a regular basis.
Have read this in both French and English. I have a nice new Folio Society copy and I want to re-read it soon.

Couldn't get into it, even with a gloss for all the maritime terms.
Somewhat interesting, not that memorable
One of my all-time favorite novels and I should probably re-read it soon. Largely about learning to live with the choices you make in life rather than running from them, and how you can find happiness even after a "bad" choice.
I don't know if it counts if I'm not done with it - I enjoyed parts and didn't enjoy others.

Read it as a teen, found it somewhat tedious.

Funny and good. My second-favorite Dickens novel. 
Read it for book club, found that it left me kind of cold. (Many modern novels d0)
Also tedious. I've read most of Irving's stuff (mostly while in my 20s); I enjoyed it then but I think I'd find it tedious now. Owen Meany was one of the more unlikeable characters to have an entire book written about him.
Liked this a lot, but I think I liked Sense and Sensibility a bit better. Jane Austen is one of the few authors I know who does "snarky" well. 

A book I had a hard time putting down. I guess I liked it despite the subject matter, perhaps because of the prep-school-like atmosphere.
I enjoyed it. Suspenseful but not horrific, as I remember.
A favorite book when I was a teen, I still remember big chunks of the prose from it. Pity that Harper Lee apparently had only one real book in her.

One of the few fantasy novels I was able to get through. Also, there is some actual ecology in there
Another favorite book of my childhood; I often think of Mole being "called back" to his home.
I think I mainly had this read to me, but I think I read it myself when I was a bit older.
Oh, I loved this one! Creepy and wonderful and the first novel I ever read that raised the question of the unreliable narrator in an explicit way. I recommend it.  It's both mystery and mild horror.
I know I read it but don't really remember it.
Read it after I was 30 which maybe was too late. I got really annoyed at all the people mooning about over other people who weren't "right" for them.
  • 1984 by George Orwell
Read it in high school. We had to read a lot of dystopia in high school. I think that's why I won't read dystopian fiction as an adult - burned out on it back then, and am also too good at imagining it coming true.

Of the ones I want to read?

Anna Karenina
Count of Monte Cristo (and The Three Musketeers)
maybe some of the Pratchett
Day of the Triffids
Diary of a Nobody (I've heard it's very funny)
Gormenghast (I have a copy somewhere...)
I Capture the Castle (have a copy, never yet have read it)
Les Miserables
Lorna Doone
Perhaps some of the other Dickens I have not read....

I admit, I lean very heavily towards "older" novels, but too often I have been disappointed by modern "literary" novels - either they are cavalcades of human dysfunction, or there's a lot of violence, and they are generally not good pre-bedtime reading....

1 comment:

purlewe said...

OK I finally got a chance to look thru the list. Very interesting. I read about 66 (maybe more, but definitely 66) and I would recommend 2 you didn't put on your maybe someday to read list. Sophie's World is a lovely book about a girl who has a correspondence with someone (? is it magic? It is never described) who takes her thru all the forms of philosophy. It was a good book for someone who wants to know more about this type of thing, but doesn't want to dig up all the different philosopher books and read them individually. Seen thru the eyes of a teenager. Good to read in small gasps so you can absorb all the philosophy. And God of Small Things which was probably one of my favorite books in grad school. (the fact that I had time to read a book in grad school that wasn't assigned and finished says something) It takes you to India and tells the story of caste systems, and families and love. I just remember the rich language. and how I can still remember phrases from it. While you don't like modern novels I think both of these might at least be more interesting than the common drivel that comes down from publishers.