Monday, May 5, 2008

1001 books you must read before you die

Shelfari has a list of the 1001 books you must read before you die .... the irony being there are 1087 books on the group's shelf? It's set out in centuries and looks to be far more representative than the lists we've posted to date - but probably still very anglo-centric.

I've read 24 books on this list:

  • Wild Swans

  • Perfume

  • The Godfather

  • Chocky - saw the BBC series and then had to read the book which started it all

  • To Kill a Mockingbird - intending to re-read this and pick up all the things I missed as a 14 year old

  • A Town Like Alice - loved the book and the 80's mini series with Helen Morse (ironically the daughter of my Mum's GP as a kid) and Bryan Brown

  • The Lord of the Rings

  • Day of the Triffids - I had a John Wyndham thing happening as a teenager - I also read The Chrysalid and tried to get through the Kracken but I think my love for his writing had waned by then ... to be overtaken by Virginia Andrews if I remember correctly :(

  • Nineteen Eighty-Four

  • Animal Farm

  • Grapes of Wrath

  • The Hobbit

  • Brave New World

  • All Quiet on the Western Front

  • Of Human Bondage - after reading a collection of his short stories a few years earlier and as a rebellion against some 'well meaning older friends' who told me the it was too depressing for me to read at that point in my life!

  • Dracula

  • Frankenstein

  • The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

  • Treasure Island

  • Alices Adventures in Wonderland

  • The Fall of the House of Usher - I'm pretty sure??

  • The Picture of Dorian Grey

  • Little Women - I got the six book "Little..." set for Christmas one year and then lost 'Little Women' buggering up the set

  • Robinson Crusoe

I also started - but didn't finish

  • Interview with a Vampire - never got into it, but loved the movie

  • Name of the Rose - as above

  • Arcadia - it was Dave's book and had to be returned to the library before I got through it- just never got around to reborrowing for whatever reason (oh yeah I had a baby not long after that!)

As for Dave - well of course has read at least 10% of the books on the list - 106 to be exact (so we wont be listing them here) plus three he started and couldn't finish (including Finnegan's Wake) and nine others that he's not sure of!

As Tricksy Pixie commented below - these lists do always make you feel inadequate. I've read more than 24 books in my life ... but these lists dont feature the books that happen to have graced my night stand ... my penchant for Patricia Cornwall, my deep love for Raymond E Feist, my recent interest and enjoyment of Kate Forsyth's series, my well read obsession with Dean Koontz in my 20's ... and of course I could go on - but I wont.
So to sum up - MY all time five favourite books are:
  1. Magician - Raymond E Feist (I try and read this every year if possible)
  2. Charlottes Web - EB White (again I read it every year when I was a kid - and should revisit it)
  3. Women Who Run With Wolves - Dr Clarissa Pinkola Estes
  4. Lightning - Dean Koontz
  5. Sahara - Clive Cussler

Not classics (other than Charlotte's Web maybe?)- but cracking good yarns. Where to now Paul - ideas for discussions for this week that don't revolve lists of books nor diabolical plans to take over the world of publishing?

What books have you read on the 1001? What are you five favourite books?


Tricksy Pixie said...

Wow, this list makes me feel better. I've read 45 books from it: Kafka on the Shore, Middlesex, Choke, House of Leaves, Sputnik Sweetheart, The Wind-up Bird Chronicle, The Virgin Suicides, Delta of Venus, Interview with a Vampire, The Bluest Eye, Slaughterhouse-Five, Cat's Cradle, The Bell Jar, To Kill a Mockingbird, Naked Lunch, Breakfast at Tiffany's, On the Road, Lolita, Lord of the Flies, 1984, Tropic of Capricorn, Tropic of Cancer, Brave New World, The Great Gatsby, Siddhartha, Ethan Frome, The Yellow Wallpaper, The Picture of Dorian Gray, Little Women, Silas Marner, The House of the Seven Gables, Moby Dick, Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre, The Pit and the Pendulum, The Fall of the House of Usher, Emma, Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, The Monk, The Castle of Otranto, Moll Flanders, Metamorphoses.

Picking five favorite books would be torture.

Paul said...

Wait, I'm just going to type up all 1001 books...

Nah, not really - I'll check that out later and see which ones I've read. I suspect I shall be quite depressed to see how few I've read...

Although I do have one minor quibble. I'm not convinced short stories should count independently, but both The Pit and The Pendulum and The Fall of the House of Usher are on there. Each good (Usher is better than Pendulum in my opinion) but they aren't even novella length. For novella length work by Edgar Allan Poe, you've only got The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym to fall back on. Poe was pretty much strictly into short stories.

Still, it does seem more representative, both in terms of popularity and literary merit. Perhaps this is the happy medium, and it can only be achieved by expanding the list?

I think it's time I signed up to Shelfari...

As for discussions this week Jodi - lets avoid lists, my blog is becoming unwieldy! Diabolical plans to take over the world of publishing - I'm about to send you an idea.

Here's one. There is a book festival taking place in my part of London, so I'm attending some talks on writing. At the first one, the speaker mentioned "displacement activities" that writers fall into to avoid writing. She reckons blogging is one of them.

Is blogging detrimental to writing? I've been meaning to put up a post about the book festival this week, so perhaps I'll bring it up there.

Jodi Cleghorn said...

I'm glad that you picked up The House of Usher thing - when I wrote it down I took a double take thinking that I must not have read it, because I was certain that I'd read it in an anthology of short stories along with the likes of 'Flowers for Algernon'. I think that you're correct when you say Paul that they should not really be on the list - because technically they are not even novellas.

I look forward to hearing more on the talks that you're going to and shall blog on your question of is blogging detrimental to writing later on today ... because there are lots of thoughts on that (and am particularly passionate about the topic - you'll understand more once I've written it all down!)

Tricksy - I saw on your profile that there are no favourite books listed ... I think the books that I have listed are sort of seminal novels for some of my favourite writers - all of them are the first books that I read by that author, so they had a pretty big impact. There would be many more if I gave lots of thought to it - such as Grisham's 'A Time to Kill' .. but was trying to keep the list simple after a week of monster lists of books.

Paul said...

The only thing I can think is that perhaps these are names of collections of short stories. There are numerous collections of stories by HP Lovecraft and I'm sure one of them is called "At the Mountains of Madness and Other Stories". The problem of course is, unless you have a "standard" collection of short stories, nobody could tell. For instance, "The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes" is on the list. This is not a novel, but a collection of Holmes stories.