Thursday, July 24, 2008

Thursday? Already?

I've been so busy I'm falling behind on blogging. So, today, I'm borrowing a thing that's going around the Internet. I love stuff like this anyway, and it made me think. When I was a kid, I learned to read, literally from my father's bookshelves, so I didn't know I was reading "classics." I think everyone should learn to read this way. I never understand folks who put down any kind of book. The books on my dad's shelves were just good stories. I'm just glad there are still so many to read!

The Big Read, an initiative by the National Endowment for the Arts, has estimated that the average adult has only read 6 of the top 100 books they've printed. How do you do?

The idea is:
1) Look at the list and bold those you have read.
2) Italicize those you intend to read.
3) Underline the books you LOVE.

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien (Only the first 1 and 1/2--not sure why I stopped.)
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee (Reading this list, I realize that I think this is one of the greatest stories. It does so many things on so many levels. I almost think the fact that it goes on school reading lists does it a disservice because children who should be devouring it see it as a "job.")
6 The Bible
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
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 (This one hurts. I’m just not sure I’ve read the complete works.) Yet, I revere him.
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveller's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger (Again, I've started--why haven't I finished?)
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 (I get past--past, mind you--that first battle scene, and it's as if I need a long vacation.)
25 The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams (My nephew insists I'm a barbarian because I haven't read this.)
26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh (Am reading right now)
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll (I read this one the summer I was 5. The Cheshire Cat scared me so much I never touched it again until I was forced to in college, and now I re-read it so often I'm on my third copy.)
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy (Another start/stop)
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens (This book opened my eyes to Charles Dickens. I loathed Great Expectations and thought I didn't like Dickens because of it. This was assigned in a class, and afterward, I ran through Dickens with delight!)
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
34 Emma - Jane Austen (This book continues to amaze me. I dislike Emma for so long, and then, all of a sudden, I love her. That Jane Austen! She's amazing!)
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis
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 (Whattsa matter with me?)
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
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
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan
52 Dune - Frank Herbert
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 (An astounding book. I'm in the middle of it; I keep reading bits. This is one I literally don't want to finish. Talk about reading pleasure.)
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
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck (If I had to read two Steinbecks in a row, I'd also have to avoid bridges.)
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold (I never would have chosen this, but a friend whose taste I trust implicitly recommended it, and it was wonderful.)
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac (My son loves, loves, loves this book. I get a touch impatient with the Beat Generation.)
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones's Diary - Helen Fielding
69 Midnight's Children - Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville (I'm not sure I've finished, but I get closer to the end with each attempt--and I distinctly remember holding a section of end pages so small, the book kept shutting.)
71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker
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
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro (Another recommendation from my boy)
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte's Web - EB White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (Only recently started dipping into the stories.)
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
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
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

Hmm--I didn't underline, because I kind of forgot I was supposed to. I'll let the constant commenting suffice.

Do you notice no Hemingway? (I don't see his viewpoint except in the Nick Adams stories, but I've read every word of his I could get my paws on. The way he puts words together--a sensual pleasure.) Plenty of others are also missing.

Gotta go get some words of my own!


Walt Mussell said...

Read 30 out of 100. Though, since one book is technically up there twice, I don't know if it counts. (The list includes "The Chronicles of Narnia" and "The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe.")

I feel embarassed it's only 30.

Anna Adams said...

I know. The Shakespeare repeats, too. Sounds as if 30 is a good number--much better than 6. But, really the list seems so arbitrary. Where are Chaucer and Milton? Emily Dickinson? Why F. Scott Fitzgerald, but no Faulkner? Ralph Ellison? Hemingway, for goodness' sake. And in more commercial fiction--Agatha Christie, Jodie Piccoult, Reynolds Price, Anne Tyler, Toni Morrison. So many others.

It's an interesting list. A lot of Victorian lit. And yet, no Lawrence. Hmmmm.

Anyway--30 sounds good to me! Hope you and yours are having a great weekend, Walt!

Mary Malcolm said...

I'm at 17, but have 44 other's on my list of books to read...of those 44, I've got 30 on my shelf just waiting...waiting...waiting. Ah me. Wish I had more time. And I think they should add White Oleander. Very raw book, keeps me entranced every time I read it; which, by the way, has been about ten now. Mayhaps I should stop reading that one and start hitting up my other 30. *blush*

spcoleman said...

Great blog. Of course, by now you have probably discovered that this is not the National Endowment for the Arts’ Big Read but rather one from the U.K. and compiled by the BBC. In its Big Read, the NEA ( provides grants to communities for “one book, one community” programs. The communities then choose among a few dozen (not 100) books and distributes free resources for book group and classroom discussions. Just thought NEA and the Big Read communities should get their just due!