Guardian’s 1,000 Books.
The Guardian has posted a list of 1,000 Novels Everyone Must Read.
ZOMG! The pressure! The worst part is that I’m sure that none of the books that I’m currently reading are on it, making me feel like I am totally WASTING MY TIME. Though I read at least 50 novels last year (though a lot of them were “pulp”), so if I start RIGHT NOW, I could finish in… 20 years.
I honestly wonder who, if anyone, has read all 1,000 recommended books. I also want names of the people who designed this site because holy hell, the interface is awful. I can’t access a LIST of the books. SHEESH.
Books on the list that I’ve already read :
Douglas Adams. Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. I’ve read four books out of the five book “trilogy.” I read them when I was 12, which I think is exactly the appropriate age for such a thing.
Mikhail Bulgakhov. The Master and Margarita. Yes, this book would definitely be on the short list of books that I think Everybody Should Read. I was amazed at the scope of this book – and by the humor. Didn’t expect it to be half as funny as it is.
Lewis Carroll. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking Glass. I remember one of my fathers telling me this book was “evil” because Carroll was obviously on LSD, but they all deny this. One of them totally did though. Maybe the culprit was on LSD himself.
Mark Danielewski. House of Leaves. ZOMG LOVE. I should re-read this… again. Really, it just doesn’t get old.
Umberto Eco. Foucault’s Pendulum. I didn’t love this as much as Name of the Rose, but man, Eco’s writing is totally engrossing. The plot of this book is nothing short of total brilliance.
Neil Gaiman. American Gods. Let’s talk for a minute about how I really, really can not bring myself to write the word “g-d” with the vowel included. Geez, I can be totally weird some times. Anyhow, this book is wonderful.
William Golding. Lord of the Flies. Everybody else in my English class hated this book. I kinda liked it. I don’t know what this says about me, but I think I could relate a little too well about wanting to throw my peers off of cliffs.
PD James. The Children of Men. The movie left out a lot of the book, but they were about the same in terms of “awesome-ness” – which is to say that they both left me with a feeling of “GEEZ. THAT’S depressing.” I’m not against dystopia per se, but this is some heavily depressing shit.
David Mitchell. Cloud Atlas. One of the greatest books that I’ve ever read. Definitely in my All Time Top Five, perhaps even my Top Three if you put a gun to my head. Though why you’d do that, is kind of beyond me. It really would be the only way to get me to narrow anything down though.
Toni Morrison. Beloved. I read this book. It was spooky. I liked it. I remember exactly nothing else about it.
Haruki Murakami. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. I can narrow down that this is MY FAVORITE BOOK IN THE HISTORY OF BOOKS. No real competition there.
Audrey Niffenegger. The Time-Traveler’s Wife. This is the only book to make me WEEP. Good Lord, I wept for an hour after I finished it. My husband (at the time) was asleep when I finished it, in the middle of the night, and I had to crawl in bed, wake him up, and ask him to hold me just to calm down. No other book has tugged my heart strings in this manner. It is definitely my Second Favorite Book, though I don’t know if I’ll ever have the emotional fortitude to re-read it.
Kim Stanley Robinson. The Years of Rice and Salt. I tried reading this once and really hated it. Then, for no good reason, I tried reading it again and as it turns out, I really liked it quite a lot. Go fig.
Antoine de Saint-Exupery. Le Petit Prince. Why do I refer to it by its French title? Oh, that’s right. I read it IN FRENCH. Bitches.
José Saramago. Blindness. This is the single most disturbing book I have ever read. I had to put it down at points. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it. Again, it’s not that I’m against dystopia, but FUCK. And I’m not squeamish in the least. Some dude on the T once was spouting off at how brilliant the book was and I got immensely worried about his mental capacity – I don’t think he really understood it. Of course, he was about 20 years old and probably liked it because it’s provocative and that’s “cool.” Still. Worried. To the point where I had to say “Are you SERIOUS? That is the most disturbing shit I’ve ever read. I mean, it was good, but your FAVORITE book?” Also: this guy said “The only way I’d see the movie is if I could go and immediately re-read the book” which is one of the dumbest statements I’ve heard – implying that this is a condition that would be difficult to achieve. What, dude? You can’t just go see a movie and go home and pick up a book? What’s your problem, exactly? This dude clearly caused me a lot of consternation, which is one of the main reasons why I normally wear headphones on the T – so I don’t have to hear this kind of nonsense.
Bram Stoker. Dracula. I read this when I was like, ten. I remember that I read it. I remember that there was a doctor and a chick in a nightgown and some guy who wrote letters to his wife and oh yeah, a vampire. There you go.
STATE OF THE NATION (Whatever THAT means.)
Ha. I’ve read NO books in part one of this series. Then again, most of them were by Dickens. I appreciate Dickens’ contribution to history, but he makes me itch. Like a bad rash, he just doesn’t go away.
Still haven’t read any on part two. They must all suck.
Philip Roth. The Human Stain. Yeah, this was solidly pretty good, though I initially doubted the validity of the premise. Roth pulls it off, but it is definitely a kind of “Huh?” thing in the abstract. Half-black guy pretends to be Jewish. Yeah… and?
Zadie Smith. White Teeth. Good stuff. Yep. That’s about it.
Mark Twain. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. My seventh grade class read this, and then listened to the book on tape during class. I read other books under my desk during that time and got in boatloads of trouble for it. What the hell? I’d already READ it. There are more books! So little time! I really got in no end of trouble in school for reading. Which, thinking about it, makes no sense. There was the infamous episode when I was in fourth grade where my mother had to go to a conference with my teacher out of concern (on the part of the teacher) that I was reading more than one book at a time. My mother had no idea where the problem was there and had to confess that no one in my family has ever read JUST ONE book. It’s like JUST ONE potato chip. Can’t be done.
FAMILY AND SELF
Louisa May Alcott. Little Women. I read the “Beth dies” part over and over and over again. No, I wasn’t a morbid child. Not a bit.
Margaret Atwood. Cat’s Eye. By far my favorite thing I read in high school English. Well, my favorite thing I read that wasn’t Hamlet. Oh, how I love Hamlet.
Charles Dickens. Great Expectations. Miss Havisham rocks. The rest of this book can suck it.
Anne Enright. The Gathering. Reading this book RIGHT NOW. Ok, not while I’m typing, but y’know. Concurrent with life as lived in the present.
Jeffrey Eugenedies. Middlesex. Worthy of the hype, which is saying something because there’s quite a lot of hype.
Ernest Hemingway. The Old Man And The Sea. Hey, look at that. All of the words in the title have three letters. That is the only interesting thing about this book. This might possibly be the worst book I’ve ever read, though it’s in contention with a lot of stuff I had to read in high school. Why do they make you read such utter shit in high school? Is this part of some kind of institutionalized demoralization? Don’t they WANT kids to read? What the shark? Or, perhaps more appropriate here, what the marlin?
John Irving. A Prayer For Owen Meany. I FUCKING LOVE THE HELL OUT OF THIS BOOK. This could be Number Three in my top Three, depending on the status of the gun to my head where Cloud Atlas is concerned. This is the only book that upon finishing, I immediately went back to page one. Like, I turned the page to the last page. Paused. Went back to the beginning. That’s how good it is.
James Joyce. Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. The only good thing about this book is the title, and how it lends itself to adaptation, i.e. Portrait of the Idiot as a Young Twit.
Carson McCullers. Member of the Wedding. I was assigned to write a “play” format of this book in my Freshman English class. This was a totally bullshit assignment designed to get me to shut up for five minutes. I think it failed. I finished the assignment in a week and still didn’t shut up. The book wasn’t awful, surprisingly, since everything else in that class was totally awful in every way.
Arundhati Roy. The God of Small Things. Still have trouble typing that word. I remember being profoundly touched by this book when I read it just after graduating high school, but like quite a lot of things that happened to me during that period of time, the details are totally hazy.
Vikram Seth. A Suitable Boy. Ok, I never finished this book, but I started it and loved it. So, why I never finished… total mystery. I think it got dropped when I had mono and just never picked up again.
Zadie Smith. On Beauty. Oh, the family in this book was just so… familial. Perhaps better than White Teeth. I dunno, it’s at least on par.
Italo Svevo. Confessions of Zeno. This book is hilarious in a way that is really hard to pin down. I have vivid recollections of some of the scenes, but not the writing, rather the images that they conjured in my head.
COMEDY (Not humor, so they say.)
Miguel de Cervantes. Don Quixote. I’m reading this in bits and pieces, but most famously, during high school, a copy of this book was my preferred coaster.
Kenneth Grahame. The Wind in the Willows. If there is a native English speaker who did not read this book as a child, please stand up. Thank you.
Mark Haddon. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime. There was a lot of hype. I was hoping to love this book. I merely liked it. You could put me in the category of “underwhelmed.”
Nick Hornby. High Fidelity. I read the book after I saw the movie, so the narrator, despite being British, is still played by John Cusak in my head.
Vladimir Nabokov. Pnin. Interesting enough, but I never finished it. I think I moved halfway through it or something.
Umberto Eco. The Name of the Rose. A book about crime AND obscure manuscripts. I think the DaVinci Code totally ripped off Eco here. Oddly enough, or perhaps not odd at all, The DaVinci Code is probably the only “Ohboy! Crime and manuscripts!” book that I haven’t, and won’t, read.
Thomas Harris. Red Dragon. The only flaw in the book is that there’s not enough Hannibal Lecter. Then again, is there ever enough Hannibal Lecter?
Harper Lee. To Kill A Mockingbird. I read this in the sort of hazy period where I read God of Small Things. I remember that it’s wicked good. There you go.
Robert Ludlum. The Bourne Identity. Oh hey, I even blogged about this one!
Orhan Pamuk. My Name is Red. The mystery element of this book is wonderful, but is certainly not the only reason to read it. As a historical novel, it’s brilliant and I certainly learned a lot about Islamic Art as well.
Patrick Süskind. Perfume. Oh man, this is just awesome. Blood of virgins! How much better can you get?
Willa Cather. My Antonia. Read it in high school. Didn’t hate it. Don’t remember anything else.
F. Scott Fitzgerald. The Great Gatsby. Yes, I am the only person on earth who DOESN’T like this book. Carry on. Blah blah blah, money can’t buy me love, blah blah blah.
Ernest Hemmingway. A Farewell to Arms. Oh man, this book is depressing. The end is very “Well, I’ve read that. Now I’m just going to go and shoot myself in the head.”
Gabriel García Márquez. Love in the Time of Cholera. This is the longest book I’ve ever read. I don’t care how many pages it actually has, it just doesn’t end. Also, not enough cholera. Still, Márquez’s writing is beautiful.
Haruki Murakami. Norwegian Wood. The first Murakami I read. Cute. A good place to start in terms of reading Murakami. Not sure if it’s really noteworthy on its own, but certainly cute.
Vladimir Nabokov. Lolita. I was some how expecting this to be more perverse than it was. I read it and my reaction was very “That’s IT?!” I don’t know what exactly I was THINKING it would be, but somehow I thought it would be… y’know… worse.
Anaïs Nin. The Delta of Venus. I probably shouldn’t tell you this, but this book was instrumental in my learning how to masturbate. It holds a special place in my heart. And my pants.
Leo Tolstoy. Anna Karenina. I read this book. Do I get a cookie? Why it ended up on OPRAH’S BOOK LIST is beyond me. Honestly. I think Oprah has overestimated the literary capacities of the American people.
WAR & TRAVEL.
Not up yet. Maybe I’ll come back and update when it is. Chances are good though that I haven’t ready very many (if any) because I think that WAR IS FOR JERKS.