Thursday, April 03, 2008

26 Down, 74 to Go

Sometime around mid-September 2006, a mate mentioned that he was reading books from a "Top 100 books of all time" list. I thought that this was a great goal, and decided to do this myself.

The first thing was deciding which list I would consult, as there were at least a half-dozen I could easily find on the net, and additionally, each bookstore chain had its own take on which books made the list. So I decided that I would create my own list. To do this I grabbed about six different lists, placed them in a spreadsheet, and titles which appeared multiple times (Lord of the Rings for instance) automatically went in. This accounted for about half of the books. The rest I picked-and-chose, selecting a mix of ones I had heard about, or ones I had read a long time ago and liked, or ones where the title just intrigued me. I came up with two lists, my Top 100 and my 2nd lot, with 155 titles in the 2nd lot.

I had about 30 titles overall that I had read previously, but decided I would re-read each one of these in addition to those I hadn't read.

Of course, the American lists favoured American authors and the English lists favoured English, and there was hardly any Australian literature at all, even in the Australian lists. What was interesting were the crossovers, where an English list would have an American author or vice versa.

This is what I have read so far:

  • Animal Farm — George Orwell.
  • Atonement — Ian McEwan. Coincidentally, I was reading this at the same time the movie came out.
  • Austerlitz — W. G. Sebald. Exhausting.
  • Big Sleep, The — Raymond Chandler. Had to see what all the fuss was about.
  • Brave New World — Aldous Huxley. My favourite at High School.
  • Captain Corelli's Mandolin — Louis de Bernieres. A little disappointing. In the end, I just couldn't imagine the characters behaving the way they did.
  • Catch-22 — Joseph Heller.
  • Clockwork Orange, A — Anthony Burgess. It took about a third of the book to "tune in" to this. But once there, a good story.
  • Deliverance — James Dickey. Creepy.
  • Godfather, The — Mario Puzo. I thought that this was a bit patchwork. Sometimes the writing was good, sometimes not so. Story was rollicking, though.
  • Hobbit, The — JRR Tolkien.
  • I, Claudius — Robert Graves. Now I just have to read Claudius, The God.
  • LA Confidential — James Ellroy. I'll have to see the movie now.
  • Magician — Raymond E Feist. Marathon. This edition had all the bits that he originally had to chuck out when first published. I reckon he could have left some of them out still.
  • Memoirs Of A Geisha — Arthur Golden. After seeing the movie.
  • Midnight's Children — Salman Rushdie.
  • Mort — Terry Pratchett. I may have missed the humour in this one.
  • Nineteen Eighty-Four — George Orwell. The rats in the cage. Uggh.
  • Of Mice And Men — John Steinbeck.
  • On the Road — Jack Kerouac.
  • One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest — Ken Kesey. Another one where I am going to have to see the movie now.
  • Pride and Prejudice — Jane Austen. I think I must have read this about four times now. Every time I do, I pick up more subtle humour than the previous time.
  • Slaughterhouse-Five — Kurt Vonnegut. I wonder if he took a leaf out of Joseph Heller's book?
  • Spy Who Came in From the Cold, The — John le Carre.
  • Trial, The — Franz Kafka. Pretty good for an unfinished book.
  • Ubik — Philip K. Dick. I found it interesting that this particular work of his was on two lists. Aren't there other, better, Philip K Dick books.

Looking at this list, it seems rather pathetic for eighteen months of reading. I guess I should keep in mind that I am not reading these books exclusively, and I still have to spend an inordinate amount of time reading technical books. One of the titles Pride and Prejudice, I read in an email-per-day format as 149 parts from DailyLit. This service sends you a new part every day, and each email includes a link to send the next part immediately. I ended up reading quite a few of the final parts in one sitting while sick in bed with the laptop. Not the ideal way to read a book, but if you keep at it, you get there in the end. The current title I am reading like this is Moby Dick. Part 19 from 252!

So at current speeds, I'll be finished around October 2012.


Anonymous said...

Perhaps people should know that despite all this reading you still have time for the ... finer things in life!! xx

Mic said...

Oh I certainly make sure that all this reading doesn't take time away from the <cough><cough> finer things.