Monday, February 19, 2007

The dreaded 100 books meme

In full list mode, having done my top ten, I found Cam and Imani playing around with this meme. I copied it out and drove myself insane with it. It's a crazy list: no Woolf at all, only two Austens, no George Eliot and light on Brontes, no 18th century novels at all (Fielding, Defoe, Burney, Richardson, etc.) very little African American literature, tons of Steinbeck but no Hemingway, almost nothing literary that is also not commonly taught at school or acknowledged as canonical except for, strangely, Margaret Laurence. I find it very hard to strike through things. I mostly love reading; my tastes are pretty catholic. I thought The Da Vinci Code was entertaining. It just doesn't bug me all that much that it's not well written. I don't think Dan Brown was aiming for that. It was a good, amusing little story. So what?

Similarly, there are books that I know I'd probably enjoy--as cotton candy, like Sophie Kinsella, or more richly, like John Irving. But will I ever get to them? Unlikely. And it doesn't make sense to italicize them just because I imagine I'd enjoy them well enough. Still, if stuck in a cabin over the weekend with The Bible and Confessions of a Shopaholic, I'm confident that the Kinsella would be read by the end of the weekend.


Look at the list of books below. Bold the ones you’ve read, italicize the ones you want to read, cross out the ones you won’t touch with a 10 foot pole, put a cross (+) in front of the ones on your book shelf, and asterisk (*) the ones you’ve never heard of.

1. The Da Vinci Code (Dan Brown)
2. Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen)
3. To Kill A Mockingbird (Harper Lee)

4. Gone With The Wind (Margaret Mitchell)
5. The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (Tolkien)
6. The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring (Tolkien)
7. The Lord of the Rings: Two Towers (Tolkien)
8. Anne of Green Gables (L.M. Montgomery)
9. *Outlander (Diana Gabaldon)
10. A Fine Balance (Rohinton Mistry)
11. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Rowling)
12. Angels and Demons (Dan Brown)
13. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Rowling)
14. A Prayer for Owen Meany (John Irving)
15. + Memoirs of a Geisha (Arthur Golden)
16. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (Rowling)
17. *Fall on Your Knees(Ann-Marie MacDonald)
18. The Stand (Stephen King)
19. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban(Rowling)
20. Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte)
21. The Hobbit (Tolkien)
22. The Catcher in the Rye (J.D. Salinger)
23. Little Women (Louisa May Alcott)
24. The Lovely Bones (Alice Sebold)

25. Life of Pi (Yann Martel)
26. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Douglas Adams)
27. +Wuthering Heights (Emily Bronte)
28. The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe (C. S. Lewis)

29. East of Eden (John Steinbeck)
30. Tuesdays with Morrie(Mitch Albom)
31. Dune (Frank Herbert)
32. The Notebook (Nicholas Sparks)
33. Atlas Shrugged (Ayn Rand)

34. 1984 (Orwell)
35. The Mists of Avalon (Marion Zimmer Bradley)
36. The Pillars of the Earth (Ken Follett)
37. *The Power of One (Bryce Courtenay)
38. I Know This Much is True(Wally Lamb)
39. The Red Tent (Anita Diamant)
40. The Alchemist (Paulo Coelho)
41. The Clan of the Cave Bear (Jean M. Auel)
42. +The Kite Runner (Khaled Hosseini)
43. Confessions of a Shopaholic (Sophie Kinsella)
44. The Five People You Meet In Heaven (Mitch Albom)
45. +Bible (like Cam, I have read parts; not all)
46. Anna Karenina (Tolstoy)
47. The Count of Monte Cristo (Alexandre Dumas)
48. +Angela’s Ashes (Frank McCourt)
49. The Grapes of Wrath (John Steinbeck)
50. + She’s Come Undone (Wally Lamb)
51. The Poisonwood Bible (Barbara Kingsolver)
52. A Tale of Two Cities (Dickens)

53. *Ender’s Game (Orson Scott Card)
54. Great Expectations (Dickens)
55. +The Great Gatsby (Fitzgerald)

56. The Stone Angel (Margaret Laurence)
57. +Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Rowling)
58. The Thorn Birds (Colleen McCullough)
59. +The Handmaid’s Tale (Margaret Atwood)
60. The Time Traveller’s Wife (Audrew Niffenegger)
61. +Crime and Punishment (Fyodor Dostoyevsky)
62. The Fountainhead (Ayn Rand) (It means so much to so many students of mine that I feel I should learn, first hand what the story is.)
63. +War and Peace (Tolstoy)

64. Interview With The Vampire (Anne Rice)
65. Fifth Business (Robertson Davis)
66. +One Hundred Years Of Solitude (Gabriel Garcia Marquez)
67. The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants (Ann Brashares)
68. +Catch-22 (Joseph Heller)
69. +Les Miserables (Hugo)

70. +The Little Prince (Antoine de Saint-Exupery)
71. Bridget Jones’ Diary (Fielding)

72. +Love in the Time of Cholera (Marquez)
73. Shogun (James Clavell)
74. +The English Patient (Michael Ondaatje)
75. The Secret Garden (Frances Hodgson Burnett)
76. *The Summer Tree (Guy Gavriel Kay)
77. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Betty Smith)
78. The World According To Garp (John Irving)

79. The Diviners (Margaret Laurence)
80. Charlotte’s Web (E.B. White)
81. *Not Wanted On The Voyage (Timothy Findley)
82. Of Mice And Men (Steinbeck)
83. Rebecca (Daphne DuMaurier)
84. *Wizard’s First Rule (Terry Goodkind)
85. +Emma (Jane Austen)
86. Watership Down(Richard Adams)

87. Brave New World (Aldous Huxley)
88. The Stone Diaries (Carol Shields)
89. Blindness (Jose Saramago)
90. Kane and Abel (Jeffrey Archer)
91. In The Skin Of A Lion (Ondaatje)
92. Lord of the Flies (Golding)
93. The Good Earth(Pearl S. Buck)
94. The Secret Life of Bees (Sue Monk Kidd)
95. The Bourne Identity (Robert Ludlum)
96. The Outsiders (S.E. Hinton)
97. White Oleander (Janet Fitch)
98. A Woman of Substance (Barbara Taylor Bradford)
99. The Celestine Prophecy (James Redfield)
100. +Ulysses (James Joyce)


Rebecca H. said...

I wish someone would find out where this list came from -- it IS quite strange.

Jonathan said...

Dune deserves better company than your other x-outs.

Unknown said...

You're right about Dune. Sorry. I grew up with so many Dune fanatics and when I backed away from SF, I was shunned by the friends I'd left behind. Then, there was the whole regional thing about Herbert... anyway, I recognize it as a totally unfair aversion that I would be right to overcome. Sorry.

It's a wicked strange list: like a mash-up of an old-fashioned canon with some kind of "all time bestseller list (Celestine Prophecy and A Woman of Substance were HUGE but does anyone read them anymore?).

Anne Camille said...

Someone commented (I can't find the source to credit) that maybe this list was made up by someone who just took a look at the bookshelves in the room. It seems that eclectic. But, I was looking at a list of the Modern Library's 100 best novels yesterday. Is that any odder? Sure, ML is a canonical list of 'classics', but I calculated that 42% of the list was made up of 15 or 16 authors. It's just as certainly slanted to someone's bias as this list. Such is the nature of lists -- and of reviews. I may be posting more on the ML list & inherent bias in it lists such as this later this week.

I would agree with Jonathan on Dune although I don't know that I would recommend it. As for any of the Dune sequels, they certainly belong in the dustbin with some of the other crossouts. (Not that that reflects a bias. Oh no, no way!)

brd said...

I'm surprised that you haven't even italicized the Tolkien trilogy. However, may I suggest that you read it aloud, chapter by chapter, someday to your children, perhaps beginning with The Hobbit. Some of our most enchanting family evenings were spent with our children, wide-eyed, listening to my husband read these books.

And yes, it is an odd list. I will italicize Dune, just so it won't feel too bad!

Sheila said...

I've read Ender's Game and enjoyed it. I'm not even a Sci Fi fan. I'm more of an Austen type.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, list is not legit. I'm really surprised how many/most of the Harry Potter books are on the list. It's definitely some total volume list or similar. Many of these books shouldn't been on this 'list', if you could call it one.