Monday, May 12, 2008

On Reading

I apologize for the rather random hodgepodge of things this blog has become...though to be honest, it's fairly indicative of the state of my brain and my life these days :-)

I've seen this floating around in the blogosphere, and because I've always loved reading, it caught my eye. For a while, I wasn't reading much, but recently, I've been going to be earlier just to give me time to read before bed. I'm so happy to be reading more once again.

So here's the deal. Below is a list of the top 106 books most often marked as “unread” by LibraryThing’s users. Here's the key:

Bold = books I've read
Underline = books read for school
Italics = started but not finished
* = currently on my bookshelf waiting to be read

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell
Anna Karenina
Crime and Punishment
One Hundred Years of Solitude
Wuthering Heights
The Silmarillion
Life of Pi: a novel
The Name of the Rose*
Don Quixote*
Moby Dick
Madame Bovary
The Odyssey (It's not that I started and didn't finish, but that we only read a portion of it when we read it in school)
Pride and Prejudice*
Jane Eyre*
A Tale of Two Cities
The Brothers Karamazov
Guns, Germs, and Steel: the fates of human societies
War and Peace*
Vanity Fair
The Time Traveler’s Wife
The Iliad (this is another case of only reading a portion in school)
The Blind Assassin
The Kite Runner
Mrs. Dalloway*
Great Expectations
American Gods
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius
Atlas Shrugged
Reading Lolita in Tehran : a memoir in books
Memoirs of a Geisha*
Wicked : the life and times of the wicked witch of the West
The Canterbury Tales
The Historian : a novel
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man*
Love in the Time of Cholera*
Brave New World*
The Fountainhead*
Foucault’s Pendulum
The Count of Monte Cristo
A Clockwork Orange
Anansi Boys
The Once and Future King
The Grapes of Wrath
The Poisonwood Bible : a novel*
Angels & Demons*
The Inferno (and Purgatory and Paradise)
The Satanic Verses
Sense and Sensibility*
The Picture of Dorian Gray
Mansfield Park
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
To the Lighthouse
Tess of the D’Urbervilles
Oliver Twist
Gulliver’s Travels*
Les Miserables
The Corrections
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
The Prince
The Sound and the Fury*
Angela’s Ashes: a memoir
The God of Small Things
A People’s History of the United States : 1492-present
A Confederacy of Dunces
A Short History of Nearly Everything
The Unbearable Lightness of Being
The Scarlet Letter
Eats, Shoots & Leaves
The Mists of Avalon
Oryx and Crake : a novel
Collapse : how societies choose to fail or succeed
Cloud Atlas
The Confusion
Northanger Abbey
The Catcher in the Rye
On the Road
The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Freakonomics : a rogue economist explores the hidden side of everything
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance : an inquiry into values
The Aeneid
Watership Down
Gravity’s Rainbow
The Hobbit
In Cold Blood : a true account of a multiple murder and its consequences
White Teeth
Treasure Island
David Copperfield
The Three Musketeers

As you can see, I don't have a strong foundation in "the classics" as generally taught in schools. In high school, I was in an International Baccalaureate program, so the bulk of the literature that we read was world literature. In college, I didn't take any traditional English/American literature classes, and rather skewed toward comp lit classes focusing in East Asian literature.

Most of the classics on this list have the little astrisk next to it. That's because after college, I realized that I was lacking a foundation in "the classics" and took it upon myself to correct that. So as I visited used book stores or library sales, I'd pick up the classics (usually returned to the the book store after being read in a high school or college class), so have a great collection sitting on the book shelf. Now, I just need to find the time to read them!

You'll also notice that there are very few underlined books. I have this thing about finishing a book once I start it, regardless of how difficult/boring/whatever I might find it. The best example of this is Les Miserables. I read this book of my own volition (not for school) and struggled through the chapters upon chapters of French philosophy that I did not completely understand. But I did my best, and while many parts of it were over my head, I was still able to enjoy it (in retrospect), learned from it, and took something out of reading it.

I love books, and I love reading. I'm hoping that eventually, I will get through all the unread books on my bookcase.