Thursday, 19 March 2009

Mer is ~ 43% cultured (according to the BBC)

This is essential a reply to this post. I love lists of books that I ought to have read. Mostly because I've usually actually read at least 25% of them. It's like standardized testing; I like them because I am really effing good at them and it's a nice ego boost to score in the 99th percentile... how sad am I?

Thing with the book lists is that none of these lists ever measure up to the ones Mrs. P had. One day I will go through my old high school English binders and find Mrs. P's lists. She had a Classics List, a European Classics List, an American Classics List, and possibly a "Translated Classics" List but I may just be making that up because she was the one who always told me which translations to read when I was buying books.

I have Mrs. P to thank for reading the Robert Fagles version of The Iliad instead of the horrid stock volume my high school provided. Fagles' version of The Odyssey is also incredible. They're in verse. The way epic poetry is supposed to be. It's like reading the King James Bible; even if you don't love what you're reading, it's beautifully written.

The colour legend was mostly for my convenience in tallying them at the end. And because I'm visually stimulated, like a magpie...)


Red = read (haha) and own.

Purple = read, but do not own.
Blue = own, but have yet to read.
Green = things I did not read more than 25 pages of... but have still written papers on...
Orange = Books I have never heard of.
Navy = Books I
honestly can't remember if I own, but most likely have somewhere in a box in a storage locker in Ontario.

1. Pride & Prejudice – Jane Austen --> I've read this about 20 times. No exaggeration. At least half those times were in the summer of 2001. I also watched the 5-hour BBC Colin Firth P&P about as many times (okay, that's a conservative estimate; reality was likely closer to 25 times
2. The Lord Of The Rings – JRR Tolkien --> long before they became movies... not sure why I feel the need to justify that...
3. Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte --> I've tried. Can't do it. Same with Middlemarch.
4. Harry Potter – JK Rowling --> ... I want to be the next JK Rowling?
5. To Kill A Mockingbird – Harper Lee
6. The Bible --> Twice. In its entirety: the NIV and the King James versions. King James is WAY better.
7. Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte --> CAAAATHHHHYYYYYYYY!!! oh, get over yourself.
8. Nineteen Eighty Four – George Orwell --> I was twelve.
The first time, at least. (Why does that make me sound like reading this was akin to losing my virginity or something???)
9. His Dark Materials – Phillip Pullman
10. Great Expectations – Charles Dickens --> Grade 9 English with Ms. P. = Wicked fun!
11. Little Women – Louisa May Alcott
12. Tess Of The D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy
13. Catch 22 – Joseph Heller
14. Complete Works Of Shakespeare --> I did try once, but it's 1256 pages long without the glossary...
15. Rebecca – Daphne DuMaurier
16. The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien
17. Birdsong – Sebastian Faulks
18. The Catcher In The Rye – JD Salinger --> don't even get me effing started on this book... it was part of the requisite "whining teenage boy" reading list that WAS grade 10 English. Apparently girly bitching about the downfall of chivalry isn't cool with the OCDSB... but guys can whine all they want about girls being bitches and whores. Coincidentally, the year I read this was also the height of Whiny-Boy-Rock era music... and people wonder why I was a bloody raver at the turn of the millennium...
19. The Time Traveller’s Wife – Audrey Niffeneger
20. Middlemarch – George Eliot --> see #3
21. Gone With The Wind – Margaret Mitchell
22. The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald
23. Bleak House – Charles Dickens
24. War & Peace – Leo Tolstoy [Has anyone ever read this?] --> YES. But not me.
25. The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy – Douglas Adams [42] --> I second that motion.
26. Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh
27. Crime & Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28. The Grapes Of Wrath – John Steinbeck --> one of many things younger than Senator John McCain...
29. Alice In Wonderland – Lewis Carroll

30. The Wind In The Willows – Kenneth Grahame --> If I can't remember to story AT ALL, it doesn't count.
31. Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy
32. David Copperfield – Charles Dickens --> Grade 11 English with Mrs. P. Also genius.
33. The Chronicles Of Narnia – CS Lewis --> In Ontario, now that I actually want to read them...
34. Emma – Jane Austen --> see #1 and replace "5-hour BBC Colin Firth P&P" with "Gwyneth Paltrow"...
35. Persuasion – Jane Austen --> again see #1
36. The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe – CS Lewis --> Jess: this isn't technically part of the Chronicles. It's like The Hobbit.
37. The Kite Runner – Khaled Hossini --> Hated this book. A Thousand Splendid Suns was 1000x better.
38. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis de Bernieres --> wrote a paper on this book in 12th grade without having read it.
39. Memoirs Of A Geisha – Arthur Golden
40. Winnie The Pooh – AA Milne --> I own this in 3 languages, including Latin.
41. Animal Farm – George Orwell --> Read this in 7th grade.
42. The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown --> How else do you waste 8 hours in the Edinburgh airport?
43. One Hundred Years Of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44. A Prayer For Owen Meany – John Irving
45. The Woman In White – Wilkie Collins
46. Anne Of Green Gables – LM Montgomery [♥] --> I've been to Green Gables in PEI :)
47. Far From The Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy --> I think I may have actually read this in grade 11 or 12... cannot for the life of me remember. Know I read The Mayor of Casterbridge. Terrible book, EXCELLENT (& endless) source of inside jokes...
48. The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
49. The Lord Of The Flies – William Golding --> Never again.
50. Atonement – Ian McEwan --> I'll just oggle James McAvoy instead, k?
51. The Life Of Pi – Yann Martel --> seriously wonder what Martel was smoking when he wrote the end of this book...
52. Dune – Frank Herbert
53. Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons
54. Sense & Sensibility – Jane Austen
55. A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth
56. The Shadow Of The Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57. A Tale Of Two Cities – Thomas Hardy --> Okay. OKAY WHAT????????? I'm going to give Jess the benefit of the doubt and assume that this is the BBC's mistake and not hers. Tale of Two Cities is by CHARLES DICKENS. The only reason I know this is because it is the ONLY Dickens novel I actually LIKED. Grade 12 English with Mrs. P. Again. Brilliant. VIVA LA REVOLUCION! oh wait, that was Che and Castro, wasn't it? Whatever. There's a reason downtown Havana was modeled after Paris....
58. Brave New World – Aldous Huxley --> I have a thing for dystopia novels. I have read and own all but Erehwon by Samuel Butler which, for some reason,I can't find anywhere.
59. The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night Time – Mark Haddon [Jess: one less book I have to read!]
60. Love In The Time Of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez --> Need to read this as I intend to write a book entitled Love in the Time of Genocide.
61. Of Mice & Men – John Steinbeck
62. Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov --> I think Evgeni Nabokov needs a nickname...
63. The Secret History – Donna Tartt
64. The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold
65. The Count Of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas --> Half way through volume 1. In French.
66. On The Road – Jack Kerouac
67. Jude The Obscure – Thomas Hardy
68. Bridget Jones’ Diary – Helen Fielding
69. Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie
70. Moby Dick – Herman Melville
71. Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens --> Grade 10. Classic Whiny Boy novel.
72. Dracula – Bram Stoker
73. The Secret Garden – France Hodgson Burnett --> Wow. Hadn't thought about this in years.
74. Notes From A Small Island – Bill Bryson
75. Ulysses – James Joyce
76. The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath [One of my mother's books. Poets...]
77. Swallows & Amazons – Arthur Ransome
78. Germinal – Emile Zola
79. Vanity Fair – William 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
85. Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert
86. A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry
87. Charlotte’s Web – EB White --> a million times when I was 6 and 7.
88. The Five People You Meet In Heaven – Mitch Alborn --> I won't. I'm not going to heaven. Not by a long shot. Plus all the cool people will be in purgatory anyway; no one really cool was ever canonized. Well, except Joan of Arc. ('Really cool' to me tends to involve subversive activity in some way shape or form... be it politically, religiously or scientifically.) Even Churchill was a raging alcoholic who did enough opium in college to kill a normal person, but I'll take him over a straight-edge vegetarian who shunned cigarettes. Other than the whole genocide thing, Hitler was your model citizen. But I think there's a circle of hell reserved for genocidaires... and if there isn't, someone needs to rectify that situation pronto.
89. The Adventures Of Sherlock Holmes – Arthur Conan Doyle
90. The Faraway Tree Collection – Enid Blyton [If Enid Blyton wrote it, I read it as a child. Secret Seven, Famous Five, Mallory Towers, St Clare's, I read them all] --> AMEN to that!
91. Heart Of Darkness – Joseph Conrad --> The horror! The horror!
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 --> BUT I LOVE THE TITLE!
96. A Town Like Alice – Nevil Shute --> Didn't realize this was a book. Saw the movie with Tosh like 6 years ago. Was 4 hours long or something. Was terrible. We watched the whole thing; further proof that there is NOTHING to do in Wellington, Ontario.
97. The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas
98. Hamlet – William Shakespeare --> I've read this. I love it. BUT, I definitely wrote a paper on it without having read anything beyond Act 1... I got an A-. Shakespeare rolls in him grave...
99. Charlie & The Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl --> Roald Dahl was a genius. Like Dr. Seuss.
100. Les Miserables – Victor Hugo --> Again. Got half-way through volume 1. In French. In 2005. It's in a box in Ontario with the 3000 or so books I couldn't move to B.C.

The tally...
Own: 55
Have read: 43
May own: an additional 13
Have never heard of: 12
Want to read but do not own: 9
Currently reading: 2

And this is just fiction...


Clare said...

The Shadow of the Wind was good, if I remember correctly. What does black mean in your color key?

mer said...

Black means I've never read it, I don't own it and I've never been forced to write about it *without* having read it. The are a couple on there I actually want to read like Memoirs of a Geisha, Le Petit Prince - actually, come to think of it, I think I read this in French...- 3 Musketeers...actually almost all of them - except the ones I totally bashed...

lauren said...

When I finish my econ homework I'm so doing this, haha.

"The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe" is, in fact, part of the Chronicles, although it functions as a stand-alone novel because it was published first. However, I would recommend reading it second (IE in chronological order by events, not publication).

You might like "The Five People You Meet in Heaven." I don't believe in heaven either, but I enjoyed the concept- it's not a book about heaven so much as a book about how you change the life of everyone you meet, and they also change your life.

mer said...

@ deets - Hmm, I thought it was part of the Chronicles. I think my parents told me that when I was a kid. No reason they would lie... probably just misinformed. *shrugs* Oh well.

now, not to get too deep or anything, but I've always kind of lived under the assumption that we've only got one shot at life: we're born, we live, we die. Do good stuff while you're here. Try not to mess to much shit up, and be aware that causality exists.

I'm a historical constructivist. I've been one much longer than I've known to categorize it as such (well, at least in IR it can be categorized like that).

I've always just operated under the innate assumption that all the things we do and all the people we meet are in some way affected by our actions. I'm sure it's a good read, but I don't really feel that I need that variety of enlightenment. Other kinds, on the other hand: Bring It! :)

I feel like life's too short to reinforce what I already know, especially when there are so many other ideas to ponder.

Jessclub7 said...

In my house we have days where we just watch BBC Pride & Prejudice, then the BBC Jane Eyre. Even went on a day trip to Lyme Park (it's near where we live anyway) because that is actually Pemeberley in the BBC version. We're having an Anne of Green Gables marathon soon :)

I think Memoirs of a Geisha is well worth a read and Birdsong is pretty good - set in WW1.

The Curious Dog In The Night Time whatever was so annoying. It is about this boy with autism and I was actually reading this whilst in Halifax, Canada and we went to tourist bottleneck Peggy's Cove one day when about 1000 people attending autism camp rocked up and it felt like this craptastic book was impinging upon my life!*Exhales*

In the UK lately there has been this huge backlash against Enid Blyton - saying she's racist, sexist. I think she was just writing in a different era when society at large was probably a lot more of those things too.

Oh, and Shakespeare is on spin cycle with some of the things I wrote about him! A lengthy essay comparing Hamlet to the Lion King was probably the nadir.

Jessclub7 said...

In the post that you have linked to from my blog, I may have to delete my comment where I consider myself cultured for having eaten mozzarella cheese. I negate to mention that this actually happened at midnight via a McDonalds drive thru. The shame.

And I love lists like this - mainly because, if I am being totally honest, they make me feel superior!

The BBC did another one (which I know for a fact is genuine 'cos I watched it on TV) called the Big Read in which the 'Great' British Public actually voted for their top 100 books. I may do a post on that because I still have a little booklet from it in which I actually ticked off all the ones I had read in it. Nerdism at its most Rainman.

mer said...

@ jess - I know that even when I was reading the Enid Blyton books, my neighbour (whose books they were from when she was a kid in the 60s) warned me because I'm so vehemently anti-racist that she didn't want me coming to her in tears.

mind you, I do check publication dates on books because (see IR historical constructivism comment) I feel like the era in which they were published explains so much.

...So much so that my library is actually organized by original publication (by year, then by author surname within year...) THAT, folks is JUST how big a nerd I am.

What's saddest is that I could probably put them in almost perfect order if someone tore them off my shelves.

I love my books like normal girls love their shoes (or what ever it is they spend their money on - well, except that my closet is almost as anal-retentively organized as my bookshelves are...)

Stephanie B said...

Wow, Mer. Ok, firstly I didn't even bother to compare the books that I have read to the ones you have (although one obvious similarity is Anne of Green Gables :-))!!
I really enjoy reading your blogs, but I really have no idea how you find the time to be in university and publish posts like this! Amazing!

mer said...

@ stephanie b. -- thank you! I'm dead chuffed that you enjoy reading my blog! :)

I actually took the semester off this spring to work on my book, etc. (plus the norm at my university is a 5-year undergrad; most of us work & do school so a ton of us are part-time)

Also, I have ADD. no joke. I do this (sometimes convenient) hyper-focus thing on the stuff I like. It's scary how productive I can be sometimes...

re: books... what can I say? I love books. I love to write. Partly because I love to read. But if I could only do one of the two for the rest of my life, I would choose the latter.

I also went to a nerd high school and most of the "literature" on that list was not read voluntarily. ;)

Stephanie B said...

Well, I suppose that someone who can "hyper-focus" on things they like and other randomness is the perfect person to write a blog!!

I really do admire your discipline (because lets face it, it does require discipline regardless of how much you enjoy it) and it motivates me to do something constructive with my spare time!

lauren said...

@mer- I read a lot of books that I know are a waste of my time, haha. It's good relaxation, I guess. In my defense, it's genetic- when I was little my mom read a romance novel every day. You know, the ones mass produced by Nora Roberts?

mer said...

@ lauren - I doubt my mother ever read one. I picked one up once and was yawning by page 4. I need more than a love story. The only good non-Austen love stories are the ones that are the secondary plot. And yet I have written one such book... go figure. Oh, and I own all but the last two Princess Diaries books (in hard-cover, no less)...

I have this one book -I'm not even sure what it gets classified as- "Summers at Castle Auburn" which I have read probably a dozen times since it was gifted to me in 2004. It's kind of fantasy and kind of romancey (not bodice ripping, actual sweet romance) and kind of political. I have a funny feeling you'll love it if you haven't already read it. Definite sick day reading :)

Jessclub7 said...

Buying a book in hardcover is as close as I have ever come to making a serious commitment in my life! Haha!