Saturday, July 26, 2008

NEA List: How many have you read?

If you're the "average" person, you've only read SIX, according to the National Endowment for the Arts. You all of course, dear readers, are not average at all.

So, here's what you do: Copy onto your blog. Bold the books you have read. Italicize the books you intend to read. Underline or change the color of books you love. Then bug those people who have only read six of these.

Reading through this list, I realized that (1) I have spent quite a bit of time reading things other than these books, (2) I'm surprised at some of the "classics" (three Thomas Hardy books, puh-leeze!), (3) I'm surprised at some of contemporary books here (Five People You Meet in Heaven? Time Traveler's Wife, really?) (4) the absence of other African-American writers like Zora Neale Hurstson, Ralph Elliot, Toni Morrison, and Ernest Gaines; only Alice Walker is represented (5) while I've read quite a few, I've never heard of some of these (6) yay! for some of the children's classics like Anne of Green Gables and The Wind in the Willows (7) I've seen the movie; does that count?

Lists like these always bring up questions of quality, diversity, tradition, authority. Who decides what should be included? What are their criteria? What is their intention? Why are there FOUR Jane Austen novels (not that I don't love, love, love Austen, but let's give some space to someone else)? Why no Faulkner or Flannery O'Connor? And of course, based on your schooling or preferences, you may have missed a bunch of these. In Amer. Lit. I, I read other Melville stuff, not Moby Dick, since my prof wanted more diversity. In 12th grade, I took AP English Lit, which meant I didn't read 1984 or Animal Farm back then. And I don't really like Dickens.

Anyway, I can update Good Reads this week with some more "intend to read" books for my shelf. Maybe you'll do the same.

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
6 The Bible
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell (how I taught senior Brit Lit English without having to read this whole thing is probably enough to have my teaching certificate revoked)
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare (I've read most)
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveler’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
34 Emma - Jane Austen
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
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
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel
52 Dune - Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding
69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie (NOOOOO!!!! One Rushdie was enough!)
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses - James Joyce
76 The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal - Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace 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
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
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
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo


patti said...

OOooo Amy...what a fun project!
coming on my blog soon!!!

Anonymous said...

Looks like I need to go to the library! You don't want to know my number. Marie

Katie said...

I knew you wouldn't disappoint. :)

I know, I agree about the African American writers- that would've helped me out some when filling out my list! And I, too, wanted many musicals or movies to count as "reading the book." :)

Debby Sutton said...

Ok 1. Bridget Jones is on the list?
2. You haven't read Bridget Jones?!?!

Amy, come on -- it's a quick-read classic, at least!

And -- I do believe that if you've tried to read a book -- Cold Comfort Farm, Atonement, Moby Dick -- that counts for something.

I do have to share that I feel very intelligent now -- and I agree, Time Traveller's Wife!?!? Are you kidding me?!!?

Scribbling Suit said...

Debby - I watched the movie!! And it has Colin Firth so it has to be better than the book.

patti said... DO realize youve read like half the list!!!

patti said... DO realize youve read like half the list!!!

Debby Sutton said...

Amz - I agree, with Colin Firth most things are better. But there are few books which make me almost pee my pants with laughter -- Bridget Jones is one of them. And she talks about Colin Firth in the book -- the movie will become clearer when you read the book. You know me, I'm all for watching the movie and claiming to have read it. This one however is not one of those!!! Like Middlemarch is going to bring more pleasure? Not a chance!!! =)

Scribbling Suit said...

Patti - 43%. There has to be some perk of being an English teacher!

amy said...

I had to read Anna Karenina in high school and write a book report. It was misery, and I consider myself an avid reader. Tolstoy's sentences are paragraphs long and the story is major league depressing. Why is this book always on every list?? Sadness. Yeah for The Secret Garden and Les Miserables - I liked those two.