Friday, March 06, 2009

Reading Challenge: A Facebook Meme

Usually I hate memes, but then again usually they don't involve books either. This one is interesting. The BBC believes most people will have only read 6 of the 100 books here. My count is hovering mid-20s.

How do your reading habits stack up?

You can copy, edit and paste into a note of your own.

1 Pride and Prejudice: Nope, and I’m not sure it would be a book I’d enjoy so much. However, I’ve just become aware of “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies”, which I think I’d enjoy very much.

2 The Lord of the Rings: Yes, all three, twice, and two copies of it. But I’ve only seen each movie a time or two, in contrast to many of my friends.

3 Jane Eyre: Nope.

4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling: At least twice each. I was actually in London the night the last book came out. Talk about some interesting people… and I like to think I got on British television twice.

5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee: Yes, 9th grade English, and I definitely enjoyed it. Atticus Finch is one of the most awesome characters from the 20th century: the prototypical Southern gentleman attorney, and a dead eye firing shotguns at rabid dogs.

6 The Bible: Not cover-to-cover, but enough to get the gist. I know at least as much about it as the average Catholic, so I’ll go with yes.

7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte: Ugh. Yes, AP Lit, and not by choice. Although Mr. Lockwood is wonderfully douche-y.

8 1984 - George Orwell: Yep, back in middle school. I really think I ought to read it again.

9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman: No, though I’d like to, to see what all the hype and controversy was about.

10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens: Nope.

11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott: Nah, another “not so much a Matt book”.

12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy: Nope.

13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller: No, though it’s on the list for this summer.

14 Complete Works of Shakespeare: Not even close, but the Tempest is my favorite play of all time.

15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier: Never heard of it.

16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien: Yes, three times, and I own two copies of it too.

17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulk: Never heard of it either.

18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger: Nope, though it might be on the list for this summer as well.

19 The Time Traveler’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger: Never heard of it either.

20 Middlemarch - George Eliot: No. My dad’s least favorite book of all time is Silas Marner, so I’ve avoided Mr. Eliot’s books, perhaps a bit prejudicially.

21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell: No, and I’m the rare Georgian who’s never seen the movie either. Honestly, I don’t know how into it I’d be.

22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald: Yep, 11th grade English. I enjoyed it, but that’s another one that probably merits a re-read.

23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens: Nah… I don’t like Dickens much at all.

24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy: No, like many readers, I’m scared of its length.

25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams: Of course! (and yes, I know where my towel is.)

26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh: Never heard of this one either.

27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky: Yes, voluntarily, as a summer project before AP Lit. One of the great works of all time. Not just Russian literature, or 19th century literature, but ever. It’s by no means en easy read; long and weighty. But if you have the patience for the length and curiosity for the moral issues, highly recommended.

28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck: Yeah, and I didn’t care for it at all.

29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll: I’ve… er… played the Kingdom Hearts level based on it?

30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame: Nope.

31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy: Nope again.

32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens: Again with the Dickens?

33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis: Pass the Chronic! Yeah, read them all, but it’s been a very long time.

34 Emma - Jane Austen: Nope.

35 Persuasion - Jane Austen: Nope again.

36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis: As part of the Chronic, yes.

37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini: No, though I’ve heard it’s very good.

38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres: Never heard of it.

39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden: Watched the movie?

40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne: At this point, the story is so collectively etched into the youth of America that it hardly matters that I’ve never sat down and read it.

41 Animal Farm - George Orwell: Yep, way back in 8th grade English. I think I was one of the only ones who really understood the allegory. Enjoyed it.

42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown: Read all of Dan Brown’s books, which admittedly are pretty much all the same book anyway. I found them entertaining.

43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez: Nope.

44 A Prayer for Owen Meany - John Irving: Nope.

45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins: Nope.

46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery: Nope.

47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy: No.

48 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood: No. This is a bad streak I’m on…

49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding: Yes, 10th grade English. I actually didn’t care for it so much. Too much symbolism crammed down your throat, and the ending is awful. Still, the influence on Lost (particularly seasons 1 and 4) is undeniable.

50 Atonement - Ian McEwan: Nope.

51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel: Nope.

52 Dune - Frank Herbert: Yeah, and I was disappointed. For the sci-fi classic it’s supposed to be, I thought I’d really enjoy it, but I found it confusing, and I didn’t care about half the characters. Interestingly, the prequel series, written within the last 5 or so years, are a lot less deep but a lot more fun to read.

53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons: Nope, never heard of it.

54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen: Only if there are zombies in this one too.

55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth: Never heard of it.

56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon: Or it.

57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens: Dickens.

58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley: No, though I might want to.

59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon: That was the one about the autistic kid who decides what sort of day it’s going to be by the colors of cars he sees, right? Read it and liked it.

60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez: Nope.

61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck: Yeah, 11th grade English. Talk about a sad book.

62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov: Nope.

63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt: Never heard of it.

64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold: Or it.

65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas: Wonderful book. I only read it recently, and I was surprised never to have encountered it before that. Highly recommended.

66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac: Nah, I don’t think I’d have patience for his beatnik “dharma” business.

67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy: Nope. A friend of mine told me it was really bad.

68 Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding: Nope.

69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie: Nope.

70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville: A cursory study of it in 11th grade English. Watched the movie, read excerpts. I think it's one of those books that probably has a downright excellent story buried in there if you have the patience for 19th-century dark-romantic wordiness.

71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens: More Dickens?

72 Dracula - Bram Stoker: No, actually.

73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett: Nope.

74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson: Never heard of this one.

75 Ulysses - James Joyce: I'm scared to death of Joyce, mostly because of things like 4000-word sentences. Tell me that anyone can comprehend that--including Joyce himself--and you'd be lying.

76 The Inferno - Dante: Yes, plus a high-level view of the Purgatorio and the Paradiso, in AP Lit. I liked it a lot, because there's so many levels you can read and understand the story on. Also, it gives an interesting glimpse into Middle Ages Catholicism, an important reference point for my religion.

77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome: Never heard of it.

78 Germinal - Emile Zola: Or it.

79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thakeray: Ugh, no, I don't think I'd enjoy it at all.

80 Possession - AS Byatt: Nope.

81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens: Saw the... Muppets movie?

82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell: Nope.

83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker: Saw the play?

84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro: Never heard of it.

85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert: Nope.

86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry: Nope.

87 Charlotte’s Web - EB White: Yes, a long time ago.

88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom: Nope, but I read Tuesdays with Morrie, and it was really sad.

89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle: Actually no; those are probably worth reading.

90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton: Nope.

91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad: Ooh, yes. Interesting book. Way better as a springboard to discuss good and evil and morality than as a narrative. And yet, "The horror! The horror!" is one of the classic lines of modern literature.

92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery: Saw the... Lost episode called that?

93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks: Nope.

94 Watership Down - Richard Adams: Somehow, I managed to escape this one back in 9th grade English. Seems like an awfully divisive book, with more people leaning toward the side of "it sucked."

95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole: Nope.

96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute: Nope.

97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas: No, though given how much I liked The Count of Monte Cristo, I might give it a shot.

98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare: Once in AP Lit, and again in English at Tech. AP Lit was a lot more fun, because we got to do a read-through of it. I read the part of Laertes, which was great, until our teacher declined to allow me and the guy reading Hamlet to have an actual swordfight.

99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl: Probably yes, as a kid.

100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo: Nah, and I've never seen the musical either.

My total is 25, give or take, depending on if you count "part of it" as a yes or no. I think that's pretty respectable.

Now, five books I'm surprised were not on this list.

The Crucible - Arthur Miller: If The Tempest is my favorite play, The Crucible is a close second. Actually, I think it's odd that there wasn't anything by Arthur Miller, or Tennessee Williams, or any of their contemporaries. It would be like compiling a similar list of musical compositions, and leaving out Gershwin, Copland, and Bernstein. The middle of the 20th century was very good to American artistic development, and it deserves some representation here.

Candide - Voltaire: Possibly the best-known satire in literary history, and its humor is still relevant centuries later.

Ender’s Game - Orson Scott Card: Certainly a better sci-fi tale than Dune, with more compelling characterization, a more straightforward plot, and actually some compelling philosophical questions raised.

Atlas Shrugged - Ayn Rand: The immortal "Who Is John Galt?" and its answer--both literal and symbolic--is one of the most enduring and provoking inquiries of modern literature. Whether or not you agree with Objectivism, or any of Rand's ideas at all, Atlas Shrugged provides an intellectual counterpoint to some of the political philosophies active in the 20th century, and actually manages to be a compelling narrative at the same time.

The Scarlet Letter - Nathaniel Hawthorne: I actually didn't so much like The Scarlet Letter, but its connection to American culture--both nascent America in the 17th century and developing America in the 19th--is undeniable.

Currently listening: Water Music, GF Handel


Paul Brown said...

interesting list. looks like i've read 17 of the 100, and there are a few listed that i'd like to read.

one book i thought should be listed: Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison.

and finally, #44, A Prayer for Owen Meany got just a "nope" response from you. I highly recommend it, as I regard it as the best book I've ever read. maybe add that to your summer reading list?

Anonymous said...

Re: Silas Marner - This is the "Yummy, yummy, yummy, I've got Love in My Tummy" of the literature world. The best character was the pickup truck which was, sadly in too few chapters.