Thursday, June 19, 2008

Books meme

As seen at Unbalanced Reaction and elsewhere

"What we have here is the top 106 books most often marked as “unread” by LibraryThing’s users. As in, they sit on the shelf to make you look smart or well-rounded.

Bold the ones you’ve read, italicize the ones you read for school". (I also added commentary in blue).

I've always been a voracious reader, and I grew up in a house full of books with nothing deemed off-limits or age-inappropriate, so I'm not surprised to see a fair amount of bold text!

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell
Anna Karenina
Crime and Punishment
Catch-22 During high shool, but not for school. Loved it at the time
One Hundred Years of Solitude
Wuthering Heights Didn't really ever get into it. Maybe I should try again
The Silmarillion
Life of Pi: A novel
The Name of the Rose
Don Quixote Hated it, but made myself finish it
Moby Dick Ditto
Madame Bovary
The Odyssey
Pride and Prejudice A favourite
Jane Eyre Meh
The Tale of Two Cities Awesome. I only got into Dickens quite recently
The Brothers Karamazov
Guns, Germs, and Steel
War and Peace
Vanity Fair I have no idea why this is a classic: it's messy, boring and internally inconsistent
The Time Traveler’s Wife Laughed at the genetics, but otherwise loved it
The Iliad
The Blind Assassin
The Kite Runner Review here
Mrs. Dalloway
Great Expectations Not as good as Tale of Two Cities, but still great
American Gods
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius
Atlas Shrugged
Reading Lolita in Tehran: A memoir in books
Memoirs of a Geisha Not sure why this is on this list, I thought it was a fun and frothy book!
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 During high shool, but not for school. Loved it at the time
The Fountainhead
Foucault’s Pendulum
The Count of Monte Cristo
Dracula I was surprised at how good it actually is!
A Clockwork Orange
Anansi Boys
The Once and Future King
The Grapes of Wrath Love, love, love Steinbeck, although this is not among my favourites
The Poisonwood Bible Awesome
1984 Lives up to the hype
Angels & Demons Review here
The Satanic Verses
Sense and Sensibility Not as good as Pride and Prejudice, obviously!
The Picture of Dorian Gray I'm pretty sure I've read it, although I don't remember much about it
Mansfield Park
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest Quite recently. It's unbelievable that the main character wasn't written specifically for Jack Nicholson, it's just spot-on!
To the Lighthouse
Tess of the D’Urbervilles My sister is a huge Hardy fan and made me read this. I hated it
Oliver Twist Good stuff!
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time Just amazing
Dune Not sure I'd like it as much now as I did as a teenager
The Prince
The Sound and the Fury
Angela’s Ashes: A memoir Absorbing, but not very satisfying somehow
The God of Small Things I liked it, but didn't love it
A People’s History of the United States : 1492-present
A Confederacy of Dunces
A Short History of Nearly Everything
Dubliners Erm, challenging!
The Unbearable Lightness of Being
The Scarlet Letter
Eats, Shoots & Leaves Not cover to cover though
The Mists of Avalon
Oryx and Crake
Collapse: How societies choose to fail or succeed
The Confusion
Northanger Abbey
The Catcher in the Rye I think I read it too young
On the Road I could never get past the first few pages
The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Freakonomics: A rogue economist explores the hidden side of everything I got a bit bogged down in the middle, but overall I thought it was great
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An inquiry into values
The Aeneid
Watership Down Repeatedly. Awesome
Gravity’s Rainbow
The Hobbit See Watership Down...
In Cold Blood: A true account of a multiple murder and its consequences Years ago. Not to be repeated - too grisly
White Teeth Loved it!
Treasure Island See Watership Down...
David Copperfield

I tag... anyone who thinks this looks fun!


  1. Read:

    Crime and Punishment (well half before I died of boredom and long Russian names)

    Wuthering Heights
    Life of Pi: A novel (LOVED)

    The Odyssey
    Pride and Prejudice (A Favorite)

    Jane Eyre
    The Tale of Two Cities
    The Time Traveler’s Wife (Read in Egypt on a Nile felucca, but couldn't put the book down!!)

    Emma (Can you tell I'm an Austen fan?)

    The Blind Assassin (Slow to get into, but so worth it)

    The Kite Runner
    Great Expectations
    A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius (Read right after my dad died and my mom had cancer. It felt like it was written for me.)

    Middlesex (Fantastic)

    Wicked: The life and times of the wicked witch of the West (Cute and trashy)

    The Canterbury Tales
    Brave New World
    The Satanic Verses (Wrote my Senior paper on this one in high school)

    Sense and Sensibility
    Mansfield Park
    Tess of the D’Urbervilles
    Oliver Twist- Um, I'm not sure I ever read more than the abridged children's version though

    The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
    The Sound and the Fury- sorta. I read parts of it for a class. Don't ask me what it's about

    Angela’s Ashes: A memoir
    A People’s History of the United States : 1492-present: I've tried. Very, very hard. I've read I think until Jackson. He's just not a good writer. Sadly.

    Northanger Abbey
    The Catcher in the Rye (adore)
    On the Road
    The Hobbit
    White Teeth
    David Copperfield (read when I was nine because my mom made me. Hated it. Too many people have Dickens ruined for them because they read it too young, I think.)

  2. I'd have to bold about as many as you, but perhaps unsurprisingly my distribution is skewed towards the Russian literature (being able to read it in original and all) as opposed to English (I have read lots translated ages ago; wish I had more time now that I can read them in original).

  3. Arduous, thanks for the recommendations in your list! I've been meaning to read Life of Pi for ages, but never get around to it due to the big pile of unread books in my house. And is the Satanic Verses any good? I've read some of his other books and enjoyed them.

    ScienceGirl, I haven't read much Russian literature. Is there anything in particular you'd recommend?

  4. I love both Tolstoy and Dostoyevski, so I've read all of theirs on your list. I'd recommend Anna Karenina and Crime and Punishment, although I'd imagine especially the second one would loose a lot in translation (there is a lot of play on words and names that I doubt can be reflected in another language - could be why Arduous wasn't impressed). It's too bad that translations never come even close to the originals.

  5. I loved White Teeth too! COuldn't get into her second one (the autograph man). The latest (On beauty) is on my shelf but unread as of now.

  6. SG, thanks! Those seem like winter books, so I'll try to get hold of them later in the year. I'm going to the UK for Xmas and I like reading big books on long flights (that's how I got into Dickens), so it should work out well!

    Stepwise, unfortunately it seems that White Teeth might have been a one-off. I didn't like Autograph Man or On Beauty at all. Although I've heard of people who love the latter two, but hated White Teeth!

  7. CAE, I highly recommend Life of Pi and Satanic Verses. It will be interesting to see what you think of them as they are both about religion.

    Life of Pi is about a boy who is very religious. So religious, in fact, that he is a Muslim, a Hindu, and a Christian. He prays devoutly at each place of worship, and of course, ends up getting in trouble with the religious leaders who tell him he has to choose one religion. He's a boy, and he doesn't understand that because he finds God in all these places.

    Oh and there's a tiger. You'll just have to read the book.

    Satanic Verses is obviously about religion as well. I feel a little bit like Salman Rushdie is the Dawkins of agnosticism. This quote from Satanic Verses pretty much sums up my religious beliefs:

    "What is the opposite of faith? Not disbelief. Too final, certain, closed. Itself a kind of belief. Doubt."

    Sciencegirl, sorry didn't mean to hate on Dostoyevsky. I am sure a lot gets lost in translation. I doubt Dickens or Shakespeare can really be translated to another language without losing much of the fun.

  8. Arduous - I completely understand! All literature looses in translation, so I have been trying to read English literature in original as I am becoming more proficient in the language. But Shakespeare is particularly hard!

  9. Arduous, the tiger is the only thing I knew about Life of Pi! It sounds intriguing.

    ScienceGirl, I haven't read many translations of foreign literature, but maybe the translation problem explains my experience with Don Quixote.

  10. Good gracious! I only found two books on there that I haven't read and I must say that I find it an odd list for this - one would think it should be the fairly dull ones on it but there are only a few I count in that catergory! Oh - and I'm back :) Catching up. Good to "see" you again!

  11. Likewise!

    I thought I was doing quite well with this list, but all but two? I'm impressed! Which ones didn't you read, and are there any you'd recommend?


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