Monday, October 24, 2005

And I thought I was fairly well-read!

I strike out big-time in Time Magazine's list of best books from 1923 till now

I am a reader. I have always been a reader, and you will rarely catch me without at least one book in progress. Granted, much of what I read today isn't particularly literary, although I believe it is usually beneficial, uplifting in some way, and falls into my Philippians 4:8 guideline for what I choose to put into my mind.

However, when it comes to Time Magazine's list of 100 best English-language books from 1923 to the present, I fail miserably. Folks, I've read EIGHT of them. Eight out of 100. And at least three of those were because they were required reading in my high school English classes.

(For example, I hated, really hated The Grapes of Wrath. Granted, I was only 17 when I read it--maybe I would look on it differently now in my late 40's--but at the time I thought it was depressing and even ugly.)

I'm not sure what my failure to read these books says about me. Am I woefully un-well-read? Is Time Magazine full of baloney? Are those books really all the best, or are there glaring omissions (remember, this is just from 1923 on?)

Do I even WANT to read these books? Should I? Would reading any of them enhance my life, benefit me in any way, fall into the Philippians 4:8 guideline?

Take a look at the list. If you like, copy-n-paste them onto your blog, bolding the ones you've read, as I did.

And please! If there are books on this list that you've read, and that you highly recommend, please let me know! My library card is up-to-date and ready to go.

(P.S. I did a little better with this list.)

The List

The Adventures of Augie March--Saul Bellow
All the King's Men--Robert Penn Warren
American Pastoral--Philip Roth
An American Tragedy--Theodore Dreiser
Animal Farm--George Orwell
Appointment in Samarra--John O'Hara
Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret--Judy Blume
The Assistant--Bernard Malamud
At Swim-Two-Birds--Flann O'Brien
Atonement--Ian McEwan
Beloved--Toni Morrison
The Berlin Stories--Christopher Isherwood
The Big Sleep--Raymond Chandler
The Blind Assassin--Margaret Atwood
Blood Meridian--Cormac McCarthy
Brideshead Revisited--Evelyn Waugh
The Bridge of San Luis Rey--Thornton Wilder

C - D
Call It Sleep--Henry Roth
Catch-22--Joseph Heller
The Catcher in the Rye--J.D. Salinger
A Clockwork Orange--Anthony Burgess
The Confessions of Nat Turner--William Styron
The Corrections--Jonathan Franzen
The Crying of Lot 49--Thomas Pynchon
A Dance to the Music of Time--Anthony Powell
The Day of the Locust--Nathanael West
Death Comes for the Archbishop==Willa Cather
A Death in the Family--James Agee
The Death of the Heart--Elizabeth Bowen
Deliverance--James Dickey
Dog Soldiers--Robert Stone

F - G
Falconer--John Cheever
The French Lieutenant's Woman--John Fowles
The Golden Notebook--Doris Lessing
Go Tell it on the Mountain--James Baldwin
Gone With the Wind--Margaret Mitchell
The Grapes of Wrath--John Steinbeck (only because required reading in high school)
Gravity's Rainbow--Thomas Pynchon
The Great Gatsby--F. Scott Fitzgerald

H - I
A Handful of Dust--Evelyn Waugh
The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter--Carson McCullers(again, required high school reading)
The Heart of the Matter--Graham Greene
Herzog--Saul Bellow
Housekeeping--Marilynne Robinson
A House for Mr. Biswas--V.S. Naipaul
I, Claudius--Robert Graves
Infinite Jest--David Foster Wallace
Invisible Man--Ralph Ellison

- N
Light in August--William Faulkner
The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe--C.S. Lewis (Yes, one of my favorite books of all time)
Lolita--Vladimir Nabokov
Lord of the Flies--William Golding
The Lord of the Rings--J.R.R. Tolkien
Loving--Henry Green
Lucky Jim--Kingsley Amis
The Man Who Loved Children--Christina Stead
Midnight's Children--Salman Rushdie
Money--Martin Amis
The Moviegoer--Walker Percy
Mrs. Dalloway--Virginia Woolf
Naked Lunch--William Burroughs
Native Son--Richard Wright
Neuromancer--William Gibson
Never Let Me Go--Kazuo Ishiguro
1984--George Orwell

O - R
On the Road--Jack Kerouac
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest--Ken Kesey
The Painted Bird--Jerzy Kosinski
Pale Fire--Vladimir Nabokov
A Passage to India--E.M. Forster
Play It As It Lays--Joan Didion
Portnoy's Complaint--Philip Roth
Possession--A.S. Byatt
The Power and the Glory--Graham Greene
The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie--Muriel Spark
Rabbit, Run--John Updike
Ragtime--E.L. Doctorow
The Recognitions--William Gaddis
Red Harvest--Dashiell Hammett
Revolutionary Road--Richard Yates

S - T
The Sheltering Sky--Paul Bowles
Slaughterhouse-Five--Kurt Vonnegut
Snow Crash--Neal Stephenson
The Sot-Weed Factor--John Barth
The Sound and the Fury--William Faulkner
The Sportswriter--Richard Ford
The Spy Who Came in From the Cold--John le Carre
The Sun Also Rises--Ernest Hemingway
Their Eyes Were Watching God--Zora Neale Hurston
Things Fall Apart--Chinua Achebe
To Kill a Mockingbird--Harper Lee
To the Lighthouse--Virginia Woolf
Tropic of Cancer--Henry Miller

U - W
Ubik--Philip K. Dick
Under the Net--Iris Murdoch
Under the Volcano--Malcolm Lowry
Watchmen--Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons
White Noise--Don DeLillo
White Teeth--Zadie Smith
Wide Sargasso Sea--Jean Rhys

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