sprite writes
broodings from the burrow

February 18, 2009

literary pursuits
posted by soe 5:29 pm

Hillary invited folks to discuss books by posting a survey result and a meme on her blog. It was about books. How could I resist?

What Kind of Reader Are You?

Your Result: Obsessive-Compulsive Bookworm

You’re probably in the final stages of a Ph.D. or otherwise finding a way to make your living out of reading. You are one of the literati. Other people’s grammatical mistakes make you insane.

Dedicated Reader
Literate Good Citizen
Book Snob
Fad Reader
What Kind of Reader Are You?
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz

It’s true. They do.

Then the meme, which is designed to make us readerly folks feel good about ourselves, because apparently the average American has only read six of the following:

Here’s the challenge –
Bold the books you have already read
Italicize the books you intend to read
Notes in parentheses next to note-worthy titles.

1) Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
2) The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien
3) Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
4) Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling
5) To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
6) The Bible
7) Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
8) Nineteen Eighty Four by George Orwell
9) His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman (I still have the final volume to read, but I think we’ll count it anyways.)
10) Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
11) Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
12) Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
13) Catch 22 by Joseph Heller
14) Complete Works of Shakespeare (I haven’t even read half. I’m trying to read one or two plays a year.)
15) Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier
16) The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien
17) Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks (I own it, but I’m not sure if I’ll ever read it.)
18) Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger
19) The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
20) Middlemarch by George Eliot
21) Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell
22) The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
23) Bleak House by Charles Dickens
24) War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
25) The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
26) Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh
27) Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28) Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
29) Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
30) The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
31) Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
32) David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
33) Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis (Again, I haven’t read the final volume, but Amani tells me I shouldn’t bother.)
34) Emma by Jane Austen
35) Persuasion by Jane Austen
36) The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe by CS Lewis (I’m not quite sure why this gets its own line when the whole series is included, but whatever…)
37) The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
38) Captain Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis De Bernieres
39) Memories of a Geisha by Arthur Golden (This might be another book I own, although I’m not positive…)
40) Winnie the Pooh by AA Milne
41) Animal Farm by George Orwell (Although I haven’t read it since elementary school. Maybe I should re-read it?)
42) The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown
43) One Hundred Years of Solitude, Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44) A Prayer for Owen Meaney by John Irving
45) The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
46) Anne of Green Gables by LM Montgomery
47) Far From The Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy
48) The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
49) Lord of the Flies by William Golding
50) Atonement by Ian McEwan
51) Life of Pi by Yann Martel
52) Dune by Frank Herbert
53) Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons
54) Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
55) A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth
56) The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57) A Tale Of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
58) Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
59) The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon
60) Love In The Time Of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61) Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
62) Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
63) The Secret History by Donna Tartt (Jenn sent me a copy a few years ago. I should dig it out…)
64) The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
65) Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
66) On The Road by Jack Kerouac
67) Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy
68) Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding
69) Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie
70) Moby Dick by Herman Melville (This would be the first work of literature that I started when it was assigned, but that I just could not get through…)
71) Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
72) Dracula by Bram Stoker
73) The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
74) Notes From A Small Island by Bill Bryson
75) Ulysses by James Joyce
76) The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
77) Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome
78) Germinal by Emile Zola
79) Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray
80) Possession by AS Byatt
81) A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
82) Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
83) The Color Purple by Alice Walker
84) The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro
85) Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
86) A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry
87) Charlotte’s Web by EB White
88) The Five People You Meet In Heaven by Mitch Albom
89) Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (Well, some of them. Not all.)
90) The Faraway Tree Collection by Enid Blyton
91) Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
92) The Little Prince by Antoine De Saint-Exupery (In English and in French)
93) The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks
94) Watership Down by Richard Adams
95) A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole (Hated the main character. Put it down and haven’t felt compelled yet to change its status.)
96) A Town Like Alice by Nevil Shute
97) The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas
98) Hamlet by William Shakespeare
99) Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
100) Les Miserables by Victor Hugo (I love the musical. I keep thinking I might love the book too. But what if Eponine isn’t as lovable in the novel?)

I’ve read 42 and have another two dozen on my TBR pile.

First off, as with any survey of books you’ve read, it’s subjective. Interestingly, although this list is associated, according to Hillary’s source, to The Big Read, an American initiative, this list was clearly compiled by someone British. I don’t know that Birdsong, for instance, made its way across the Atlantic. And while you can get Enid Blyton books and The Swallows and the Amazons (a great series, btw) here in the U.S., they aren’t commonly read by American children in their formative years.

Secondly, I agree with Hillary. It’s far more important to me that you read something you love than that you read Important Works of Literature. If it’s Stephen King or graphic novels or Mary Higgins Clark or auto repair manuals that you enjoy, read them and don’t worry about silly lists. (I considered calling it a canon, but no canon I know of would include Mitch Albom, regardless of how beloved his works are.) I love lots of books, so these lists are fun for me because they boot books I’ve been meaning to read back onto my radar screen.

So my message is this: don’t let lists like this one distract you from just enjoying the sheer fun of being transported somewhere new through a book. But do remember that the reason certain books are still being read 50, 100, 400 years later is because they contain some kernel of universal truth in them about the human condition. Shakespeare might have used a lot of fancy words (and made up several turns of phrase as he went along, for that matter), but Romeo and Juliet still comes down to the fact that a boy and a girl fall madly in love and their parents don’t want them to date. Doesn’t seem so irrelevant when you put it that way, does it?

(Oh, and if you need a recommendation, let me know…)

Category: books. There is/are 3 Comments.

Ooooh, Dedicated Reader here (but I also scored highly as Obsessive Compulsive Bookworm, Book Snob, and Literate Good Citizen). My score on the other test is 73, but that’s not counting The Bible, the Complete Works of Shakespeare, or the Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, all of which I’ve read _most_ of, but perhaps not every last bit/one, and then there’s Bleak House, Middlemarch, and War and Peace which I’ve made good dents in before getting distracted by shiny new (and shorter) books.

Comment by Shani 02.19.09 @ 10:14 am

Thank you. Very well said.

Comment by Hillary 02.19.09 @ 11:52 am

Shani, 73! Wow! Now, that’s impressive.

Hillary, thank you for sharing it in the first place!

Comment by soe 02.20.09 @ 11:40 am