Saturday, December 15, 2007

The Last of the 100 Greatest Books I Haven't Read

Alright, here are the last remaining books on The List:

86.  The Tale of Genji (Murasaki Shikibu)...In my search of the web for lists of the greatest books ever written, I came across this one several times.  I know absolutely nothing about it.  Sounds Japanese, though.
87.  The Trial (Franz Kafka)...All I've read of Kafka is "The Metamorphosis".  I'm guessing this book is his version of a John Grisham novel.
88.  Paradise Lost (Milton)...This one will be heavy.  Should have read it in college, but never did.
89.  The New Testament...When I was in college I decided to read the Bible straight through.  I got most of the way through the Old Testament. Now it's time to finish the job.  I also debated adding The Koran to This List, as it seems like an important book for these times, but I decided against it.  Not quite sure why, but I may add it at some point.
90.  Beowulf...I debated this one, since I have little interest in reading it, but adding it seemed like the liberal artsy thing to do.
91.  Notes from the Underground (Dostoevsky)...I read "Crime and Punishment" in high school.  That was a helluva great novel.  Made me feel sick and feverish reading it.  I also thought of adding "The Idiot" to The List, just because the title's cool.
92.  The Cairo Trilogy (Naguib Mahfouz)...Egyptian writers were sorely lacking from This List, so I added these.  This guy won the Nobel Prize!
93.  The Education of Henry Adams (H. Adams)...An autobiography written in the third person.  Can't pass that up!
94.  Canterbury Tales (Chaucer)...This one has little appeal to me, but again, I feel like it's one of those books I should have read.  I have no doubt I will struggle with his English, since they couldn't spell very well in olden times.
95.  Robinson Crusoe (D. Defoe)...Another book I should have read as a kid.  We all know what it's about, but I want the details!
96.  Seven Pillars of Wisdom (TE Lawrence)...Lawrence of Arabia's book.  Loved the movie.
97.  The Mill on the Floss (G. Eliot)...More Eliot.  This one's about a mill.  But what's a "Floss"?
98.  Moll Flanders (D. Defoe)...This one's about a girl named Moll.  That's all I know.
99.  The Wealth of Nations (Adam Smith)...This is different from many other books on this list, but I included it, as it's perhaps the most famous book written about economics...a field I had absolutely no interest in during college, but which has become much more interesting to me since I started actually making some money.
100.  Democracy in America (De Toqueville)...A french dude analyzes America.  A classic work.

So there you have it, right?  Well, no...unfortunately, I couldn't stop at 100, and ended up adding five more books to The List:

101.  Ulysses (James Joyce)...Alright, I said before I wouldn't add this, but I had to.  In high school I read "Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man" and absolutely hated it.  But I think I should re-examine Joyce before writing him off forever.  And what better way than with his most famous book.
102.  Up from Slavery (Booker T. Washington)...An ex-slave writes his autobiography.  More classic Americana.
103.  Eugene Onegin (A. Pushkin)...Never read any Pushkin, and I know nothing about this book, except that I've heard of it.
104.  Look Homeward Angel (Thomas Wolfe)...This is supposed to be a great novel.  All I know about it is that it takes place in North Carolina.
105.  Ivanhoe (Walter Scott)...I think this is about the Crusades.

That's it!  105 books that I should read before I die.  I imagine that as I go along This List will be a bit fluid.  I may add a book or two, and I suppose I may remove one.  As I said in my last post, I've already started on my first book from The List.  More about that in my next post.


Kristin said...

87. The Trial - one of the strangest stories I ever read...but then again, that's Kafka

101. Ulysses - I'm reading this one in July - I have set the entire month aside for it. I'm afraid...very afraid.

NigelBeale said...

Just came across your blog thanks to Amateur Reader. Great idea! I started reading Clifton Fadiman's Lifetime Reading Plan list about 20 years ago...started off gangbusters...have slowed down quite a bit and still have 30-40 to go. Not as disciplined as you are evidently...

re Ulysses. I read it about ten years ago. Really enjoyed it, thanks to Harry Blamires' The New Bloomsday Book, A guide through Ulysses...would have been lost without it.

Thanks for the blog. Keep on truckin'!

BONNIE J said...

I loved the Cairo Trilogy when I read it back in the early 90's. Some people compare Mahfouz to Dickens. He certainly has a rich cast of characters - tragic, funny, hypocritical, etc. Hope you like it too.

Anonymous said...

You should try reading 'Dubliners' by Joyce. They are a collection of very fine short stories that stand up on their own merit, but should be read while keeping in mind when they were written to realise just how brilliant a writer Joyce was.

Ulysses is a very difficult read - I would highly recommend keeping a 'cliff notes' style book open beside you as you read, otherwise you will just get frustrated and give up - I did.

The annotated Joyce is apparently good

and the cliff notes are fine too