Tuesday, December 4, 2007

So what's on this #&$*@% list, anyway?

Ah yes, an excellent question.  What books are on "the list", and why are they there?  What makes me so sure these 100 are the top 100 books I've never read?  Well, first let me lay a few ground rules, most of which get broken immediately.  I tried to omit "philosophy" books.  Yes, while Kant's "Critique of Pure Reason", Max Weber's "The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism", and David Hume's "A Treatise of Human Nature" are all incredibly important works and should be read by everyone and pondered over while meditating in the desert for a year or two, I just don't think I'd get much out of them without taking a class and discussing them with fellow students while smoking clove cigarettes and drinking rye whiskey from a plastic cup.  But as I said, the rules here get broken, so Adam Smith's "The Wealth of Nations" is included on the list at #99.  Why that particular book?  I dunno.  Whim maybe.

In fact, most of the books on the list are fiction.  Most, but not all.  There are a few biographies, as we shall see, and a few classic books of history.  But enough delay...on to The List!

Well, not quite on to The List.  First an explanation...the list is numbered by the order I thought of that particular book.  I won't necessarily read the books in this order.  I fact, I definitely won't.  So the order is actually quite random.  I suppose I could hit "sort" on my Excel spreadsheet and organize the whole thing, but that's too easy, and not so fun.  But anyway, where was I ...oh yes, on to The List, etc. etc.  So here it is:

1.  War and Peace (Tolstoy)
2.  Middlemarch (George Eliot).  Well, you already know these first two books, if you read my first post.  The greatest novel ever written in some strange foreign tongue, and the greatest novel ever written in God's English.
3.  The Confessions of St. Augustine
4.  The Confessions of Jean Jacques Rousseau.  Two confessions, two seminal works of autobiography, written over a millenium apart.
5.  In Search of Lost Time (Proust).  Or "Remembrance of Things Past" or whatever it's called these days.  Man, "War and Peace" will take me years, and Proust's novel is actually like 17 novels, or something like that.  Nonetheless I will read them all.  I will read them all and love them!  It is my calling.  And speaking of which, there's that damn whiskey bottle shouting my name again.  Hold on a second...Oh yeah, much better.
6.  Anna Karenina (Tolstoy).  I read somewhere on the web that "Anna Karenina" is thought by some folks to be the best novel ever written.  And I thought that was "War and Peace".  This Tolstoy guy apparently has a really good track record.
7.  The Brothers Karamazov (Dostoevsky).  Another long, long Russian novel.
8.  Beloved (Toni Morrison)
9.  Invisible Man (R. Ellison)
10.  The Divine Comedy (Dante).  I'm worried this might be a bit dry, but there's only one way to find out.  And if it is, I can just add whiskey.

Alright, enough for now, it's time for bed.  I gotta get up and go to my job to support this reading habit.  More later...

No comments: