Truly Bad Films

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

To Read Before You Die

Librarians around the UK were asked which books every adult ought to read before they die. The following list resulted. I've bolded the ones I've read.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
The Bible by Various Authors
The Lord of the Rings Trilogyby JRR Tolkien
1984 by George Orwell
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
All Quiet on the Western Front by E M Remarque
His Dark Materials Trilogy by Phillip Pullman
Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
The Lord of the Flies by William Golding
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon
Tess of the D'urbevilles by Thomas Hardy
Winnie the Pooh by AA Milne
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Graham
Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
The Time Traveller's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
The Prophet by Khalil Gibran
David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
Life of Pi by Yann Martel
Middlemarchby George Eliot
The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Alexander Solzenhitsyn

In my defense, I've read parts of many of the books that aren't in bold. For example, I tried to read Great Expectations in college. Every single time I opened it, I'd come to my senses an hour later with sheet wrinkles embossed on my face. For me, that book was opaque and dashingly unreadable.

Oh - and don't forget what my English teacher told me in college: Everyone MUST read the Iliad and the Odyssey before they die! I've done the Iliad, but I think I'll go back and read a better translation. According to Julian Jaynes, the bones of the story were born from a bicameral mind. Having read the Jaynes book will illuminate both of these ancient volumes from an interesting angle when I visit them again.

Earl Grey and a plate of shortbread for Tinkery Tonk


At 12:53 PM, Blogger GG said...

Wow, the Bible is second place...okay well I have read it, also read
LOTR: Boring...movies much better
Christmas Carol
Winnie the Pooh
David Copperfield
Haven't read Jane Eyre, but saw her grave in Galway i wonder how many knew Jane Eyre was a real person???

At 1:06 PM, Blogger GG said...

BTW: can we add "the neverending story" by Michael Ende to this list. I swear that book is one that every body should read. Yes, I know the movie sucked, but the book, oh, the book almost got me fired from a job because i was so engrossed in it!

At 5:33 PM, Anonymous Robbo the Llama Butcher said...

There's at least a small minority of people who believe The Iliad and The Odyssey were written by two different people. Patrick O'Brian brings it up in one of the Aubrey/Maturin novels and Robert Graves wrote a neat little book called Homer's Daughter that gives a fictional account of a possible alternate source for The Odyssey.

Dunno if I believe it, but it's fun to ponder.

At 9:50 PM, Anonymous keysunset said...

Quite a few books on that list that I have read. I read "Life of Pi" last year for a book club. I did manage to finish it, and it had interesting parts/points, but I don't know that it is one everyone should read before they DIE! I don't plan on reading it again.

gg: I liked "the nevernding story" movie, but I've never read the book. Now I'll have to read the book ... And I did enjoy LOTR - books & movie.

There's literature for every taste ...

At 4:54 PM, Blogger GG said...

Key: I liked the movie until I read the book and realized why Michael Ende wouldn't allow his name or novel have credit in the movie. Not saying that I won't sit down to enjoy it with my cousins, it's just kinda boring now that I have read the book and know the entire story of "fantasia" (Not Barrino from High Point)

At 11:39 AM, Blogger Banshee said...

Instead of re-reading the Iliad, see if your local library has the CDs of the unabridged reading of the Iliad by George Guidall, from Fitzgerald's translation. I have read the Iliad several times, but I think this is the first time I've really loved it.

I don't have enough superlatives for the experience of listening to a long poem from the oral tradition. It's a very good translation, and read by a very good actor. But mostly, it's the power of the poem itself that comes through. Suddenly, you understand why Homer had such power over the Greeks and Romans. A lot of poetic and storytelling devices make a whole lot more sense in the oral context, too.

(Skip the foreword tracks, obviously. I'm sure they're chock full o' academic goodness, but listen to them last.)

At 12:52 PM, Anonymous Joi said...

Great list - I've even read some of them. My Shakespeare-lusting heart just hopes he wasn't included because they'd consider his under a different category - plays/poetry, that sort of thing.

Jane Eyre was amazing, but some I only made it 1/4 of the way through. My attention span and tolerance for pain aren't much to brag about!


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