attack_laurel (attack_laurel) wrote,

Books *ouch*

I 'm in stupid pain (left arm hurts all the way up to the shoulder - or should I say all the way down from the shoulder, and the right is getting cranky), so I'm cheating and going with the book meme I ganked from stanci :

These are the top 106 books most often marked as "unread" by LibraryThing's users (as of today). As usual, bold what you have read, italicise what you started but couldn't finish, and strike through what you couldn't stand. The numbers after each one are the number of LT users who used the tag of that book.

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell (149)
Anna Karenina (132)
Crime and punishment (121)
Catch-22 (117)
One hundred years of solitude (115)
Wuthering Heights (110)
The Silmarillion (104)
Life of Pi : a novel (94)
The name of the rose (91)
Don Quixote (91)
Moby Dick (86)
Ulysses (84)
Madame Bovary (83)
The Odyssey (83)
Pride and prejudice (83)
Jane Eyre (80)
A tale of two cities (80)
The brothers Karamazov (80)
Guns, Germs, and Steel: the fates of human societies (79)
War and peace (78)
Vanity fair (74)
The time traveler's wife (73)
The Iliad (73)
Emma (73)
The Blind Assassin (73)
The kite runner (71)
Mrs. Dalloway (70)
Great expectations (70)
American gods (68)
A heartbreaking work of staggering genius (67)
Atlas shrugged (67)
Reading Lolita in Tehran : a memoir in books (66)
Memoirs of a Geisha (66)
Middlesex (66)
Quicksilver (66)
Wicked : the life and times of the wicked witch of the West (65)
The Canterbury tales (64)
The historian : a novel (63)
A portrait of the artist as a young man (63)
Love in the time of cholera (62)
Brave new world (61)
The Fountainhead (61)
Foucault's pendulum (61)
Middlemarch (61)
Frankenstein (59)
The Count of Monte Cristo (59)
Dracula (59) (X 3)
A clockwork orange (59)
Anansi boys (58)
The once and future king (57)
The grapes of wrath (57)
The poisonwood Bible : a novel (57)
1984 (57)
Angels & demons (56)
The inferno (56)
The satanic verses (55)
Sense and sensibility (55)
The picture of Dorian Gray (55)
Mansfield Park (55)
One flew over the cuckoo's nest (54)
To the lighthouse (54)
Tess of the D'Urbervilles (54)
Oliver Twist (54)
Gulliver's travels (53)
Les misérables (53) - I imagine seeing the musical doesn't count.
The corrections (53)
The amazing adventures of Kavalier and Clay (52)
The curious incident of the dog in the night-time (52)
Dune (51)
The prince (51)
The sound and the fury (51)
Angela's ashes : a memoir (51)
The god of small things (51)
A people's history of the United States : 1492-present (51)
Cryptonomicon (50)
Neverwhere (50)
A confederacy of dunces (50)
A short history of nearly everything (50)
Dubliners (50)
The unbearable lightness of being (49)
Beloved (49)
Slaughterhouse-five (49)
The scarlet letter (48)
Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation (48)
The mists of Avalon (47)
Oryx and Crake : a novel (47)
Collapse : how societies choose to fail or succeed (47)
Cloud atlas (47)
The confusion (46)
Lolita (46)
Persuasion (46)
Northanger abbey (46)
The catcher in the rye (46)
On the road (46)
The hunchback of Notre Dame (45)
Freakonomics : a rogue economist explores the hidden side of everything (45)
Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance : an inquiry into values (45)
The Aeneid (45) - I know I've read this one, but I'll be darned if I can remember what it was about...
Watership Down (44)
Gravity's rainbow (44)
The Hobbit (44)
In cold blood : a true account of a multiple murder and its consequences (44)
White teeth (44)
Treasure Island (44)
David Copperfield (44)
The three musketeers (44) 

To be honest, I'm a bit surprised at myself - I'm okay on the classics (though I refuse to read any more Ayn Rand, and the Russians always defeat me), but I'm not so up on my contemporary literature.  I'm amused by the amount of Jane Austen on the list - does everyone buy her books and then not get around to actually reading them?  There's some fun stuff in them that never shows up in the movies/miniseries, so they are worth it.  Also, we're short on my favourite philosopher, Camus.  Either no-one buys his books any more, or everyone still reads him.  

I'm guessing the former, though you really should at least read The Plague, if you want a rounded literary experience.

I also find the composition of the list interesting, since it seems to reflect the books people have bought, but not read.  It looks like people are buying books they think they "should" read, but quite rightly are leaving them on the shelf and reading something else.  I don't see anything wrong with this at all - a book should be a pleasure, not a chore.  It can be challenging, frustrating, infuriating, delightful, easy, or hard, but it should never be boring.  Life's too short.

The "Classics" are called such because they reach across generations with a message relevant to the people still reading them; in my opinion, it's all right to let a "classic" die if it no longer has anything to connect it with the current generation of readers.  Forcing people to read simply makes them hate reading; sneak up on them with things they like, then introduce them to some "classic" books.  

And everyone has a different personal "classics" list - mine has most of Jane Austen's work, but would leave out Emma, because I always thought she was a spoiled bitch with no real redeeming qualities.  I'd put in almost all of Ray Bradbury's work, but only a couple of Vonnegut's.  My beloved Camus would be on there, but fuck that second-rate philosophical hack, Umberto Eco.

The Inferno would be on there, but so would Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle's Inferno, as it's a good book, and would help someone new to Dante to understand where he was coming from.  And Ethan Frome would be nowhere to be found, because I can't read it without wanting to scream (well, I kind of feel that way about all of Edith "the depressinator" Wharton's work). 

(Though I have almost all of her books.  I don't know what I was thinking - I kept reading, hoping one would have a happy ending, but they never did.  The only one with a quasi-happy ending was finished by someone else after her death - and boy, Ms. Wharton must have been pissed about that.)

...And I'd have more poetry.  People don't appreciate poetry any more, and I miss it.  Good poetry, I mean, though funny will do in a pinch.  As long as it's not lame.

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