I know I’m supposed to be reading all about the Roman Empire (or its demise, at least), but lately I just haven’t been able to bring myself to do it.
I’ve been extra stressed the past several weeks. I can’t name any special reason why, but I’ve noticed my muscles are extra tense, and I suspect I’ve been grinding my teeth in my sleep. And I’ve realized that when I’m stressed, the last thing I want to read is a history book. In fact, I haven’t been much interested in new books at all, though there’s a new Roy Blount Jr. book I ought to get into sitting beside me right now.
Instead, I’ve been rereading some of my favorites. I spent four days at the lake this month (definitely a stress reducer!) and read Looking for Alaska, for the third time this year. With that behind me, I returned to Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer, a football favorite that I’ve read nearly once a year since its publication. In June I reread The Time Traveler’s Wife (third time since this fall–so far, I’ve read all of these books three times total!) and Songbook. Now I’m between books, but reading portions of Beatlesongs. It’s not a reread, but it’s about songs that are nearly as comforting as my favorite books. (I just finished listening to Revolver while reading about it; now my iPod has shuffled over to 1. That probably wouldn’t have been my next choice, but it’ll do while I’m on a reading break.)
My to read list is growing all the while. (It always is!) I’m about to spend a few minutes updating my goodreads.com account with books I own but still haven’t read. And last week I came across this list on a friend’s blog. It’s a list that both encourages reflection on some of the great books and taunts me with those I’ve yet to read. Lauren says the National Endowment for the Arts (those folks who brought us The Big Read–and if you don’t know what that is, let’s talk) believes the average American has read only six of the books on this list. I can’t find anything to that end after a cursory search of their website, but I am torn between pride that I’ve read more than six and shame that my number is still so low.
Just the same–here’s to reading.
Here’s how it works:
1) Look at the list and bold those you have read.
2) Italicize those you intend to read.
3) Mark in red the books you LOVE.
4) Reprint this list in your blog
1 Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
2 The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
4 Harry Potter series – JK Rowling
5 To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
6 The Bible—I’m working my way through, bit by bit!
7 Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four – George Orwell—I picked this up earlier this year, both because it’s one of those I feel like I SHOULD have read and because I LOVE Animal Farm. I haven’t read it yet, but it’s in the to-be-read-soon stack.
9 His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations – Charles Dickens
11 Little Women – Louisa M Alcott—Also in the to-be-read-soon stack. I started it a few weeks ago but got distracted.
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 – Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare—I’ve read part and used to own the complete works, but my sister kept my copy! There’s no telling where it is now.
15 Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien
17 Birdsong – Sebastian Faulks
18 Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger—I intend to re-read this at some point, because I HATED it in high school. But I wonder how it would translate as an adult?
19 The Time Traveller’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger –loved, loved loved this!
20 Middlemarch – George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind – Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald
23 Bleak House – Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
26 Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck
29 Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll—This was another library book sale purchase, and I just read it this spring. It was fun! I still need to read Through the Looking Glass.
30 The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy—I keep hearing this is one of the best things, ever.
32 David Copperfield – Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis—I’ve been picking them up as I spot used copies, because I can’t remember whether I read them as a child or not.
34 Emma – Jane Austen
35 Persuasion – Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe – CS Lewis
37 The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh – AA Milne
41 Animal Farm – George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meany – John Irving—A friend whose opinion I trust very, very much recommended Irving to me, but I have yet to read anything.
45 The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables – LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies – William Golding
50 Atonement – Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi – Yann Martel—eventually.
52 Dune – Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities – Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck
62 Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History – Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road – Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary – Helen Fielding
69 Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick – Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens
72 Dracula – Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From A Small Island – Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses – James Joyce
76 The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath
77 Swallows and Amazons – Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal – Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession – AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple – Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte’s Web – EB White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven – Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection
91 Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince – Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory – Iain Banks
94 Watership Down – Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice – Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet – William Shakespeare
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables – Victor Hugo