Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Explanation

On January 1, 2010 I resolved to buy a new book only when I had read three of the books on my unread books bookshelf. Some poor books had been on that shelf for several years as I successfully avoided them, occasionally brushing their spines with my fingertips as I made my way to something more appealing. On that January day there remained only three novels on that shelf with the remainder of the unread some variety of non-fiction. But I was determined to stand by my resolution. I could read Rousseau’s The Social Contract if I set my mind to it.

My avoidance of that bookshelf and my resolve were helped by the generosity of a friend lending me an entire bag of novels. She and I have similar taste and she often lends me books that she’s read. I also completed my annual reread of the Austen canon, so that was six books! OK, technically they weren’t on my unread shelf, but I counted them anyway.

Last week I either came to my senses or successfully rationalized that just because a book—well, about twenty books, actually—are on my unread books bookshelf doesn’t mean that I must read them. Some of those books were gifts and some I bought because It Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time. But if I don’t want to read them, why don’t I put them in the giveaway box and take them to the charity shop already?

And so with the entire world of books once again open to me, I decided to pay attention to the BBC’s Big Read list and expand my horizons, literarily speaking. (Emma Woodhouse inspired me, though I hope my success rate on finishing what I start will be better than hers.) Variations of the BBC list have made the rounds for several years on blogs and Facebook. I found the story here - BBC Big Read. Quotage: “In April 2003 the BBC's Big Read began the search for the nation's best-loved novel, and we asked you to nominate your favourite books.” About 750,000 votes were received. The Lord of the Rings was #1 and Pride and Prejudice #2. The website lists the books in order of total votes.

Since I rely heavily on other people’s recommendations of books, this seems like a good way to read a variety of novels. And I’ve decided to blog about it, quasi Julie and Julia style. I’ve read 30 of the books on the list and refuse to read one list book, so I have 69 to read. I’ve listed them in alphabetical order and will read them that way, both because it appeals to my sense of order and because I don't want to read all the good ones first and dread reading the last dozen or so. I know people voted for all of the books but I'm bound to dislike some of them.

I ordered the first ten books this week.

Books to read:

1. A Prayer For Owen Meany, John Irving
2. A Suitable Boy, Vikram Seth
3. A Town Like Alice, Nevil Shute
4. Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy
5. Artemis Fowl, Eoin Colfer
6. Birdsong, Sebastian Faulks
7. Black Beauty, Anna Sewell
8. Bleak House, Charles Dickens
9. Brideshead Revisited, Evelyn Waugh
10. Captain Corelli's Mandolin, Louis de Bernieres
11.  Catch-22, Joseph Heller
12. Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, Roald Dahl
13. Cold Comfort Farm, Stella Gibbons
14. David Copperfield, Charles Dickens
15. Double Act, Jacqueline Wilson
16. Dune, Frank Herbert
17. Far From The Madding Crowd, Thomas Hardy
18. Girls In Love, Jacqueline Wilson
19. Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell
20. Good Omens, Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
21. Gormenghast, Mervyn Peake
22. Great Expectations, Charles Dickens
23. Guards! Guards!, Terry Pratchett
24. Holes, Louis Sachar
25. I Capture The Castle, Dodie Smith
26. Kane And Abel, Jeffrey Archer
27. Katherine, Anya Seton
28. Lord Of The Flies, William Golding
29. Love In The Time Of Cholera, Gabriel García Márquez
30. Magician, Raymond E Feist
31. Matilda, Roald Dahl
32. Memoirs Of A Geisha, Arthur Golden
33. Middlemarch, George Eliot
34. Midnight's Children, Salman Rushdie
35. Mort, Terry Pratchett
36. Night Watch, Terry Pratchett
37. Noughts And Crosses, Malorie Blackman
38. On The Road, Jack Kerouac
39. One Hundred Years Of Solitude, Gabriel García Márquez
40. Perfume, Patrick Süskind
41. Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier
42. Swallows And Amazons, Arthur Ransome
43. Tess Of The D'Urbervilles, Thomas Hardy
44. The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho
45. The BFG, Roald Dahl
46. The Catcher in the Rye, JD Salinger
47. The Colour Of Magic, Terry Pratchett
48. The Count Of Monte Cristo, Alexandre Dumas
49. The God Of Small Things, Arundhati Roy
50. The Grapes Of Wrath, John Steinbeck
51.  The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald
52. The Magic Faraway Tree, Enid Blyton
53. The Magus, John Fowles
54. The Pillars Of The Earth, Ken Follett
55. The Princess Diaries, Meg Cabot
56. The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, Robert Tressell
57. The Secret History, Donna Tartt
58. The Shell Seekers, Rosamunde Pilcher
59. The Story Of Tracy Beaker, Jacqueline Wilson
60. The Thorn Birds, Colleen McCollough
61. The Twits, Roald Dahl
62. The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame
63. The Woman In White, Wilkie Collins
64. To Kill A Mockingbird
65. Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson
66. Ulysses, James Joyce
67. Vicky Angel, Jacqueline Wilson
68. War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy
69. Winnie the Pooh, AA Milne

Books I’ve read:

1. A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens
2. A Tale Of Two Cities, Charles Dickens
3. Alice's Adventures In Wonderland, Lewis Carroll
4. Animal Farm, George Orwell
5. Anne Of Green Gables, LM Montgomery
6. Brave New World, Aldous Huxley
7. Bridget Jones's Diary, Helen Fielding
8. Crime And Punishment, Fyodor Dostoyevsky
9. Emma, Jane Austen
10. Goodnight Mister Tom, Michelle Magorian
11. Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets, JK Rowling
12. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, JK Rowling
13. Harry Potter And The Philosopher's Stone, JK Rowling
14. Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban, JK Rowling
15. His Dark Materials, Philip Pullman (I've read the three books in the series)
16. Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë
17. Little Women, Louisa May Alcott
18. Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell
19. Of Mice And Men, John Steinbeck
20. Persuasion, Jane Austen
21. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
22. The Clan Of The Cave Bear, Jean M Auel
23. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams
24. The Hobbit, JRR Tolkien
25. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, CS Lewis
26. The Lord of the Rings, JRR Tolkien (I've read the three books in the series)
27. The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett
28. The Stand, Stephen King
29. Watership Down, Richard Adams
30. Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontë

Book I’m not going to read because I don’t like gratuitous violence and besides I’ve never heard even one of my reliable sources say they enjoyed reading it:

1. The Godfather, Mario Puzo