20 February, 2007

Book quiz

I don't usually take up these internet meme challenges, and when I do, I don't post them here. But this one might redeem me after my recent admission that I don't recall reading any books last year. (I presume that math textbooks don't count.) You can thank Brandon at Siris and Elliot at Claw of the Conciliator for this.

Directions: Look at the list of books below. Bold the ones you’ve read, italicize the ones you want to read, cross out the ones you won’t touch with a 10 foot pole, put a cross infront of the ones on your book shelf, and asterisk* the ones you’ve never heard of.

The ones without any markings or formatting are books to which I feel perfectly indifferent. The thought of reading them neither fills me with horror or happiness.

(You'll notice that I've stricken out all of the Harry Potter books. I refuse to read those as a matter of principle. Don't ask me what the principle is, because it's not to read Harry Potter books. If I had a deeper reason than that, it wouldn't be a matter of principle, now, would it? And why are all those books in this list anyway, while only one—count 'em, one—Dostoevsky novel is here?)

1. The Da Vinci Code (Dan Brown)
2. Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen) (A tall, rugged, silent, dark-haired haired English nobleman with a dark past striding across a field in the light of dawn in his bedrobe and the flush of emotional self-realization, crying out to Keira Knightley how he loves her? None of that for me, thank you very much.)
3. To Kill A Mockingbird (Harper Lee)
4. Gone With The Wind (Margaret Mitchell)
5. †The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (Tolkien)
6. †The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring (Tolkien)
7. †The Lord of the Rings: Two Towers (Tolkien)
8. Anne of Green Gables (L.M. Montgomery)
9. *Outlander (Diana Gabaldon)
10. *A Fine Balance (Rohinton Mistry)
11. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Rowling)
12. Angels and Demons (Dan Brown)
13. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Rowling)
14. A Prayer for Owen Meany (John Irving)
15. Memoirs of a Geisha (Arthur Golden)
16. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (Rowling)
17. *Fall on Your Knees (Ann-Marie MacDonald)
18. The Stand (Stephen King) (Misery was misery enough.)
19. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Rowling)
20. Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte)
21. The Hobbit (Tolkien)
22. The Catcher in the Rye (J.D. Salinger) (although I'm told it's overrated and terrible)
23. Little Women (Louisa May Alcott)
24. *The Lovely Bones (Alice Sebold)
25. Life of Pi (Yann Martel)
26. †The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Douglas Adams)
27. Wuthering Heights (Emily Bronte) (Positively one of the worst experiences of my life. It's shame enough that they kill trees to publish this trash. That they then call it "literature" is baffling.)
28. The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe (C. S. Lewis)
29. East of Eden (John Steinbeck)
30. Tuesdays with Morrie (Mitch Albom) (I'm told this is a great book. I simply have zero interest in it.)
31. Dune (Frank Herbert)
32. *The Notebook (Nicholas Sparks)
33. Atlas Shrugged (Ayn Rand) (I'm not sure why I want to read it, but I do.)
34. 1984 (Orwell)
35. The Mists of Avalon (Marion Zimmer Bradley)
36. *The Pillars of the Earth (Ken Follett)
37. The Power of One (Bryce Courtenay)
38. *I Know This Much is True (Wally Lamb)
39. *The Red Tent (Anita Diamant)
40. The Alchemist (Paulo Coelho) (Another candidate for the "I can't believe they kill trees to publish this garbage" category.)
41. The Clan of the Cave Bear (Jean M. Auel)
42. *The Kite Runner (Khaled Hosseini)
43. *Confessions of a Shopaholic (Sophie Kinsella)
44. The Five People You Meet In Heaven (Mitch Albom)
45. †Bible
46. Anna Karenina (Tolstoy) (Anyone who has the time to read novels by Tolstoy desperately needs to get out more.)
47. The Count of Monte Cristo (Alexandre Dumas)
48. Angela’s Ashes (Frank McCourt)
49. The Grapes of Wrath (John Steinbeck) (This was really good.)
50. She’s Come Undone (Wally Lamb) (The title interested me, until I read the summary on the back cover.)
51. The Poisonwood Bible (Barbara Kingsolver)
52. A Tale of Two Cities (Dickens) (Great book.)
53. Ender’s Game (Orson Scott Card)
54. Great Expectations (Dickens) (I need to read more Dickens.)
55. The Great Gatsby (Fitzgerald)
56. *The Stone Angel (Margaret Laurence)
57. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Rowling)
58. The Thorn Birds (Colleen McCullough)
59. The Handmaid’s Tale (Margaret Atwood) (Overrated ad hominem theocrat phobia from twenty years ago. I'm exaggerating, but I've heard of nothing in modern anti-religious fiction that wasn't in this novel, and Atwood had the merit of being a talented author.)
60. *The Time Traveller’s Wife (Audrew Niffenegger)
61. Crime and Punishment (Fyodor Dostoyevsky)
62. The Fountainhead (Ayn Rand)
63. War and Peace (Tolstoy) (See comment above on Anna Karenina).
64. Interview With The Vampire (Anne Rice) (I've heard it praised by too many people whom I wouldn't want dating my daughter.)
65. *Fifth Business (Robertson Davies)
66. *One Hundred Years Of Solitude (Gabriel Garcia Marquez)
67. The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants (Ann Brashares)
68. †Catch-22 (Joseph Heller) (One of the best surprises of my life.)
69. †Les Miserables (Hugo) (One of the worst surprises of my life.)
70. †The Little Prince (Antoine de Saint-Exupery)
71. Bridget Jones’ Diary (Fielding)
72. *Love in the Time of Cholera (Marquez)
73. Shogun (James Clavell) (Same as Interview with the Vampire.)
74. The English Patient (Michael Ondaatje)
75. The Secret Garden (Frances Hodgson Burnett) (The movie was bad enough.)
76. *The Summer Tree (Guy Gavriel Kay)
77. *A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Betty Smith)
78. The World According To Garp (John Irving)
79. *The Diviners (Margaret Laurence)
80. Charlotte’s Web (E.B. White) (What American schoolchild hasn't had some teacher read it to the class?—that counts, btw, doesn't it?)
81. *Not Wanted On The Voyage (Timothy Findley)
82. Of Mice And Men (Steinbeck)
83. *Rebecca (Daphne DuMaurier)
84. *Wizard’s First Rule (Terry Goodkind)
85. Emma (Jane Austen)
86. Watership Down (Richard Adams)
87. †Brave New World (Aldous Huxley)
88. *The Stone Diaries (Carol Shields)
89. *Blindness (Jose Saramago)
90. *Kane and Abel (Jeffrey Archer)
91. *In The Skin Of A Lion (Ondaatje)
92. Lord of the Flies (Golding) (What a great book!)
93. The Good Earth (Pearl S. Buck)
94. *The Secret Life of Bees (Sue Monk Kidd)
95. The Bourne Identity (Robert Ludlum) (The only thing this has in common with the film is the first scene.)
96. The Outsiders (S.E. Hinton)
97. *White Oleander (Janet Fitch)
98. *A Woman of Substance (Barbara Taylor Bradford)
99. The Celestine Prophecy (James Redfield)
100. Ulysses (James Joyce)

Strange but true: a high-school English substitute teacher told our class that the first few chapters of Ulysses are about a booger on a rock on the beach. I was gullible enough to believe him at the time. Does anyone know if it's true?

As you see, I haven't heard of a lot of those books. More than 25%, in fact. Hmm, so much for "redeeming" myself. Okay, I'll try again. Here are some books that I've read, can recommend, and either own a copy or plan to. They're better than most of the books I've read on the list above.

Classic literature:
1. The Brothers Karamazov (Dostoevsky)
2. Demons (Dostoevsky)
3. Silas Marner (George Eliot, who despite the name was a woman)
4. The Odyssey (Homer) (much much better than The Illiad)
Italian literature:
5. The Late Mattia Pascal (Luigi Pirandello)
6. Pinocchio (Carlo Collodi) (The book is significantly different from the Disney film, and much better. This story is bright, fun, and splendid. Children should read this instead of the dim, depressing, and pointless Bridge to Terabithia.)
7. Few Returned (Eugenio Corti)
8. Trial and Death of Stalin (Corti) (described in a series of earlier posts on this weblog: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4)
9. Letter to a Child Never Born (Oriana Fallaci) (very beautiful, very sad story of an unmarried woman's unexpected pregnancy, which developed serious complications)
10. Insciallah (Fallaci, described in an earlier post on this weblog)
Modern literature:
11. The Last Temptation of Christ (Nikos Kazantzakis) (I wrote about it earlier)
Philosophy and Religion
12. The Apology of Socrates, Crito, Phaedo (Plato)
13. The Mind's Road to God (St. Bonaventure)
14. Purgatory (Dante Alighieri) (I haven't finished it but this is much better than Inferno, as evidenced by beautiful passages like this one)
Science Fiction:
15. Who? (Algys Budris, or however you spell his name)
16. Time and Again (Jack Finney)
17. Starship Troopers (Robert Heinlein) This is essentially a militarist-libertarian screed. But if Ayn Rand's books can be in the list above, I can put Starship Troopers in my list. Combining militarism and libertarianism took more imagination, I think, than most everything else Heinlein wrote, and he did a good job of it if you ask me, not that anyone did. Too bad the film made it look like mindless pulp fiction.)
18. A Canticle for Liebowitz (Walter M. Miller, Jr.)
19. The Collected Poems of Gerard Manley Hopkins (truly unique poetry)
Math (well, I am a mathematician after all, and this is actually quite good)
20. How to Solve It (George Polya)


Clemens said...

Very interesting. I saw it on Claw of the Conciliator blog too. I'll have to try it, though like you most of what I read doesn't turn up.

But you didn't actually say whether you had read any of Tolstoy - I've read War and Peace twice and loved it (but then I'm an historian).

But if I can't get you interested in that Russian, you have gotten me interested in Dostoevsky enough to give him a try.


Imani said...

I assure you that there is no scene like that in Austen's Pride and Prejudice. Really!

jack perry said...

I read one of Tolstoy's short stories once, a famous one whose name eludes me, and I thought it was quite beautiful. I would like to read War and Peace, and maybe Anna Karenina, although I've heard a bit about Anna Karenina and it didn't interest me so much after that. Either way, I doubt I'll have the time within the foreseeable future. There are too many other, shorter Russian novels I want to read, such as Lermontov's A Hero of Our Time, of which I've read some snippets.

On the other hand, learning that there's no scene like that in Pride and Prejudice actually does make me interested in the novel. I rather liked the story up until that point. This will sound ridiculous, but now that you've told me that it doesn't end that way, I want to read how it does in fact end.

Brandon said...

Tolstoy's Resurrection is actually quite manageable, and quite interesting.

And, being a staunch Austenite, I have to point out that Austen is far, far more sensible than anyone involved in the movie business, and it shows. There is a reason why Austen has no rival but Dickens for the place of the best novelist in the English language.

jack perry said...

My wife has read Resurrection, but she didn't tell me anything about it. You're piquing my interest. At this rate, I will die unhappy because I won't have read all the books I want to read.

Then again, heaven has libraries, doesn't it? I can't see how it would be heaven without libraries.