Aspirations and other problems

I am always looking for new book lists, but I often have trouble finding ones that are both a) good and b) not stuff I’ve already read.

Well I’ve found one that looks promising, largely because it is so huge.

Check it out –  1001 books you must read before you die.  It has a bunch of contemporary authors such as Haruki Murakami, Zadie Smith, Don Delilo, Philip Roth, and many others with whom I am not familiar (but will soon be, I hope!)  If you chance to look at this list, PLEASE suggest ones to start with; I love recommendations.

While providing new and exciting reading suggestions, these kind of lists unfortunately activate a weird tic of mine which is somewhat unhealthy – ambition.   When I see a list like this, this is how the conversation with my inner crazy goes:

Inner crazy:  You haven’t read enough of these.  You should get crackin’

Self:  Chill out, inner crazy.  I’m just looking for a book for this plane ride.  You don’t need to get all stage mom on me.

Inner crazy:  Look!  Look!   You haven’t read 700 of these books.  I bet smart people have read them.  I bet your friends have read them.  People who aren’t lazy have read them. 

Self:  Well that’s a bit dramatic, but I do see a potential for self-improvement and perhaps enjoyment were I to read them all . . .

Inner crazy:  If you don’t read all of these, no one will love you. Also, reading 700 books really isn’t that hard.  It just takes a little scheduling.  If you read 10 minutes every morning and 2 hours during the rest of the day . . . or 30 minutes at breakfast and 30 minutes at lunch . . .

Self:  Well, I guess that sounds reasonable.

Remember the BBC 100 books challenge that was circulating on the interwebs a while back?  Well, it turns out it was bogus, but I happily and hastily went through it and checked off what I had read so that I could compare with a friend and silently commit to reading those which I hadn’t read.   (I did pretty well, probably because I’m awesome.  Also, I didn’t count the DaVinci Code as one i had to read.)

By the way, you can read about that bogus BBC challenge here, if you are so inclined.  And, to satiate your curiosity, I’ll paste   the complete list, salvaged from a Facebook message sent to me last fall, at the end of this post.

Anyway back to my weirdness, my tic creates a need to have a goal to read all of something, so Iists like these really serve as a good catalyst for my crazy.  I know its weird and that reading shouldn’t be about ambition but that’s just how I do things sometimes.  And aside from creating anxiety and a nagging and irrational sense of failure, it works for me.  It probably all stems from elementary school when they made us read “50 favorites” and check them off on some master list before we graduated 5th grade . . .

An extreme example of this crazy is when I used to take piano lessons and my teacher would want me to only learn one movement of a sonata.  JUST ONE?  Real pianists don’t just learn one movement, I’d say indignantly, knowing full well that I was not a real pianist but finding that utterly beside the point.  Realistic time management was also utterly beside the point.  Anyway, it would drive me wild.

A sonata is a whole piece of music and the movements are like as to chapters in books. Would you just want to read a chapter of something really good? Would you feel like your task as an artist was complete if you had only explored half of what another artist was trying to say? It always bothered me a lot.  (An aside:  why aren’t there more pictures of pianists banging their heads against the piano in frustration?  I know I did it . . . seems curious to me).

Hence, I am often over-ambitious and will feel like I’m failing at something prematurely.

So maybe it isn’t healthy that I’ve found a 1001 count book list, but the list certainly has some suggestions that I will explore, and I will try not to get too caught up in the challenge of reading them all before I die . . .

From the fake BBC (I have crossed out my reads and starred my mostly or partially read):

Have you read more than 6 of these books? The BBC believes most people will have read only 6 of the 100 books listed here.

Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen

 2 The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien

3 Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte

Harry Potter series – JK Rowling (all)

To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee

 6 The Bible 

 7 Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte*

8 Nineteen Eighty Four – George Orwell

9 His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman*

10 Great Expectations – Charles Dickens 

11 Little Women – Louisa M Alcott  

 12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy*

 13 Catch 22 – Joseph Heller*

14 Complete Works of Shakespeare* (Ed note:  WTF?)

 15 Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier *

 16 The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien

17 Birdsong – Sebastian Faulks

18 Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger 

 19 The Time Traveller’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger

 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  

30 The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame

 31 Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy

 32 David Copperfield – Charles Dickens

33 Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis*

34 Emma – Jane Austen

35 Persuasion – Jane Austen (can’t remember . . .they tend to blend together)

36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe – CS Lewis

 37 The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini

 38 Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis De Berniere

 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 Meaney – John Irving

 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*

 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 (Does audiobook count?)

 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 – Enid Blyton 

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*** (have read halfway thru twice, never finished)

 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

Conclusion:  This BBC list is somewhat silly but has some good suggestions along the way.



Filed under books, destructive behaviours, music

4 responses to “Aspirations and other problems

  1. It’s so true! After awhile, all of the Austen books seem the same. 🙂

  2. Regan

    Your inner crazy and self are equally as perculiar

  3. I love the efforts you have put in this, regards for all the great posts.

  4. I love reading through and I believe this website got some really useful stuff on it!

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