Monday, August 18, 2008

An Interesting Meme, Just for Kicks

I don't usually go in for memes, but this one caught my eye.

Here are the top 106 books most often marked as "unread" by LibraryThing’s users. As in, they sit on the shelf to make you look smart or well-rounded. Bold the ones you've read, underline the ones you read for school*, italicize the ones you started but didn't finish.

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell
Anna Karenina
Crime and Punishment
One Hundred Years of Solitude
Wuthering Heights
The Silmarillion
Life of Pi : a novel 2x
The Name of the Rose
Don Quixote
Moby Dick
Madame Bovary
The Odyssey
Pride and Prejudice
Jane Eyre
The Tale of Two Cities
The Brothers Karamazov
Guns, Germs, and Steel: the fates of human societies
War and Peace
Vanity Fair
The Time Traveler’s Wife
The Iliad
The Blind Assassin

The Kite Runner
Mrs. Dalloway
Great Expectations
American Gods
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius
Atlas Shrugged
Reading Lolita in Tehran : a memoir in books
Memoirs of a Geisha

Wicked : the life and times of the wicked witch of the West
The Canterbury Tales
The Historian : a novel
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
Love in the Time of Cholera
Brave New World
The Fountainhead
Foucault’s Pendulum
The Count of Monte Cristo
A Clockwork Orange
Anansi Boys
The Once and Future King
The Grapes of Wrath

The Poisonwood Bible : a novel
Angels & Demons
The Inferno (and Purgatory and Paradise)
The Satanic Verses
Sense and Sensibility
The Picture of Dorian Gray
Mansfield Park
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
To the Lighthouse
Tess of the D’Urbervilles
Oliver Twist
Gulliver’s Travels
Les Misérables
The Corrections
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
The Prince
The Sound and the Fury
Angela’s Ashes : a memoir
The God of Small Things
A People’s History of the United States : 1492-present Cryptonomicon
A Confederacy of Dunces
A Short History of Nearly Everything
The Unbearable Lightness of Being
The Scarlet Letter
Eats, Shoots & Leaves
The Mists of Avalon
Oryx and Crake : a novel
Collapse : how societies choose to fail or succeed
Cloud Atlas
The Confusion
Northanger Abbey
The Catcher in the Rye
On the Road
The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Freakonomics : a rogue economist explores the hidden side of everything
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance : an inquiry into values
The Aeneid
Watership Down
Gravity’s Rainbow
The Hobbit
In Cold Blood : a true account of a multiple murder and its consequences
White Teeth
Treasure Island
David Copperfield
The Three Musketeers

I flatter myself that I'm well-read, but I just cleared half this list. Some of them, I will never read and I know I will never read -- In Cold Blood, for example, holds zero appeal for me, as does Freakonomics, though I'm sure they're both wonderful books. And, having suffered through The Brothers Karamazov, it's unlikely that I'll ever subject myself to another of Dostoevsky's novels.

Joyce's Ulysses holds the distinction of being one of the very few books I started without finishing -- Bridges of Madison County being one of the few others. Usually, if I stop reading a book, I come back and finish it later, as I'm doing now with Ha Jin's The Crazed. I know Bridges and Ulysses will never again be opened before my eyes, though. Not unless I'm forced to it at the point of a knife.

Some of my forever-favorite books are on this list. Anything Dumas, Mrs. Dalloway, Persuasion, Oryx & Crake, Vanity Fair, and -- OMG, should be required reading for everyone -- Eats, Shoots & Leaves.

Some of these books I admired but didn't enjoy, such as Confederacy of Dunces, which was a brilliantly written slog, and On the Road, which seems geared toward adolescent males. But I read them in their entirety and could appreciate them, even if not love them.

So what about all of you? Spot any favorites on this list? Books that are particularly meaningful to you? Books that you think deserve to go unread?


*I didn't distinguish between books I read on my own and books I read for school. Alas, I was one of those dreadful students who ignored my reading list unless the books appealed to me.


Anonymous said...

I've found that a good way to experience some of the classics is to check out the unabridged audio versions from the library. It's unlikely that I would ever lug home War and Peace, but with the audio version I can listen at work, in the car or even load it on my MP3 player. A lot of libraries also have audio subscriptions--you can download books through your library's website to your PC for free.

If I listen to a 10-hour recording of a book I end up hating, at least I got a couple of days of work in, or two weeks worth of commutes during that time :)


Anonymous said...

I've read 31 of the books on the list, most of them at my own initiative. There are 15 I've either started and given up or only read sections of. I have seen movie versions of many of the books. In the case of the Jane Austens, I've read all of them and seen more than one movie version of each.

David Copperfield's my favorite. I've read it twice.

Ink Johnson said...

I've read maybe ten of those 106, yet five more sit on my bookshelf, unread. How did they know?

Life of Pi is a spectacular book--I've read it at least eight times. (Come to think about it, maybe that's why I never delved into Les Miserable.) Some people have cats, some people have comfort food, I have Life Of Pi. <3

Katie Reus said...

I've read about half of those, some for school, some because I'm a geek :) Memoirs of a Geisha is my favorite out of all of them. The author is an American man and he writes from the point of view of a Japanese woman. And not just a normal Japanese woman, but someone from a subculture rarely discussed.