Wednesday, February 24, 2010

I'm trying REALLY hard

In an attempt to start writing again, here is TIME's Top 100 novels of all time from 2005, which I shall now assess and see how I measure up to it. Then I'm making a list of the books I'm going to try and read in 2005, and then maybe write about them. Though why I must choose to do this while I live in HYDERABAD, forget about India, I dunno.

Also, The Bride and I are co-reading The Mahabharata, like she did Joyce! WooOOt!

  1. The Adventures of Augie March: Saul Bellow nope, might want to
  2. All the King's Men: Robert Penn Warren nope
  3. American Pastoral: Philip Roth nope, but I read another one by him, sort of what if Lindbergh had become President, and it was frankly, boring.
  4. An American Tragedy: Theodore Dreiser never even heard of this one
  5. Animal Farm: George Orwell but of course
  6. Appointment in Samarra: John O'Hara nope
  7. Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret: Judy Blume many many, MANY times
  8. The Assistant: Bernard Malamud nope, no clue who he is
  9. At Swim-Two-Birds: Flann O'Brien ditto
  10. Atonement: Ian McEwan the trailer of the movie bored me so much I shudder to think of watching the movie let alone reading the book!
  11. Beloved: Toni Morrison in college, and I LOVED it. SO MUCH. What a genius writer.
  12. The Berlin Stories: Christopher Isherwood nope
  13. The Big Sleep: Raymond Chandler I think I read one of his novels once, but was too young. Stick this on the list.
  14. The Blind Assassin: Margaret Atwood I have either read this or it has sat on my shelf for ages taunting me. I think it should go on the list either way! Had her poetry in college, and loved it; also read Cat's Eye, I think, and A Handmaid's Tale.
  15. Blood Meridian: Cormac McCarthy *shudder* I feel like I've read something by him... (yes I am hopeless at remembering authors' names) Sounds a bit bloodthirsty for me, but maybe it can go on a waiting list.
  16. Brideshead Revisited: Evelyn Waugh Always wanted to read her because of glancing references in Wodehouse. On the list she goes.
  17. The Bridge of San Luis Rey: Thornton Wilder See, just for San Luis Rey, I'll try reading it.
  18. Call It Sleep: Henry Roth nope
  19. Catch-22: Joseph Heller Yes, but can't quite see the brouhaha. Did read it in one sitting though, so must have something.
  20. The Catcher in the Rye: J.D. Salinger Yes, and man was it boring. Sorry. I think I was too old, plus I don't really identify with self-destructive irresponsible types... yes yes high horse.
  21. A Clockwork Orange: Anthony Burgess *shuddershudderpuke* Never made it through the movie or the book. Quite happy to never try again thank you.
  22. The Confessions of Nat Turner: William Styron whoooo?
  23. The Corrections: Jonathan Franzen whaaaa?
  24. The Crying of Lot 49: Thomas Pynchon I feel like this guy is famous for a butterfly thing. Or not, his wikipedia page reveals that I am unlikely to like him. "Thomas Ruggles Pynchon, Jr. (born May 8, 1937) is an American novelist based in New York City and noted for his dense and complex works of fiction."
  25. A Dance to the Music of Time: Anthony Powell nope
  26. The Day of the Locust: Nathanael West nope
  27. Death Comes for the Archbishop: Willa Cather nope (why have I not heard of any of these people???)
  28. A Death in the Family: James Agee nope
  29. The Death of the Heart: Elizabeth Bowen nope
  30. Deliverance: James Dickey nope
  31. Dog Soldiers: Robert Stone nope
  32. Falconer: John Cheever nope, but I did read a lovely short story in college. Now if only I could remember what it was.... heh. On the list.
  33. The French Lieutenant's Woman: John Fowles Somehow I've never liked the objectification inherent in that title...still, waiting list.
  34. The Golden Notebook: Doris Lessing nope, and totally want to.
  35. Go Tell it on the Mountain: James Baldwin a baldwin brother?
  36. Gone With the Wind: Margaret Mitchell Many times. Much adore. Takes a twist of the kaleidoscope to see the good in it, and not dismiss it as "romance". I was blown away by the tapestry she weaves around the story, of the South, the Civil War etc.
  37. The Grapes of Wrath: John Steinbeck nice. depressing as hell. but brilliant read that paints a beautiful picture.
  38. Gravity's Rainbow: Thomas Pynchon see above
  39. The Great Gatsby: F. Scott Fitzgerald read it in college and was most bemused. I don't think I ever got the poignance of it, just seemed a bit like Wodehouse, only in America, not as funny and rather more risque. 
  40. A Handful of Dust: Evelyn Waugh see prev
  41. The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter: Carson McCullers say whaaa? Also, I'm torn between wanting to read it cos a Boy wrote it and choking on giggles because a Boy wrote it. Waiting list methinks.
  42. The Heart of the Matter: Graham Greene Ah Graham Greene. I read the one about the Catholic priest on the run in Mexico. Something and something. Or is that the Faulkner theme?
  43. Herzog: Saul Bellow hrfxt
  44. Housekeeping: Marilynne Robinson Again, it tempts me, but I think it's probably about some deep crisis in suburbia, not chicklitt. Waiting list
  45. A House for Mr. Biswas: V.S. Naipaul See, I tried to read Among the Believers and it was horrible. Naipaul just seems like such a whiny, patronising bitch. Really. I think my horror has a lot to do with early exposure to some non-fiction of his.
  46. I, Claudius: Robert Graves LOVE LOVE LOVE. Anything by the man. In fact, I think it's time I re-read this one and it's sequel. On the list to goes!
  47. Infinite Jest: David Foster Wallace Something about that title makes me wary... Waiting list
  48. Invisible Man: Ralph Ellison nope
  49. Light in August: William Faulkner nope
  50. The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe: C.S. Lewis like 50 times? Much prefer the Voyage of the Dawn Treader myself.
  51. Lolita: Vladimir Nabokov meh. Really overrated, either for scandal or for anything else. The one Nabokov I really liked was called Laughter in the Dark
  52. Lord of the Flies: William Golding Never read it. Always had it on the list. 
  53. The Lord of the Rings: J.R.R. Tolkien 13 times I think. Give me The Hobbit any day.
  54. Loving: Henry Green whaa
  55. Lucky Jim: Kingsley Amis Lord. I've always heard this name, and then Martin Amis of course, and I think I've read him being scholarly about something in my Literature I want to read him? Votes anyone?
  56. The Man Who Loved Children: Christina Stead Ooooo sounds interesting. On the list, if I can get hold of it.
  57. Midnight's Children: Salman Rushdie done. Meh. Well, actually lovely book. but then I read a few more and realised that Mr. Rushdie, much like Sr. Márqeuz has one book to be re-written many times...
  58. Money: Martin Amis see above.
  59. The Moviegoer: Walker Percy I like the name of the book, and the name of the author even more! Shall try and read if I can get my hands on it.
  60. Mrs. Dalloway: Virginia Woolf Ugh. Yes, I've read it. Self-obsess much anyone? I do, however, want to read and/or see The Hours.
  61. Naked Lunch: William Burroughs Hee. Deffy want to read.
  62. Native Son: Richard Wright no way.
  63. Neuromancer: William Gibson Not read, want to read - on the list
  64. Never Let Me Go: Kazuo Ishiguro Have tried to read many times...but fall asleep. Shall try one more time.
  65. 1984: George Orwell read, and liked very much. Funny, I prefer dystopias to utopias.
  66. On the Road: Jack Kerouac never read, allus wanted to. On the list.
  67. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest: Ken Kesey Have started many times. Will put on waiting list. Maybe.
  68. The Painted Bird: Jerzy Kosinski nope
  69. Pale Fire: Vladimir Nabokov not really, unless Acrosticus vehemently recommends.
  70. A Passage to India: E.M. Forster Lordy...Maybe next year. I think this year is heavy enough with the Mahabharata and Ramachandra Guha's history of modern India.
  71. Play It As It Lays: Joan Didion nope
  72. Portnoy's Complaint: Philip Roth NO
  73. Possession: A.S. Byatt NOOOO
  74. The Power and the Glory: Graham Greene Oooo! That's the one! Not bad, I think I might want to re-read it with my more recent appreciation of the history of Mexico.
  75. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie: Muriel Spark no
  76. Rabbit, Run: John Updike nope. Read a short story, possiby a book of them, and quite liked it. Also like title. So on the list.
  77. Ragtime: E.L. Doctorow not read, but I LOVE the name and the title. If-I-Can-Get-It list.
  78. The Recognitions: William Gaddis never heard of it
  79. Red Harvest: Dashiell Hammett He sounds familiar, but. nope.
  80. Revolutionary Road: Richard Yates Lemme make it through the movie awake first...
  81. The Sheltering Sky: Paul Bowles Nope.
  82. Slaughterhouse-Five: Kurt Vonnegut YESYESYES! Ah I ADORE this man, shall read Cat's Cradle as replacement.
  83. Snow Crash: Neal Stephenson no
  84. The Sot-Weed Factor: John Barth no
  85. The Sound and the Fury: William Faulkner o lordy, no!
  86. The Sportswriter: Richard Ford nope
  87. The Spy Who Came in From the Cold: John le Carre never read him, though my dad has em all. Shall stick in on the list for lighter reading.
  88. The Sun Also Rises: Ernest Hemingway Have read Farewell to arms, and the Old Man and the Sea. Toss it on the list.
  89. Their Eyes Were Watching God: Zora Neale Hurston Er...don't know how to react. Votes either way anyone?
  90. Things Fall Apart: Chinua Achebe Yes indeedy, and the other three in the series, plus other ones by him. Quite liked it.
  91. To Kill a Mockingbird: Harper Lee Lovely lovely lovely, of course. I'm probably the only girl I know who didn't want to be Scout. Though I might name my next puppy that.
  92. To the Lighthouse: Virginia Woolf *brrrrr* no.
  93. Tropic of Cancer: Henry Miller nope
  94. Ubik: Philip K. Dick Been dying to read him, but am open to other recommendations by him.
  95. Under the Net: Iris Murdoch My parents had one of her books, The Sea The Sea, and it always seemed so strange and scary and yet boring. Waiting list.
  96. Under the Volcano: Malcolm Lowry Wikipedia leads me to think that's a yes. If I can find it.
  97. Watchmen: Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons Eeeeeep no. I've tried. And even seen and quite disliked the movie.
  98. White Noise: Don DeLillo Haven't read, putting on waiting list
  99. White Teeth: Zadie Smith *SHUDDERRRRRRRRRRRR* nevermore. I actually finished it cos The Roommate loved it so much. But. No. Never. Again.
  100. Wide Sargasso Sea: Jean Rhys Awwww read in college alongside Jane Eyre. In fact, fairly sure I did a seminar on it or something. Quite lovely.


  1. Le Carre is not light reading.

    Start with The Constant Gardner. It's a bit more current.

  2. Evelyn Waugh is a he, not a she!

  3. These lists always amaze me because the choices seem so random. Like why ‘The Sun Also Rise’ instead of ‘A Farewell To Arms’. One would think one had done one’s duty plodding through what was thought to be the best of Hemingway but nooo, some showoff out there has to cock a snook and go “noo that’s not the best one” just to prove that he/she/it has read all of said author.

    Drieser is like the American version of Hardy. It’s very depressing but I was ok with Sister Carrie because there was a pic of a pwetty girl on the cover. The French Lieutenant’s Woman is early pomo – you should read it just for the form. The Heart of Darkness is lovely and like all of Graham Greene depressing at the end. Just warning you in case you spoil a chirpy period by reading it – I read it through Christmas and went around with red eyes through the entire season. You’re right about Martin/Kingley…are they related? They should be and reading one should count for reading the other then. Sacrilege about Salman Rushdie. Boo!

    What’s amazing me is that I’ve stopped feeling bad about these lists. I’ve read all the Shopaholic books and even the less famous Helen Fielding and that should be enough.

  4. anon, (same one?) thanks! i knew there was something about evelyn waugh, only i cldnt remember which it was. heh.

    le carre isn't light reading? hmmm...well i dunno i guess that depends on your definition of light reading...

    bride, yes man SO random!!!!i just wanted a kickoff point ya might end up making a list of all the books i want to read anyway... totally cock a snook man, but then i do think persuasion is SO much better than pride and P...etc
    hardy....ugh. wrestled through half of tess and gave up. liked the trumpet major though but i hear it is an unusual one

  5. Here's my definition of light reading:

    If, after finishing the book, you come away with a feeling of having glimpsed a different aspect of the world, that makes it non-light.

    John le Carre does that.

    P G Wodehouse on the other hand, although a long time favourite and in my opinion a superb writer, does not.

    The bigger question is whether this matters or not. You read a book for entertainment. If you get bored by something, toss it. If you don't, keep at it.

    This is the most transparent way to judge a book in my opinion.

    But, as Kurtz said, it is judgment that defeats us in the end.

  6. same anon? i imagine. well some people might say wodehouse gives them a sense of an entirely different if obsolete world. but. when i say light i mean not going to depress the fuck outta me because its about how you know the unbearable lightness of being and so on and so forth, or make me want to curl up and die cos the world is so horrible. it all kinda rests on the ending.

    also, terry pratchett is soooperlight but also supermeaningful.

  7. Going by that definition, Le Carre is definitely not light.

    Keep away if you dislike depressing endings.

  8. ooooh shall take your advice then =)

    wontcha please identify yourself?