« We had joy, we had fun | Main | site help »

Read it, loathed it, loved it, two snaps and a thumbs down

All the cool kids are doing it, and I really have nothing better to talk about while I kill ten minutes waitingf for the Lewis Black special. Below is a list of 101 Great Books Recommended for H.S. Students & Readers of All Ages. It appears that of the books on the list that I've read, most of them were read in high school or college. Doesn't mean I didn't enjoy them. Notes on some, bolded titles are the books i've read.
Beowulf 7th grade, Mr. Mangano. Mr. Mangano's (now ex) wife became famouse for making that squeegee mop and appearing on a ton of infomercials. Achebe, Chinua - Things Fall Apart Agee, James - A Death in the Family Austen, Jane - Pride and Prejudice Baldwin, James - Go Tell It on the Mountain Beckett, Samuel - Waiting for Godot Bellow, Saul - The Adventures of Augie March Bronte, Charlotte - Jane Eyre Bronte, Emily - Wuthering Heights Camus, Albert - The Stranger Cather, Willa - Death Comes for the Archbishop Chaucer, Geoffrey - The Canterbury Tales 8th grade. We had to act parts of this out. I think I was a hooker.Chekhov, Anton - The Cherry Orchard Chopin, Kate - The Awakening Conrad, Joseph - Heart of Darkness Read this after I saw Apocalypse now in the theater. I was such a pompous ass in high school. Cooper, James Fenimore - The Last of the Mohicans Crane, Stephen - The Red Badge of Courage Dante - Inferno Did this one in World Lit in college, though I read portions on my own. Cervantes, Miguel - Don Quixote Read this about twenty times. The first time was in high school. The theater department was putting on Man of LaMancha so we did Don Quixote at the same time the play was running. One of the classics that I own a copy of not because it looks good on the shelf, but because I honestly love reading it.. Defoe, Daniel - Robinson Crusoe Dickens, Charles - A Tale of Two Cities I hate Dickens. Dostoyevsky, Fyodor - Crime and Punishment Douglass, Frederick - Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass Dreiser, Theodore - An American Tragedy Dumas, Alexandre - The Three Musketeers Eliot, George - The Mill on the Floss Ellison, Ralph - Invisible Man Read this during my heavy sci fi stage. Emerson, Ralph Waldo - Selected Essays Some day I will write about the impact Emerson's writings had on my life, especially in high school. Faulkner, William - As I Lay Dying Faulkner, William - The Sound and the Fury Fielding, Henry - Tom Jones (I think we weren't allowed to read this for some reason) Fitzgerald, F. Scott - The Great Gatsby Flaubert, Gustave - Madame Bovary Ford, Ford Madox - The Good Soldier Goethe, Johann Wolfgang - Faust Golding, William - Lord of the Flies Hardy, Thomas - Tess of the d'Urbervilles Hawthorne, Nathaniel - The Scarlet Letter Another one we had to act out parts of. Another time I played a hussy. Heller, Joseph - Catch 22 Read this only a couple of years ago. Hemingway, Ernest - A Farewell to Arms With the exception of his short story Hills Like White Elephants, Hemingway bores me to death. I hate his style, hate his words, hate his books. I am a neanderthal, I know. Homer - The Iliad Homer - The Odyssey I do believe that I was the only person in both high school and college who thoroughly enjoyed reading these epics. Hugo, Victor - The Hunchback of Notre Dame Hurston, Zora Neale - Their Eyes Were Watching God Huxley, Aldous - Brave New WorldOy. Ok, let's just say that I did a lot of drugs in high school and I truly believed that Adlous Huxley knew all the secrets to the world, the universe and the mind. It was only later I realized that he was nothing more than a shill for the mescaline industry. Ibsen, Henrik - A Doll's House James, Henry - The Portrait of a Lady James, Henry - The Turn of the Screw Henry was ok, but we studied him while I was going through a tumultuous senior year breakup. So I always associate him with Bobby, which is not a good thing. Joyce, James - A Portrait of the Artist as a Young ManApologize/pull out his eyes. I never forgot that. I practically memorized half the book, especially the part where Stephen writes his name and address and continues from town to city, to state and on until he ends with the universe. It was profound to a fifteen year old. It's still profound to this 41 year old. Joyce was a huge inspiration to me. Still is. Kafka, Franz - The Metamorphosis Kingston, Maxine Hong - The Woman Warrior Lee, Harper - To Kill a Mockingbird Lewis, Sinclair - Babbitt London, Jack - The Call of the WildI cannot describe how much I hated being forced to read this book. Mann, Thomas - The Magic MountainI cannot describe how much I loved reading this book.Marquez, Gabriel Garcia - One Hundred Years of Solitude Melville, Herman - Bartleby the Scrivener Melville, Herman - Moby Dick Yawn. Miller, Arthur - The Crucible Morrison, Toni - Beloved O'Connor, Flannery - A Good Man is Hard to Find O'Neill, Eugene - Long Day's Journey into Night Orwell, George - Animal Farm Pasternak, Boris - Doctor Zhivago Plath, Sylvia - The Bell Jar Poe, Edgar Allan - Selected Tales So there was this one point in my early teens when I swore I was Poe reincarnated. My mother put a stop to that when she pointed out that my supposedly harrowing poetry would have embarassed Poe. Proust, Marcel - Swann's Way Pynchon, Thomas - The Crying of Lot 49 Remarque, Erich Maria - All Quiet on the Western Front Rostand, Edmond - Cyrano de Bergerac Roth, Henry - Call It Sleep Salinger, J.D. - The Catcher in the Rye Shakespeare, William - Hamlet Shakespeare, William - Macbeth Shakespeare, William - A Midsummer Night's Dream Well, I loved studying Shakespeare in high school. I memorized almost the whole of Macbeth. I daydreamed about being Juliet. And when it came time to act out some Shakespeare parts, I ended up playing a hussy. Shakespeare, William - Romeo and Juliet Shaw, George Bernard - Pygmalion Shelley, Mary - Frankenstein Silko, Leslie Marmon - Ceremony Solzhenitsyn, Alexander - One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich Sophocles - Antigone Sophocles - Oedipus Rex Read it in college, sort of. See, St. John's was in the Final Four in the NCAA basketball tournament at the time and our minds were not on this guy and his mom. Steinbeck, John - The Grapes of Wrath Stevenson, Robert Louis - Treasure Island My mother bought me this huge set of books when I was about ten. They were green, hardcovered and had intricate drawings scattered throughout. Treasure Island was included in the collection. But I didn't read it then, because I was too concerned with the stories about fairies and knights. I came back to it when I in my mid teens, when I decided I wanted to be a pirate when I grew up. Stowe, Harriet Beecher - Uncle Tom's Cabin Swift, Jonathan - Gulliver's Travels Thackeray, William - Vanity Fair Thoreau, Henry David - Walden If I had to choose the one book that made the biggest impact on my life, the one book that changed my view of the world, the one book that I would take a copy with me wherever I go - this is it. Tolstoy, Leo - War and Peace Turgenev, Ivan - Fathers and Sons Twain, Mark - The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Luckily, there was no harlot in this story. So I got to play Huck for just one scene. And for the next few months or so, I told anyone who would listen that I was going to live a life like Huck's. And then I grew up. Voltaire - CandideRead it first in tenth grade and shrugged. Read it agian in college and thought Voltaire was a riot. Vonnegut, Kurt Jr. - Slaughterhouse-Five Walker, Alice - The Color Purple Wharton, Edith - The House of Mirth Welty, Eudora - Collected Stories Whitman, Walt - Leaves of GrassLong Island pride. I have a very dog-eared paperback of Leaves of Grass that I take out every once in a while when I need some inspiration.W Wilde, Oscar - The Picture of Dorian Gray Williams, Tennessee - The Glass MenagerieI have to say that when we read this in high school, I really didn't understand it. By the time I did understand it, I didn't care. It was like one day I was sitting there and this very delayed light bulb went off in my head and I said ohhhh yea! Mhhmmmm. And then I promptly forgot all about Williams again. Woolf, Virginia - To the Lighthouse Wright, Richard - Native SonRead this on my own during my college years, after the St. John's team disappointed us. I wouldn't be surprised if I skipped over some by accident. My eyes are tired. Some day I will make a list of 100 books I read that will never make it onto any Best Of list anywhere except here.

TrackBack

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Read it, loathed it, loved it, two snaps and a thumbs down:

» The Great Books I was Forced to Read from Amish Tech Support
At first I thought the whole great books thing was totally lame, but now that Michele has done it, I suddenly realize that it's actually totally cool, and was all along. So naturally, I, wishing to also be cool in... [Read More]

» Well, I think I caught the 1952 movie version on cable around 2am once... from Silent Running
Along comes a listing of 101 Great Books that are recommended reading. Michele has done it, Russell has done it, so here we go. Bold with Commentary on the ones I've read - or notes on other works from the... [Read More]

» The Great Books from Number 2 Pencil
From the College Board, a list of the 101 Great Books (all fiction). Bloggers like Michele and Damian have been posted the list with the books they've read in bold; I've done the same. Beowulf Achebe, Chinua - Things Fall... [Read More]

» Whence You Find Out How Ill-Read Your Blogger Is from Insults Unpunished
Well, everyone else is doing it, so I might as well. 101 Great Books. My results below. One's I have read are in bold. Comments included. Beowulf -- Who hasn't been tormented by this book? Achebe, Chinua - Things Fall Apart Agee, Jam... [Read More]

» Well Read from Sgt Hook
The wait is over, the list is out. Thatís right, itís that time of year again when the Office of the Federal Literary Agency publishes their 101 Great Books Recommended for High School Students and Readers of All Ages list. My guess is that a bunch of ... [Read More]

Comments

I've read most of them, but burned more of them.

Ellison, Ralph - Invisible Man Read this during my heavy sci fi stage.

Unless that was subtle humor, I think you read H.G. Well's version instead. Are you thinking of the scientist who becomes an invisible psychotic murderer or the black experience in America?

Personally, I recommend "Pride and Prejudice" if you want to fill in the gaps on the list. Hopefully Lawrence Simon has burnt all copies of the execrable "Catcher in the Rye", a book that bears far too much responsibility for the current obsession with whiny teenage angst.

Yes yes I'm Don QuickOrder, the Cook of La Mancha!

I thought Joyce was a deity in college and proudly strolled down the plaza with my copies of "Ulysses" and "Finnegan's Wake" under my arm like Mr. Intellectual. I don't know why, both books were painful to read and thoroughly unenjoyable. "Portrait" was his best, but I doubt I'll ever read it again. Of all the authors I've read, Joyce has faired the worst in hindsight. 4 zillion esoteric, stream-o-babbling references to Irish culture, et. al. is Abu Ghraib material imho. Lots of great books on that list though.

A couple PC turkeys on the list--The Color Purple is not something people will be reading 20 years from now, let alone a hundred. Ditto with Toni Morrison's Beloved. Vonnegut's Slaughter-house Five? Please! The Crucible? (Snicker).

Where's the Count of Monte Cristo? Deerslayer is a better intro to Fennimore Cooper. Two books by Faulkner, but only one by Dickens?

Still most of the list is pretty good.

Of course it isn't complete but quite good. I think Cancer Ward was a spectacular novel not A Day in the Life...
I also remember totally loving Green Mansions (not on the list) in high school with its tropical, mysterious magic.
I'm copying the list for my kids. Amazingly, they have read a few of these by age 10 and 11 thanks to Montessori schools! I want to read some on my own--the ones I missed in high school.
I am also one of the anomalies that thinks/thought "Catcher in the Rye" blows/blew.

I've read about half of the books on the list. I was glad to see Pynchon sneak onto the list, but I prefer Gravity's Rainbow, which is a harsh but ultimately rewarding mistress.

Oh, and I forgot to mention it, but Lolita ought to be on the list. It's (and I'm typing this with a straight face) the funniest book about cross-country statutory rape that you'll ever read. I highly reccomend the annotated version.

I'm a neanderthal too then I guess, because I hate Hemingway.

That's it. I've gotta put up my own list. This is insane.

Eh. The usual suspects. Some good, some completely unreadable. For example, Wuthering Heights. I will read almost anything, and I could not finish this book. I couldn't even finish the Cliff Notes it was so bad. I had to read it; all of the questions in the literature section of some competition I was in were on this one book. I couldn't do it. On the other hand, it's one of my wife's favorites. Oh well, I still love her.

Three of my favorite Shakespeares and my least favorite: Romeo and Juliet. I even hated teen angst when I was a teen.

I just re-read To Kill A Mockingbird a couple months ago. It's still good. I'm pretty sure that I don't feel the same about several others on the list.

Where are Tolkien and Lewis and Heinlein and Bradbury? Oh, right. Guess I shouldn't expect to see Weber and Ringo on next centuries version of the list either.

We maybe need "The 100 Best Books They Will Never Assign in High School"

Read about half that list. A few things stand out. It's very American....not surprising given the source I guess but an English list would have quite a few changes : no Toni Morrison for example.
I'm surprised at some of the ommissions : no Carrol ? Lear ? Chesterton ? AA Milne ? I mean people do remember that Pooh was in a book not a Disney cartoon ( actually, my stepdaughter had her first child recently so I got the four book set, House at Pooh Corner etc for the babbies bedtime stories. I was a bit surprised to find out that she knew about the movies, stuffed animals and all, but not the original books. Odd factoid of the day is that Christopher Robin himself [ yes, Milne used his son's real name in the book ] became a bookseller in Dartmouth, the UK equivalent of Annapolis. There's generations of Navy brats whose copies of Pooh were bought from and signed by CR himself ) ?
One Day as the Solzhenitsin ? Surely Gulag Archipelago ? Not a novel but vastly better. Perhaps my experience is coloured by first reading it in Moscow when confined to quarters during the pro communist coup attempt.
Shakespeare's Sonnets should be there at the expense of one of the plays I feel.
Drop Joyce for pretentiousnes and add Flann O'Brien, " At Swim Two Birds " maybe. No Evelyn Waugh ? " Decline and Fall " ? Wells, " The War of the World's " ? Woolf can get stuffed, replace with something readable, anything.
Sorry, could go on for hours in this vein.

Tim

I never got Hemingway either.

I found Louise Brooks' comment about him far more memorable:

"He's a homo putting on a fucking and fighting act in order to fool himself."

Brooks' herself was actually a talented short story writer, but she threw most of her writings into a furnace for some reason.

Ah yes, I've read probably half of them and yes the whole genre of science fiction is woefully absent. Even its genesis, Mary Shelly's Frankenstein, didn't make the list. What's up with that? Or the Narnia series by CS Lewis? Or White Noise by Don Delillo (#4 daughter just read that for her class and did a multi-media presentation as semester project)?

Kevin, I like your suggestion!

Oops...

Correction, Shelley did make the list... my bad.

Mysteries are absent too. No Hammett, no Chandler, no Doyle. The problem with the list is is not that the books listed are bad, most aren't. It's the lack of diversity of subject matter.

Books whose central focus is on ideas rather than "the human condition" are never, ever, considered literature by the official considerers of literature.

I don't expect to see a lot of SF or other "genre" fiction onlists like these -- that would be inappropriate actually. But a list that contained Heinlein's "Moon Is A Harsh Mistress" would stike me as more credible than this one. Of course, that would be a hard call for anyone who thought "The Color Purple" was cosmic literature.

The emphasis on fiction in that list is horrifying. It's suffused with utter trash -- not all of it, to be sure, but definitely more than enough for me to indict it as quite intellectually irresponsible. No child of mine would be subject to that rubbish.

History and philosophy, children. R. Emmett Tyrrell once pointed out that "History is the queen of literatures," and that is exactly correct. Anyone not groomed to begin there is going to be an intellectual gimp for the rest of his life.

That list is appalling.

Salinger's "Franny and Zooey" is a far better story than "Catcher In The Rye"....for those who are searching for answers. It's on my personal list of books that I want my kids to read before they move away from home.

On the contrary, I rather think it was Hemingway who was the Neanderthal. Or the Neanderthal wannabe, anyway.

And yeah, the list sucked. I played tho'... But why did they pick Tale of Two Cities to represent Dickens? If you ask me David Copperfield was much better, perhaps it was even his best. I sense the no-so-faint ringing of agenda-bells...