Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Big Read

I've decided to give this reading thing a go--perhaps it's not the most intriguing topic to blog about, but I will try to keep things interesting. With that in mind, I've decided to start with Nabokov's "Lolita." I'm only 70 pages in but I have much to say on the selection, but that will have to wait for tomorrow. I also would like to note that I've altered my reading list, which can be found below. I've taken mostly from the BBC's Big Read that, though somewhat revised, circled on facebook last year. As an American, choosing a Brit-centric batch of books is, perhaps, a seemingly odd choice. I've decided to focus primarily on this list, rather than others, to overcome my fear of British Literature, particularly the dreaded Jane Austen and Lord of the Rings Trilogy. Furthermore, I think it will be much easier to get my hands on most of these books here in China. I have set a rather modest goal of reading one book a week since I will also be reading Chinese stories and novels on the side (I've already read "The House on Mango Street" and "The Little Prince" in Chinese. Next up is "Charlotte's Web."). I have included 50 novels on my list and noted the ones that are not on the BBC's Big Read.

Numbers 1-13 are currently collecting dust on my bookshelf while 14-35 should be fairly easy for me to find in Beijing. I may have some trouble getting 36-50, but I'll keep you posted. Here's the revised list:

1. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov*This novel has made the top ten of many reading lists.
2. On the Road by Jack Kerouac
3. Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
4. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
5. Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie
6. Franny and Zoey by JD Salinger *I've already read "Catcher in the Rye" so I thought I'd mix it up and try this book which I picked up for 75 cents at Half Price Books about 10 years ago.
7. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
8. A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry *This novel has made other top 100 lists and was nominated for the Booker Prize.
9. All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy *McCarthy is mentioned on most lists and this novel won the 1992 National Book Award.
10. Soul Mountain by Gao Xingjian *Gao won the 2000 Nobel Prize for Literature.
11. The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai *This novel made another top 100 list and it won the 2006 Booker Prize.
12. Mansfield Park by Jane Austen *This didn't make the list, but I own it, so I might as well torture myself by reading it.
13. The Witches of Eastwick by John Updike *Though it won no notable accolades, I've never read Updike and I think it's time I ought to.
14. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
15. Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring by JRR Tolkien
16. Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers by JRR Tolkien
17. Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King by JRR Tolkien
18. The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien
19. David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
20. Bleak House by Charles Dickens
21. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
22. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
23. Tess of D'Ubervilles by Thomas Hardy
24. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
25. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
26. Persuasion by Jane Austen
27. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
28. The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
29. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
30. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
31. Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer
32. Emma by Jane Austen
33. Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
34. Crime and Punishment by Fydor Dostoyevsky
35. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison *Replacing Ulysses, which was originally on my list, with this easier and easier to find novel.
36. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
37. Bird Song by Sebastian Faulks *May read Charlotte Gray, another part of the trilogy, which I have sitting on my bookshelf.
38. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
39. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
40. The BFG by Roald Dahl
41. Middlemarch by George Elliot
42. The Stand by Stephen King
43. Captain Corelli's Mandolin by Louis de Bernieres
44. A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
45. Goodnight Mister Tom Michelle by Michelle Magorian
46. The Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean M Avel
47. The Thornbirds by Colleen McCollough
48. The Magic Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton
49. Far from Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy
50. anything by Terry Pratchett, who made the list several times

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