A while back people were writing quite a lot on that book 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die, and thanks to Bookslut’s recent mention, people seem to be doing it again. So I clicked over to the list and counted how many I’ve read. Whew! That was hard work. I can’t believe I just spent all that time counting. I’m not entirely sure I didn’t miscount. But my estimated total is 185 books read from the list. There are a lot left!
But … it’s not as easy as that. If you’ve looked at that list or a similar one and tried to do your own count, you probably have noticed how difficult it can be to figure out what you’ve read and what you haven’t. For me, I wasn’t sure whether or not to count books I’ve listened to on tape or CD. Ultimately, I decided not to count those. And then there’s the category of books I know I read when I was very young and now hardly remember. Yeah, I read To Kill a Mockingbird, but I really don’t feel I should count it because I couldn’t tell you a thing about it. And then there are books I’m not sure if I read or not. Did I really read Of Mice and Men, or am I remembering incorrectly? Which Graham Greene books did I read? And then there were a couple titles of short stories, and I wasn’t sure if the list was referring to the short story only or if the title was also a title of a collection. I’ve read “The Yellow Wallpaper,” but is that story the thing the list is referring to?
If I only counted those books I could write a reasonable summary or review of, my 185 number would be a lot smaller.
I did a lot better in the earlier centuries than in the 20th and 21st. I rocked in the 18C. I could complete that century without too much trouble: 16 books left. Well, that would be a little bit of trouble. But I’m not planning on following that list. I’ll hang on to it for a good source of ideas when I want them, and that’s it.
And then there’s Susan’s Thursday Thirteen list: 13 Classics to read in 2007. My list is a day late, and it’s not a list I’m committed to, but I thought I’d play along anyway. Here’s my list of 13 classics I’m considering reading in 2007:
1. Marcel Proust, The Guermantes Way, Sodom and Gomorrah, The Captive, The Fugitive, and Time Regained. If I can’t think of 13, I’ll separate these out and count them individually, but for now, I don’t want to bore you with too much Proust.
2. Anne Bronte, The Tenant of Wildfeld Hall. I’ve had this book around for a while. Someone mentioned it’s kind of gothic, so maybe it’s a good October 2007 read.
3. Frances Burney, Cecilia or Camilla. I’ve read her other two novels already, and now it’s time for these two. Or one of the two, at least.
4. Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote. This is a major one I need to tackle.
5. Virginia Woolf, The Voyage Out.
6. Virginia Woolf, The Years. Must read more Woolf.
7. Thomas Mann, Buddenbrooks. This is on Susan’s list also, and I’ve had it around for a long time. It looks like a great long, absorbing read.
8. Gertrude Stein’s Three Lives. Another one I’ve had around forever. A recurring theme in this list is “books I’ve had around forever but have been avoiding because they are slightly intimidating.” Time to get over this.
9. Elizabeth Gaskell, Cranford and/or Wives and Daughters. I love 19C novels, so I’m expecting to love these.
10. Balzac’s Cousin Bette. I’ve never read Balzac and would really like to.
11. William James, The Varieties of Religious Experience (see #8).
12. Thomas DeQuincy’s Confessions of an Opium Eater. Who can resist that title?
13. James Hogg, Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner. Ditto. I’m fascinated by confessions.
We’ll see how I do!