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#9136 - 10/29/00 12:31 PM Re: book lists
Jackie Offline

Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 03/15/00
Posts: 11609
Loc: Louisville, Kentucky
Well, Jazz., you and I have the same depth of feeling about books that have been (are) important to us, though perhaps I relate them a bit less to my country than you do.

The older ones make me aware that I and my generation are
part of the ongoing stream in time that is mankind. Others before me have felt as passionately about things as I do, and more will after I am gone, as well. In 1913, Rupert Brooke wrote to a friend: "Oh my dear there are things to be done! I want to walk a thousand miles, and write a thousand plays, and sing a thousand poems, and drink a thousand pots of beer, and kiss a thousand girls, and--oh, a million things: I daren't enumerate them all, for fear this white paper'ld blush."

Oh! How can anyone get up the nerve to write anything, knowing that they can and will be judged by it for-ever!
But, OH! I am so glad that they have!!!


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#9137 - 10/29/00 06:55 PM Re: book lists
AnnaStrophic Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 03/15/00
Posts: 6511
Loc: lower upstate New York
There is/was a small, private liberal arts* college somewhere in the US whose entire curriculum was/is based on the "100 Great Books." Does this ring a bell with anyone?

----
*obviously


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#9138 - 10/30/00 04:24 AM Tried and found wanting...
shanks Offline
old hand

Registered: 03/16/00
Posts: 1004
Loc: London, UK
Xara

Since everybody is giving you reading lists, I thought I might try the opposite - a subjective view of alleged 'must reads' that have disappointed me.

Milton - Paradise Lost Almost unreadable. Dr Johnson (in his Lives of the poets) succinctly says that the poem is one you are glad to have read, but also glad never to have to read again.

Joyce - Ulysses andFinnegan's Wake Literary masturbation. Sorry, but that's all it is. His earlier works are much more readable.

Faulkner - The Sound and the Fury American Joyce; literally, and literarily, signifying nothing...

European 'bestsellers': Patrick Susskind's Perfume, Hoeg's (sp?) Miss Smilla's feeling for snow - overlong, overhyped, and anti-climactic. And it's not just a translation problem - Sophie's World works marvellously in English.

Bronte - Wuthering Heights Perhaps my least favourite book ever. (I said this was subjective! At least I thoroughly enjoy her sister's Jane Eyre.)

Eugene O'Neill - Mourning becomes Electra Unsubtle, uninteresting, overlong...

Whitman - Leaves of Grass He may celebrate himself, but I find myself unable to do so - through falling asleep every few lines. (And let's not even mention Wordworth's long works - the Prologue etc...zzzzzzzzz)

There you go. Perhaps the fans of these works will descend en masse upon me and rend me limb from limb...

Anyone...?

cheer

the sunshine warrior


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#9139 - 10/30/00 06:49 AM Re: Tried and found wanting...
wsieber Offline
old hand

Registered: 03/15/00
Posts: 1026
Loc: Switzerland
Hi Shanks,
The idea of an "anti-list" has something for it! I found most amusing that "The Sound and The Fury" rubs shoulders with Patrick Süsskinds "Perfume". I can't think of two books more different from each other. Both remained in my memory, although I would also hesitate to recommend them.
The whole question reminds me of a day, long ago, when I was feretting through "Foyles" in London, and a hurried Swiss tourist arrived who asked the sales attendant for a "book about London" which would allow him to make the most of his 3-day visit...


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#9140 - 10/30/00 07:52 AM Re: Tried and found wanting...
shanks Offline
old hand

Registered: 03/16/00
Posts: 1004
Loc: London, UK
I was feretting through "Foyles" in London, and a hurried Swiss tourist arrived who asked the sales attendant for a "book about London" which would allow him to make the most of his 3-day visit...

Certainly not a good idea - given that it would take about 3 days to faind any given book in Foyles! I've always thought of Foyles as a sort of adventure/playground for bibliomanes. You go in without expectation of finding anything in particular, or anything at all. You wander, braving the narrow escalators, the dingy staricases, the dusty book shelves, the eccentric arrangements, and then suddenly (like wossname upon a peak in Darien) you come across, say, Chapman's Homer. And it all seems worth while.


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#9141 - 10/30/00 10:40 AM Subjective
FishonaBike Offline
veteran

Registered: 10/11/00
Posts: 1346
Loc: Sussex, England
Hi xara,
You appear to have been well provided for in terms of ready-made lists compiled by others (nod to Jo & paulb), personal favourites (nod to belM & emanuela), personal hates (nod to shanks) and also more general advice along the lines of "follow your feelings, Luke" (Obi tsuwm Kenobi)!

I think any list of supposed all-time greats has to tell you almost as much about the person (or people) who compiled the list as about the quality of the books recommended. Yes, there are generally acknowledged classics, but there's no point in reading them just because they're acknowledged classics. Some of them are deadly boring, or may not be appropriate to you and your world at this time. They may not resonate.

I like tsuwm's comment about being eclectic. I'd take it a bit further and say - IMHO - the best books are those that move you. If you can't avoid some subjectivity then try embracing it.
So here's a loose list of books that have moved me. I'm not going to stop and think about it, or it'll change..

Iain Banks: The Crow Road and/or Espedair Street

Ray Bradbury: almost anything really, but in particular I'm thinking of a short story where a young woman or girl is walking home through a dark wood and a murderer is meant to be on the prowl. Can any Ayleurs place this??

Dr Seuss Brilliant stuff! Particularly recommend The Lorax, though I do like Green Eggs and Ham. And I would read it in a box and I would read it with a... (That's enough of that. Ed)

Hilda Boswell's Treasury of Poetry
Every child should receive a free copy. Excellent poems with wonderful pictures.

Harry Harrison: Star Smashers of the Galaxy Rangers and/or A Transatlantic Tunnel, Hurrah!
The former is very, very funny. The latter is more clever, but is also very amusing.

Ira Levin: A Kiss Before Dying and/or This Perfect Day
AKBD is probably worth reading even if you've seen the film. It's use of an "invisible" first person (the murderer) - something you can only do in a book - is fantastic and enthralling.

There you go. That's fairly eclectic!





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#9142 - 10/30/00 11:02 AM Re: Subjective
shanks Offline
old hand

Registered: 03/16/00
Posts: 1004
Loc: London, UK
Can't place the Bradbury story, but on the Banks collection, would perhaps substitute the original (the one and only) The Wasp Factory for Espedair Street. Agree that The Crow Road is wonderful and moving.

Ayleurs ahoy - help Shona with the Bradbury thing!


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#9143 - 10/30/00 01:45 PM Re: book lists
xara Offline
member

Registered: 10/09/00
Posts: 197
Loc: cary, nc, usa
Thank you all for your links and insights. I'm a bit late getting back to this, as I have been out of town having a marvelous weekend looking at stars!

When I started the thread, I was motivated my a number of things.

belM, yes to both pleasing myself and pleasing others. Lately as I have been reading here, I have been surprised at myself both when I do and when I don't catch a literary reference. I was curious to know, if presented with a list of recommended books, what percentage I have already read. I also agree with you that an important piece is something with which you can connect deeply. What's the point of reading if you don't enjoy and learn from what you read.

One of my other motivations was simply to decide on something good to read. Left to myself I tend to read lots of the same thing. I read quite a bit of science fiction (I know, not always the most high quality writing available) but I always feel as though I am missing out on something by not diversifying my reading more. The reason I specifically asked about fiction is that I have more than enough non-fiction to read, and while I enjoy the benefit of the knowledge I gain from non-fiction, I don't as often enjoy the act of reading it. tsuwm's statement "Be eclectic" is exactly what I am trying to accomplish.

I was excited to see, what individual books/authors such a group as this would recommend. I was not disappointed. I've known for quite some time that I needed to read more Carroll, and I love that the fish man suggested Seuss, though I don't know why that should have surprised me.

Thanks to all for the wonderful suggestions!


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#9144 - 10/30/00 05:41 PM Re: Tried and found wanting...
Max Quordlepleen Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 08/12/00
Posts: 3409
Since everybody is giving you reading lists, I thought I might try the opposite - a subjective view of alleged 'must reads' that have disappointed me.

Milton - Paradise Lost Almost unreadable. Dr Johnson (in his Lives of the poets) succinctly says that the poem is one you are glad to have read, but also glad never to have to read again.


Thank heavens I'm not the only one who felt that way! On the subject of "must read" books, I've always liked the quote attributed to a Professor of Literature who was giving his reason for not having read War and Peace: "It's one of those books you have to read before you die. Therefore, the longer I put off reading it, the longer I live."



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#9145 - 10/30/00 09:05 PM Re: book lists
belMarduk Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 09/28/00
Posts: 2891
oooo xara, for sheer entertainment value, if you like science fiction, you must read the Discworld series by Terry Pratchett. Really funny! My family and I are avid sci-fi fans and we never miss a new one.

Also, PUN fans note...the whole Xanth series by Piers Anthony is also amusing.


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