Another Facebook literature survey

2009/07/26

Yes, I know…how could I, right? Well, sometimes memes are fun. And besides which, this one involves literature, and that can’t be a bad thing. That, and I haven’t written a literary post in a quite a while, and much as I want to write up a reading list for SF, well. Brain just won’t let me do that right now. In any event, on with the survey.

[Survey text follows]
The BBC believes most people will have only read 6 of the 100 books here. How do your reading habits stack up?

Instructions:
Copy this into your NOTES. Look at the list and put an ‘x’ after those you have read. (Note that since I’m posting this in WordPress and having Facebook auto-import the post, I’ll be identifying the books I’ve read in italics. Fancy, right?)

1 Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
2 The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
4 Harry Potter series – JK Rowling
5 To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
6 The Bible [1]
7 Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four – George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations – Charles Dickens

Total: 5.5

11 Little Women – Louisa M Alcott
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 – Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare [2]
15 Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien
17 Birdsong – Sebastian Faulk
18 Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveler’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch – George Eliot

Total: 2.5

21 Gone With The Wind – Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald
23 Bleak House – Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
26 Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck
29 Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll
30 The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame

Total: 2

31 Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield – Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis –
34 Emma-Jane Austen
35 Persuasion – Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe – CS Lewis
37 The Kite Runner – Khaled Hossein
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh – AA Milne

Total: 1

41 Animal Farm – George Orwell 
42 The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney – John Irving
45 The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables – LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies – William Golding
50 Atonement – Ian McEwan

Total: 2

51 Life of Pi – Yann Martel
52 Dune – Frank Herbert [3]
53 Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities – Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night – Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Total: 3

61 Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck
62 Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History – Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road – Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary – Helen Fielding
69 Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick – Herman Melville

Total: 2

71 Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens
72 Dracula – Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From A Small Island – Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses – James Joyce
76 The Inferno – Dante [4]
77 Swallows and Amazons – Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal – Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray

Total: 2

80 Possession – AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple – Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte’s Web – EB White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven – Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection – Enid Blyton

Total: 1

91 Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince – Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory – Iain Banks
94 Watership Down – Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice – Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet – William Shakespeare
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables – Victor Hugo

Total: 3

Grand Total: 24

[Survey ends]

Now, I have a few critiques of this particular list. Certainly, I would not have included Dan Brown on any such list of worthwhile reading materials. And seriously, only one SF novel (and a bit of a snoozer, at that)? Why aren’t any of Verne’s or Wells’ novels included, if only one of each? [5] Being something of an SF connoisseur, I can also name several books in that genre that deserve mention in any such list, especially when said list contains multiple novels by individual authors (which, to my mind, is a bit redundant). Additionally, where are the Greco-Roman classics? I realize, of course, that few people read them anymore, but considering that these works form a substantial part of the foundation of Western literature, do they not merit inclusion, if for no other reason than to make each respondent feel guilty for not having read them? [6] Also, a minor quibble: I would’ve axed Dracula (much as I enjoyed that book), and substituted Frankenstein, instead; I consider the latter to be the more significant of the two works. All of this being said, at the very least, I did beat the projected typical case of having only read six of the aforementioned books, so, go me! I’ll also point out that if I include all of the SF novels I’ve read, as well as the various books I’ve read in my multi-year, self-paced, independent study course in political science and philosophy, not to mention books I consider significant that are not included on the above list, then I can probably get pretty close to 100 “significant” books read. But that’s really neither here nor there, for now. Regardless, I think I’ll stick to my own reading lists, thank you very much. Most of the books on this list, well. They just don’t interest me in the least; as with all subjective matters, however, YMMV.

Notes:

[1]: I’m only claiming half credit for the Bible. I’ve probably read the majority of the books contained therein, but I don’t remember much of it.

[2]: Similar to the Bible, I’m only claiming half credit here; I’ve read about a dozen of Shakespeare’s plays (including some of the most obscure ones), but I have not read them all.

[3]: I’m seriously tempted to claim more credit here, since I have read all six of Herbert’s Dune novels, but I’ll play nice.

[4]: If it helps, I’m also slogging through Purgatorio at the moment, which could be considered an apt comparison to the current state of my life in general, but let’s not go there, okay?

[5]: And if you can’t name the two books I’m thinking of, well. Granted, not so many people have actually read either book, but most are familiar with them in passing, or the titles, at the very least. [*]

[6]: In all fairness, I’m also being a bit of a snob here, since I’ve read both The Illiad and The Odessey, and translated parts of The Aeneid from the original Latin (I took three years of Latin in high school…one cannot engage in such study and not encounter Vergil’s immortal work). I’ve also read some of the works of Cicero, Seneca, and Marcus Aurelius…

[*]: Seriously, if you’re stumped, here are the titles I had in mind (you’ll probably kick yourself for not figuring this out on your own): 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne, and War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells.

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