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Updated reading lists

The popularity of the mammoth user-generated list made me want to go and revisit three lists (Guardian Top 100, Random House Board Top 100, Random House Reader's Top 100) that we traded around eight months ago (entry 1, entry 2) to see how I have progressed. I didn't improve as much as I would have liked on the lists, as my biggest improvement was seven on the reader's list, which I previously referred to as the kool-aid list, as someone must be on something to place Rand and Hubbard so frequently and prominently.

Also, to repeat some of our previous evaluations of these lists:
- Guardian: pretentious, tends to select less well known works by prominent authors, not too many American authors
- RH Board: less pretentious, but very American author biased
- RH Readers: kool-aid list, top ten is rather worthless, even more American author biased

Note: I'm giving myself credit for Catcher in the Rye as I am only one or two Caltrain rides away from completion.

bold means that I have read the book
italics means that I have the book in my possession, but haven't read it yet
strike means that I will never read the book

Guardian Top 100 List

10/13/03: 11
Current (06/23/04): 13

1. Don Quixote - Miguel De Cervantes (possibly read this)
2. Pilgrim's Progress - John Bunyan
3. Robinson Crusoe - Daniel Defoe
4. Gulliver's Travels - Jonathan Swift (possibly read this)
5. Tom Jones - Henry Fielding
6. Clarissa - Samuel Richardson
7. Tristram Shandy - Laurence Sterne
8. Dangerous Liaisons - Pierre Choderlos De Laclos
9. Emma - Jane Austen
10. Frankenstein - Mary Shelley
11. Nightmare Abbey - generics Love Peacock
12. The Black Sheep - Honore De Balzac
13. The Charterhouse of Parma - Stendhal
14. The Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
15. Sybil - Benjamin Disraeli
16. David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
17. Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
18. Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
19. Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
20. The Scarlet Letter - Nathaniel Hawthorne
21. Moby-Dick - Herman Melville
22. Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
23. The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
24. Alice's Adventures In Wonderland - Lewis Carroll (read some of this)
25. Little Women - Louisa M. Alcott
26. The Way We Live Now - Anthony Trollope
27. Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
28. Daniel Deronda - George Eliot
29. The Brothers Karamazov - Fyodor Dostoevsky
30. The Portrait of a Lady - Henry James
31. Huckleberry Finn - Mark Twain
32. Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde - Robert Louis Stevenson
33. Three Men in a Boat - Jerome K. Jerome
34. The Picture of Dorian Gray - Oscar Wilde
35. The Diary of a Nobody - George Grossmith
36. Jude the Obscure - generics Hardy
37. The Riddle of the Sands - Erskine Childers
38. The Call of the Wild - Jack London
39. Nostromo - Joseph Conrad
40. The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
41. In Search of Lost Time - Marcel Proust
42. The Rainbow - D. H. Lawrence
43. The Good Soldier - Ford Madox Ford
44. The Thirty-Nine Steps - John Buchan
45. Ulysses - James Joyce
46. Mrs Dalloway - Virginia Woolf
47. A Passage to India - E. M. Forster
48. The Great Gatsby - F. Scott Fitzgerald
49. The Trial - Franz Kafka
50. Men Without Women - Ernest Hemingway
51. Journey to the End of the Night - Louis-Ferdinand Celine
52. As I Lay Dying - William Faulkner
53. Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
54. Scoop - Evelyn Waugh
55. USA - John Dos Passos
56. The Big Sleep - Raymond Chandler
57. The Pursuit Of Love - Nancy Mitford
58. The Plague - Albert Camus
59. Nineteen Eighty-Four - George Orwell
60. Malone Dies - Samuel Beckett
61. Catcher in the Rye - J.D. Salinger
62. Wise Blood - Flannery O'Connor
63. Charlotte's Web - E. B. White
64. The Lord Of The Rings - J. R. R. Tolkien
65. Lucky Jim - Kingsley Amis
66. Lord of the Flies - William Golding
67. The Quiet American - Graham Greene
68 On the Road - Jack Kerouac
69. Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
70. The Tin Drum - Gunter Grass
71. Things Fall Apart - Chinua Achebe
72. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie - Muriel Spark
73. To Kill A Mockingbird - Harper Lee
74. Catch-22 - Joseph Heller
75. Herzog - Saul Bellow
76. One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
77. Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont - Elizabeth Taylor
78. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy - John Le Carre
79. Song of Solomon - Toni Morrison
80. The Bottle Factory Outing - Beryl Bainbridge
81. The Executioner's Song - Norman Mailer
82. If on a Winter's Night a Traveller - Italo Calvino
83. A Bend in the River - V. S. Naipaul
84. Waiting for the Barbarians - J.M. Coetzee
85. Housekeeping - Marilynne Robinson
86. Lanark - Alasdair Gray
87. The New York Trilogy - Paul Auster
88. The BFG - Roald Dahl
89. The Periodic Table - Primo Levi
90. Money - Martin Amis
91. An Artist of the Floating World - Kazuo Ishiguro
92. Oscar And Lucinda - Peter Carey
93. The Book of Laughter and Forgetting - Milan Kundera
94. Haroun and the Sea af Stories - Salman Rushdie
95. La Confidential - James Ellroy
96. Wise Children - Angela Carter
97. Atonement - Ian McEwan
98. Northern Lights - Philip Pullman
99. American Pastoral - Philip Roth
100. Austerlitz - W. G. Sebald

Random House List

Board:

10/13/03: 6
Current (06/23/04): 12

1. ULYSSES by James Joyce
2. THE GREAT GATSBY by F. Scott Fitzgerald
3. A PORTRAIT OF THE ARTIST AS A YOUNG MAN by James Joyce
4. LOLITA by Vladimir Nabokov
5. BRAVE NEW WORLD by Aldous Huxley
6. THE SOUND AND THE FURY by William Faulkner
7. CATCH-22 by Joseph Heller
8. DARKNESS AT NOON by Arthur Koestler
9. SONS AND LOVERS by D.H. Lawrence
10. THE GRAPES OF WRATH by John Steinbeck
11. UNDER THE VOLCANO by Malcolm Lowry
12. THE WAY OF ALL FLESH by Samuel Butler
13. 1984 by George Orwell
14. I, CLAUDIUS by Robert Graves
15. TO THE LIGHTHOUSE by Virginia Woolf
16. AN AMERICAN TRAGEDY by Theodore Dreiser
17. THE HEART IS A LONELY HUNTER by Carson McCullers
18. SLAUGHTERHOUSE-FIVE by Kurt Vonnegut
19. INVISIBLE MAN by Ralph Ellison
20. NATIVE SON by Richard Wright
21. HENDERSON THE RAIN KING by Saul Bellow
22. APPOINTMENT IN SAMARRA by John O'Hara
23. U.S.A. (trilogy) by John Dos Passos
24. WINESBURG, OHIO by Sherwood Anderson
25. A PASSAGE TO INDIA by E.M. Forster
26. THE WINGS OF THE DOVE by Henry James
27. THE AMBASSADORS by Henry James
28. TENDER IS THE NIGHT by F. Scott Fitzgerald
29. THE STUDS LONIGAN TRILOGY by James T. Farrell
30. THE GOOD SOLDIER by Ford Madox Ford
31. ANIMAL FARM by George Orwell
32. THE GOLDEN BOWL by Henry James
33. SISTER CARRIE by Theodore Dreiser
34. A HANDFUL OF DUST by Evelyn Waugh
35. AS I LAY DYING by William Faulkner
36. ALL THE KING'S MEN by Robert Penn Warren
37. THE BRIDGE OF SAN LUIS REY by Thornton Wilder
38. HOWARDS END by E.M. Forster
39. GO TELL IT ON THE MOUNTAIN by James Baldwin
40. THE HEART OF THE MATTER by Graham Greene
41. LORD OF THE FLIES by William Golding
42. DELIVERANCE by James Dickey
43. A DANCE TO THE MUSIC OF TIME (series) by Anthony Powell
44. POINT COUNTER POINT by Aldous Huxley
45. THE SUN ALSO RISES by Ernest Hemingway
46. THE SECRET AGENT by Joseph Conrad
47. NOSTROMO by Joseph Conrad
48. THE RAINBOW by D.H. Lawrence
49. WOMEN IN LOVE by D.H. Lawrence
50. TROPIC OF CANCER by Henry Miller
51. THE NAKED AND THE DEAD by Norman Mailer
52. PORTNOY'S COMPLAINT by Philip Roth
53. PALE FIRE by Vladimir Nabokov
54. LIGHT IN AUGUST by William Faulkner
55. ON THE ROAD by Jack Kerouac
56. THE MALTESE FALCON by Dashiell Hammett
57. PARADE'S END by Ford Madox Ford
58. THE AGE OF INNOCENCE by Edith Wharton
59. ZULEIKA DOBSON by Max Beerbohm
60. THE MOVIEGOER by Walker Percy
61. DEATH COMES FOR THE ARCHBISHOP by Willa Cather
62. FROM HERE TO ETERNITY by James Jones
63. THE WAPSHOT CHRONICLES by John Cheever
64. THE CATCHER IN THE RYE by J.D. Salinger
65. A CLOCKWORK ORANGE by Anthony Burgess
66. OF HUMAN BONDAGE by W. Somerset Maugham
67. HEART OF DARKNESS by Joseph Conrad
68. MAIN STREET by Sinclair Lewis
69. THE HOUSE OF MIRTH by Edith Wharton
70. THE ALEXANDRIA QUARTET by Lawrence Durell
71. A HIGH WIND IN JAMAICA by Richard Hughes
72. A HOUSE FOR MR BISWAS by V.S. Naipaul
73. THE DAY OF THE LOCUST by Nathanael West
74. A FAREWELL TO ARMS by Ernest Hemingway
75. SCOOP by Evelyn Waugh
76. THE PRIME OF MISS JEAN BRODIE by Muriel Spark
77. FINNEGANS WAKE by James Joyce
78. KIM by Rudyard Kipling
79. A ROOM WITH A VIEW by E.M. Forster
80. BRIDESHEAD REVISITED by Evelyn Waugh
81. THE ADVENTURES OF AUGIE MARCH by Saul Bellow
82. ANGLE OF REPOSE by Wallace Stegner
83. A BEND IN THE RIVER by V.S. Naipaul
84. THE DEATH OF THE HEART by Elizabeth Bowen
85. LORD JIM by Joseph Conrad
86. RAGTIME by E.L. Doctorow
87. THE OLD WIVES' TALE by Arnold Bennett
88. THE CALL OF THE WILD by Jack London
89. LOVING by Henry Green
90. MIDNIGHT'S CHILDREN by Salman Rushdie
91. A FAREWELL TO ARMS by Ernest Hemingway
92. THE SHELTERING SKY by Paul Bowles
93. SOMETIMES A GREAT NOTION by Ken Kesey
94. MY ANTONIA by Willa Cather
95. MULENGRO by Charles de Lint
96. SOPHIE'S CHOICE by William Styron
97. THE SHELTERING SKY by Paul Bowles
98. THE POSTMAN ALWAYS RINGS TWICE by James M. Cain
99. THE GINGER MAN by J.P. Donleavy
100. THE MAGNIFICENT AMBERSONS by Booth Tarkington

Readers

10/13/03: 10
Current (06/23/04): 17

1. ATLAS SHRUGGED by Ayn Rand
2. THE FOUNTAINHEAD by Ayn Rand
3. BATTLEFIELD EARTH by L. Ron Hubbard
4. THE LORD OF THE RINGS by J.R.R. Tolkien
5. TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD by Harper Lee
6. 1984 by George Orwell
7. ANTHEM by Ayn Rand
8. WE THE LIVING by Ayn Rand
9. MISSION EARTH by L. Ron Hubbard
10. FEAR by L. Ron Hubbard
11. ULYSSES by James Joyce
12. CATCH-22 by Joseph Heller
13. THE GREAT GATSBY by F. Scott Fitzgerald
14. DUNE by Frank Herbert
15. THE MOON IS A HARSH MISTRESS by Robert Heinlein
16. STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND by Robert Heinlein
17. A TOWN LIKE ALICE by Nevil Shute
18. BRAVE NEW WORLD by Aldous Huxley
19. THE CATCHER IN THE RYE by J.D. Salinger
20. ANIMAL FARM by George Orwell
21. GRAVITY'S RAINBOW by generics Pynchon
22. THE GRAPES OF WRATH by John Steinbeck
23. SLAUGHTERHOUSE FIVE by Kurt Vonnegut
24. GONE WITH THE WIND by Margaret Mitchell
25. LORD OF THE FLIES by William Golding
26. SHANE by Jack Schaefer
27. TRUSTEE FROM THE TOOLROOM by Nevil Shute
28. A PRAYER FOR OWEN MEANY by John Irving
29. THE STAND by Stephen King
30. THE FRENCH LIEUTENANT'S WOMAN by John Fowles
31. BELOVED by Toni Morrison
32. THE WORM OUROBOROS by E.R. Eddison
33. THE SOUND AND THE FURY by William Faulkner
34. LOLITA by Vladimir Nabokov
35. MOONHEART by Charles de Lint
36. ABSALOM, ABSALOM by William Faulkner
37. OF HUMAN BONDAGE by W. Somerset Maugham
38. WISE BLOOD by Flannery O'Connor
39. UNDER THE VOLCANO by Malcolm Lowry
40. FIFTH BUSINESS by Robertson Davies
41. SOMEPLACE TO BE FLYING by Charles de Lint
42. ON THE ROAD by Jack Kerouac
43. HEART OF DARKNESS by Joseph Conrad
44. YARROW by Charles de Lint
45. AT THE MOUNTAINS OF MADNESS by H.P. Lovecraft
46. ONE LONELY NIGHT by Mickey Spillane
47. MEMORY AND DREAM by Charles de Lint
48. TO THE LIGHTHOUSE by Virginia Woolf
49. THE MOVIEGOER by Walker Percy
50. TRADER by Charles de Lint
51. THE HITCHHIKER'S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY by Douglas Adams
52. THE HEART IS A LONELY HUNTER by Carson McCullers
53. THE HANDMAID'S TALE by Margaret Atwood
54. BLOOD MERIDIAN by Cormac McCarthy
55. A CLOCKWORK ORANGE by Anthony Burgess
56. ON THE BEACH by Nevil Shute
57. A PORTRAIT OF THE ARTIST AS A YOUNG MAN by James Joyce
58. GREENMANTLE by Charles de Lint
59. ENDER'S GAME by Orson Scott Card
60. THE LITTLE COUNTRY by Charles de Lint
61. THE RECOGNITIONS by William Gaddis
62. STARSHIP TROOPERS by Robert Heinlein
63. THE SUN ALSO RISES by Ernest Hemingway
64. THE WORLD ACCORDING TO GARP by John Irving
65. SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES by Ray Bradbury
66. THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE by Shirley Jackson
67. AS I LAY DYING by William Faulkner
68. TROPIC OF CANCER by Henry Miller
69. INVISIBLE MAN by Ralph Ellison
70. THE WOOD WIFE by Terri Windling
71. THE MAGUS by John Fowles
72. THE DOOR INTO SUMMER by Robert Heinlein
73. ZEN AND THE ART OF MOTORCYCLE MAINTENANCE by Robert Pirsig
74. I, CLAUDIUS by Robert Graves
75. THE CALL OF THE WILD by Jack London
76. AT SWIM-TWO-BIRDS by Flann O'Brien
77. FARENHEIT 451 by Ray Bradbury
78. ARROWSMITH by Sinclair Lewis
79. WATERSHIP DOWN by Richard Adams
80. NAKED LUNCH by William S. Burroughs
81. THE HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER by Tom Clancy
82. GUILTY PLEASURES by Laurell K. Hamilton
83. THE PUPPET MASTERS by Robert Heinlein
84. IT by Stephen King
85. V. by generics Pynchon
86. DOUBLE STAR by Robert Heinlein
87. CITIZEN OF THE GALAXY by Robert Heinlein
88. BRIDESHEAD REVISITED by Evelyn Waugh
89. LIGHT IN AUGUST by William Faulkner
90. ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST by Ken Kesey
91. TOBACCO ROAD by Erskine Caldwell
92. IRONWEED by William Kennedy
93. THE MAGUS by John Fowles
94. WIDE SARGASSO SEA by Jean Rhys
95. UNDER THE NET by Iris Murdoch
96. SUTTREE by Cormac McCarthy
97. MYTHAGO WOOD by Robert Holdstock
98. ILLUSIONS by Richard Bach
99. THE CUNNING MAN by Robertson Davies
100. THE SATANIC VERSES by Salman Rushdie

Comments (7)

I think you're catching up to me. I've made almost no progress on those lists. If you want I can give you recommendations on what *not* to read.

Have I ever mentioned that Anthem not only made me want to pluck my own eyes out, but actually made my mouth water for the crunch of my own eyeballs and the salty burst of vitreous humour? or is it aqueous humour? The mere mention of of that book causes my bile to rise.

rcp:

away with the ayn rand! zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance is not good, and the faulkner books are good, but really hard to read. i'm surprised they don't have any greek authors up there.. oh, btw, if you take the character for your name and then append the character for my name, it means "physically healthy" in chinese. which, btw, i think i am now. the cold was fought off wtih 96 fl oz. of oj and tons of sleep. as for the housing, will update you more on that.

kwc Author Profile Page:

after consulting with meta, these books are now added to my never-ending reading list:

34. The Picture of Dorian Gray - Oscar Wilde
39. Nostromo - Joseph Conrad
58. The Plague - Albert Camus
62. Wise Blood - Flannery O'Connor
68 On the Road - Jack Kerouac
76. One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
69. Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
88. The BFG - Roald Dahl
79. Song of Solomon - Toni Morrison
95. La Confidential - James Ellroy
82. If on a Winter's Night a Traveller - Italo Calvino
90. MIDNIGHT'S CHILDREN by Salman Rushdie
53. THE HANDMAID'S TALE by Margaret Atwood
24. Alice's Adventures In Wonderland - Lewis Carroll (read some of this)
79. WATERSHIP DOWN by Richard Adams
62. STARSHIP TROOPERS by Robert Heinlein
65. SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES by Ray Bradbury
57. A PORTRAIT OF THE ARTIST AS A YOUNG MAN by James Joyce
51. THE HITCHHIKER'S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY by Douglas Adams

I'm not sure what else you have on your reading list, but in addition to the books you've added from the three lists I would recommend I, Claudius. Great book, especially if you like the Romans.

kwc Author Profile Page:

thanks for the recommendation - consider it added :)

kwc Author Profile Page:

rcp - I'm taking your comment to mean that you're referring to ancient greek authors, in which case, you won't find any of them on this list because none of them wrote 'novels.' Plays and poems, but no novels. All of this is subject to debate, but many consider the Tale of Genji to be the first 'novel,' and that comes from the 1200s.

For a more informed opinion than mine, you can check out the history of the novel on wikipedia, which gives examples of greek works that are considered 'precursors' to the novel (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Novel)

Prune:

Some comments on the Guardian list:

1. Don Quxote - translation is really a problem. There are many bad translations, and several (four or five) good ones. But even the good ones are not good enough -- it's just impossible for a translation to be good enough. Doing some side by side comparison, it becomes clear how each translator has to make a choice of what facet of the text's style to preserve on the expense of what others. What I'm saying here is, either read several of the highly regarded translations, or better yet, learn Spanish and read the original text. Otherwise you are getting but a tiny glimpse through the mist of this.

3. Robinson Crusoe - too high on the list.

4. Gulliver's Travels - like 1., this should be on any top list of Western literature.

5. Frankenstein - too high on the list.

14. The Count of Monte Cristo - after I watched the miniseries, I just had to put it on my to-read list.

16. David Copperfield - it says its author liked it best; doesn't mean it's best. From Dickens, I prefer Great Expectations.

21. Moby-Dick - incredibly, I've yet to read this...

24. Alice's Adventures In Wonderland - too high on the list.

27. Anna Karenina - too high on the list.

28. Daniel Deronda - too high on the list.

29. The Brothers Karamazov - I thought Crime and Punishment was better.

30. The Portrait of a Lady - too low on the list; also, The Ambassadors is James' best, but it seems too many people don't get it or think the prose is over-the-top (only two of the Amazon.com reviewers seem to have gotten it); second best by James is The Turn of the Screw, for the delicious ambiguity of many possible interpretations, each partially supported by the text, yet not one coming out on top (BTW, check out http://turnofthescrew.com/).

31. Huckleberry Finn - well, I read it as a satire.

32. Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde - too high on the list.

39. Nostromo - too low on the list; Conrad rocks.

40. The Wind in the Willows - I'm glad to see this listed; this really is the best children's book ever written.

41. In Search of Lost Time - too long at several thousand pages; also, translation problems as I mentioned for Don Quixote above apply, though a recent translation by multiple translators partially remedies this.

45. Ulysses - the list author says, "more discussed than read", and I to this should be added, "more read than made sense of".

48. The Great Gatsby - it's not bad, but still too high on the list.

50. Men Without Women - Hemingway sucks.

53. Brave New World - Huxley is too full of himself, and it shows; too high on the list.

59. Nineteen Eighty-Four - yet another overrated dystopian novel.

61. Catcher in the Rye - it's not bad, but still too high on the list.

64. The Lord Of The Rings - entertaining read, but I wouldn't call this great literature.

66. Lord of the Flies - Golding is a sad misanthrope; avoid this book.

73. To Kill A Mockingbird - I actually liked the B&W film adaptation better than the book.

74. Catch-22 - what?! way too low on the list!

The biggest omission from this list, from my point of view, is the books of the Gormenghast trilogy -- Titus Alone, Gormenghast, and Titus Groan, but this is understandable because Peake's creation is, like a tasty secret, not well known -- and this has nothing to do with its quality. There are many faults, but the good sufficiently overcompensates for the bad to put it at the top of my personal list.

Another omission from this is science fiction, but that makes sense due to the significant difference in theme and purpose of science fiction from artistic literature. But when discussing books overall, it should not be ignored, and a sci-fi list, complementary to the literature list, is needed.

Yeah, this comment ended up quite long, but hey, I'm not making you read it.

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