Monday, September 10, 2007

Well Read Enough

I recently discovered that through the Danish library network I can request any book in any Danish library in the country be sent to my neighborhood library, and they have a wide selection of books in English (and Books in American). Since I have more free time on my hands I'm wanting to become better read. I've been looking for good top 100 lists of fiction and nonfiction books and have been a little ho-hum about the lists I've found.

So far there is the The Random House Modern Library list, the (Since 1923) TIME list, the Book magazine best fictional characters list, and the BBC Big Read.

I want to go with the BBC list because I've already knocked off 18 of the top 25 (it helps that five of those are Harry Potter books) but most of the books seem a little kiddie and I wouldn't expect to see The Princess Diaries in the list of modern classics I'm looking for. And I don't even recognize more than half of the titles from the TIME list. So I'm leaning Modern Library list. Unless you all, I'm sorry Y'ALL FOLK, have any other suggestions? Or a favorite from any of the lists?


Phil P. said...

any list that contains any harry potter in the top 100, nay 1000, nay 1000000000, doesn't take itself seriously.

look for a list that puts both Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and Ulysses, both by James Joyce, in the top 5.


Phil P. said...

i have more to add: the Modern list is no good (and sexist, btw); limiting yourself to Modern texts will depress you and lead to dismal, irreversible despair.

the list should be heavy with jane austen, of course--but you already knew that.

the best thing about the bbc list is that it contains his dark materials by philip pullman, which puts all other adolescent fantasy fiction to shame. (and yes, it is horribly atheistic.)

Elizard said...

Here is another site to look for books to read:

Elizabeth said...

I personally would skip the James Joyce altogether and stick with Harry Potter. I mean really, who stays up all night to finish Ulysses? :)
But I think phil p. is right about the modern stuff. Temper it with some good old poetry, I say: the Canterbury Tales is very funny at times, and John Donne, George Herbert and Gerard Manley Hopkins are uplifting (and sometimes funny, too). And I would put Wendell Berry near the top of any list. Try Jayber Crow for one of the best novels ever written, and What are People For for some great essays. Sigrid Undset is a Danish/Norwegian writer who is very good, but very depressing. And have you read Flannery O'Connor? Ok, I'll stop now.

Rebekah said...

Phil - You've never read Harry Potter, right? ;)

I definitely don't want anything that will lead to dismal, irreversible despair. Goodness knows the Danish winter should be able to handle that.

Rebekah said...

Elizabeth - Can you recommend a good place to start with Flannery O'Connor? I've been wanting to read her for a long time.