Some fun book news: Amazon has curated a list called “100 Books to Read in a Lifetime,” calling it a “bucket list of books to create a well-read life.” As one who loves books (goes without saying) and lists, I was eager to peruse their selections and evaluate them for myself.
Here are some of my unabashedly biased opinions of their choices.
No-Brainers: 1984, Beloved, Fahrenheit 451, Invisible Man, Slaughterhouse Five, Catcher in the Rye, To Kill a Mockingbird
Personal Favorites: The Poisonwood Bible, The World According to Garp, The Road, The Handmaid's Tale, Bel Canto
Surprised But Happy to See It Listed: Gone Girl, Life After Life, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, Valley of the Dolls
Super Proud I've Read It: Team of Rivals. It was SO LONG, but now I know SO MUCH about Lincoln!
Right Author, Wrong Book: The Book Thief. I know it's super popular, and how do you argue against a book about the Holocaust without sounding like a turd, but Zusak's I Am the Messenger is so, so much better. And not boring.
I've Read It, But Didn't Love It: Lolita, Love in the Time of Cholera, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, The Corrections, Things Fall Apart
Now I Really Want to Read: Unbroken, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, Midnight's Children, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Catch-22, Great Expectations (no I didn't read it in school; in 9th grade we read A Tale of Two Cities instead, which if you ask me was a Tale of a Big Mistake)
I'll Probably Never Read: A Brief History of Time, Kitchen Confidential, On the Road, The Lord of the Rings, The Stranger. Because I don't hate myself. And before you get all up in arms about Tolkien, let me assure you that yes, I've read The freakin' Hobbit, and it was terrible, okay? So get off my back!
Ahh, That Takes Me Back : Little House on the Prairie, The Giver, The Hunger Games, Where the Sidewalk Ends, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, A Wrinkle in Time, The Hungry Hungry Caterpillar
Book With Most Joke-Worthy Title: The House at Pooh Corner. Adam once famously called the stack of magazines in his bathroom “the Library at Pooh Corner.”
Book That Has No Business on This List, or Any Other List of Good Books Anywhere in The World: Pride and Prejudice. Obviously.
I found it interesting, though I suppose not terribly surprising, that Middlemarch didn't make the cut. I wonder what George Eliot, who once penned an essay entitled “Silly Novels By Lady Novelists,” would have to say about Jane Austen's inclusion.
Austen-related misstep aside, Amazon's list is overall quite good, and I recommend you take a look, if for no other reason than to count how many of the books you've already read. And since I know you're curious, I have read approximately half. (Is that respectable for someone with an English degree? I'm going to pat myself on the back and say yes.)
In other news, check back here later this week for my thoughts on Books 3 & 4 of Middlemarch. Hope the Challenge is going well for you! I gained some steam this week and felt like I was settling into the style a bit.
And finally, a confession: I gave up on a book this morning. It was over 500 pages, set in the 7th century, and involved more oddly-spelled words than was quite seemly. If there had been a glossary, or footnotes, or 200 fewer pages, and if I hadn't exhausted myself during the first half of this week on Middlemarch, maybe I could have done it, but as I succumbed to dozing in my chair before noon today it became clear that it wasn't going to happen. (Reading a book that leads to a morning nap? It's time to break up, friend. Let that heartbreaker go.)
I realized that in order to maintain my sanity this month, I need one thing and one thing only: YA. Lots and lots of YA. You can read YA with one arm tied behind your back. (You know, because the books are all so short and lightweight.) You can read YA with essentially just your brain-stem engaged. (Because that's the only part teenagers use regularly anyway.) You can read YA while floating on pool noodles and sipping a cocktail. (But only if it's summer and you're of legal age.) Anyway, my point is, I checked out three YA titles from the library today, and I'm convinced they are going to sustain me through the next two weeks of Middlemarching. I'll be writing about them soon, so you can check them out yourself!
Teaser: This one has already made me so, so happy, and I've only read 30 pages.