Reality Conditions

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Book meme

This has been going around the Internets in the past weeks, and it is as good a way as any of making a post when I have nothing interesting to post about. The rules are:

1. Bold what you have read
2. Italicise what you started but couldn't finish

The second seems to be the main point –apparently this is a list of the books more often left unfinished or something like that. To make it slightly more interesting I will add a couple of comments here and there, on all the unfinished books and some of the others.


Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell
Anna Karenina
Crime and Punishment
Catch-22
One Hundred Years of Solitude
Wuthering Heights
The Silmarillion
Life of Pi: a novel
The Name of the Rose
Don Quixote


Well, almost –perhaps I should have italicized. When I had to read it for high school I did finish it, but cheated and skipped some of the chapters which are unrelated sub-stories told by characters within the novel. I have the firm intention of rereading it without cheating some day.

Moby Dick

This was the second novel I read in my life –the first being Robinson Crusoe- or so I thought for most of my childhood. Later I discovered that the version I had read was a heavily abridged edition, perhaps a fourth of the length of the original novel. (Robinson I had read unabridged, honestly!) I only caught up with the whole book some four or five years ago. Great stuff.

Ulysses
Madame Bovary

This one is high on my list of Great Books that Suck –okey, I exaggerate, but it had little or nothing that appealed to me. I like Stendhal much better than Flaubert.

The Odyssey

Tried it right after finishing The Iliad with no problems, but got distracted with other stuff and never picked it up again. Needless to say I fully intend to read it some day.

Pride and Prejudice
Jane Eyre
A Tale of Two Cities
The Brothers Karamazov
Guns, Germs, and Steel: the Fates of Human Societies
War and Peace
Vanity Fair
The Time Traveler's Wife
The Iliad
Emma

The Blind Assassin
The Kite Runner
Mrs. Dalloway
Great Expectations
American Gods
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius
Atlas Shrugged
Reading Lolita in Tehran: a memoir in books
Memoirs of a Geisha
Middlesex
Quicksilver

See my review of the whole Baroque Cycle. I fully understand why this one is on the list; it took me about half a year to go through it. The other two volumes are quite more difficult to put down.

Wicked : the life and times of the wicked witch of the West
The Canterbury Tales
The Historian: a novel

I’m starting to read this one just now! Looks promising, so it will soon become a bolded item.

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
Love in the Time of Cholera
Brave New World
The Fountainhead
Foucault's Pendulum

This one and The Name on the Rose were very high on my list of Favourite Books Ever for several years (roughly the second half of my teens). I can’t understand what happened to Eco after this; The Island of the Day Before and Baudolino were miles below the previous novels in quality. I have not read The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana, but my hopes are not high.

Middlemarch
Frankenstein
The Count of Monte Cristo

Read it in a children’s edition which must have been about one twentieth of the size of the original book… so no, I don’t even count it as unfinished. Definitely want to read it some day.

Dracula
A Clockwork Orange
Anansi Boys
The Once and Future King
The Grapes of Wrath
The Poisonwood Bible: a novel
1984
Angels & Demons
The Inferno
The Satanic Verses
Sense and Sensibility
The Picture of Dorian Gray
Mansfield Park
One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest
To the Lighthouse
Tess of the D'Urbervilles
Oliver Twist
Gulliver's Travels
Les Misérables


Yes, I read the complete edition of this one, including the description of the battle of Waterloo, the philosophy of convents and the disquisition on criminal jargons. And loved it, by the way.

The Corrections
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay


Read this one on recommendation by my cynical friend, which reminds me that it's been a while since the last time we had one of our little blogfights -maybe he will come and make some sarcastic comments on my readings to enliven things a bit

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time

??? How can many people leave this book unfinished? It must be the easiest to read great novel ever written. Maybe they were put off by discussions of prime numbers and the Monty Hall problem?

Dune
The Prince

I assume it is Machiavelli. It was long ago that I tried, and I’m not sure why I didn’t finish it. Probably I just didn’t find it interesting.

The Sound and the Fury
Angela's Ashes: a memoir
The God of Small Things
A People's History of the United States: 1492-present
Cryptonomicon


Yes, I got this one and read it in the last months, after finishing The Baroque Cycle. It is better crafted as a novel and mostly more exciting to read, but the ending is more disappointing and it didn’t have as many little fascinating things as TBC. Also, I am somewhat less interested in twentieth-century geekery than in seventeenth-century geekery. Leibniz beats Turing all the way.

Neverwhere
A Confederacy of Dunces
A Short History of Nearly Everything
Dubliners
The Unbearable Lightness of Being
Beloved
Slaughterhouse-five
The Scarlet Letter
Eats, Shoots & Leaves
The Mists of Avalon
Oryx and Crake : a novel
Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed
Cloud Atlas
The Confusion

Notice that the first two parts of The Baroque Cycle are on the list, but not the third. Anyone who has invested the time of going through the first two will not leave the last one unfinished and make the whole previous effort pointless.

Lolita
Persuasion
Northanger Abbey
The Catcher in the Rye
On the Road
The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Freakonomics: a Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything


I read most of this one standing at the WH Smith shop of the Heathrow bus terminal, once that I got stuck waiting there a couple of hours for a bus and had finished off my reading material on the plane.

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance : an Inquiry into Values
The Aeneid


Made a half-hearted attempt as a teenager. Didn’t get too far.

Watership Down
Gravity's Rainbow
The Hobbit


I'm not surprised about The Silmarillion, but it's perplexing that The Hobbit is on the list and Lord of the Rings is not. I know many people who tried it and left it at the prologue or shortly after.


In Cold Blood : A True Account of a Multiple Murder and Its Consequences
White Teeth
Treasure Island


Another surprise. How can you pick up this book and (assuming you like pirate stories, and if not why would you pick it up?) not read it complete? What’s wrong with you?

David Copperfield
The Three Musketeers


See here for some intensely personal comments on Dumas.


Overall: 32 read and 5 unfinished, out of 106 in total. Or if you insist on counting the Quixote as unfinished, then I count The Historian as finished to balance –I am reading it now and liking it, so it is just a matter of days till it can be added to the list. How did you do?

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7 Comments:

  • I thought your list was about novels/ficiton only, but you've also included J. Diamonds "Guns, Germs and Steel"?

    Let me test to see if I can use bold in italics in this post, and if it works eventually I'll post my list.

    test bold
    test italics

    changcho

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:24 PM, October 16, 2007  

  • Yes, there are some nonfiction books included (besides GG&S, there are Collapse, Freakanomics, The Prince, and perhaps some others). I didn't write the list!

    By Blogger Alejandro, at 12:25 AM, October 17, 2007  

  • Well, as promised here's my list; note that it does not include short stories (i.e., I've read many J. L. Borges stories and Edgar ALlan Poe stories too numerous to mention here) and this list does not include the far more numerous list of non-fiction books I've read; currently I'm reading "Life on a Young Planet" by Knoll, for example.

    1984 Scary, and increasingly relevant; similat to:

    Brave New WorldGood story.

    Moby Dick Read it in high school, liked it a lot.

    The Great Gatsby read it in HS but don't recall too much of it.

    The House of the Seven Gables read it in HS but don't recall too much of it.

    Martian ChroniclesConvinced the teacher in HS to let me read it for an assignment, and really liked it.

    Don Quijote Got started, but it's heavy going and left to finish for the future; well, I'd have to start reading it from scratch, really.

    The Old Man and the SeaA friend let me borrow it a while ago; got started but didn't get around to finishing it.

    For Whom the Bell Tolls Absolutely, my favorite story. Robert Jordan is (was) the Man. Hey, I remember I let a friend borrow it, I need it back!

    Dune Awesome story, really liked it. Never did get to follwing up on the sequels, but everyone tells me they're not as good.

    2001, A Space Odyssey; Clarke at his best? I really liked that the central location in the book is Iapetus, unlike the movie where it was Europa. In any case,
    both of those worlds still hold deep mysteries...

    Childhood's End Clarke at his almost best; great sotry.

    Nightfall Continuing with the SF theme; great story. Once rented a movie adaptation of it with D. Carradine and the movie was so bad! I'm glad I read the
    book first.

    Robinson Crusoe Well, what can one say? Good, old fashioned story.

    The Insulted and Humilliated By F. Dostoyevski; very interesting story.

    The Scarlet letter read it in HS but don't recall too much of it.

    The Time Machine This was such a good, short story that I finished it overnight. The original film of the 60's is much better than the later remake with
    G. Pierce (the curl of 12?? Please)

    Martin Fierro. Great gaucho epic.

    Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?. Classic; of course it got made into the Blade Runner movie.

    On the Road The classic beat-generation novel.

    Einstein's Dreams. Delightful little book, a gem.

    Flatland A must read; try not to be offended if you take your feminism too seriously (recall this was writtne 19th century).

    Contact Great SF novel by the late C. Sagan.

    The Andromeda Strain Interesting at first read but then it goes nowhere (what? microorganisms that feed off the thermal energy of a nuclear exlposion? What is this guy smoking?)

    Jurassic Park Much better and darker than the movie (which I enjoyed as well).

    Jaws Again, good story and also enjoyed the movie version of it.

    Well, if I recall some other books I'll post them as well.
    changcho

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:51 PM, October 19, 2007  

  • Hi changcho, your list is very interesting, but I'm not sure what it means... *-) The list I posted, I copied from other blogs (it has appeared in many, Pharyngula and Evolving Thoughts for example) and I have not read most of the books in it (all those I left neither bolded nor italicized). Your list is of books you've read and really liked plus others you left unfinished? or what is the criterion?

    Anyway! The books from your list I've read are:

    Moby Dick: See my list above.

    Martian Chronicles: Loved some of the stories, didin't care about others.

    Don Quixote: See above.

    Dune: Disappointing for me, never really got into it.

    2001: Absolutely blew my mind in high school, and yes, it's Clarke's best! I think my favorite part is the chapter that summarises beautifully all of mankind's evolution and history in a couple of pages.

    Childhood's End: For me it was far below 2001; I liked several other Clarkes, especially short stories, more than it.

    Nightfall: Great story of course, but are you talking about the novelisation Asimov wrote with Silverberg? It goes beyond the ending of the story and is a mixed bag: the initial descriptions of the survivors and the post-apocalyptic world are compelling, but the ending is awfully lame and anticlimatic.

    Robinson Crusoe: As I said above, the first novel I read, aged 6 and in that beautiful yellow-covered Robin Hood collection you probably remember as well.

    The Scarlet Letter: Eh. Not much to say, my memories are vague. I agree with Borges that Hawthorne is better (or at least more memorable!) at short stories than at novels.

    The Time Machine: Excellent, of course; though I tend to think that The Island of Dr. Moreau and The War of the Worlds are even better. I have deliberetly avoided the last film version.

    Martin Fierro: Of course. My favourite lines are those on the philosophy of quantity and time in the last payada: "Uno es el sol, uno el mundo/ sola y unica es la luna/ y asi han de saber que Dios/ no creo cantidad alguna..." and "Moreno, te voy a decir/ segun mi saber alcanza,/ el tiempo solo es tardanza/ de lo que esta por venir..."

    Contact: Another one that blew my mind in high school, but it has not aged for me as well as 2001. I haven't reread it for a while, but I suspect I would find the writing clunky and the philosophical discussions superficial. Cosmos, on the other hand, is unbeatable.

    The Andromeda Strain: Even in the period of my life I liked Crichton, I found this one boring.

    Jurassic Park: Not this one, though. I agree it's much darker than the film and possibly better in some respects, though the film still wins overall for me. It is the only Chrichton I can imagine myself enjoying rereading. I also loved Sphere as a teenager, but I think the movie, by taking it seriously, made me realize how silly it really was.

    By Blogger Alejandro, at 10:30 PM, October 19, 2007  

  • I see; your original list is a fixed list, not necessarily your list; I didn't get that point; sorry. Well, there's my list anyways and there's a little, but not too much overlap.

    changcho

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:11 AM, October 20, 2007  

  • "Nightfall: Great story of course, but are you talking about the novelisation Asimov wrote with Silverberg? It goes beyond the ending of the story and is a mixed bag: the initial descriptions of the survivors and the post-apocalyptic world are compelling, but the ending is awfully lame and anticlimatic.

    Robinson Crusoe: As I said above, the first novel I read, aged 6 and in that beautiful yellow-covered Robin Hood collection you probably remember as well.
    "

    With respect to Nightfall, yes, I am assuming the story by Asimov-Silverberg.

    W.r.t. R. Crusoe: wow, you read that when you were 6?! Most impressive. I do remember that yellow-covered Robin Hood set! In fact, I have one (book, not the set) and sometimes I read stories from there to my kids.

    Anyway, here's the correct way of doing this thing; does not look so good; this list would look a lot better for me if the movies counted as well ;-)

    Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell
    Anna Karenina
    Crime and Punishment
    Catch-22
    One Hundred Years of Solitude
    Wuthering Heights
    The Silmarillion
    Life of Pi: a novel
    The Name of the Rose
    Don Quixote
    Moby Dick
    Ulysses
    Madame Bovary
    The Odyssey
    Pride and Prejudice
    Jane Eyre
    A Tale of Two Cities
    The Brothers Karamazov
    Guns, Germs, and Steel: the Fates of Human Societies
    War and Peace
    Vanity Fair
    The Time Traveler's Wife
    The Iliad
    Emma
    The Blind Assassin
    The Kite Runner
    Mrs. Dalloway
    Great Expectations
    American Gods
    A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius
    Atlas Shrugged
    Reading Lolita in Tehran: a memoir in books
    Memoirs of a Geisha
    Middlesex
    Quicksilver
    Wicked : the life and times of the wicked witch of the West
    The Canterbury Tales
    The Historian: a novel
    A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
    Love in the Time of Cholera
    Brave New World
    The Fountainhead
    Foucault's Pendulum
    Middlemarch
    Frankenstein
    The Count of Monte Cristo
    Dracula
    A Clockwork Orange
    Anansi Boys
    The Once and Future King
    The Grapes of Wrath
    The Poisonwood Bible: a novel
    1984
    Angels & Demons
    The Inferno
    The Satanic Verses
    Sense and Sensibility
    The Picture of Dorian Gray
    Mansfield Park
    One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest
    To the Lighthouse
    Tess of the D'Urbervilles
    Oliver Twist
    Gulliver's Travels
    Les Misérables
    The Corrections
    The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay
    The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time
    Dune
    The Prince
    The Sound and the Fury
    Angela's Ashes: a memoir
    The God of Small Things
    A People's History of the United States: 1492-present
    Cryptonomicon
    Neverwhere
    A Confederacy of Dunces
    A Short History of Nearly Everything
    Dubliners
    The Unbearable Lightness of Being
    Beloved
    Slaughterhouse-five
    The Scarlet Letter
    Eats, Shoots & Leaves
    The Mists of Avalon
    Oryx and Crake : a novel
    Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed
    Cloud Atlas
    The Confusion
    Lolita
    Persuasion
    Northanger Abbey
    The Catcher in the Rye
    On the Road
    The Hunchback of Notre Dame
    Freakonomics: a Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything
    Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance : an Inquiry into Values
    The Aeneid
    Watership Down
    Gravity's Rainbow
    The Hobbit
    In Cold Blood : A True Account of a Multiple Murder and Its Consequences
    White Teeth
    Treasure Island
    David Copperfield
    The Three Musketeers

    changcho

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:01 AM, October 20, 2007  

  • By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:20 PM, October 09, 2009  

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