Thursday, April 16, 2009

Matthew's List

My list ended up being heavy on books of the massive and/or overly complicated variety, mainly because those are the ones that tend to sit unread on my bookshelves the longest. Hopefully my choices will end up being more engaging and fun than masochistic.

1) Chinua Achebe, Things Fall Apart
2) Nelson Algren, The Man with the Golden Arm
3) Dante Alighieri, Purgatorio
4) Dante Alighieri, Paradiso (i.e., Inferno's younger, duller brothers)
5) Marcus Aurelius, Meditations
6) Paul Auster, Collected Prose
7) Francis Bacon, The New Atlantis
8) Francis Bacon, The Advancement of Learning
9) Francis Bacon, Essays
10) J.G. Ballard, Crash
11) John Barth, The Floating Opera
12) John Barth, The Sot-Weed Factor
13) John Barth, Giles Goat-Boy
14) Robert Bolano, 2666
15) Jorge Luis Borges, Collected Fictions
16) Samuel Beckett, Molloy
17) Samuel Beckett, Malone Dies
18) Samuel Beckett, The Unnameable
19) Lord Berners, First Childhood and A Distant Prospect (I've been told these two should be treated as two halves of the same book, so I am)
20) John Bunyan, Pilgrim's Progress
21) Samuel Butler, The Way of All Flesh
22) Lewis Carroll, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
23) Michael Chabon, Wonder Boys
24) John Cheever, The Wapshot Chronicle
25) Samuel R. Delany, Dhalgren (I've tried reading the first chapter a couple times now, so I'm pretty confident that this one will make my ears bleed)
26) Don DeLillo, Underworld
27) Umberto Eco, The Name of the Rose
28) David Eggers, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius
29) William Faulkner, As I Lay Dying
30) F. Scott Fitzgerald, Tender is the Night
31) F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Last Tycoon
32) Ford Madox Ford, Parade's End (technically this is four novels, but whatever)
33) Anatole France, The Gods Will Have Blood
34) Jonathan Franzen, The Corrections
35) William Gaddis, The Recognitions (who knows, I might even finish it this time)
36) William Gaddis, Carpenter's Gothic
37) Edward Gibbon, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire
38) Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Faust
39) Nikolai Gogol, Dead Souls
40) Graham Greene, The Quiet American
41) Luo Guanzhong, Three Kingdoms
42) Knut Hamsun, Hunger
43) Joseph Heller, Portrait of an Artist as an Old Man
44) Ernest Hemingway, For Whom the Bell Tolls
45) Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast
46) Herodotus, The Histories
47) Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha
48) Hermann Hesse, Steppenwolf
49) Pat Frank, Alas, Babylon
50) John Irving, The Cider House Rules
51) John Irving, A Widow for One Year
52) B.S. Johnson, Christie Malry's Own Double-Entry
53) Franz Kafka, Amerika
54) Ken Kesey, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
55) Ken Kesey, Sometimes a Great Nation
56) Ursula K. le Guin, The Lathe of Heaven
57) Stanislaw Lem, Solaris
58) Stanislaw Lem, The Cyberiad
59) Livy, The Early History of Rome
60) Amin Maalouf, The Crusades Through Arab Eyes
61) Thomas Mann, The Magic Mountain
62) Carole Maso, Defiance
63) Cormac McCarthy, Blood Meridian
64) Cormac McCarthy, No Country for Old Men
65) Cormac McCarthy, All the Pretty Horses (and possibly the rest of the Border Trilogy)
66) Herman Melville, Moby Dick
67) Arthur Miller, The Crucible
68) David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas
69) Toni Morrison, Song of Solomon
70) Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore
71) Vladimir Nabokov, Bend Sinister
72) The Nibelungenleid (I'm hoping to be able to pronounce that title properly by the time I'm done reading it)
73) Flann O'Brien, At Swim-Two-Birds
74) Flannery O'Connor, Wise Blood
75) Kenzaburo Oe, A Personal Matter
76) Ovid, Fasti
77) Fernando Pessoa, The Book of Disquiet
78) Plato, The Republic (I've never liked Plato, but I suppose reading him builds character or something)
79) The Poem of the Cid
80) Thomas Pynchon, Vineland
81) Thomas Pynchon, Mason & Dixon
82) Thomas Pynchon, Against the Day
83) J.D. Salinger, Franny and Zooey
84) Jose Saramago, Blindness
85) Nevil Shute, On the Beach
86) Upton Sinclair, The Jungle
87) Betty Smith, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
88) The Song of Roland
89) Tacitus, The Annals of Imperial Rome
90) Tacitus, The Germania
91) Thucydides, The Peloponnesian War
92) Voltaire, Candide
93) David Foster Wallace, The Broom of the System
94) Evelyn Waugh, Decline and Fall
95) Evelyn Waugh, A Handful of Dust
96) Evelyn Waugh, Scoop (I've been meaning to read this one ever since I read about Waugh covering the Second Italo-Abyssinian War in The First Casualty by Philip Knightley)
97) Richard Wright, Black Boy
98) Richard Wright, Native Son
99) Xenophon, The Persian Expedition
100) Eiji Yoshikawa, Musashi


Leslie said...

Great list - I've been wanting to read'll have to let us know your verdict :)

M. said...

Actually, I've already read a couple of his novels (The Crying of Lot 49, Gravity's Rainbow, and V.), so there's no need to wait for a verdict--I love his stuff! I've just hadn't gotten around to reading his other books, and this seemed like a good time to fit them in.

Since you're interested, Lot 49 makes for a good introduction to his work, but even after that you can expect Gravity's Rainbow to kick your head, intellectually speaking. It's a good pain, though, the kind that lets you know you're exercises brain muscles you didn't even know you had. If you'd like a tour guide, Steven Weisenburger's A Gravity's Rainbow Companion does a great job of explaining the layers of reference and allusion in the novel (the latest edition has a picture of a banana with a rocket coming out, although I'm not entirely sure if that counts as a selling point).

Nancy said...

I think I've read The Cider House Rules three times. John Irving is always engaging and his stories go interesting places. Paul Auster's House of Illusions did that to me too.

The Nibelungenlied is pronounced Nibble-lungen-leed, stress the Nibble. I believe kids growing up in German speaking school systems read this one like we read Beowulf.

Mya Barrett said...

Oh my goodness, some of these are heavy duty reads. I hope you plan to take a break every now and then to come up for air!

M. said...

Oof--that last comment should have read "kick your head in" and "exercising brain muscles." Grammar-wise, last night does not appear to have been a good time for me.

M. said...

Nancy- Thank you for the clarification. I always worry about my pronunciation when I'm dealing with anything outside of English and Latin (my first instinct was to pronounce it Nibble-LUN-gen-lied). As long as we're on the subject, am I correct in pronouncing Goethe GER-tuh?

I love old epics--I'm pretty sure I was the only kid in my high school English class who actually enjoyed Beowulf.

Mya- You know, I'm starting to get suspicious of my subconscious. I think it's trying to finish the job of killing me that grad school left half-finished.

Nancy said...

Oh je, Matthew, I'm sorry. My (German) husband has just informed me that my American accent has led us both astray. You are correct - the "lun" gets the stress.

Goethe is impossible to pronounce, and the fear of making a fool of my tongue has so far kept me from reading anything he wrote.

The oe is spoken like an ö - and I'm not sure I've said it properly in thirteen years. As best I can figure out it sounds like an "oo" that somebody sat on. Sort-of flattened down. Maybe like the ue in "blue"? GUE-teh. Or GUr-teh - although hubby nearly had a heart attack a second ago when I suggested that Goethe sounded like there was an R in the middle. I suppose it would be circumspect to underplay that R-sound.

I remember I was surprised to find myself enjoying Beowulf in high school too.

Alyssa said...

You may not be worried about these two in particular at all, but Pilgrim's Progress and The Broom of the System are both surprisingly quick reads (the latter surprisingly only in context of Infinite Jest).

Alyssa said...

Also, awesome list.

M. said...

Nancy- Thank you (and thank your husband for me, too). I like being able to say things correctly. GUE-teh and Nibble-LUN-gen-leed, GUE-teh and Nibble-LUN-gen-leed . . .

Alyssa- Thanks. Infinite Jest was definitely long, but absorbingly fun to read the whole way through. I'm curious to see how his first novel compares.

It is nice to hear that Pilgrim's Progress is a quick read. Reading Michael Wigglesworth's interminably long Day of Doom was bad enough--I don't have much interest in repeating the experience.