Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Nancy's List

Here is my working list. You'll see that it's not full. I'm afraid it'll take me five years to read one hundred books in the first place and I'm looking for a perspective in which it is ok to to plan my entire five years of reading in advance. I'll be filling in the blanks as soon as I can commit myself.

My criteria are:
  1. 30 authors previously read
  2. 10 short story collections
  3. 15 debut novels (since 2005 and into the future)
  4. 5 poetry collections
  5. 30 authors previously unread
  6. 10 novels in German (original language, or translations of non-English originals)

30 Authors Previously Read
  1. The Messenger - Markus Zusak - My Review
  2. A Long Way Down - Nick Hornby
  3. The House of Spirits - Isabel Allende
  4. The Ground Beneath Her Feet - Salman Rushdie
  5. Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
  6. Alias Grace - Margret Atwood
  7. The End of the Affair - Graham Greene
  8. The Hotel New Hampshire - John Irving
  9. The Brothers Karamazov - Fydor Dostoyevsky
  10. The Pickwick Papers - Charles Dickens
  11. A Handfull of Dust - Evelyn Waugh
  12. 1x - Haruki Murakami
  13. 1x - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  14. 1x - Richard Russo
  15. Divisadero - Michael Ondaatje
  16. 1x Iris Murdoch
  17. True Notebooks - Mark Salzman
  18. Rum Diary - Hunter S. Thompson
  19. 1x Tom Robbins
  20. 1x A.S. Byatt

10 Short Story Collections
  1. 10 Short Stories - V.S. Pritchett
  2. Collected Short Stories - Graham Greene
  3. A Belfast Woman - Mary Beckett
  4. The Lost Stories - Louisa May Alcott
  5. Heat - Joyce Carroll Oats
  6. Interpreter of Maladies - Jhumpa Lahiri
  7. St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves - Karen Russell
  8. Difficult Loves - Italo Calvino

15 Debut Novels
  1. The Girl She Used to Be - David Christifano
  2. The Jewel of Medina - Sherry Jones
  3. The Spanish Bow - Andromeda Romano-Lax
  4. The Crash of Hennington - Patrick Ness
  5. The Twelve - Stuart Neville

5 Poetry Collections

  1. Collected Poems - Wendell Berry
  2. The Book of Longing - Leonard Cohen
  3. Liebesgedichte - Erich Fried

30 Novels - Never-Before-Read Authors

  1. 1x - Philip Roth
  2. Beauty and Sadness - Yasunari Kawabata
  3. The Brief and Wonderful Life of Oscar Wao - Junot Díaz
  4. An American Dream - Norman Mailer
  5. Salmon Fishing in the Yemen - Paul Torday
  6. On Beauty - Zadie Smith
  7. The Hive - Camilo Jose Cela
  8. The Republic of Wine - Mo Yan
  9. Lolita - Vladimir Nabukov
  10. The Orange Tree - Carlos Fuentes
  11. The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love - Oscar Hijuelos
  12. The Velvet Bubble - Alice Winter
  13. The House of Seven Gables - Nathaniel Hawthorne
  14. A Short History of Tractors in Ukranianian - Marina Lewycka
  15. The Vatican Cellars - Andre Gide
  16. Water Music - T.C. Boyle
  17. Mason & Dixon - Thomas Pynchon
  18. The God of Small Things - Arundhati Roy
  19. The Labyrinth of Solitude - Octavio Paz
  20. The Bostonians - Henry James
  21. Accordian Crimes - Annie Proulx
  22. Soul Mountain - Gao Xingjian
  23. One Hot Summer in St. Petersburg - Duncan Fallowell
  24. 1x - Michael Chabon (because he is, after all Moonrat's secret boyfriend.)
  25. The Flying Troutmans – Miriam Toews
  26. 1x Ian McEwan
  27. Irisches Tagebuch - Heinrich Böll, who landed too late on my radar to fit in the German category.

10 Roman (auf Deutsch)

  1. Mieses Karma - David Safir (Original: German) - My Review
    English Title: as yet untranslated
  2. wie der Soldat das Gramaphone repariert - Sasa Stanisic (Original: German )
    English Title: How the Soldier Repairs the Gramophone
  3. Die Insel der Linkshänder - Alexandre Jardin (Original: French)
    English Title: as yet untranslated
    French Title: L'Ile des Gauchers
  4. Der Vorleser - Bernhard Schlink (Original: Deutsch)
    English Title: The Reader
  5. Maria, Ihm schmeck's nicht - Jan Weiler (Original: Deutsch)
    English Title: as yet untranslated
  6. Die 13 1/2 Leben des Käpt'n Blaubär - Walter Moers
    English Title: The 13 1/2 Lives of Captain Bluebear
  7. Das Parfum - Die Geschichte eines Mörders - Patrick Süskind
    English Title: Perfume: The Story of a Murderer
  8. Kazt und Maus - Günter Grass
    English Title: Cat and Mouse
  9. 1x - Irmgard Keun
  10. 1x - Christa Wolf


Jen A said...

I would bet that the people on this blog would have suggestions to help fill out your list if you're interested. Obvs, we don't know which authors you've read before or haven't but I can definitely suggest some short story and poetry collections, and probably a few debut novels as well. And if you're looking for German suggestions, someone else was reading some stuff in the original German, or I can ask my friend Vince who is a German scholar and reads books in German for fun all the time!!!

Or maybe you just want to fill out your own list, in which case I'll shut up :)

Megan said...

I love how organized you are! I just haphazardly chose 100 books.

I believe Lolita has the best opening chapter in all of literature. Yes, bold claim, but it is amazing. Nabokov's use of language is unbelievable. "Invitation to a Beheading" is also beautiful.

Nancy said...

Hi JenA,

What a nice offer, thanks! The holes are there because I am terrified that it will actually take me five years to read one hundred books - and the idea of deciding all of them now, kills the spontaneity of seeing a new one and grabbing it on my way to the park. Ridiculous, I know.

That said, I notice the wierd panicky feeling is receding and I discover that, yes, I would love help filling in some of the blanks. Especially in the debut novel and German categories.

If Vince has some suggestions for the German category, I'd be really grateful. I'm interested in modern literary novels. I'm struggling at the moment with "Die Insel der Linkshänder" which is either an empty story cooked up in an attempt to illustrate some interesting philosophical concepts, or a ham-fisted translation. In any case now that I think about it, I bought it spontaneously on my way to the park. Hmmmm.

Your suggestions for short story and poetry are very welcome!

I expect the previously read authors category will fill itself in as I read through all the other lists here. A nice job for a rainy Friday morning.


Hi Megan,

Organized is not a word anyone ever used to describe me before. I'm turning into my mother...

I'm looking forward to Nabokov. Thanks for the recommendation re: "Invitation to a Beheading". I've only ever heard people talk of Lolita, and put off learning any more about his work until I had been properly introduced.

Andromeda Romano-Lax said...

To comment on just one of your books -- I loved Mark Salzman's "True Notebooks" (a memoir about his experience teaching writing to teens in a juvie jail). It was very funny and poignant; I sniffled my way through to the end. I don't know if you're a writer, but to any writers out there wondering whether and how writing makes a difference, this is one of those great late-night reads, good for tempering one's own solipsism or self-pity.

Nancy said...

Hi Andromeda,
I was tickled to find 'True Notebooks' on someone else's list. I thought I had read everything (except 'Laughing Sutras') he had written. I am (more and more often) a writer, and using this project to focus on reading like a writer.

The elegance of Mark Salzman's books is simply awesome. His stories are well-balanced and he inevitably shows me the sights along paths I can't walk for myself. This is why I read - as a reader.

'Lying Awake' is a story about a very ordinary Carmelite nun who, late in her life simultaneously begins to have ecstatic religious visions - and headaches. Her struggles with questions about the nature of disease and cure are deeply thought and rendered with compassion.

I'm happy to find other Mark Salzman admirers here. Thanks for your comment.

Nancy said...

Oh! Andromeda - thanks for sharing your Fill In The Gaps idea!

Jen A said...

Nancy, I got a few recommendations from Vince for your German novels:

Suesskind's Das Parfum
Der Steppenwolf--Hesse
Katz und Maus or Die Blechtrommel--Grass
Das kunstseidene Mädchen--Irmgard Keun
Geteilte Himmel or Was bleibt--Christa Wolf

I hope some of those will be good for your list!

Nancy said...

Hi JenA. I've finished two of my personal choices with various degrees of disappointment. (Reviews coming...) I think I'm beginning to see the shadowy outlines of experience-as-intuition in my book selection process.

I don't know about you, but I subconsciously apply my past experience to a range of choices - books in the bookstore, for instance - and call it intuition, saying things like "I just knew I would love that book the moment I picked it up."

But experience-as-intuition doesn't work when you change cultures (in this case, language). My "intuition" fails, and I'm left looking around me and wondering what happened.

My husband bought a copy of Katz und Maus several years ago, and it's wonderfully short so I chose it over Die Blechtrommel to which I have an irrational allergy thanks to that nasty screaming little boy in the (prize winning!) film.

Christa Wolf as DDR author and Irmgard Keun as early feminist writer are both great ideas. (I see that Vince has really put some thought into his suggestions, and I appreciate it very much.)

Hesse in his own words was a promise I made to my panic on the day my kitchen reinvented itself as one of those "exploding" drawings that engineers and auto mechanics love - where all the (millions of tiny) pieces parts are labeled.

That was the day that Distress shoved Enchantment off the Cliff of Communication, and Herr Hesse, kindly caught us all on the way down.

Gosh, now thanks to you and Vince, my German list is finished. I'm still open to suggestions. My Authors-Never-Read category is not finished yet, and there wasn't any rule about language there... just in case he reads something brilliant in the future.

Thanks again!

Goedi said...

I highly recommend Oedoed von Horvath's "Jugend ohne Gott."
Short. Great style. Creepy. A little Lord of the Flies meets Nazi Germany.
For brevity's sake, I'd also recommend Heinrich Boell's "Irisches Tagebuch."

Linda said...

I love the way you've organized your list. Deutsch, eh? Very ambitious. I've struggled through a lot of Rilke in German, and it makes such a difference over the English translations. Peace, Linda

Nancy said...

Hi Goedi, thanks for the suggestions. I'm afraid "Lord of the Flies meets Nazi Germany" is a smidge too dark for me, but I've glommed on to Heinrich Böll. Ansichten eines Clowns is floating around here somewhere already, but your suggestion of 'Irisches Tagebuch' gives me the opportunity to buy a new book. Sometimes you just gotta... Thanks!

Hi Linda. Yes, I've really learned to appreciate the difference too. I am totally impressed at the leap of faith an author makes when giving a novel for translation into a language they don't understand.

Rilke speaks in a German that is both lovely and gracious. Herbsttag (Autumn Day) is one of my all time favorite poems.

The German novels are on my list because after living here for an embarrassingly long time my language skills are fine for everyday use, but my grammar still, every now and then, pins a "kick me" sign to my sweater when I'm not looking. Since I read a lot as a kid, I "intuitively" (ie. w/o apparently studying) did well in English/Grammar class. I'm thinking: "That was painless to the point of enjoyable. Let's try it again." :-)

I've posted a full introduction to all my goofy rules and their children (the reasons) over here.

Looking forward to your review of 'Snow' when you get around to reading it, Linda. It's sitting on my to-be-read bookshelf too, but hasn't quite made The List yet.

Goedi said...

ah, but so good, told from the point of view of a teacher, who is increasingly terrorized by the godless youth... oh, well
But if that's too dark, I'd go with Irisches Tagebuch over Ansichten eines Clowns - which means I go with observations over problems. I.e. the Tagebuch opens with a musing over the difference of buttons (English, representing full stops), and safety pins (Irish, representing commas). Cool, hunh? The Clown thing is about Catholicism and marital fidelity. Just to help you make the choice. You can't go wrong with either, though.

Shona said...

Thanks Nancy .Hope so too.I see you have Interpreters Of Maladies in ur list .Really nice book.I have her latest on my list Unaccustomed Earth.Have have nice time reading