The Guardian has a list of The 100 Best Novels Written in English. By blog tradition I should copy the whole list and bold the ones I’ve read or something like that but I’ve read so few of them I’m afraid that would look really sad if I did it that way. Besides, that’s too much work. So I’m just going to list the ones I’ve read with maybe a comment or two about them, then a second list of those I would most like to read.
Books I have read:
Gullivar’s Travels by Johnathan Swift – I had to read this one in high school. I have thought about reading it again.
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley – I have never been a fan of the Frankenstein movies but I was curious to know what the original story was like. As expected, it has very little in common with the popular culture image of Frankenstein.
The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket by Edgar Allen Poe – This was Poe’s only novel. I found it very interesting.
Moby Dick by Herman Mellville – I actually read this twice even though I wasn’t really impressed with it the first time. Actually, I think that’s the reason I read it again. It was a little better the second time around but still not one of my favorites.
The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde – Not much to say about this one. It was okay. And I mean that in a good way; it really was okay.
Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad – Did not care much for this one. One thing that seriously bugged me about this book was the description of the jungle at night as being absolutely silent. I have not been to Africa but I have been in my back yard at night and it is anything but silent. In the middle of the summer it’s actually quite loud and I’m sure Africa has it’s own insects and other night sounds. For me, that one detail made the whole novel ridiculous.
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck – A lot of Oklahomans hate this novel. I wasn’t around in the 1930s, of course, but based on Oklahoma today I would say its depiction of “Okies” was probably spot on, but far from being a complete picture of the state and its culture.
Nineteen Eighty Four by George Orwell – This book and Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World are depressingly real. The big question is, “Who is Big Brother?” I think we are – all of us. We are all Big Brother. Either that or Google is.
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee – Right now I’m not planning to read Lee’s other, recently released, book but I might read this one again.
Books on the list that I most want to read:
The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan
Emma by Jane Austen – Mostly because I haven’t read anything by Jane Austen yet and I feel like I should
Kim by Rudyard Kipling
Call of the Wild by Jack London
The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame – Ever want to read something just because you love the title?
Ulysses by James Joyce – I read somewhere that it is considered “difficult” therefore I want to read it.
A Passage to India by EM Forster – I’m rather fascinated by India. (Wait… Have I read this already or was that a different classic book about India? Hmmmm…)