Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Off (Running) Topic (for you literary types out there)

One of my goals for the year was to read books that I probably should have read in high school or college, but either didn't get the opportunity, or didn't complete the reading assignment, etc. My mother has been doing something similar ever since she read "Reading Lolita in Tehran" and realized she hadn't read many of the books that were read and discussed in that reading group.

So I started the year by reading Melville's "Moby Dick". (I know, people either really love it or absolutely hate it. I thought it was awesome.) Then, this week I read Fitzgerald's "The Great Gatsby". (Another amazing piece of literature!)

My question to those of you out there who would care to comment is: What books (in addition to those listed below) do you think really should be read by anyone who would consider themselves well-educated? (And let's limit ourselves, this year, to English and American novels.)

My list, so far:

Melville - Moby Dick
Fitzgerald - The Great Gatsby
Nabokov - Lolita
Joyce - Ulysses, Dubliners(short stories)
Hawthorne - The Scarlet Letter
Faulkner - The Sound and the Fury
Orwell - 1984
Pynchon - The Crying of Lot 49
Austen - Pride and Prejudice
Swift - Gullivers Travels
Eliot - Middlemarch
O'Connor - Wise Blood

[I feel like someday I should read Milton's Paradise Lost, but I don't think I'm up for it this year!]

What do you think?


Anonymous Audrey said...

Ernest Hemingway. A Farewell to Arms.

Great list (and project)!

3/07/2006 7:58 PM  
Blogger Anne said...

I second Audrey's recommendation. That book carries the best line in literature: "The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong in the broken places."

I'm not into romances, but Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights was an exceptional read.

By the way, if you actually enjoyed Moby Dick, there's a 24-hour reading of the Melville novel every year at the New Bedford Whaling Museum.

3/07/2006 8:14 PM  
Blogger Anne said...

Forgot this one:

Kurt Vonnegut's Cat's Cradle.

3/07/2006 8:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a great idea. You've got me thinking I need to do something like that.

3/08/2006 1:33 AM  
Blogger Kurt in Boston said...

Thanks, everyone (so far)! I have read some Hemingway, but not "A Farewell to Arms" (I think I'll add that one). I have read quite a bit of Vonnegut, but no Bronte -- I'll have to look at "Wuthering Heights".

3/08/2006 9:54 AM  
Blogger E-Speed said...

I couldn't get through Moby Dick, but at the time I was 16.

Pride and Pedjudice is my absolute favorite novel.

Not a big Hemmingway fan at all.

I think you hit on a lot of the basic standards. I will have to think on this.

3/08/2006 11:44 AM  
Blogger Jess said...

Everyone should read "To Kill a Mockingbird" not just once but twice or maybe three times. Even if you don't read it, rent the movie -- Gregory Peck is awesome.

3/08/2006 6:47 PM  
Blogger boiledpnut said...

The Electric Kool Aid Acid Test.

Heh. Joking. You've put together a great list.

3/09/2006 7:24 AM  
Blogger Rae said...

Yeah! One of my goals for this year is to read more classics as well, even though I greatly prefer Bridget Jones' Diary.

I'm reading Emma right now and read Pride & Pred lately and LOVED it. Emma is just OK, even though the back of the book called it Austin's greatest work. I have Great Gatsby to read next, so I'm excited you enjoyed it.

I love Ethan Frome and the Inferno. Catcher in the Rye is also super classic if you've never read it.

3/10/2006 9:48 PM  

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