1. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Long a favorite novel of the Mrs.’ (at least, the BBC Miniseries is). I first read it in 2004 on a trip down to Austin. Or was it Austen?
2. Ulysses by James Joyce
Really just a punch line. I know it’s hailed as the holy grail of books and all but I will rely on smarter people that I who have quit on it in disgust. There are entire books written about how to read it and no less than a thousand blog posts, I’m sure. This one and this one are a couple that I liked.
3. Moby-Dick by Herman Melville
Haven’t read it and I don’t know anyone who has. If I do happen to know someone who has, they certainly never recommended it to me.
4. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
I once had an acquaintance who was reading this on a road trip. I understand it features a cast of a thousand characters and nothing quite that memorable happens. No thanks.
5. The Bible
Truly, I am half-way through reading the Bible for the first time in my life (35 years) and I will be done before Christmas. Mark this under “reading schedule” and “slow-and-steady-wins-the-race.” I have found a great deal of Kings I & II pretty fascinating (lots of senseless violence and beheadings). Also, the time of Judges sounds like a tenuous and scary period to be an Israelite (basic lawlessness).
Never read 1984 but I did read Animal Farm recently and I admire Orwell as a social critic. His take on governmental oversight seem to grow more and more prescient. Also, Christopher Hitchens, was a massive Orwell fan and any friend of Hitchen's is a friend of mine.
7. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
2001 - I was living with my parents right after graduation from Baylor. I knew that Peter Jackson was filming the first movie (Fellowship) which was opening over Christmas 2001, so I didn’t have a whole lot of time. I read The Hobbit first and then the Rings trilogy over the summer and fall.
8. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
High School - like most folks in Texas. Yes, I actually read it and, then, re-read in college for fun. I used to say it was my favorite book for no particular reason other than it sounded good. I never saw the Baz Luhrmann movie.
9. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
Never read it. I wouldn't rule it out in my lifetime.
10. Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
Read this one in ’02 or ’03. It didn’t motivate me to kill anyone so there’s that.
It's on my night stand right now. I’m about 50 pages in and I can see why some people have put it down. A real slow burn and a lot going on. I’m guessing (hoping?) the pay-off is good. I LOVE this guy’s non-fiction writing. DFW was one of our more brilliant minds. He's a guy that I would love to know what his writing process was. Sometimes I imagine that he just wrote everything out in one draft and submitted it to his editor without a single re-write. I like to think he was that much of a virtuoso.
12. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
(Was supposed to read it in) High School. Never did. Mostly read the Cliff’s Notes. Faked my way through the test.
13. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Read it on a trip to Thailand in 2004. Really, really good. I still need to see the classic movie. I also read “In Cold Blood” as a companion piece right after.
14. Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James
Cultural phenomenon. No intention of ever reading it.
15. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
Again, no intention of every reading this one. I might check out the recent film iteration starring Mia Wasikowska.
Great intentions of reading this someday. It’s in our library. I think the Mrs. had to read it at Baylor.
17. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
Another High School read for me. Honors English, senior year. Not sure what the fascination is with the Bronte sisters is but I could’ve skipped it if given the choice.
18. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
High School - sophomore year. I might also be confusing this with Tale of Two Cities. Either way, I’m not returning.
19. Harry Potter (series) by J.K. Rowling
I began this series when they first debuted. I trailed a few books behind and finally gave up after the fourth one as they began turning into bloated tomes. Ultimately, I will never consider this true literature (children’s lit maybe?). More like a tribute to the ego of someone in love with the world she created. Tolkien might be accused of the same thing. But, then, he created his own fucking language.
20. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
High School. Best of times, worst of times and all that.