Monday, November 29, 2010
Sunday, November 28, 2010
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Monday, November 22, 2010
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
I copied this off Facebook:
The BBC believes most people will have read only 6 of the 100* books listed here.
• Bold those books you've read in their entirety.
• Italicize the ones you started but didn't finish or read only an excerpt.
*I don't know what happened to #23 and #26. On that note: the list is wonky. There is a listing for both the Chronicles of Narnia AND Lion, Witch & the Wardrobe; likewise the Complete Works of Shakespeare is listed, in addition to Hamlet. But whatever.
1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
6 The Bible I tried to read the whole thing multiple times, always starting over at the beginning. Accordingly, Genesis is my favorite book.
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulk
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveler’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
34 Emma -Jane Austen
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe - CS Lewis
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh - A.A. Milne
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel
52 Dune - Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac There were some good parts, but there were too many not-good parts, so I got bored and never finished.
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding
69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses - James Joyce
76 The Inferno - Dante
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal - Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray Read half, decided the rest wasn't worth it.
80 Possession - AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte’s Web - E.B. White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle I dunno--I've read some Sherlock Holmes.
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo I was just telling Katie the other day how it's a mystery to me why I didn't finish this. I got close, and I quite enjoyed it.
I've read 42, and read parts of 11. Leave a comment with how many you've read.
Saturday, November 13, 2010
Imagine if the Quibbler had been a blog. Imagine if Voldemort's Wikipedia page were getting vandalized by people typing, "Dumbledore's Army now recruiting!" or "Support Harry Potter!" Imagine if Death Eaters tracked who was looking at Harry's Wikipedia page. Imagine if information on horcruxes could be scoured for through Google.
Edit: I think the seventh book is supposed to take place around 1998, so I guess internet culture wasn't quite as large a force then. But still, I feel this is an oversight on Rowling's part.
My ex-boyfriend's unencouraging manner aside, within memoir culture (and I find increasingly it is a sort of sub-culture, not just a group of people) it's not what you say but how you say it. Style over content. It's not the story, but your abilities as a story-teller. James Frey's crime is not that he lied about his book being a memoir, his crime is being a bad writer. Some among the nonfiction community can even be derisive if the memoirist has a compelling story. "You were sexually abused? You were anorexic? You've overcome the odds? Come on!"
Here's Ander Monson's somewhat-cynical take on the memoir:
Asserting the primacy of I suggests that we should care about it because it is an I, because it has incurred slights at the hands of others, of the world. And we should care. Sure, I agree with that: everyone is special, deserving of attention and examination. And inhabiting their experience allows us to share it, know it. (This is called collective knowing.) But I still don't want to read what most people have to say about themselves if it's just to tell their story. I want it to be art, meaning that I want it transformed, juxtaposed, collaged--worked on like metal sculpture, each sentence hammered, gleaming, honed. For me, the sentence is where it's at--the way the story's told--not simply the story behind the language. The action of telling is fine: kudos for you and your confession, your therapy, your bravery in releasing your story to the public. But telling is performing, even if it seems effortless. And writing that story and selling it to a publisher make it product, packaged and edited and marketed. With years of reflection on that story and how it can be shaped as prose (and how its shape changes from our shaping it, reflecting on it), given audience and agents and editors, rhetoric and workshop and rewriting for maximum emotional punch--given the endless possibilities of the sentence on the page, I expect to see a little fucking craft.
If poets can turn the ordinary and mundane into art, why can't memoirists?
Thursday, November 11, 2010
I liked Vanishing Point. I'd been wary of it ("Not a Memoir" sounds rather pretentious and unnecessarily rebellious, doesn't it?), but it won me over. Monson's voice is amiable and endearing, funny and casual, insightful. At least that's what I think; a peer spoke of the book's "pomposity and douchebaggery."
This is a book of essays, with different subject matters, different styles, and even different formats and fonts. However, books of essays don't sell so Monson had to make the essays talk to each other, allude to each other, build off each other to some degree, like they're chapters. So you can read the individual essays, but reading straight through ain't a bad idea.
There's an essay on artificial food flavoring that was fascinating and oddly appealing. There's an essay on YouTube (and I'm assuming that since you're reading my blog you're a fan of YouTube culture, probably a nerdfighter). There's an essay on the Biggest Ball of Paint in the world. There's an essay on Dungeons & Dragons (I think you'd appreciate it, Katie) (bonus points because Monson alluded to musician Final Fantasy). Scattered throughout there are essays of what Monson calls assembloirs, assembled memoirs, chapters filled with nothing but quotes from assorted memoirs gathered together to make a whole. I thought assembloirs were a good idea, but these chapters were actually my least favorite in the book.
And through all these chapters Monson is examining the genre of memoir, it's points of failure and its appeal. He's examining solipsism, the obsession with I, both in American culture and in memoirs.
I didn't like all the essays; some I skimmed through. But some I very much liked. If you read only one essay from this book, read "Transsubstantiation." I very much recommend it. Especially if you have an interest in food.
If you want a taste of Monson (and I think you do!) but don't have the book at hand, read one of the first incarnations of his essay "Solipsism." The essay evolves and expands each time it is reproduced, from internet to print, from website to magazine to book. I read its fourth incarnation, and it was one of my favorite essays of Vanishing Point.
One last fun fact: Monson uses the word queue an awful lot for being an American.
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
The Adderall Diaries: A Memoir of Moods, Masochism, and Murder by Stephen Elliott.
Orlando: A Biography by Virginia Woolf. Fantastic book.
The Suicide Index: Putting My Father's Death in Order by Joan Wickersham.
The Turn of the Screw by Henry James. Simply put: a disappointment.
Bodies that Matter: On the Discursive Limits of "Sex" by Judith Butler.
Rent Girl by Michelle Tea, illustrated by Laurenn McCubbin.
Vibrant Matter: A Political Ecology of Things by Jane Bennet.
Frankenstein Doesn't Plant Petunias by Debbie Dadey and Marcia Thornton Jones, illustrated by John Steven Gurney.