Never Tell Me What I "Must" Do

I've often said that my mission in life is to throw off the curve.  When I come across a meme (thanx to Kaethe at "ae" and sometimes "ä" ) that tells me there are 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die (or at least such is the title of a new book, edited by Peter Boxall, and which presumably kicks the list up to 1002 right off the bat--how are you going to know which ones to read if you don't read this one?), my immediate response is to say "Oh, yeah?  Who's gonna make me?"  But of course I must first determine which ones I actually HAVE read--the ones which I've put here in bold. Italics indicates that I started but haven't finished the book.

2000s : 4 read so far (and should 7% of the list come from the last eight years anyway?)

1. Never Let Me Go - Kazuo Ishiguro
2. Saturday - Ian McEwan
3. On Beauty - Zadie Smith
4. Slow Man - J.M. Coetzee
5. Adjunct: An Undigest - Peter Manson
6. The Sea - John Banville
7. The Red Queen - Margaret Drabble
8. The Plot Against America - Philip Roth
9. The Master - Colm Toibin
10. Vanishing Point - David Markson
11. The Lambs of London - Peter Ackroyd
12. Dining on Stones - Iain Sinclair
13. Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
14. Drop City - T. Coraghessan Boyle
15. The Colour - Rose Tremain
16. Thursbitch - Alan Garner
17. The Light of Day - Graham Swift
18. What I Loved - Siri Hustvedt
19. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time - Mark Haddon
20. Islands - Dan Sleigh
21. Elizabeth Costello - J.M. Coetzee
22. London Orbital - Iain Sinclair
23. Family Matters - Rohinton Mistry
24. Fingersmith - Sarah Waters
25. The Double - José Saramago
26. Everything is Illuminated - Jonathan Safran Foer
27. Unless - Carol Shields
28. Kafka on the Shore - Haruki Murakami
29. The Story of Lucy Gault - William Trevor
30. That They May Face the Rising Sun - John McGahern
31. In the Forest - Edna O'Brien
32. Shroud - John Banville
33. Middlesex - Jeffrey Eugenides
34. Youth - J.M. Coetzee
35. Dead Air - Iain Banks
36. Nowhere Man - Aleksandar Hemon
37. The Book of Illusions - Paul Auster
38. Gabriel's Gift - Hanif Kureishi
39. Austerlitz - W.G. Sebald
40. Platform - Michael Houellebecq
41. Schooling - Heather McGowan
42. Atonement - Ian McEwan
43. The Corrections - Jonathan Franzen
44. Don't Move - Margaret Mazzantini
45. The Body Artist - Don DeLillo
46. Fury - Salman Rushdie
47. At Swim, Two Boys - Jamie O'Neill
48. Choke - Chuck Palahniuk
49. Life of Pi - Yann Martel
50. The Feast of the Goat - Mario Vargos Llosa
51. An Obedient Father - Akhil Sharma
52. The Devil and Miss Prym - Paulo Coelho
53. Spring Flowers, Spring Frost - Ismail Kadare
54. White Teeth - Zadie Smith
55. The Heart of Redness - Zakes Mda
56. Under the Skin - Michel Faber
57. Ignorance - Milan Kundera
58. Nineteen Seventy Seven - David Peace
59. Celestial Harmonies - Péter Esterházy
60. City of God - E.L. Doctorow
61. How the Dead Live - Will Self
62. The Human Stain - Philip Roth
63. The Blind Assassin - Margaret Atwood
64. After the Quake - Haruki Murakami
65. Small Remedies - Shashi Deshpande
66. Super-Cannes - J.G. Ballard
67. House of Leaves - Mark Z. Danielewski
68. Blonde - Joyce Carol Oates
69. Pastoralia - George Saunder

1900s: 64 read (plus others started) and I'm tired of listing the ones I haven't read at all

72. Cryptonomicon - Neal Stephenson
95. Enduring Love - Ian McEwan
164. Arcadia - Jim Crace
180. The Things They Carried - Tim O'Brien
183. Possession - A.S. Byatt
196. A Prayer for Owen Meany - John Irving
203. The Satanic Verses - Salman Rushdie
209. The Long Dark Teatime of the Soul - Douglas Adams
210. Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency - Douglas Adams

227. Watchmen - Alan Moore & David Gibbons
238. The Cider House Rules - John Irving
242. The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood
245. White Noise - Don DeLillo
249. Dictionary of the Khazars - Milorad Pavic
258. Neuromancer - William Gibson
272. The Color Purple - Alice Walker
288. Midnight's Children - Salman Rushdie
291. A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
293. The Name of the Rose - Umberto Eco
301. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
303. The World According to Garp - John Irving
312. The Shining - Stephen King
320. Interview With the Vampire - Anne Rice
341. Fear of Flying - Erica Jong
349. Sula - Toni Morrison
351. The Breast - Philip Roth
358. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas - Hunter S. Thompson
375. Slaughterhouse-five - Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
384. Myra Breckinridge - Gore Vidal
389. 2001: A Space Odyssey - Arthur C. Clarke
393. In Watermelon Sugar - Richard Brautigan
399. One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel García Márquez
408. In Cold Blood - Truman Capote
413. The Crying of Lot 49 - Thomas Pynchon
418. Everything That Rises Must Converge - Flannery O'Connor
422. Albert Angelo - B.S. Johnson
427. Cat's Cradle - Kurt Vonnegut
436. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest - Ken Kesey
437. A Clockwork Orange - Anthony Burgess
438. Pale Fire - Vladimir Nabokov
441. Labyrinths - Jorg Luis Borges
444. Stranger in a Strange Land - Robert Heinlein
450. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie - Muriel Spark
451. Catch-22 - Joseph Heller
456. To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
472. Things Fall Apart - Chinua Achebe
477. The Once and Future King - T.H. White
481. The Midwich Cuckoos - John Wyndham
494. The Lord of the Rings - J.R.R. Tolkien
496. Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
508. Lord of the Flies - William Golding
520. Invisible Man - Ralph Ellison
521. The Old Man and the Sea - Ernest Hemingway

526. Day of the Triffids - John Wyndham
527. Foundation - Isaac Asimov
529. The Catcher in the Rye - J.D. Salinger
539. I, Robot - Isaac Asimov
547. Nineteen Eighty-Four - George Orwell
555. Exercises in Style - Raymond Queneau
564. Animal Farm - George Orwell
572. Ficciones - Jorge Luis Borges
579. The Outsider - Albert Camus
588. Native Son - Richard Wright
608. Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
610. The Hobbit - J.R.R. Tolkien
623. At the Mountains of Madness - H.P. Lovecraft
649. Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
667. All Quiet on the Western Front - Erich Maria Remarque
671. The Sound and the Fury - William Faulkner
675. Orlando - Virginia Woolf
699. The Great Gatsby - F. Scott Fitzgerald
704. Billy Budd, Foretopman - Herman Melville
711. Cane - Jean Toomer
717. Siddhartha - Herman Hesse
736. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man - James Joyce
780. Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
781. The Hound of the Baskervilles - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

1800s: 25 read (plus others started) and I'm STILL not listing all the unread ones 
790. The War of the Worlds - H.G. Wells
791. The Invisible Man - H.G. Wells
794. Dracula - Bram Stoker
797. The Time Machine - H.G. Wells
799. Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
804. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
808. Tess of the D'Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
809. The Picture of Dorian Gray - Oscar Wilde
820. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde - Robert Louis Stevenson
825. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn - Mark Twain
833. The Portrait of a Lady - Henry James
839. The Return of the Native - Thomas Hardy
840. Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
854. Through the Looking Glass, and What Alice Found There - Lewis Carroll
866. Journey to the Centre of the Earth - Jules Verne
867. Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoevsky
868. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
875. Silas Marner - George Eliot
876. Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
883. A Tale of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
889. Walden - Henry David Thoreau
897. The Scarlet Letter - Nathaniel Hawthorne
902. Wuthering Heights - Emily Brontë
904. Jane Eyre - Charlotte Brontë
908. The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
909. The Purloined Letter - Edgar Allan Poe
911. The Pit and the Pendulum - Edgar Allan Poe
913. A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
916. The Fall of the House of Usher - Edgar Allan Poe
918. Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
938. Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen

1700s: 4 read (plus others started)
969. Rasselas - Samuel Johnson
970. Candide - Voltaire

975. Tom Jones - Henry Fielding
982. A Modest Proposal - Jonathan Swift
983. Gulliver's Travels - Jonathan Swift
987. Robinson Crusoe - Daniel Defoe
988. A Tale of a Tub - Jonathan Swift

Pre-1700: 2 read (plus one started)
996. The Thousand and One Nights - Anonymous
1000. Metamorphoses - Ovid
1001. Aesop's Fables - Aesopusj

A quick look at the list will reveal some weird stuff, and not just the occasional oddity of dating (Billy Budd is a 20th-century novel?) and the disproportionate representation of works from after 1900 (and the CRIMINAL lack of material from before 1700--only a dozen titles!)

*All of the Poe titles listed are short stories, not books.

*Many of the other "book" titles listed (such as Everything That Rises Must Converge) are also short-story titles, though I suppose it's possible that the title refers to a collection by the same name... but after seeing the Poe examples, I'm a little suspicious.

*Labyrinths and Ficciones contain a number of the same Borges stories, though they're two different collections.

*There appears to be not a single poetry collection--though Richard Brautigan's In Watermelon Sugar sort of heads in that direction--nor epic poem (Paradise Lost ? The IliadBeowulf? The Inferno?) on the list. 

*I don't see any major religious work, such as, say, the New Testament or the Tao Te Ching. 

*No plays, either, though I can understand why you might want to see, rather than read, a great work of drama.  

*There's a decided lack of non-fiction options, leaving such crucial works as Darwin's The Origin of Species, Thucydides' The Peloponnesian War, and Frederick Douglass's Narrative of the Life... on the sideline, not to mention more recent non-fiction classics such as The Perfect Storm, The Song of the Dodo, or A World Lit Only by Fire.

*Yay for putting Jim Crace on the list, but how you put Arcadia on it and leave off Being Dead and Quarantine I simply don't understand.

But hey, I'm over 100 and counting on this list.  And I'd like to see how its compilers would stack up on MY personal list.

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This page contains a single entry by Peter Cashwell published on June 9, 2008 3:12 PM.

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