Heartbreaking Reads Round Up

A big thank you to everybody have recommended titles to me. All have been duly noted and now I can hardly wait to pick up some titles I immediately put on reservation at the library. For all those interested, I have rounded up the list although I haven’t included the ones I’ve already read. Please feel free to keep adding to it!

  • Lucy Gayheart – Willa Cather
  • Doctor Zhivago – Boris Pasternak
  • Norwegian Wood – Haruki Murakami
  • Ethan Frome – Edith Wharton (I’m going to read this next! The only thing I know about this is that Lisa Simpson received a first edition from her uncle! 🙂 )
  • Half a Yellow Sun – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  • The Night Watch – Sarah Waters
  • Affinity – Sarah Waters
  • On Chesil Beach – Ian McEwan
  • When Will There Be Good News – Kate Atkinson
  • We Need to Talk About Kevin – Lionel Shriver
  • Revolutionary Road – Richard Yates
  • A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry
  • Gone with the Wind – Margaret Mitchell
  • The House of Mirth – Edith Wharton
  • Romeo and Juliet – Shakespeare (daddy of all tragedies!)

End of Year Wrap Up

It’s that time of the year where we do a bit of naval gazing. I’ve pinched the first half of this meme from Other Stories and the second half from Shelf Love. I steered clear of challenges this year, except the ever on-going 1001 Books and my own completist reading list (list also a work in progress). My only goal was to read 52 books which I have achieved! Hurrah!

How many books read in 2010? 58

Fiction/Non-Fiction ratio? 54/4

Male/Female authors? 27/31. It’s pretty even which is a surprise. I’ve never really had a preference for authors of a certain gender which I find very unnecessarily limiting.

Favourite book read? Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy. It broke my heart and made me appreciate my education that much more. Hardy is a misery but his stories are so captivating.

Least favourite? The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown

How many re-reads? Just one ‘real’ re-read which is a surprise since a lot of the books I read last year were re-reads. This year, only Wuthering Heights is the re-read which was something I had been meaning to do from the moment I finished the book for the first time many years ago. Throw in a couple of Agatha Christie re-reads (The Murder of Roger Ackroyd) and Tintins.

Most books read by one author this year? Surprisingly, Susan Hill with her three short ghostly novellas.

Any in translation? Around seven titles. I can’t remember if Unbearable Lightness of Being was translated or not. If it is, then it is eight. There were a lot of French and Swedish translations this year.

And how many of this year’s books were from the library? 34 from the library and only a ghastly 24 from my own shelves. I’ll have to start reading from my own shelves more particularly since I’ve bought more books this year than any other year.

Favorite New-to-Me Author: Shirley Jackson and her sumptuous We Have Always Lived in this Castle. M.C. Beaton also comes a close second. Something to snuggle up with when after a comfort read.

Favorite Classic: I can cheat a bit here since I already named Jude as my favourite 2010 read. For this question, I’ll have to say The Age of Reason by Jean-Paul Sartre. It was so enjoyable and stimulating and the prose wasn’t stuffy at all or wrapped up in theory which was what I was afraid and intimidated by.

Most On-the-Nose Title: Harbour by John Ajvide Lindqvist. Harbour, as in the docks by the sea, and harbour, as in harbouring someone or something, both which the book was all about.

Most Disturbing: American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis. Disturbing, yes, but also unexpectedly very funny. I was surprised to find myself chuckling through the first quarter of the book constantly … until the first eyeball popped.

Most Accessible Author Who Intimidated Me for No Good Reason: Again, I have to say Sartre, whose very readable prose, I think, is underrated but I wouldn’t go as far to say he intimidated me for no good reason! Also Emile Zola, who I conquered this year by reading Nana although I was never interested in Zola until I wanted to read Nana.

Most Discouraging Realization: That whatever was haunting the house in The Little Stranger was not going to be revealed and also the foreboding that Maggie Tulliver’s life would not end well in The Mill on the Floss from the moment she is introduced. Anybody with an uncontrollable mass of dark hair did not have a bright future ahead in those days (see also Aurora Floyd).

Most Reassuring Realization: That the Queen was not going to let anybody stop her from pursuing her recently discovered love of reading in The Uncommon Reader.

2011 Reading Goals: Lots of chunksters to look forward to such as Anna Karenina, The Mandarins, Our Mutual Friend and possibly Doctor Zhivago because I want to go and see the new stage production of it.

100 Books

This meme seems to be making its rounds again on the interweb. I think I have done this awhile ago but no hard in putting up a refreshed list.


* Bold those books you’ve read in their entirety.
* Italicize the ones you started but didn’t finish or read an excerpt.
* Underline the ones you’ve seen the movies of.
* Tag other book nerds.

1 Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
2 The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre– Charlotte Bronte
Harry Potter series – JK Rowling (all)
To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
6 The Bible
7 Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte
Nineteen Eighty Four – George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations – Charles Dickens
Little Women – Louisa M Alcott
Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 – Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare (yes, all of them!)
15 Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien
17 Birdsong – Sebastian Faulks
18 Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger
The Time Traveller’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch – George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind – Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald
Bleak House – Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
26 Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh
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
The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe – CS Lewis
37 The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini

38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis De Berniere
39 Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh – AA Milne
41 Animal Farm – George Orwell
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
Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov
The Secret History – Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold

65 Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road – Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy
Bridget Jones’s Diary – Helen Fielding
69 Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie

70 Moby Dick – Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens
Dracula – Bram Stoker
The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From A Small Island – Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses – James Joyce
76 The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath
77 Swallows and Amazons – Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal – Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray
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 – EB White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven – Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
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
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables – Victor Hugo

= 44 read

= 8 started but never finished

I didn’t bother with the film adaptations.

In total, I’ve read 44 which isn’t bad. I can’t believe I haven’t properly read Winnie-the-Pooh who is my favourite bear of all!

Completist Reading

After seeing Lizzy’s Literary Life completist reading page, I was motivated to set up my own. I’ve been in the process of reading all the works of favourite authors and, on a purely aesthetic level, there’s nothing more satisfying than having the complete works of a favourite author on your shelves. I’ve done part of the list which largely consists of classic authors and it’s still a work in progress but feel free to check it out under ‘Reading Projects’ and to give any tips or advice. I’ve also renamed ‘Reading Challenges’ to ‘Reading Projects’. I never really take part in challenges because I don’t like feeling restricted and the only challenge that I’m (sort of) participating in is the 1001 Books You Must Read.

Has anybody else set up a completist reading page? I suppose everyone do keep track of it somehow but the page makes it so much nicer and easier.

In more blog related stuff, I’m in the process of writing a reviews policy just to give the blog a bit of standing.

And in other news, I have a huge stack of books whizzing my way soon (Book Depository – you torture my soul and my wallet but I still love you). It’s a bit of a splurge but I’m using my upcoming birthday as an excuse.

The 50 Best Literary Translations

Back in 2008, Times Online compiled a list of the 50 best literary translations. The list is quite old but I think it is very useful and, really, who can resist a list? This list includes both fiction and non-fiction.

  1. Raymond Queneau – Exercises in Style (Barbara Wright, 1958)
  2. Primo Levi – If This is a Man (Stuart Woolf, 1959)
  3. Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa – The Leopard (Archibald Colquhoun, 1961)
  4. Günter Grass – The Tin Drum (Ralph Manheim, 1962)
  5. Jorge Luis Borges – Labyrinths (Donald Yates, James Irby, 1962)
  6. Leonardo Sciascia – Day of the Owl (Archibald Colquhoun, 1963)
  7. Alexander Solzhenitsyn – One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich (Ralph Parker, 1963)
  8. Yukio Mishima – Death in Midsummer (Seidensticker, Keene, Morris, Sargent, 1965)
  9. Heinrich Böll – The Clown (Leila Vennewitz, 1965)
  10. Octavio Paz – Labyrinth of Solitude (Lysander Kemp, 1967)
  11. Mikhail Bulgakov – The Master and Margarita (Michael Glenny, 1969)
  12. Gabriel Garcia Marquez – 100 Years of Solitude (Gregory Rabassa, 1970)
  13. Walter Benjamin – Illuminations (Harry Zohn, 1970)
  14. Paul Celan – Poems (Michael Hamburger and Christopher Middleton, 1972)
  15. Bertolt Brecht – Poems (John Willett, Ralph Manheim, Erich Fried, et al 1976)
  16. Michel Foucault – Discipline and Punish (Alan Sheridan, 1977)
  17. Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie – Montaillou (Barbara Bray, 1978)
  18. Italo Calvino – If on a Winter’s Night a Traveller (William Weaver, 1981)
  19. Roland Barthes – Camera Lucida (Richard Howard, 1981)
  20. Christa Wolf – A Model Childhood (Ursule Molinaro, Hedwig Rappolt, 1982)
  21. Umberto Eco – The Name of the Rose (William Weaver, 1983)
  22. Mario Vargas Llosa – Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter (Helen R. Lane, 1983)
  23. Milan Kundera – The Unbearable Lightness of Being (Michael Henry Heim, 1984)
  24. Marguerite Duras – The Lover (Barbara Bray, 1985)
  25. Josef Skvorecky – The Engineer of Human Souls (Paul Wilson, 1985)
  26. Per Olov Enquist – The March of the Musicians (Joan Tate, 1985)
  27. Patrick Süskind – Perfume (John E. Woods, 1986)
  28. Isabel Allende – The House of the Spirits (Magda Bodin, 1986)
  29. Georges Perec – Life A User’s Manual (David Bellos, 1987)
  30. Thomas Bernhard – Cutting Timber (Ewald Osers, 1988)
  31. Czeslaw Milosz – Poems (Czeslaw Milosz, Robert Hass, 1988)
  32. José Saramago – Year of the Death of Ricardo Reis (Giovanni Pontiero, 1992)
  33. Marcel Proust – In Search of Lost Time (Terence Kilmartin, 1992)
  34. Roberto Calasso – The Marriage of Cadmus and Harmony (Tim Parks, 1993)
  35. Naguib Mahfouz – Cairo Trilogy (Olive E. Kenny, Lorne M. Kenny, Angela Botros Samaan, 1991-3)
  36. Laura Esquivel – Like Water for Chocolate (Carol Christensen and Thomas Christensen, 1993)
  37. Bao Ninh – The Sorrow of War (Frank Palmos, Phan Thanh Hao, 1994)
  38. Victor Klemperer – I Shall Bear Witness (Martin Chalmers, 1998)
  39. Beowulf (Seamus Heaney, 1999)
  40. Josef Brodsky – Collected Poems (Anthony Hecht et al, 2000)
  41. Xingjian Gao – Soul Mountain (Mabel Lee, 2001)
  42. Tahar Ben Jelloun – This Blinding Absence of Light (Linda Coverdale, 2002)
  43. W.G. Sebald – Austerlitz (Anthea Bell, 2002)
  44. Orhan Pamuk – Snow (Maureen Freely, 2004)
  45. Amos Oz – A Tale of Love and Darkness (Nicholas de Lange, 2004)
  46. Per Petterson – Out Stealing Horses (Ann Born, 2005)
  47. Irène Némirovsky – Suite Française (Sandra Smith, 2006)
  48. Vassily Grossman – Life and Fate (Robert Chandler, 2006)
  49. Alaa Al Aswany – The Yacoubian Building (Humphrey Davies, 2007)
  50. Leo Tolstoy – War and Peace (Richard Pevear, Larissa Volokhonsky, 2007)

I have only read two titles from the list but I’m not sure which translation it was. It’s interesting to to see several collections of poetry on the list. I would have assumed they would be very difficult to translate but I suppose the translators must have done a stellar job. It’s a little strange to see War and Peace at 50 and no Anna Karenina or Crime and Punishment in sight given they’re generally the more popular translated texts. The list would have been a little more helpful if they had included the publisher details too. Regardless, the list gives me a few more international titles to pick from.

What do you think of the list? Are these really the best translations?

Dymocks Top 101 Books

Australian bookstore chain, Dymocks, compiles readers favourite books annually. I’m a little late with this one but I always love a list. Here is the list for 2010.

Those in bold are the ones I’ve read.

1 The Twilight Saga by Stephenie Meyer

2 The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling

3 Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

4 The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

5 The Lord of the Rings Trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien

6 The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak

7 To Kill a Mocking Bird by Harper Lee

8 The Millennium Trilogy by Stieg Larsson

9 My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult

10 The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

11 The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons

12 Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

13 Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

14 The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

15 Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead

16 Magician by Raymond E. Feist

17 Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

18 The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown

19 Cloudstreet by Tim Winton

20 The Host by Stephenie Meyer

21 Mao’s Last Dancer by Li Cunxin

22 Atonement by Ian McEwan

23 The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

24 Angels and Demons by Dan Brown

25 A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

26 Cross Stitch by Diana Gabaldon

27 Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts

28 The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas

29 Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell

30 Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden

31 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

32 Tomorrow When the War Began by John Marsden

33 Obernewtyn by Isobelle Carmody

34 The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne

35 The Inheritance Series by Christopher Paolini

36 The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde

37 Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer

38 The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

39 The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

40 Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

41 Ice Station by Matthew Reilly

42 The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay

43 Persuasion by Jane Austen

44 Tully by Paullina Simons

45 Seven Ancient Wonders by Matthew Reilly

46 Breath by Tim Winton

47 The Mortal Instruments Series by Cassandra Clare

48 Life of Pi by Yann Martel

49 A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry

50 The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

51 Emma by Jane Austen

52 The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory

53 The Bible

54 Six Sacred Stones by Matthew Reilly

55 A Fortunate Life by A.B. Facey

56 We Need To Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver

57 The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

58 Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

59 The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy

60 The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

61 People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks

62 The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown

63 The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova

64 Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice

65 Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky

66 The Sookie Stackhouse Series by Charlaine Harris (Only the first. It was awful.)

67 Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom

68 Five Greatest Warriors by Matthew Reilly

69 On the Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta

70 The Princess Bride by William Goldman

71 The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom

72 Wicked by Gregory Maguire

73 Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

74 Audacity of Hope by Barack Obama

75 Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett

76 Dewey by Vicki Myron

77 Dirt Music by Tim Winton

78 Marley and Me by John Grogan

79 Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

80 Dune by Frank Herbert

81 The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

82 The Memory Keeper’s Daughter by Kim Edwards

83 Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

84 War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

85 The Road by Cormac McCarthy

86 Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides

87 The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis (Only The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe.)

88 The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton

89 Possession by AS Byatt

90 Finnikin of The Rock by Melina Marchetta

91 No 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith

92 Graceling by Kristin Cashore

93 The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

94 The Secret History by Donna Tartt

95 Silent Country by Di Morrissey

96 Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel

97 Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger

98 The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd

99 Still Alice by Lisa Genova

100 The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle

101 Gallipoli by Les Carlyon

I’ve read 37 titles. It’s a very ‘now’ list and it’s awful that Twilight is number one. However, I do like that there’s a nice mixture of youth and adult literature along with some core classics. I’m surprised at how fast some titles have made their way onto the list seeing as some were only published last year. And, of course, it’s always great to see some great Australian titles included.

What do you think of the list?

The Most Memorable Books in My Life (so far)

I’ve pinched this meme from Kimberly and was inspired to write my own post. I’m still young (quite) and hopefully still have long reading years ahead for me. I wonder at times if there should be an age limit for these sort of things. Would writing up a list like this be something akin to a 17 year-old celebrity writing her autobiography? Nonetheless, these are the ten (only an arbitary number or I could go on and on) books that have resonated with me so far. In no particular order:

  1. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. I adore this book. It’s so romantic, fierce, Gothic, dark, strong, melodramatic and sinister. I could go on with the adjectives. There are so many layers in the story. The crux of it, though, is the one that’s most inspirational which is, of course, the story and struggle of Jane Eyre. Plain, little, alone and poor, Jane makes her own way through the heavily patriarchal world and chooses what feels right for her. I think I have around four various copies of this book scattered around.
  2. Tintin by Herge. I grew up with these books and these definitely don’t read like comics. The expressive and wonderful illustrations along with the stories really captured my attention. The stories taught you about morals and what was wrong and right. They also took you to the most interesting places around the world from the Congo, Scotland and China. I still re-read them occasionally and they’re a treasured part of my collection.
  3. Matilda by Roald Dahl. The original and most inspiring bibliophile! I think it was reading this book that first made me realise how much I indeed did love books. The lovely illustrations by Quentin Blake also added its own enchantment.  Awhile ago, I copied down a list of books that Matilda had read. I have only read six out of the fourteen!
  4. The Tomorrow series by John Marsden. This was a significant read for me during my teenage years. It’s a very quintessential Australian series, largely set in the country but it also explored important social and political issues. It’s about a group of teenagers who goes camping for a long weekend and come home to realise that the country has been invaded by a foreign nation. The foreigners are never identified in the book. I remember the books being quite filled with action, with the teens initiating their own impressive guerrilla attacks against the invaders,  but it also had the typical teen issues like sex, relationships and friendship. I’d always thought if we were ever invaded, I’d want these books with me. Somewhat bizarrely, it also introduced me to Pride and Prejudice.
  5. The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down by Anne Fadiman. This book was assigned reading for a second-year Anthropology subject and it truly opened my eyes and mind. Fadiman writes about an unusual case where they have been misinterpretations between both parties. There is the family who are Hmong refugees and who have only recently settled in America. Anybody familiar with Hmong traditions know that they differ vastly from the Western idea of ‘normality’ and ‘rationality’. The youngest Hmong child suffers from a severe form of epilepsy and because of the massive cultural barrier between the parents and the American doctors, and the belief of what causes epilepsy, there is a large division and mistrust between both parties which inevitably harms the child. This book really taught me to always question the concept of culture and it really broadened my mind. I didn’t even know who the Hmong people were until I read this.
  6. The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins. Ah, my first Sensation read and it was marvelous and what fun! Wilkie Collins is particularly memorable because not only are you guaranteed a ripping read but his insight into legal loopholes and issues women face is fascinating too. It is nice to know that Collins can be considered an advocate for women’s rights especially in what was such a patriarchal society.
  7. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. This was a book that surprised me by how much I really did enjoy reading it. It was suspenseful, gripping story with memorable and excellent characters – Pip, Estella and of course, Miss Havisham – a woman wholly consumed by her failed nuptials and who has stayed in a her wedding dress ever since. It’s one of my favourite Dickens.
  8. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. Fahrenheit 451 – the temperature at which books begin to burn. The whole concept of the perceived dangers of a book, historically and presently, was foreign to me until I read this slim but powerful book, a cautionary tale of how oppression and narrow mindedness can breed. I’m still amazed at how threatened a society can feel by the mere presence of a book.
  9. The Outsider by Albert Camus. I read this when I was seventeen and I loved it immensely. I could, perhaps frighteningly, identify with Meursault and his perspective on life and freewill. While most in class was ready to cast Meursault as a villain, I viewed him as a sort of hero who had the courage to live his life without bowing to social conformity.
  10. The Age of Reason by Jean-Paul Sartre. If I had to pick a religion or faith, I think I would pick existentialism. Sartre really made me rethink the idea of freedom and, really, in the end we may think we are free but we are not. There are too many attachments in life holding us down that our concept of freedom have been misconstrued. I love books that make me think like this!

I wonder if this list will change dramatically if I do it again in a few years time. What books have been most memorable in your life?

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Lost Books

I’m a huge fan of the T.V. show Lost (except half of season two and most of season three which were quite dreadful) and I love how ingrained and significant literature is in the show. Characters would nonchalantly read a book that would turn out to contribute or hint at a deeper level in the plot. And even if you’re not a fan of the show, the writers do manage to insert an impressive list of literary titles with classics and philosophy featured heavily.

(Jacob reading Everything that Rises Must Converge by Flannery O’Connor)

This site – – has a list of all the books that have featured on Lost, its context and episode. Definitely worth checking out, even just for the titles.

New Orange Penguins

The titles of the next batch of the popular Orange Penguins have been released! There are 75 titles this time in celebration of Penguin’s 75th year. They all look so exciting and I want so many of them already. I’m a bit disappointed that they’re publishing The Wizard of Oz and  Nausea after all the trouble I went to find them and have just recently bought them! Also delighted, but also very annoyed, that Shirley Jackson is being published too along with M.J. Hyland’s debut novel (which I also just got).

I’m pretty excited that they’re publishing Muriel Spark since I’ve heard many positive reviews of her writing on other blogs. The list is quite inspiring and I love it. There’s a few F. Scott Fitzgeralds, Kafkas, interesting inclusions of writings by Leonard Cohen and Andy Warhol, plays and some excellent Australian writing.

At the moment, there doesn’t seem to a list up and only a video which is slightly annoying. You can view it here:

I’ve listed them here but I can’t make out some authors.

  • The Wizard of Oz – Frank L Baum
  • Foe – J.M. Coetzee
  • Dangerous Liaisons
  • The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
  • The Prophet
  • The Thirty-Nine Steps
  • One Hundred Great Books in Haiku
  • The Invisible Man
  • Obernewtyn
  • The Lady in the Lake – Raymond Chandler
  • Seven Little Australians
  • Poems – Michael Leunig
  • The Little Prince
  • Our Sunshine – Robert Drewe
  • Alice’s Adventure in Wonderland
  • Three Men in a Boat – Jerome K. Jerome
  • Three Tales from the Arabian Nights
  • I Can Jump Puddles – Alan Marshall
  • It’s Raining in Mango – Thea Astley
  • Lucky Jim – Kingsley Amis
  • The Psychology of Love
  • The Ghost Road – Pat Barker
  • Washington Square – Henry James
  • The Trial – Franz Kafka
  • Therese Raquin – Emile Zola
  • Hamlet
  • How the Light Gets In – M.J. Hyland
  • The Go-Between – L.P. Priestly? Hartley?
  • Gulliver’s Travels
  • On Natural Selection – Charles Darwin
  • Pygmalion – George Bernard Shaw
  • Howl, Kaddish and other poems – Allen Ginsberg
  • The Shiralee – D’arcy Niland
  • Beowulf
  • Postcards from Surfers – Helen Garner
  • From Russia with Love – Ian Flemming
  • Hard Times -Charles Dickens
  • Keep the Aspidistra Flying – George Orwell
  • The Sheltering Sky – Paul Bowles
  • Civilisation and its Discontents – Sigmund Freud
  • The Communist Manifesto – Karl Marx (what about Engles?)
  • Raffles
  • Nausea
  • The Jungle Book
  • The Philosophy of Andy Warhol – Andy Warhol
  • The Call of the Wild – Jack London
  • Scoop – Evelyn Waugh
  • The Lost Estate – … Alain-Fournier
  • Hedda Gabler and other plays – Henrik Ibsen
  • How we are Hungry
  • Confessions of an English Opium Eater – Thomas de Quincy
  • The Curious Case of Benjamin Button – F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • Northanger Abbey – Jane Austen
  • A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens
  • Selected Poems – John Keats
  • Book of Longing – Leonard Cohen
  • The Inheritance of Loss – Kiran Desai
  • Treasure Island – Robert Louis Stevenson
  • In the Winter Dark – Tim Winton
  • Robinson Crusoe – Daniel Defoe
  • Surrender – Sonya Hartnett
  • The Beautiful and the Damned – F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • Playing Beatie Bow – Ruth Park
  • The Pit and the Pendulum – Edgar Allan Poe
  • The Periodic Table
  • The Happy Prince and other stories
  • The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie – Muriel Spark
  • Around the World in Eighty Days
  • The Power of One – Bryce Courtenay
  • Metamorphosis – Franz Kafka
  • Notes from the Underground – Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  • We Have Always Lived in the Castle – Shirley Jackson
  • To the Lighthouse – Virginia Woolf
  • The Hound of the Baskervilles – Arthur Conan Doyle
  • Inferno  – Dante

Edit: Penguin has put up the official list. And also thanks to Dominique for posting the link to the list earlier. It’s pretty exciting!

What do you think of the list?

1000 Novels You Must Read

Early last year, Guardian selected their own 1000 novels one should read in their lifetime. It was only recently that I stumbled across this list. The list is divided into seven categories: Comedy, Crime, Family and Self, Love, Science Fiction and Fantasy, State of the Nation and War and Travel. I won’t post the entire list here but I’ll post up the titles I have read which is 78 all together.


Bridget Jones’ Diary by Helen Fielding

And that’s it. I scored a very dismal ONE (!) in this category. It might say a lot about my reading although some titles included here surprised me.


Lady Audley’s Secret by Mary E Braddon

The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie

The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins

Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

Perfume by Patrick Suskind

The Secret History by Donna Tartt

Total – 10

Family and Self:

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Cat’s Eye by Margaret Atwood

The Outsider by Albert Camus

The Awakening by Kate Chopin

Les Enfants Terrible by Jean Cocteau

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway

Washington Square by Henry James

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson

Total – 12


Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Persuasion by Jane Austen

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

Vilette by Charlotte Bronte

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote

The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides

The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald

Tender is the Night by F Scott Fitzgerald

Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy

The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera

Atonement by Ian McEwan

Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller

Love in a Cold Climate by Nancy Mitford

Lolita, or the Confessions of a White Widowed Male by Vladimir Nabokov

Delta of Venus by Anais Nin

Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys

The Reader by Bernhard Schlink

Total – 19

Science Fiction and Fantasy:

The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There by Lewis Carroll

The Turn of the Screw by Henry James

Beloved by Toni Morrison

The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by JK Rowling

The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Dracula by Bram Stoker

Total – 13

State of the Nation:

The Plague by Albert Camus

Disgrace by JM Coetzee

Bleak House by Charles Dickens

Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens

Silas Marner by George Eliot

A Passage to India by EM Forster

Animal Farm by George Orwell

Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie

Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray

Total – 9

War and Travel:

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

The Crab with the Golden Claws by Georges Remi Herge

Tintin in Tibet by Georges Remi Herge

The Castafiore Emerald by Georges Remi Herge

Slaughter-House Five by Kurt Vonnegut

Total – 5

I like the list and I especially love the inclusion of Tintin! I don’t think a list has ever included Tintin and I think it’s unfortunate. Tintin has a lot of literary appeal that perhaps goes unappreciated.