Friday, April 28, 2006

The DA Library

The DA Library

After talking to Billygean about the odd contents of the book list doing the internet rounds (think of it like a cold that forces you to realise how much is missing from your reading experience) I thought I'd better put it up on DA. So, at the least, you can see how many of the authors you've heard of. And if anyone has read the Jordan guy please shout up.

Whilst I am not going to give up my pretence that I am - relatively - well read on the basis of a list that has two entries for Dan Brown, one for Yoko Ono and one for what appears to be a sex manual it remains that of the nearly five hundred books listed I have read just under100 of them. So what was I doing when I should have been reading Tolkein? Probably reading Gatsby for the hundredth time.

But it remains that many of the books I would consider to be significant in my life are on the list. There's obviously not enough Shakespeare, or Woolf, or early 19th century poets, or 20th century dramatists, or mid to late 19th century novelists or Chaucer [c'mon if I had to read all that Chaucer then at least I should be able to proclaim it on the internet]. And there wasn't even Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince. But as a quick, potted history of some of my reading (especially my childhood reading, the only things it's missing there are all of Blyton's school stories, the Famous Five and the Poirot novels*) it's not bad.

But it did get me thinking, as did the BBC's Big Read which the first 100 of the list comprise of, as to what I'd put on my must read list. Or my definitive favourites. Or the books that changed my life. But I do know, at this point in time, my generic Top Five of novels would look something like this:

1. The Great Gatsby, F Scott Fitzgerald.
2. The Waves, Virginia Woolf.
3. The Remains of the Day, Kazuo Ishiguro.
4. To the Lighthouse, Virginia Woolf.
5. A Handful of Dust, Evelyn Waugh.

After number one that list got difficult. And Woolf would have to hog two spots. For poetry it would go something like:

1. The Waste Land, T S Eliot.
2. Birthday Letters, Ted Hughes.
3. Don Juan, Lord Byron.
4. The 1805 Prelude, William Wordsworth.
5. Beowulf, Seamus Heaney.

Bit more of a mixed bag there. And, really, 1 and 2 are probably quite close together as I love them for hugely different reasons. Finally, for 20th century drama (oh yes, I'm removing the Shakespeare dilema because Desert Island Shakespeare with Paddy was hard enough) it might go something like:

1. Via Dolorosa, David Hare.
2. Arcadia, Tom Stoppard.
3. Copenhagen, Michael Frayn.
4. Closer, Patrick Marber.
5. Cloud Nine, Caryl Churchill.

And that's a struggle too as I really wanted Martin Sherman's Bent in there but an amazing production that I saw of 5 just edged it.

So what is this blog all about - other than my wallowing in literature? I guess to show that all lists are subjective. And that I really can't get past Gatsby.

*By the time I hit ten I'd read every Agatha Christie I could get my hands on. Thankfully my parents didn't call in the pyschologists.

8 comments:

Val said...

I spotted this yesterday, and managed 45 - though I suspect my list is considerably more sci fi based, and includes most of the Tolkien. I lose out on the Dahl, as I've only read The Witches, and then only cos I was in it!

I don't think you can count Les Mis, the musical ;-), and I have no idea who the Jordan guy is either.

cat said...

a mere 56 for me, probably boosted by a brief and thankfully passing flirtation with Terry Pratchett's work in my early teens. Jacqueline Wilson is a bit before my time too, but switch her for Paula Danziger and it would have been a different matter altogether! Danny Champion of the World is my fave Dahl, I've read it a dozen times.

I bought Time for Bed in hardback I was so eager to read it as, bizarrely, David Baddiel shares my obsessive love of Karen Carpenter!

I have read Da Vinci Code I'm afraid - what a waste of an afternoon that was - hence I haven't read Angels and Demons. Katherine by Seyton is wonderfully trashy but I love it, and hence my soft spot for John of Gaunt!

I absolutely recommend Their Eyes Were Watching God too, just wonderful, as is The Color Purple.

oh, and if there are bonus points on offer, can I please have some for reading The Little Prince the Moliere in the original French?

Jude said...

Does it sound boastful to admit to over 200 of these? (but then I have had a 30 yr start on most of you!) Had a real nostalgia fest as I could date the various chapters of my life by the books I was reading at the time - Tolkien and Asimov from my hippy era, clocking up most of the ancient greeks, Russian novels and English poetry from my uni days (Yes, we did Beowulf in the original too - couldn't understand a word of it nowadays though!) Moliere (also in the original French I may add!) from school French Literature classes, and all the Roald Dahl and Narnia books I read out loud to my own children...
(For my own childhood reading substitute Georgette Heyer for Agatha Christie)

And I haven't come across that Jordan bloke either.

As for recommendations, Annie Proulx is amazing! Try 'Accordion Chrimes' as well as Shipping Times.

If you like Jane Austen with Bronte overtones try the Herries series by Hugh Walpole. Very atmospheric.

E F Benson's Lucia books are also very amusing if you have't come across them yet. Nice waspish observations.

(P.S. Terry Pratchett's books can be read on several levels - and they are much more fun if you are widely read. If you are going to try any then I recommend starting with 'Wyrd Sisters' then you can feel pleasantly smug when you recognise all the Shakespearean references!)

Corinne said...

It sounds like bonus points all round!

On the subject of Paula Danziger - "There's a Bat in Bunk Five" was one of my favourite books as a 13 year old and I may have actually used the phrase "Make like a tree and leave" *rolls eyes*

Thanks for the recommendations Jude, you know I'm not going to be able to resist reading Wyrd Sisters if only for the smugness!

gayle said...

A round 60 for me. Maybe if I read more children's books it would be higher? ;-)
(btw I loved Paula Danziger too)

Val said...

Wyrd Sisters is the only Pratchett I've read - bought for me by a friend because of the Macbeth references - I enjoyed it, but it didn't make me desperate to read the others.
Paula Danziger - who she? Clearly after my time.

Shona said...

Only just got round to doing this and have surprised myself by reading 73 [and will have finished 74 this weekend!! reading Oryx and Crake for my online bookclub, just finished At swim, 2 boys for the same club!!!] ..mainly thanks to children's books, classics, and Shakespeare!!

Shona said...

PS when doing it I found a remarkable correlation with your choices Corinne, except for the fact that I would recommend reading LOTR you might be surprised as you do love Harry Potter!
PPS Girl with a Pearl Earring is beautifully written.