Monday, November 22, 2010

BBC Meme on the Classics

I hadn't heard about this meme until I read it on Brittanie's site. When I did a search to find the orginal meme I discovered dozens of bloggers had already posted it. John Wilkins posted the BBC meme, but with different books at the end. Who changed the list I wonder? His (original?) list had a lot more non-classics, in my opinion.

The BBC claims that most people haven't read more than six on the list. I've only read about 40 on Britannie's list (see below), but there are at least 20 on the list that are not worthy of classic status, so I'll never be reading them. And, as usual, there are a few gems that were left out. Everyone's list is different and I enjoy seeing the variety.

How many of these have you read? (I've put mine in bold.)

Oops! I just found the original list (from 2003!) and it is for most loved novel, not classics after all. Still fun.

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
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 Faulks
18. The Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger
19. 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
23. 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
36. The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe – CS Lewis (repetitive see 33)

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

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
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 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
99. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl
100. Les Miserables – Victor Hugo

Saturday, November 20, 2010

More Wisdom from The Count of Monte Cristo

When I read The Count of Monte Cristo a few years ago I was captivated by a something Abbé Faria said to Edmond Dantés while in dungeon at the Chateu d’If:

In Rome I had nearly five thousand volumes in my library. By reading and re-reading them, I discovered that one hundred and fifty books, carefully chosen, give you, if not a complete summary of human knowledge, at least everything that it is useful for a man to know. I devoted three years of my life to reading and re-reading them more or less by heart. In prison, with a slight effort of memory, I recalled them entirely. So I can recite to you Thucydides, Xenophon, Plutarch, Livy, Tacitus, Strada, Jornadès, Dante, Montaigne, Shakespeare, Spinoza, Machiavelli and Bossuet.

Within a short time of his prison sentence nineteen year old Dantés was about to go mad because he had an unfurnished brain. Abbé Faria , on the other hand, had read widely which helped him to maintain his wits. He was never without something to think about.

This passage set me to thinking about the possibility of owning less books, but making the ones I have really count. Recently as I've read some blogs on minimalism I've been even more encouraged to let go of excess books. During our 20 years (and many moves) in Brazil, I've carried my library around with me because it gave me security to know that I would always have something to read or re-read. And, of course, I kept adding books for future "needs". I decluttered everything else before each move, but my books were sacrosanct.

Now, I'm rethinking all of that. I've started a list of "If I Could Only Have a Hundred Books" and I'm very careful about what goes on it. I'm making progress! 

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Quote from Count of Monte Cristo

Food for thought from Count of Monte Cristo

"God has diluted our reason with a madness called hope." (p. 1070)

Friday, November 12, 2010

The Silver Chair by C. S. Lewis

I wasn't sure how I'd like this book because it began a little more roughly than the others, but I was soon engrossed in the story. Eustace Scrubb from The Voyage of the Dawn Treader makes a reappearance here and because of his chastening experience in the previous book, he’s a much more likeable character.

He and his friend Jill Pole are thrust into a Narnian adventure when they receive orders from Aslan to search for King Caspian’s missing son, Prince Rilian. Along the way they meet marsh wiggles, giants and evil queens. Their guide to the ruins of the giant city is the frog-like marsh wiggle, Puddleglum. (If you are familiar with gloomy Eeyore from the Winnie the Pooh books, you’ll have a small idea of how pessimistic and funny he is.) I laughed out loud at most of his depressing predictions for their future. And I loved him for his faithfulness and courage in the face of his doubts.

As in all the books, the author’s wisdom and insight shine through especially in the characters’ interaction with Aslan. Lewis’ wit is lurking on practically every page and it’s a delight when it manifests itself. One example is in the final chapter when the children are receiving a lesson on the eating habits of a centaur:

“Son of Adam, don’t you understand? A Centaur has a man-stomach and a horse stomach. And of course both want breakfast. So first of all he has porridge and pavenders and kidneys and bacon and omelette and cold ham and toast and marmalade and coffee and beer. And after that he attends to the horse part of himself by grazing for an hour or so and finishing up with a hot mash, some oats and a bag of sugar. That’s why it’s such a serious thing to ask a Centaur to stay for the week-end. A very serious thing indeed.” (p. 205)

The Silver Chair has many gentle jabs at modern education which are shrewd and witty. I'm glad I made it my goal to read the Narnia Chronicles this year.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Tributes to Autumn

This is my favorite season of the year and I've tried rather unsuccessfully to capture it in photos. Two of my favorite bloggers have paid tribute to the season with beautiful words. And Emily Dickinson has written one of my favorite fall poems:

The morns are meeker than they were-
The nuts are getting brown-
The berry's cheek is plumper-
The Rose is out of town.

The Maple wears a gayer scarf-
The field a scarlet gown-
Lest I should be old fashioned
I'll put a trinket on.

Carol has a a lovely poem and pictures here.

Lanier's Books had this to say: It's one of my very favorite times, this mad second youth of the year, more beautiful in its maturity than even the careless loveliness of April and May. And definitely more poignant in all its brave show. Already the golden leaves of ginkgoes and hickories have made a yellow carpet upon the lawns of my town, and tonight's rain will assuredly rob the great silken-trunked crepe myrtle outside my window of its last clinging jewels. But what a lovely autumn it's been. And what a stirring of anticipation as we lean closer and closer toward the brightest and best days that the calendar affords!