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June 26th, 2008
10:52 am


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Taken from ko. I'm very warey of book memes, normally because they depress me at how little I've read (although that's very much a glass-half-empty thing - it's quite comforting that there's many more fabulous books out there) but I like this one because I'd read quite a few of them.

01. Look at the list and bold those you have read. Italisice them if you've kind of read them.
02. Add a "+" if you've read it more than once
03. Add a "*" if you really love the book
04. Add a "!" if you think the "+" and the "*" don't emphasise enough how passionate you are about this book.

001 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen I've never quite 'got' Austen. I should try again some time. I can't even remember if I've read P+P - I know I've read Emma and probably one other, but it was a long time ago.

002 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien + For first lady of the Tolkein society ;-) , I'm decidedly non-plussed about Tolkein. The last time I read them I enjoyed them, but not as much as all my friends do!

003 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte +* GCSE English book, but despite that managed to stay loving it.

004 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling +* 'nuff said. I have no taste.

005 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee +*

006 The Bible I always start in Genisis, manage a few books and give up. I need to try again at some point. I _think_ I've read all the gospels.

007 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte +*

008 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell +* See what I mean? This meme has fabulous books in it!

009 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman +*! Love this book. Am still forever in purplepiano's debt for the readthrough.

010 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens I've definitely read David Copperfield, and Oliver, and a Christmas Carol, but I can't remember reading this one.

011 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott This was my mum's favorite book. It doesn't seem to be hereditary, maybe because I came to it too young and there was lots of pressure on me to like it. I should try it again.

012 Tess of the D'Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy +* Mmm, Hardy. And they say misery lit is a recent phenominom.

013 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller. However, it is on my to-read pile. It's been mentally on my to-read pile ever since Stuart told me to read it, but physically there since I found it in a charity shop a month ago.

014 Complete Works of Shakespeare +*! - No - the ones we haven't done at bardcamp yet, and lots of the sonnets and poems I must confess I haven't read. This is a bit of a daft entry, given Hamlet is later in the list...

015 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier +* I love this book so much I dragged Matthew three miles down a dirt track to find the house in cornwall Mandelay was based on. It's in a hollow behind lots of private signs and you can't even see it, but I was still over the moon we'd been there. (You can get down to the bay, which is a really nice place)

016 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien +

017 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks

018 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger I started this, and couldn't get into the style at all. I should try again. Not least because I still have Derek's copy, and should give it him back.

019 The Time Traveller's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger . Made me cry.

020 Middlemarch - George Eliot +* Can I count as reading it twice for reading the book and doing a readthrough of the TV series? Maybe not.

021 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell * Loved this book, but you do need to set aside about a month to read it. I was very sad they pulled the musical, as I was really looking forward to it.

022 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald

023 Bleak House - Charles Dickens

024 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy - has been on the to-read pile for 10 years. Maybe ought to conceed it isn't rising to the top.

025 The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams +* ...and seen the film, and the tv series, and read the radio scripts...

026 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh I know I've read this, but I can't remember a thing about it. So I should re-read it.

027 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky

028 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck Not as good as Of Mice and Men.

029 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll +*

030 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame +* And the William Horwood sequils, which are Not Too Bad. Many happy CULES memories of Wind in the Willows

031 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy

032 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens Oooh! I can remember reading this one!

033 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis +* The Magicians Nephew is the best

034 Emma - Jane Austen

035 Persuasion - Jane Austen

036 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - C.S. Lewis +* This meme is broken, it keeps listing things that are in the subsets of other things.

037 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini

038 Captain Corelli's Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres +*! Love this book. Makes me cry every time. If I'm ever in a play when I need to be in floods of tears, I'll just keep it offstage.

039 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden - still on my to-read list, from my mum.

040 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne +

041 Animal Farm - George Orwell +* I don't think I even knew what communism was when I first read this.

042 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown This book is Crap. But a very good page turner for a 6 hour drive to scotland.

043 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
044 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
045 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins

046 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery Err, maybe. L was reading one of them the other week, and it didn't jog any memories though.

047 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy +* Still Love Hardy :-)

048 The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood +*

049 Lord of the Flies - William Golding +*

050 Atonement - Ian McEwan
051 Life of Pi - Yann Martel

052 Dune - Frank Herbert + I've never quite 'got' Dune, and so many people I love and respect think it's fabulous. Time for a re-read.

053 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons I've done a readthrough of the TV programme, and the book is on my to-read pile. Bought on the same day as Catch 22, interestingly.

054 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen

055 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth I read all of this when I was a fair bit younger. I think I forgot the beginning by the time I got to the end. I don't get on very well with long books (cf Lord of the Rings). I keep meaning to try An Equal Music.

056 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
057 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens

058 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley +*

059 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon I really don't get on with this book. I think it uses clumsy stereotypes and contrived plot when it could have actually been interesting. But I _love_ A Spot of Bother.

060 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez

061 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck +* Other GCSE English book.

062 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
063 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
064 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
065 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
066 On The Road - Jack Kerouac

067 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy +* This list has almost as much of a Hardy thing as I do.

068 Bridget Jones' Diary - Helen Fielding + It is a fun comfort read.

069 Midnight's Children - Salman Rushdie
070 Moby Dick - Herman Melville

071 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens

072 Dracula - Bram Stoker

073 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett +

074 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson +* Possibly the only book I've ever read to mention the town I went to secondary school in.

075 Ulysses - James Joyce

076 The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath Just the other month, actually. As a rough rule of thumb, I like books about the end of the world or mad people. One day I will write a book about a mad person surviving the end of the world.

077 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome Jon and Sarah were bored for about an hour with me ranting about these books, so I'm not going to repeat it here.

078 Germinal - Emile Zola
079 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
080 Possession - AS Byatt

081 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens +

082 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell I really enjoyed this book, although I felt as though it was about to Do Something it then never did.

083 The Color Purple - Alice Walker +* Although colloquial language in books is a big barrier for me.

084 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
085 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
086 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry

087 Charlotte's Web - EB White +*

088 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
089 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

090 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton +*!

091 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad I hated this book. I may have been too young when I read it.

092 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery +*

093 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks I've just discovered Iain Banks and am whizzing through them, but I haven't read this one yet. Which may be a good thing from what people tell me about it.

094 Watership Down - Richard Adams +*!

095 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
096 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
097 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas

098 Hamlet - William Shakespeare +*

099 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl +

100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo. But, err, I've seen the musical...

(27 comments | Leave a comment)

[User Picture]
Date:June 26th, 2008 10:48 am (UTC)
I love Hardy too! :-) Though I've only read a couple of his books, I shall have to read more..
Date:June 26th, 2008 10:52 am (UTC)
Mmm, Hardy. And they say misery lit is a recent phenominom

What is the appeal of Hardy? Or misery-lit in general? I've never quite got it.
[User Picture]
Date:June 26th, 2008 10:59 am (UTC)
Hmm, that's a big question and one I'm not sure of the answer to.

I think part of it is that bad things happening are intense, and full of lots of emotion. Which is, at the end of the day, interesting. Emotion is one of the reasons why "I had a boiled egg for breakfast" is dull, and "the woman I loved proposed to me at breakfast" is interesting. So if you write about having to sacrifice a kidney to save your sisters life, or your children hanging themselves, or being locked in an attic having sex with your brother, or your mum dying of cancer while being beaten up by your dad* there is a lot of emotion. And watching realistic portrayals of people dealing with impossibly hard situations is interesting - what people do under pressure and how they cope is fascinating.

I think there's an uncomfortable side-order of people getting 'kicks' by reading misery-lit. Not that they are all paedophiles - some of them may be enjoying the masochistic perspective, not the sadistic one, but more than that it might not even be a sex thing - but there are things that can't happen in real life, that we wouldn't want to happen in real life, but that it's interesting and dangerous to think about how it would feel if it happened to us.

And then there's the 'being understood' thing. If bad things have happened to you, reading books where bad things happen to other people and seeing how they coped (or didn't) can be helpful. There's nothing worse than being down and surrounded by fairy-tails that the world is nice.

I'm not sure any of this is true - I'd be really interested in other people's answers

*Go on, spot the books.
[User Picture]
Date:June 26th, 2008 11:06 am (UTC)
Go on, spot the books.
Got #3 but not the others.
[User Picture]
Date:June 26th, 2008 11:07 am (UTC)
You've been hanging with Rob too much ;-)
Date:June 26th, 2008 12:33 pm (UTC)
Go on, spot the books.

The second is Jude the Obscure, no?
[User Picture]
Date:June 26th, 2008 12:43 pm (UTC)
Well done! :-)
[User Picture]
Date:June 26th, 2008 02:36 pm (UTC)
Dunno about "misery-lit" in general (what defines it anyway? Just general gloominess?) but about Hardy I can witter all day...

Most[1] of the "depressing" ones aren't about life being inherently shit. They're pointing out the shitness of society. Jude in particular, but also Tess, is about wonderful people with wit and brains and potential... who are utterly destroyed by the times and attitudes they live in. The books where important and wonderful when they were written, because they held up a mirror to what the restrictive nature of society actually does to people. And they were very controversial.

The books are important and engaging now, because Jude, Tess and (espeically) Sue are really very modern characters. Have you not ever read a 19th centuary novel and thought "yes but if I was there, I'd never marry a man I didn't fancy / put up with the lot I was born into / try to be accepted as a human being despite having had sex before marriage?" Hardy puts people we can identify with in situations of the past, so (a) he's incredibly perceptive about human nature, and (b) they're really really engaging. And believable. And all the more heart-breaking because of it. Don't you get a twinge of nausea when you hear that Charlotte Lucas is pregnant? Hardy opens the bedroom door for us; Sue jumps out of the window to avoid sleeping with her husband.

And yes, it ends horribly for them all, because it's a narrative imperative if the point of your book is to show how broken and destructive your contemporary society is. But I don't find the books depressing at all, because all of those protagonists would have been perfectly happy, if only they'd been born now!! So are they misery-lit?

The Mayor of Casterbridge is very interesting in this theme, though, because that's a tragedy of the inherent personality of an individual, rather than one caused by his society. It's fabulous because the flaws that are portrayed (okay, somewhat characatured) are very human and recognisable, but seldom portrayed in a central character. And... if you've read several Hardy's by this point, you're expecting the inevitable slide into despair at the end, so once you're calibrated for Hardy it's not terribly depressing. Especially since there is a sense that his woes are brought upon him.

In conclusion: Hardy: not misery-lit, and Elizabeth: likes waffling about Hardy.

[1] Though a quick Wikipedia shows me that I haven't actually read "most" of his novels yet. Wheeee! This is a good thing, more Hardy for me!
[User Picture]
Date:June 26th, 2008 02:47 pm (UTC)
That was a very interesting comment.

[Although I'm not sure if your conclusion wouldn't hold true for all misery lit, so we don't conclude that Hardy is an exception, just that "misery lit" is a belittling name for an important form for commenting on society etc.]

Edited at 2008-06-26 02:48 pm (UTC)
Date:June 27th, 2008 03:04 pm (UTC)
Hmmm... I was probably too young when I read Hardy to realise he should be filed in the same category as Dickens - the 'look - isn't this wrong?' category rather than the revelling in misery of some other novels.

I'll have to give him another look at some point. But I don't tend to consider nausea a sensation I want at the best of times, and can normally deconstruct even benign societies to find the underside (it's one of my hobbies with sci-fi).
[User Picture]
Date:June 26th, 2008 05:22 pm (UTC)
There's something here I can't quite articulate about strong narrative structure, dramatic necessity, fate and inevitability.

As for Hardy in particular, his descriptions of people and places are I think the best I've ever read.

Edited at 2008-06-26 05:22 pm (UTC)
[User Picture]
Date:June 26th, 2008 05:54 pm (UTC)
#4 Lola Rose

I've been disappointed with Jacqueline Wilson lately - she seems to be just rehashing old themes and not really doing anything she hasn't done better already.
[User Picture]
Date:June 26th, 2008 09:09 pm (UTC)
Well done! I thought that one was the one no-one would get.

As well as becoming increasingly formulaic, I think I'm getting more cheesed off with the way all her books seem to star children obsessed with her books (or at least a famous author) - Clean Break was the worse for this, and Midnight was pretty bad. But I'm enjoying her books for older teenagers - Kiss was OK-to-good, and I thought Love Lessons was great.
[User Picture]
Date:June 26th, 2008 09:25 pm (UTC)
Love Lessons I like - particularly so as an older reader, I think, because it's possible to appreciate and sympathise with the teacher's side of the story too. I was disappointed with Kiss - the central relationship never really came to life for me, though I was slightly pleased with myself for spotting the Midsummer Night's Dream parallels before they were made explicit.
Date:June 27th, 2008 03:19 pm (UTC)
There's nothing worse than being down and surrounded by fairy-tails that the world is nice.

Except for me being surrounded by fairy-tales that the world doesn't get any better and everything's gloomily inevitable. When I'm down the fairy-tales that the world is really nice just want to make me roll my eyes and relegate them to the bad childrens' books. But when I'm down the fairy-tale that everything is worse or futile and there's no point makes me want to slit my wrists just to get things over with.
[User Picture]
Date:June 26th, 2008 11:14 am (UTC)
Partly "ha, at least my life isn't *that bad*"; partly because it *might* give some insight into how other people feel about and cope with "that bad" so I can a)get coping tips and b)understand why people think "action X" is so horrible because reading their story helps you get into their head, a bit, maybe.
[User Picture]
Date:June 26th, 2008 11:25 am (UTC)
The ultimate "misery lit" is probably "Une vie" (A Life) by Guy de Maupassant.

That book is just so depressing, and not in an interesting "wtf?!" way like Dostoyevsky.
[User Picture]
Date:June 26th, 2008 12:29 pm (UTC)
Or "La Peste" by Albert Camus ;)
[User Picture]
Date:June 26th, 2008 01:30 pm (UTC)
You want "misery lit"? Look no further than One Day In The Life Of Ivan Denisovich. Or Cancer Ward, come to think of it. Sometimes, Solzhenitsyn makes Frank McCourt and Dave Pelzer look like the Chuckle Brothers.
[User Picture]
Date:June 26th, 2008 02:40 pm (UTC)
"One Day In The Life Of Ivan Denisovich" misery-lit? I haven't read it for years, but I remember the pivotal bit being at the end, when he looks back over his day and feels satisfied over a relatively good day. So in the end it's strangely uplifting, see-what-the-human-spirit-can-cope-with-and-remain-whole, rather than misery. Isn't it?

And Cancer Ward is hilarious.

Erm. It appears that everyone else's "misery lit" is my "uplifting".
[User Picture]
Date:June 26th, 2008 03:24 pm (UTC)
For real misery lit, try The Children of Hurin.
[User Picture]
Date:June 26th, 2008 03:24 pm (UTC)
Scene at an Al Stewart concert:

"This next song is based on One Day In The Life Of Ivan Denisovich. Who's read it?"

A reasonable smattering of hands goes up.

"See, you get a better class of people at my concerts. Ask that at a Blur gig, and you'd get about two hands."
[User Picture]
Date:June 26th, 2008 10:59 am (UTC)
Tolkien! i before e! They'll hold a ritual lynching at Oxonmoot at this rate!


[User Picture]
Date:June 26th, 2008 11:00 am (UTC)
I before e except after k?

Sorry :-/
[User Picture]
Date:June 26th, 2008 11:01 am (UTC)
Maybe you should join The Tolkein Society? :-)
[User Picture]
Date:June 26th, 2008 11:04 am (UTC)
[User Picture]
Date:June 26th, 2008 11:10 am (UTC)
011 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott This was my mum's favorite book. It doesn't seem to be hereditary, maybe because I came to it too young and there was lots of pressure on me to like it. I should try it again.

I really love Little Women and its sequels.
As a young child I felt the same way about Anne of Green Gables as you did about LW, because my nan loved it so much and I was too young to get into it; but now I really like it and its sequels. In both series I used to find the bits without any kids in them boring and skip over them, but now I really enjoy those bits too.
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