Today’s WordPress Daily Prompt is:
Open your nearest book to page 82. Take the third full sentence on the page, and work it into a post somehow.
The reason this book is so close is because I found it at a library book sale on Saturday for 50 cents. It’s a dust jacket-less hardcover of faded green that reminds me of the well-loved (or hated) tomes we used to be given at school. Only they smelt of dust, tears and sweat whilst this smells (quite literally) of peaches! (Take that eReaders, bet your ‘books’ don’t smell of stone fruit :p)
But this fruity aroma was not the sole reason I purchased this copy. Certainly, the rather enticing price was a major incentive, but the reason I selected this from the array of books on offer is simple; it has been on my reading list for years, and now I own my own copy perhaps I will get around to finally reading it.
As I meandered home it got me thinking of all the other books out there that I’ve been meaning to read for years. The classics that many people have read (and loved or despised) over the years that for whatever reason I never got around to reading.
It reminded me of a list I read a long time ago (2010, I believe), a collection of 100 books that the BBC had decided are the 100 Books you must read before you die, so in the middle of the night I slinked back online and tracked it down, curious to how many I’ve read and how many I have to go:
The “BBC’s 100 books you need to read before you die” list:
(Note: Bolded titles are ones that I have read; Italicised titles are ones that I have started but never finished.)
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 Faulk
18. Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger
19. The Time Traveler’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger
20. Middlemarch – George Eliot
21. Gone With The Wind – Margaret Mitchell
22. The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald
24. War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy
25. The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
27. Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28. Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck
29. Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Caroll
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
37. The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini
38. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis De Bernieres
39. Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden
40. Winnie the Pooh – A.A. 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 Inferno – Dante
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 – E.B. 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 (In French)
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
So, with eighty down and nineteen to go (for after attempting the Harry Potter books many times in my life I have zero intention of ever going back to try to finish them!) I realised I couldn’t write a post scolding myself over being a literary ignoramus because, quite frankly, eighty is an almighty achievement I should be proud of!
But as I re-read the list the anomalies I noticed all those years ago still stood out. Why is Hamlet included at (98) when The Completed Works of William Shakespeare is at (14)? Why is The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe on the list (36) when three places earlier there is the Chronicles of Narnia (33)? Why in God’s Earth is The Da Vinci Code on this list (42) when, after reading it, you are likely to be overwhelmed with an urge to gouge your eyeballs out with a spoon? Where is Brideshead Revisited? Where is The Forsythe Saga? Where is The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay? Where the hell is Matilda?
Someone seriously needs to be spanked for that almighty error!
So, I have decided to write an addition to this list. An extra twenty titles that I think should be read before one wanders off this mortal coil:
Addy’s “Twenty more books you need to read before you die” list:
1. Matilda – Roald Dahl
Every single human being on the planet should read this book. No exceptions, no excuses. It is a sublime work of genius!
2. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay – Michal Chabon
A stunning achievement in every conceivable sense that should be on everyone’s ‘before I die’ reading list.
3. The Forsythe Saga – John Galsworthy
As I mentioned earlier, I haven’t read it, but I’ve been told (on trusted authority) that it’s excellent.
4. Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh
See (3) above.
5. Little, Big – John Crowley
One of the forefathers of Urban Fantasy and a work of immense imagination and beauty.
6. Voss – Patrick White
A novel of extraordinary power and virtuosity.
7. Fifty Shades of Grey – E.L. James
Purely so people can understand the damage that bad writing and disgusting stereotyping can cause!
8. Artemis Fowl Series – Eoin Colfer
A children’s series that was (unfortunately) eclipsed by the boy wizard phenomenon. Which is a shame, because it’s much, much better!
9. The Sleeping Beauty Trilogy – Anne Rice (writing as A.N Roquelaure)
So people who have read E.L. James can see how it should be done.
10. Thongs – Alexander Trocchi
11. Infinite Jest – David Foster Wallace
Don’t be intimidated by its size…it’s worth the effort :)
12. The Stornoway Way – Kevin McNeil
Contemporary Scottish fiction at it’s finest.
13. Lanark: A Life in Four Books – Alasdair Gray
See (12) above.
14. Glue – Irvine Welsh
See (13) and (12) above :p
15. The Raven – Edgar Allen Poe
Yes, it’s a poem, not a book. But seriously, you have to read this before you die!
16. The 13½ Lives of Captain Bluebear – Walter Moers
Ingenious, delightful, imaginative, compelling, inspiring. All the reasons why someone should read a book in the first place.
17. The Fatal Shore – Robert Hughes
Fascinating and brilliantly written book detailing the early convict history of Australia.
18. The Slap – Christos Tsiolkas
Personally, I didn’t like it (hence why I couldn’t finish it)…but why not make your own mind up.
19. The Mists of Avalon – Marion Zimmer Bradley
Quite possibly the best retelling of the Arthurian legend, ever!
20. ‘Anything’ – Robert Louis Stevenson
Anything is not a book title. Anything means absolutely anything from this author, whom I am stunned is not included on the BBCs list. My personal recommendation would be Kidnapped (as I’m a sucker for Scottish historical) but Treasure Island, Catriona and The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde are also worth every second of your time.
So, with all that said, all we need to do is convince people in this era of technological overload that reading is still one of the greatest past-times known to human kind. Perhaps if only we could break it to these people by degrees we would be able to get more people reading these wonderful works of fiction.
(Okay, apologies for that. But I realised I hadn’t technically worked the line into the post so had to squeeze it in somehow, sort of!)
What about you? How many of the BBC’s books have you read? And do you have any that you think should be on the list?