Wednesday, June 4, 2008

The Literary Trail

As many of you may already know, I recently wrote about a personal literary mission to complete the Modern Library's Best 100 Novels, Time Magazine's Top 100 Novels, and the Booker Prize winners and shortlisted fiction lists. Theoretically, this constantly growing list could currently contain 434 books (although there aren't quite that many due to some overlaps).

Most of my friends have deemed me insane and one friend even said I had condemned myself to perpetual serfdom by choosing a reading goal that only continues to grow by six novels each year but I'm excited to meet the challenge. I've been especially slow on the Booker Prize list thus far but in the next couple months my focus will shift and you'll see my completion list in relation to the Booker grow exponentially (at least after I finish Augie March, which I've just begun). As I do so I will record my progress.

Completion Lists stand as follows:

Booker Prize (229 left)

1. Loitering with Intent by Muriel Spark
2. The Life of Pi by Yann Martel
3. The Gathering by Anne Enright
4. The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid
5. The Industry of Souls by Martin Booth

Modern Library (10 of 100 - 90 left)

1. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
2. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
3. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
4. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
5. 1984 by George Orwell
6. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
7. Animal Farm by George Orwell
8. Lord of the Flies by William Golding
9. Portnoy's Complaint by Philip Roth
10. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

Time Magazine List (21 of 100 - 79 left)
1. Animal Farm by George Orwell
2. Beloved by Toni Morrison
3. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
4. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
5. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
6. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
7. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
8. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
9. Money by Martin Amis
10. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
11. Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
12. 1984 by George Orwell
13. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
14. Lord of the Flies by William Golding
15. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey
16. Portnoy's Complaint by Philip Roth
17. Possession by A.S. Byatt
18. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
19. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
20. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
21. To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

In the overall drive I have 403 books left (not taking into account list overlaps, which is still possible). I've read 40 books since the end of last summer and I consider myself well read, but I'm starting to wonder what I ever could have read before I started these lists. I'm also wondering if I could get some sort of publisher to give me some sort of scholarship for taking on this reading endeavor. People get money for riding their bike, right? Maybe there's some sort of scholarship opportunity here...

I finished The Industry of Souls just minutes ago and it was truly beautiful. Martin Booth is an extraordinary writer and his characters are well developed and full of nuggets of simple wisdom that only once felt cliched.

My favorite line is, "And I raise my glass to them, to the past, to the times you would think I should rather forget and yet which I cannot because I do not wish to. For, if I forget the past, I forget them - Work Unit 8 in Sosnogorsklag 32 - and that would not be right."

I also liked the way the protagonist at one point says...CAUTION: SPOILER: "...with another sum to be placed in trust to provide two scholarships per annum for pupils to travel and see the world, that they, like me, can come to understand that there is evil and there is goodness, to learn the lesson that if you kill something of beauty, two uglinesses spring up in its place."


Now for the tunes. Many of you have probably already heard of Hot Chip, but if you haven't and you'd like to be on the cutting edge of indie bands then check them out. Sometimes I think they're an acquired taste, but I enjoy their upbeat, electro infused feel. It's nice background lounge music, although I'm not sure if most people say they like them just to be cool. What I especially like about this band though, is their aptitude for trippy music videos. See "Ready For the Floor" for visual amazement:


Joseph said...

I felt compelled to pick a favourite from the ones you already read. I am torn between the Lord of the Rings and Things Fall Apart. I don't really care about what that says about me.