Reading classics

For several weeks, my husband’s Gmail status has read, “4 legs good, 2 legs bad.” Yesterday, someone asked him what that meant. While discussing the classic book that spawned that line, he discovered someone else who’d never heard of it. Flabbergasted, he walked around his office asking people if they’d read that book. Half his office had never heard of it. By his estimate, of the other half that did know what book the line came from, only a third had actually read it.

Know the book? If you don’t, Bing it and then read it. Now.*

A couple of months ago a friend of mine suggested that I read Nabokov’s Lolita. I finally got around to it just before the family headed to the Jersey Shore for our last vacation. Two weeks later, the book is due back to the library and I still can’t finish it. Nabokov’s writing is beautiful and compelling, but as the mother of a young girl, I find the subject matter deeply disturbing. It’s rare that I don’t finish a book that I start, especially one with stellar prose, but Lolita gives me pause.

A few weeks ago, a book-lover’s meme on Facebook proclaimed that the BBC believed most people had only read 6 of 100 classic books. The list was questionable with repeats and complete works counting as one, but anyway. … The highest score I’ve seen so far is 39. I came in at what I considered a shameful 35. I plan on rectifying that. After I finish Lolita, I’m going to hit up some classics. I hope I can finish those. Oh, and the book my husband quoted is on the list as well.

Here’s the BBC list and where I stack up:

1 Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen (X)
2 The Lord of the Rings -J.R.R. Tolkien (X)
3 Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte (X)
4 Harry Potter series – JK Rowling (X)
5 To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee (X)
6 The Bible (Does most count?)
7 Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four – George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations – Charles Dickens (I never finished this)


11 Little Women – Louisa M Alcott
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy (X)
13 Catch 22 – Joseph Heller (X)
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare (I’ve read a lot of them)
15 Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien (X)
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
23 Bleak House – Charles Dickens
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 Carroll (X)
30 The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame (X)

Total- 2

31 Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield – Charles Dickens (Also never finished this one)
33 Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis (X)
34 Emma – Jane Austen
35 Persuasion – Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe – CS Lewis (X)
37 The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden (X)
40 Winnie the Pooh – AA Milne (X)


41 Animal Farm – George Orwell (X)
42 The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown (X)
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez (X)
44 A Prayer for Owen Meany – John Irving
45 The Woman in White – Wilkie Collin
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 (X)
58 Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime – Mark Haddon (X)
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez (X)


61 Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck (X)
62 Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov (This is next on my reading list!)
63 The Secret History – Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold (my mother gave this to me years ago)
65 Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road – Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy (I’ve read other Hardy, but not this one)
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 (X)
73 The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett (X)
74 Notes From A Small Island – Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses – James Joyce (X)
76 The Inferno – Dante (X)
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 (X)
82 Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple – Alice Walker (X)
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 (X)
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 (X)
92 The Little Prince – Antoine De Saint-Exupery (X)
93 The Wasp Factory – Iain Banks
94 Watership Down – Richard Adams (X)
95 A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole (X: I HATED this book.)
96 A Town Like Alice – Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers
98 Hamlet – William Shakespeare (X)
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (X)
100 Les Miserables — Victor Hugo (X)


Grand total- 35 (Kind of pathetic considering my career is books)

*Oh, and I have now given up Google searches for Bing searches. I like it MUCH better.