I’ve finally done it – read 10 new books on the 1,001 Books to Read Before You Die list. These were my final three:
Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
Their Eyes Were Watching God reminded me of The Awakening in the way that they both focused on women who acted against society’s expectations in pursuits of their own happiness. Or maybe not happiness, maybe more satisfaction and freedom. They were both great. Highly recommended.
The Secret History by Donna Tartt
This was another one of those mystery “cheats”, set at a small liberal arts college in New England and focused on a close-knit group of friends. It reminded me of The Likeness a lot, to the extent that I wondered if Tana French, who wrote The Likeness had read The Secret History. Both are good. Tartt has another book – the Little Friend that I haven’t read, but would definitely pick up someday.
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
Jane Eyre is one of those classics that I read on DailyLit and thoroughly enjoyed. I wonder if I would have liked these Classics as much if I had read them for school. I think I wouldn’t have, that it would have felt too forced, but I’m glad that I’m reading them now. It bothered me that Eyre called Mr. Rochester her “master”, but otherwise I was hooked – and surprisingly unspoiled when it came to plot. It surprised me to discover that I didn’t really know what was going to happen, which seems so unlikely with such a well known book.
So it only it only took me a year and a half, but I managed to finish the challenge (albeit only having read 2 of the books on my original list). Now I’ll need to find another one. I’d liked that this pushed me to read things I wouldn’t normally have tried and I’d like something else that does that in the year ahead.
I’ve read 3 more books on the 1,001 Books to Read Before You Die list. Bringing me up to a whopping .7% Well Read in the challenge. They were:
The Awakening by Kate Chopin. Another DailyLit special and one I loved. The Awakening was recommended to me by a friend from high school many, many years ago and I can’t believe it had taken me this long to read it. It’s one of the few books that I could picture myself rereading some day.
The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins, also from DailyLit. My neighbor’s dad had recommended Wilkie Collins to me last summer and I was excited to find him on the list – and writing mysteries. Mysteries I think of as my “Well Read” cheat. Which brings up to…
Murder Must Advertise by Dorothy Sayers, which is one of two Sayers mysteries on the list. I’ve already read the other – The Nine Tailors. This was an amusing one, set in an advertising agency. It was a good mystery, although I was a bit lost in the chapter that took place during a cricket game. (Picture me going: “I have no idea what that means.”) In any event, I am happy to have discovered Sayers through this list, but I don’t understand why she has two mysteries on the list to Agatha Christie’s one. They are pretty similar and I have to say I slightly prefer the Christie mysteries I’ve read.
In any event, three more books down. 3 more to go. I’m certainly not going to complete the challenge in the one per month time frame, but it’s still amusing to keep slogging away at it – and I have discovered some books that I really love (Anna Karenina, The Awakening) that I probably would never have gotten around to reading otherwise.
I just finished the Princess of Cleves, which was one of those 1,001 Books to Read Before You Die. I picked it because it is supposed to be the first European Novel, published in 1678, and it was available on DailyLit.
While I’m sure that back in 1678, this was a welcome and popular read, I can’t say that it’s held up to the test of time. The writing isn’t particularly brilliant and the plot of court intrigued and doomed love among nobles was tedious.
Perhaps important to read if you were studying the history of the Novel, but simply as a book to enjoy, there is nothing to recommend it.
The Nine Tailors is a mystery by Dorothy L. Sayers. It was first published in 1934, and is set an English village. It involves a lot of “change-ringing” which is what you call the ringing of church bells apparently (when there is more than one church bell and it is done in an organized way). Despite a lack of interest in bells, I thought the book was a well-written, well-crafted mystery.
I originally read about the book here, but was pleasantly surprised halfway through to discover that is was on the 1,001 Books to Read Before You Die, so I’ve knocked another one off the list, without even really intending to. As a side note those Top 10 lists by various authors on the Guardian website are really great. Check them all out here.
There are actually two book by Sayers on the list, and only one by Agatha Christie, which surprised me because I was totally unfamiliar with Sayers, but now that I have read her, she reminds me of Agatha Christie.
Also on both the linked list from Kostova and the 1,001 Books list is The Secret History, which sounded good to me and may get read shortly. I totally feel like I am cheating at this challenge (in addition to being totally slow, hence ruining the “challenge” aspect), but I am enjoying the fact that there are mysteries that will fulfill the requirements!
Hey! Remember the 1% Well Read Challenge? Well, me neither, judging by how little “well-read” reading I’ve been doing. But! I finished another book last week – Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (another DailyLit special). Is it sacrilege to say that I liked Northanger Abbey better? Cause I really did. I got into Pride and Prejudice more by the end, but it just didn’t have the bite that I enjoyed in my first Jane Austen book. I have started a third book (The Princess of Cleves) from DailyLit for the Challenge, which I am really not loving so far. Also, note how what I’m reading so far bears almost no resemblance to the list I started out with…
I think it’s safe to say that at the rate I am currently going, I’ll be 1% Well Read sometime in 2010.
The first book completed in my 1% Well Read Challenge (which I am mostly ignoring to read other things)! I had never read Jane Austen before, and I picked this particular title, simply because it was available on DailyLit. (I love DailyLit. I am always reading a book from there.)
Let me just say, I don’t know what took me so long. I love Jane Austen. She is just so brilliantly scathing, skewering people so nicely that you almost don’t notice her total contempt for them. Films clearly do not do her justice, because they have never interested me too much. I cannot wait to read more of her. As in, some other book may get kicked off my 1% Well Read list to make room. I know we have a copy of Emma in the house.
What other really good “classics” have I missed out on over the years?
Because I am a big, old nerd, I have been inspired to starting blogging by the 1% Well-Read Challenge. Basically the challenge is to read 10 books off of the 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die list in the next 10 months.
I spent a very enjoyable afternoon reviewing the list and came up with the following list of books to read in the next 10 months:
1. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
2. The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen
3. The Hours by Michael Cunningham
4. Their Eyes Were Watching God – Zora Neale Hurston
5. The Sound and the Fury – William Faulkner
6. Something by Jane Austen – The options on the list are:
-Pride and Prejudice
-Sense and Sensibility
7. Something by James Joyce
-Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
8. Something by Doris Lessing
-The Diary of Jane Somers
-The Golden Notebook
-The Grass is Singing
9. Something by Flannery O’Connor
-Everything that Rises Must Converge
-The Violent Bear It Away
10. Something by Salman Rushdie
-The Ground Beneath Her Feet
-The Moor’s Last Sigh
-The Satanic Verses
I know we have copies of The Corrections, The Hours, and The Sound and the Fury in the house, so that’s easy. And I settled on Northhanger Abbey and Ulysses as my Austen and Joyce picks because both of those books are available on DailyLit.
We’ll see how it goes. Should be fun.