Monday, November 30, 2009

Filling in the Gaps -- What I Said and What I Read

Back in April, I joined a group of readers who, at Moonrat's suggestion made lists of 100 books to "fill in the gaps" in their reading lists. I am such a fickle reader that I knew it was unlikely I'd work my way through my own list with any consistency. There's a list of books I've read in 2009 at the sidebar and clearly, I have a short attention span. What was I thinking when I read The Iliad (not on the list) instead of The Odyssey? On the other hand, Proust, Pynchon and Wallace were no walk in the park.

Nevertheless, here's the list of 100 I came up with April with the books I've read since then in bold font:

1. The Odyssey, by Homer
2. The Oresteia, by Aeschylus
3. Oedipus the King, by Sophocles
4. Medea, by Euripides
5. The Aeneid, by Virgil
6. The Confessions, by Saint Augustine
7. The Divine Comedy, by Dante
8. The Prince, by Niccolo Machiavelli
9. Don Quixote, by Miguel de Cervantes
10. Utopia, by Sir Thomas More
11. Plays and Poems, William Shakespeare
12. Paradise Lost, by John Milton
13. The Misanthrope, by Moliere
14. Pensees, by Blaise Pascal
15. Phaedra, by Jean Racine
16. Candide, by Voltaire
17. Faust, Parts One and Two, by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
18. Cousin Bette, by Honore de Balzac
19. The Charterhouse of Parma, by Stendhal
20. Madame Bovary, by Gustave Flaubert
21. The Haunted Pool, George Sand
22. Bleak House, by Charles Dickens
23. Essays, Matthew Arnold
24. The Stones of Venice, John Ruskin
25. Marius the Epicurean, by Walter Pater
26. On Liberty, by John Stuart Mill
27. The Way We Live Now, by Anthony Trollope
28. The Picture of Dorian Gray
29. Middlemarch, by George Eliot
30. Dead Souls, by Nikolay Gogol
31. The Brothers Karamazov, by Fyodor Dostoevsky
32. War and Peace, by Leo Tolstoy
33. The Tales, by Anton Chekhov
32. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, by Frederick Douglass
33. The Awakening, by Kate Chopin
34. The Portrait of a Lady, by Henry James
35. The Varieties of Religious Experience, William James
36. Invisible Cities, by Italo Calvino
37. Baltasar and Blimunda, by Jose Saramago
38. In Search of Lost Time, by Marcel Proust (I've read volumes 1 - 3)
39. Nausea, by Jean-Paul Sartre
40. The Second Sex, by Simone de Beauvoir
41. The Plague, The Fall, Exile and the Kingdom, Essays by Albert Camus
42. Jude the Obscure, by Thomas Hardy
43. Howards End, by E.M. Forster
44. Mrs. Dalloway, by Virginia Woolf
45. Ulysses, by James Joyce
46. Three Novels: Molloy, Malone Dies, The Unnamable, by Samuel Beckett
47. The Golden Notebook, by Doris Lessing
48. The Complete Stories, by Franz Kafka
49. Doctor Faustus, by Thomas Mann
50. The Man Without Qualities, by Robert Musil
51. The Tin Drum, by Gunter Grass
52. The Master and the Margarita, by Mikhail Bulgakov
53. Collected Stories, by Isaac Babel
54. The Cancer Ward, by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
55. Hunger, by Knut Hamsun
56. Barabbas, by Par Lagerkvist
57. The Unbearable Lightness of Being, by Milan Kundera
58. Ficciones, by Jorge Luis Borges
59. Canto General, by Pablo Neruda
60. A House for Mr. Biswas, by V.S. Naipaul
61. Things Fall Apart, by Chinua Achebe
62. Foe, by J.M. Coetzee
63. Midnight's Children, by Salman Rushdie
64. Under the Volcano, by Malcom Lowry
65. Surfacing, by Margaret Atwood
66. The Age of Innocence, by Edith Wharton
67. My Antonia, by Willa Cather
68. The Making of Americans, by Gertrude Stein
69. Sister Carrie, by Theodore Dreiser
70. Winesburg, Ohio, by Sherwood Anderson
71. The Cantos, by Ezra Pound
72. Collected Stories, by Katherine Anne Porter
73. The Sound and the Fury, by William Faulkner
74. Their Eyes Were Watching God, by Zora Neale Hurston
75. Herzog, by Saul Bellow
76. Invisible Man, by Ralph Ellison
77. The Recognitions, by William Gaddis
78. The Left Hand of Darkness, by Ursula K. Le Guin
79. Gravity's Rainbow, by Thomas Pynchon
80. Zuckerman Bound: A Trilogy and Epilogue, by Philip Roth
81. Rabbit Angstrom: The Four Novels, by John Updike
82. Angels in America, by Tony Kushner
83. Infinite Jest, by David Foster Wallace
84. The Sea, The Sea, by Iris Murdoch
85. Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, by Annie Dillard
86. Beloved, by Toni Morrison
87. The Emigrants, by W.G. Sebald
88. The Age of Reason, by John-Paul Sartre
89. American Pastoral, by Philip Roth
90. Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte
91. War and Peace, by Leo Nikolayevich Tolstoy
92. Walden Pond, by Henry David Thoreau
93. Selected Works, by Ralph Waldo Emerson
94. Tristram Shandy, by Laurence Sterne
95. An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, by David Hume
96. Suite Francaise, by Irene Nemirov
97. Tree of Smoke, by Denis Johnson
98. Exit Ghost, by Philip Roth
99. A Mercy, by Toni Morrison
100. Cat's Cradle, by Kurt Vonnegut

I suppose it's time to revisit and revise this list -- at least so I can replace some of the titles I'll probably never read with some I already have.

Somehow I've gotten it into my head that in January there may be a big online reading of Roberto BolaƱo's 2666. Anyone interested?


susan said...

I may be up for 2666 unless I've landed another full time job.

susan said...

On the other hand, just noted that you've read 75 books in 2008 and 45 so far in 2009; I'm just not that quick a reader so there'd be no was I'd keep up with you!

Sonya said...

I'm interested in an online read of 2666. I read Dracula with the Infinite Summer people and it was fun.

cynthia newberry martin said...

So nice to have a new post!

I'm curious how you went about making the list and how much time you spent on it. Is it fill in the gaps to be well read across the spectrum of all literature? Or just random books that you think you should have read? And if I understand it correctly, this list would be different for everyone because everyone is starting from a different list of books they've already read, right?

I want to make a list for me.

Also nice point about the variance between the books we want to read in theory versus the books we actually read.

Charles Gramlich said...

Wow, that's a heavy duty list. As for my reading list, it's totally full for the forseeable future, but I'm also pretty fickle. Who knows what I'll choose next.

Anonymous said...

Great list ... just to let you know that you've got War and Peace on the list twice - 32 & 91.

tomawesome said...

hope your eyes last long enough! good list -- I've read or am reading quite a few on there.

debra said...

That's quite a list, Lisa. I've read a few---not so many. My list varies---most of my reading is done before I go to sleep. Sleep often wins, and my TBR pile stays tall.

AM said...

Arrived here via Matt Bucher: liked the feeling of finding a kindred spirit (somewhat corny, maybe, but my vocab might need an updating as far as street cred goes) - so this is my stone.:)

Steve Malley said...

Wow. You and the Dynamo certainly have a thing for heavy duty readin's. :)

I like your list, makes me kinda jealous. Lists and I don't get along-- my last book always leads me to my next, impaired by neither rhyme nor reason...

Riss said...

Hey lady! I'm glad to see you're still interested in your blog over here (c: I, too, like your list of books to read. I'm actually working on Goethe right's tough. But it's interesting. I hope everything is going smoothly for you over there in the Rockies. Get out and enjoy some winter playtime for me!

Jen Deaderick said...

The benefits of a BFA in theatre is that I've read all that Greek stuff.

I make a stab at reading Middlemarch every few years. Once got about 130 pages in. Most recently took it out of the library, lost it under the couch, then returned it very late without reading a word. Maybe next year.

Lisa said...

Susan, Well then I hope for one or the other. And no worries on rushing through 2666. Matthew Baldwin, the guy who set up the "Infinite Summer" reading project for INFINITE JEST is going to launch a reading group for 2666. People took from June through September to read IJ and I'm sure there will be a leisurely pace set for 2666 too. Matter of fact, you could probably get a full time job and read the book.

Sonya, Same people! Hey, and now that we know we're practically within walking distance, we can even meet up and talk about it like the NYC and SF folk do :)

Cynthia, I think I'll revise this list in the New Year, but I'll tell you where this one came from. I've been jotting down book titles forever when I run across them in other books I'm reading. Books like Francine Prose's READING LIKE A WRITER bumped the list up and then finally, I ended up with a copy of Harold Bloom's THE WESTERN CANON. When @moonrat got the "Fill in the Gaps" project started, I listed what I had and then went into Bloom's Canon and filled in more until I got to 100. My revision is probably going to have more modernists and postmodernists.

Charles, I know what you mean. I have a list and can't stick to it!

Anonymous, Thanks for pointing that out. Now if I treat this the way I treat my to-do lists for work, I'll just replace the duplicate with a book I've already read and then cross it off the list.

Tom, I'll bet you have. I've found so many people through "Infinite Summer" and on Twitter in general who are voracious readers. I think you all just enable my book buying addiction, but I love it.

Debra, I sometimes go for weeks when I stay up all night reading and get a lot of reading done over the weekends and at other times it seems like I get hardly any done at all. Summertime is best because I like to sit outside and read. In the winter, I tend to get sleepy sooner.

AM, Glad you are here! I have found a whole lot of kindred spirits the same way. I don't think it's corny at all.

Steve, Nice to see you! It's been a while. The list gives me a very temporary delusion that I'm somehow in control. I'm not.

Riss, I don't know why I find it so difficult to come back here and post something. I did it daily for a long time. I think it's because I'm becoming...something else. When do you head back this way to visit Denver again?

Jen, It's too bad you missed out on @moonrat's MIDDLEMARCH read a few months ago. I was tied up reading INFINITE JEST at the time so I missed it too. The Greek stuff -- I never read any of it. I started in and liked the first plays I read, but I'm not sure I want to go back and read everything I listed! Thank you for stopping by and it's nice to "meet you".

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Literary Quote

It is worth mentioning, for future reference, that the creative power which bubbles so pleasantly in beginning a new book quiets down after a time, and one goes on more steadily. Doubts creep in. Then one becomes resigned. Determination not to give in, and the sense of an impending shape keep one at it more than anything.

Virginia Woolf