Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Open Comment Thread: Books Belle Should Read

Dear Readers,

You all are far more literate than I am. Mainly because I stopped being an English major in June, 2002, and became a Law Student. Throughout law school, I didn't read nearly enough fiction, due to all the cases and law review articles I had to read. I read maybe 10 books a year, and mostly during the summer when I wasn't working. I've been reading quite a bit more since May, 2005, but it's mostly been filling in the gaps in Western Canon reading. I did this thing where I re-read a bunch of books from my childhood too, and let me tell you, Madame Bovary is better at 25 than it was at the age of 11. At least, I think I "got" it more. Also, plowing through a bunch of Dickens and Dostoevsky (a couple of re-reads, some for the first time) took some time (and I didn't even finish all of Dickens!). And I added non-fiction (mostly law and political science) books to the menu, which took even more time.

I am not as literate as I would like to be. I certainly am not aware of all the good stuff out there. I have huge gaps in my reading list. I am also gearing up for 2008, when I will start The Fifty Book Challenge. These will be 50 NEW books, not re-reads. I am not going to count non-fiction, because it is cheating if I add sociology or legal texts that I use for work. This is to be purely recreational reading, and that means fiction. I will probably be able to go over 50 books, because I tend to procrastinate by reading since I don't watch TV. But I would appreciate your suggestions, you literate, self-congratulating, pushy people.

For instance, I have never heard of this David Markson author that I should be reading according to John B. and Ben Wolfson. Any other authors come to mind that you think an educated, literate Belle simply must read?I am sure I will be able to come up with a list of classics, but I ask you for suggestions for:

1. Authors/works I must read from the 20th century
2. Authors/works I must read from countries other than England or America from any period
3. Authors/works in genres I have not yet explored, e.g. science fiction, fantasy, mystery.
4. Works in awesome authors' oeuvres that I may have glanced over
5. Anything else you think I should read, even if you think I have read it.
6. Short story collections count.

I tend to knock out authors one at a time, but lately I've been too attached to buying books rather than borrowing, which limits this method. When I was in high school, I read everything by John Irving thanks to the Suburban Public Library. This was largely a waste of time, but I couldn't have known that then. Currently, I am interested in reading (almost) everything written by:

1. Thomas Hardy (I've only read a few)
2. Charles Dickens (I've only read half)
3. J.M. Coetzee
4. Ian MacEwan
5. George Eliot
6. Henry James
7. Joyce Carol Oates
8. Anthony Trollope
9. Evelyn Waugh
10. Nikolai Gogol
11. H. Murakami

Books on the list, some of which I may get through before The Fifty Book Challenge:

1. The March
2. Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell
3. A Room With A View
4. Samedi The Deafness
5. The Master

Make the suggestions now, so that I can scour the used bookstores in Liberal College City during my week of break before I fly home to visit my parents in the Intellectual Deathtrap. But during the winter break, I will be driving 20 miles or so to meet up with The Roving Commenter in Random Port City, where exists a large, amazing used bookstore that according to TRC rivals Powell's in Oregon.


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