Goal #5 Progress

The fifth goal in my 101 things to do in 1001 days project is to read all of the books on the Time Magazine Top 100 Books list. I’ve been working on this list for a little while now, but have fallen by the wayside a little bit in choosing these books when deciding what to read next. I’ve gone through the list and bolded the titles that I’ve already read. I’m going to try to work some of the unread titles into my upcoming reading list so that I can catch up…

    The Adventures of Augie March by Saul Bellow
    All the King’s Men by Robert Penn Warren
    American Pastoral by Philip Roth
    An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser
    Animal Farm by George Orwell
    Appointment in Samarra by John O’Hara
    Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume
    The Assistant by Bernard Malamud
    At Swim-Two-Birds by Flann O’Brien
    Atonement by Ian McEwan
    Beloved by Toni Morrison
    The Berlin Stories by Christopher Isherwood
    The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler
    The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood
    Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy
    Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh
    The Bridge of San Luis Rey by Thornton Wilder
    Call It Sleep by Henry Roth
    Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
    The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
    A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
    The Confessions of Nat Turner by William Styron
    The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen
    The Crying of Lot 49 by Thomas Pynchon
    A Dance to the Music of Time by Anthony Powell
    The Day of the Locust by Nathanael West
    Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather
    A Death in the Family by James Agee
    The Death of the Heart by Elizabeth Bowen
    Deliverance by James Dickey
    Dog Soldiers by Robert Stone
    Falconer by John Cheever
    The French Lieutenant’s Woman by John Fowles
    The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing
    Go Tell it on the Mountain by James Baldwin
    Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
    The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
    Gravity’s Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon
    The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
    A Handful of Dust by Evelyn Waugh
    The Heart is A Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers
    The Heart of the Matter by Graham Greene
    Herzog by Saul Bellow
    Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson
    A House for Mr. Biswas by V.S. Naipaul
    I, Claudius by Robert Graves
    Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace
    Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
    Light in August by William Faulkner
    The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
    Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
    Lord of the Flies by William Golding
    The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
    Loving by Henry Green
    Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis
    The Man Who Loved Children by Christina Stead
    Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie
    Money by Martin Amis
    The Moviegoer by Walker Percy
    Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
    Naked Lunch by William Burroughs
    Native Son by Richard Wright
    Neuromancer by William Gibson
    Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
    1984 by George Orwell
    On the Road by Jack Kerouac
    One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey
    The Painted Bird by Jerzy Kosinski
    Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov
    A Passage to India by E.M. Forster
    Play It As It Lays by Joan Didion
    Portnoy’s Complaint by Philip Roth
    Possession by A.S. Byatt
    The Power and the Glory by Graham Greene
    The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark
    Rabbit, Run by John Updike
    Ragtime by E.L. Doctorow
    The Recognitions by William Gaddis
    Red Harvest by Dashiell Hammett
    Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates
    The Sheltering Sky by Paul Bowles
    Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut
    Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson
    The Sot-Weed Factor by John Barth
    The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
    The Sportswriter by Richard Ford
    The Spy Who Came in From the Cold by John le Carre
    The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
    Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
    Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
    To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
    To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf
    Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller
    Ubik by Philip K. Dick
    Under the Net by Iris Murdoch
    Under the Volcano by Malcolm Lowry
    Watchmen by Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons
    White Noise by Don DeLillo
    White Teeth by Zadie Smith
    Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys

How many of these books have you read? Any suggestions as to which I should start with first?

Recent Reads

I am happy with how my ’50 Book Challenge’ is progressing so far, having completed more than the necessary average of books per week so far this year. Here are some mini reviews of the books that I have read so far in 2011. (note: My copy of The Collector by John Fowles is not pictured, as I have leant it to a friend to read).

American Subversive by David Goodwillie
I picked this book up at a bookshop and was lured in by the interesting cover art. Thankfully it wasn’t too much of a let down (as it can sometimes be when you judge a book by it’s cover) and I did enjoy the book as a whole. The concept of the book seemed really interesting to me, but in my opinion the execution didn’t really live up to the storyline. The basic plot is that in a post 9/11 New York City a bomb is detonated in a building, and the media immediately assumes and points the finger at a middle eastern extremist group. A political blogger receives an email with an attached picture of a caucasian woman crossing the street in front of the bombed building, and the message “This is Paige Roderick, she is the one responsible.” I like the character development in the book, but found the lack of action quite boring and at times frustrating.

The Collector by John Fowles
I initially read this book in my highschool English Literature class, and had re-read it over the years, but for some reason I picked up a lot more about the story during this re-read than ever before. For one thing, I had always thought that the book took place in modern day Australia, but it’s in fact set in London in the 1960’s. I also found the story and theme of the book far more chilling than I ever did before. The story is split narrative between a middle aged sociopathic man and the 20 year old girl that he becomes obsessed with, and later kidnaps. I really enjoyed this book and got through it rather quickly (I think I finished it in 2-3 days) and the ending was as haunting as always.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusac
The immediate front-runner for my favourite book of 2011, The Book Thief was so incredible that I now count it amoung my favourite books of all time. (ALL TIME! …Okay, pipe down Kanye) I don’t think I’ve ever been as emotionally wrecked by a story as I was by The Book Thief, except perhaps while reading The Road by Cormac McCarthy, which was another emotionally gruelling literary adventure. The character development in this story was second to none, and it was probably due to my attachment to the characters that I felt so shattered at the end of the book. The Book Thief is narrated by death (if that doesn’t draw you in immediately, I’m not sure what will) and revolves around a young girl called Liesel and her life in Germany during WW2. I absolutely loved this book, and would recommend it to all who are in the market for a good read.

Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank
I purchased this book as it was on one of the “top apocalyptic fiction” lists that I found online, and I’d read quite a few good reviews of the story on different book blogs. It’s set in the US in the 1950’s in a post-apocalyptic scenario that occurs after a nuclear war between Russia and the United States. As with most pre-21st century apocalyptic fiction, it wasn’t as exciting as I’d hoped, and dealt more with the coping mechanisms of the small country town than anything else. Having said that, it did a good job to translate the era difference despite the constant reminders as to how pathetic women are (thanks, 1950’s mentality) and the subject of segregation which is something I have a hard time relating to in this day and age. The ending was quite poignant and tied everything together nicely for me.

What are you reading at the moment? Any good book suggestions for me?

Books!

I know, I know, I know. I said that I was not going to be buying any more books for a while and yet, here we are. My justification is that in part of my new budget I have allowed myself book purchases at the start of every month. And what do you know, it’s the 1st of January! (happy new year, by the way) I am partaking in the 50 book challenge in 2011, so I will need plenty of new books to keep me going throughout the year. The 4 books I’ve ordered today all include some of my favourite themes – apocalypse, alien invasion and zombies. Awesome. Nothing too brain straining, but if I’m going to get through 50 books this year they can’t all be literary classics.