Tuesday 7 September 2010

Top Ten Books I Can't Believe I've Never Read

I'm really a somewhat haphazard book blogger. I've blogged a couple of books here. I really should get around to starting a blog about my experiences reading 1001 Children's Books You Must Read Before You Grow Up. I think that would make a half decent and interesting blog. It's an amazing ride, and I will be much better read, if not Grown Up at the end of it.

I do follow a number of excellent book blogs, for both adult and childrens books, but I do that haphazardly too- it all takes so much time. Similarly, I'm not much of a meme reader or follower. I'm not even sure why they're called memes. But this one has been nagging at me for a few weeks. I came across it on the wonderful Deb Nance's readerbuzz blog. I found her list both interesting and inspiring. Imagine having never read Enid Blyton! It's almost unimaginable for an Australian of my vintage. But of course we share many similar holes in our reading too.

I've been having random thoughts about what I should put on this list for a few weeks. I'm not sure how I'm going to round out my Top Ten at this stage, but let's have a look, and see where it takes us.

1. The Bible

Yes it's true. I can hear the shocked intakes of air. I'm pretty sure that I read some childrens bible stories when I was a child, but I've never read a Bible as such. Or The Koran, or whatever it is that the other major religions read.

2. Dickens

Yes, ALL of it. Well, I have read half of Bleak House twice, and it is just about the best book I've never read. I'm planning to read A Christmas Carol this December, perhaps that will count for something.

I've read it now!
see my review

3.The Diary of Young Girl
Shame. Shame. Shame

4. The French Classics.
I think to convey the gaps in my reading from here on in I must largely use clusters of books, rather than individual books or authors. I am a Francophile, tis true. And yet, I've read so very little of their literature -modern or classic it must be said, but the classics seems the bigger omission at the moment. I've dabbled at the edges of this wonderful French world. I read Madame Bovary last year, and it was a revelation. Not just the descriptors of 19th century French life, or the casual mentions of famous French surgeons, who are now more known because of their eponyms than their actual deeds. But my goodness, I have yet to come across an English language equivalent to Emma Bovary. Currently I'm two thirds of the way through The Three Musketeers, and this is just as scandalous. It's a ripping yarn. These two little glimpses into the vast array of French Classic Literature make me hungry for more. I want to read Hugo, Zola, Moliere, de Maupassant, Proust, Verne. Sadly of course it will all be in English translation. But one day, perhaps one day, my French will be good enough again to let me try reading in the original.

5. Australian Childrens Classics
This is not to say that I have read every adult Aussie classic that I should have either. I've read only one Patrick White. It was of course a herculean effort on my behalf and took 3 months of my life to read. Still I do feel like I should try to read him, and in this lifetime too, and not save him til I'm dead, as I plan to do with all the unread Virginia Woolfs. And there are many others too of course. But there are also some yawning holes in the Aussie kids classics that I've never read- well I don't believe I have. Blinky Bill. Snuggle Pot and Cuddle Pie. The Magic Pudding. This must be corrected.

6. Shakespeare
Or even Tales from Shakespeare. Yes I've seen some of the plays. I've perhaps even understood some parts of some of the plays, and laughed at some of his jokes. Still I find it difficult to read plays. It's not something that I try all that often to be honest. The most successful attempt to read a play would have been The Importance of Being Earnest, which I've read twice.

7. The Complete Works of Oscar Wilde
Speaking of Being Earnest, I do think that Oscar Wilde was possibly the best wit who has ever lived (or at least the best one I've come across thus far). I'm always in awe of his work, but still have much to read, fairytales included, even though once again I have actual copies of these books that I've bought with my hard earned cash that languish, unread on my bookshelves.

8. Bill Bryson's A Short History of Nearly Everything.

This is quite an abject failure. I even own three different versions of this book, and still I haven't read it. The original, the Illustrated one (hey, the mere sight of the illustrated version of The DaVinici Code made me buy it instantaneously, and then read it, when I had been completely uninterested until the very moment that I saw the illustrated version in the shop, and here I am with the illustrated version of a book I really want to read sitting on the shelf), and I've even bought the children's version (A Really Short History of Nearly Everything). I think I've got through half the first chapter of the illustrated one.

9. Captain Corelli's Mandolin
Because I must be the only person in the world who hasn't actually read it. Or even seen the movie.

I've read it now!
See my review

10. The Wind in the Willows

So it seems the Top Ten is a bit blurry round the edges.... it was fun to do, and good to think about how I can get some of these books read some stage soonish.


Kath Lockett said...

I've read all of those except Captain Corelli's Mandolin. I don't know why I avoid it - by the time I was leaning towards reading it the movie came out with Nicolas Cage in it and I just. can't. stand. him. !

I've never read Beowulf (and aren't sure I can even spell it correctly), 'The old man and the sea' by Ernest Hemingway,
Valley of the Dolls
Gone with the wind (hated the movie)
The Celestine Prophecy
Angels and Demons
Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus....

....and probably never will; there's about 50 stacked along my bookshelves waiting for me!

Louise said...

Wow, you must be frightfully well read Kath! I can't imagine how long it will take me to get my top 10 done. I guess I should have picked shorter books, or slightly smaller subjects than "French classics". OTOH I have read The Old Man and the Sea (very short), and also read Valley of the Dolls way back when too. Your holes don't look quite as big as mine though.

Deb Nance at Readerbuzz said...

Why, as readers, are we held accountable for gaps in reading the entire oeuvre of the world? Are runners expected to complete every marathon available? Do scientists investigate every particle in the universe? Of course not. Yet, somehow, we readers are expected to read it all.

Louise said...

That's a very good point Debbie. Although I think it's pressure we put on ourselves. Noone else is making me think about reading the French classics. I want to do it. It's my own fault. And every book I read makes me want to read other books, more books. It's like an addiction I suppose. My DH would be certainly glad if I stopped reading (and buying books) altogether.