Miles To Go Before I Sleep, Indeed

William Grimes wrote in the New York Times last Friday about the 2006 book 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die (Universe). He offers a realistic take on said list, pointing out its merits while acknowledging that any such catalog should be taken with several grains of salt (perhaps sea salt of the Moby Dick variety?).

Here, without further ado or embarrassment, are the books (from that list) I’ve read from start to finish:

1) The Body Artist, Don DeLillo

2) The Human Stain, Philip Roth

3) The Hours, Michael Cunningham

4) Memoirs of a Geisha, Arther Golden

5) Infinite Jest, David Foster Wallace

6) Possession, AS Byatt

7) Cat’s Eye, Margaret Atwood

8) The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Milan Kundera

9) The Color Purple, Alice Walker *

10) Song of Solomon, Toni Morrison *

11) Surfacing, Margaret Atwood

12) The French Lieutenant’s Woman, John Fowles

13) In Cold Blood, Truman Capote

14) The Collector, John Fowles

15) One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Ken Kesey

16) Stranger in a Strange Land, Robert Heinlein

17) To Kill A Mockingbird, Harper Lee *

18) The Once and Future King, TH White *

19) On the Road, Jack Kerouac

20) Lord of the Flies, William Golding *

21) The Long Goodbye, Raymond Chandler

22) The Catcher in the Rye, JD Salinger *

23) The End of the Affair, Graham Greene

24) Animal Farm, George Orwell *

25) The Power and the Glory, Graham Greene

26) Rebecca, Daphne Du Maurier

27) Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston *

28) Brave New World, Aldous Huxley *

29) All Quiet on the Western Front, Erich Maria Remarque *

30) Steppenwolf, Hermen Hesse

31) The Sun Also Rises, Ernest Hemingway

32) Mrs. Dalloway, Virginia Woolf

33) The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald *

34) Siddhartha, Herman Hesse

35) A Portait of the Artist as a Young Man *

36) Ethan Frome, Edith Wharton

37) Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad *

38) Lord Jim, Joseph Conrad

39) The Awakening, Kate Chopin

40) The Turn of the Screw, Henry James

41) Jude the Obscure, Thomas Hardy

42) The Yellow Wallpaper, Charlotte Perkins Gilman

43) The Death of Ivan Ilyich, Leo Tolstoy

44) The Portrait of a Lady, Henry James

45) Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy

46) Middlemarch, George Eliot

47) Little Woman, Louisa May Alcott

48) Crime and Punishment, Fyodor Dostoevsky

49) Silas Marner, George Eliot

50) Madame Bovary, Gustave Flaubert

51) The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne

52) Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte

53) Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte

54) Frankenstein, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley *

55) Emma, Jane Austen

56) Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen

57) Sense and Sensibility, Jane Austen

58) Foundation, Isaac Asimov **

59) The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck * **

* Read as part of a high school or college class

** The list is presented chronologically from most recent-oldest; Foundation and The Grapes of Wrath are out of order because I saw them the second time I read through it.

If you combine those 59 with the handful that I’ve started and know I won’t finish (including The Handmaid’s Tale and *gasp* White Noise), I’ve dispensed with a mere 6.59 percent of the list, according to the handy Excel spreadsheet available here.

Just 93-ish percent to go before death! That’s encouraging, especially considering all the books on my mental To-Read list that aren’t included on this one. Sigh. I began The Brothers K last night, so that’s a start. And I recently discovered Lydia Davis, so her 2004 novel, The End of the Story, might come next.


-- Deirdre Fulton 

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