This comes from Marie. You’re supposed to bold which of these 100 canonical books you’ve read. I’ve added comments. I couldn’t help myself.
Here’s what I’m wondering — does it count if you’ve seen the movie, or if you’ve seen the movie and it wasn’t by Disney? What if the movie had songs in it? What if the movie had Daniel Day Lewis in it? You can see the trouble here.
Also, in this list I lay bare certain reading prejudices, some of which I didn’t even know I had. Please don’t think less of me because of it.
In fact, do this yourself and tell me you don’t have your own prejudices and don’t feel the strong urge to explain that the reason you haven’t read, say, The Stranger, is because it was never made into a movie with Daniel Day Lewis.
Achebe, Chinua – Things Fall Apart
Agee, James – A Death in the Family (I read the other one — the one with pictures, the one with Walker Evans)
Austen, Jane – Pride and Prejudice
Baldwin, James – Go Tell It on the Mountain — ok here’s one I need to read.
Beckett, Samuel – Waiting for Godot
Bellow, Saul – The Adventures of Augie March
Brontë, Charlotte – Jane Eyre
Brontë, Emily – Wuthering Heights
Camus, Albert – The Stranger (I believe this is about the plague. Of course I didn’t read it.)
Cather, Willa – Death Comes for the Archbishop (I re-read this recently on a trip to the southwest and loved it even more the second time.)
Chaucer, Geoffrey – The Canterbury Tales — in college, and then I had to memorize the prologue, which comes in handy when there’s a lull in conversation
Chekhov, Anton – The Cherry Orchard
Chopin, Kate – The Awakening
Conrad, Joseph – Heart of Darkness
Cooper, James Fenimore – The Last of the Mohicans — surely the movie counts? Let me just say three words: Daniel Day Lewis. (Okay one more: shirtless.)
Crane, Stephen – The Red Badge of Courage — I probably have read this, because it’s the kind of thing you have to read at some point if you’re a student but honestly I can’t remember a thing about it.
Dante – Inferno
de Cervantes, Miguel – Don Quixote
Defoe, Daniel – Robinson Crusoe
Dickens, Charles – A Tale of Two Cities
Dostoyevsky, Fyodor – Crime and Punishment — I did, however, see an intense movie version of this when I was in my twenties and inclined to be depressed and it was awful. I think it’s time to revisit this one though. I’m a lot cheerier than I used to be. I think I could even read all of Native Son on a good day.
Douglass, Frederick – Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass
Dreiser, Theodore – An American Tragedy — I think Sister Carrie is THE Dreiser book, but that’s just my, you know, opinion. I love Sister Carrie and don’t want to read any more Dreiser and ruin my admiration for him by finding out why it is that one critic described him as a guy who wrote like a person who didn’t have a native language. ouch.
Dumas, Alexandre – The Three Musketeers
Eliot, George – The Mill on the Floss
Ellison, Ralph – Invisible Man
Emerson, Ralph Waldo – Selected Essays
Faulkner, William – As I Lay Dying
Faulkner, William – The Sound and the Fury — Couldn’t read this, and don’t know why. I’ve tried the first ten pages at least five times. But I loved Absalom, Absalom. Maybe you have a Faulkner limit and mine is two.
Fielding, Henry – Tom Jones — movie! (Wasn’t it a movie? You know, with Ryan O’Neal when he was gorgeous and filmed by candlelight?)
Fitzgerald, F. Scott – The Great Gatsby
Flaubert, Gustave – Madame Bovary
Ford, Ford Madox – The Good Soldier (I keep thinking this will be good, but then I always put it back on the shelf…)
Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von – Faust
Golding, William – Lord of the Flies
Hardy, Thomas – Tess of the d’Urbervilles
Hawthorne, Nathaniel – The Scarlet Letter
Heller, Joseph – Catch 22
Hemingway, Ernest – A Farewell to Arms
Homer – The Iliad
Homer – The Odyssey
Hugo, Victor – The Hunchback of Notre Dame — the movie! I saw the movie! okay. it had songs in it. Yes, it was a cartoon. Perhaps that should not count.
Hurston, Zora Neale – Their Eyes Were Watching God
Huxley, Aldous – Brave New World — this is fiction? I always thought it was a travel memoir or some kind of long essay.
Ibsen, Henrik – A Doll’s House
James, Henry – The Portrait of a Lady
James, Henry – The Turn of the Screw
Joyce, James – A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
Kafka, Franz – The Metamorphosis — I mean, I do know what it’s about. But it’s never interested me. Did anyone ever make a movie of this?
Kingston, Maxine Hong – The Woman Warrior
Lee, Harper – To Kill a Mockingbird
Lewis, Sinclair – Babbitt — I don’t like strident realist fiction. I know, I know. How do I know if Sinclair Lewis writes strident realist fiction if I haven’t read it? Wasn’t he responsible for that really, really long movie that Daniel Day Lewis was just in (see Last of the Mohicans above for other sort of unreadable books that made good Daniel Day Lewis films.)
London, Jack – The Call of the Wild
Mann, Thomas – The Magic Mountain — do the first twenty pages count? I was afraid I’d be stuck in the sanitarium forever if I didn’t make a run for it right then.
Marquez, Gabriel García – One Hundred Years of Solitude
Melville, Herman – Bartleby the Scrivener — people love this. I have never been able to get past the first page. It depresses me.
Melville, Herman – Moby Dick
Miller, Arthur – The Crucible
Morrison, Toni – Beloved
O’Connor, Flannery – A Good Man is Hard to Find
O’Neill, Eugene – Long Day’s Journey into Night
Orwell, George – Animal Farm
Pasternak, Boris – Doctor Zhivago — the movie, I love the movie!
Plath, Sylvia – The Bell Jar
Poe, Edgar Allan – Selected Tales
Proust, Marcel – Swann’s Way
Pynchon, Thomas – The Crying of Lot 49 – no way. I do not like Thomas Pynchon. I don’t know why. Maybe it is because I am afraid there will be no plot and a lot of Symbols.
Remarque, Erich Maria – All Quiet on the Western Front — this I must read. Rostand, Edmond – Cyrano de Bergerac — movie! With Daryl Hannah and Steve Martin, remember that one?
Roth, Henry – Call It Sleep — I keep seeing things about Henry Roth. DIdn’t he wait fifty years between novels?
Salinger, J.D. – The Catcher in the Rye
Shakespeare, William – Hamlet
Shakespeare, William – Macbeth
Shakespeare, William – A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Shakespeare, William – Romeo and Juliet
Shaw, George Bernard – Pygmalion – movie! I could have danced all night!
Shelley, Mary – Frankenstein
Silko, Leslie Marmon – Ceremony
Solzhenitsyn, Alexander – One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich — is this any good? It looks so… long. But then he is Russian and long is his job.
Sophocles – Antigone
Sophocles – Oedipus Rex
Steinbeck, John – The Grapes of Wrath
Stevenson, Robert Louis – Treasure Island — yes, I know, the movie doesn’t count, because it was, yes, by disney.
Stowe, Harriet Beecher – Uncle Tom’s Cabin — does the King & I count?
Swift, Jonathan – Gulliver’s Travels
Thackeray, William – Vanity Fair
Thoreau, Henry David – Walden
Tolstoy, Leo – War and Peace
Turgenev, Ivan – Fathers and Sons
Twain, Mark – The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Voltaire – Candide
Vonnegut, Kurt Jr. – Slaughterhouse-Five — I do need to read this. But I avoid it, along with Catch 22 because I am afraid it will be ironic and not entertaining.
Walker, Alice – The Color Purple — I happen to have an autographed first edition of this book. It is autographed in purple. I did not see the movie, which looked awful.
Wharton, Edith – The House of Mirth
Welty, Eudora – Collected Stories (Not all of them — nobody reads every single one of the collected stories of anybody unless they wrote, you know, six stories.)
Whitman, Walt – Leaves of Grass (could someone please explain to me why Leaves of Grass is on this list? I mean, these are mostly novels and plays and Homer. Last time I looked, Leaves of Grass was a super long poem. Okay, some of Shakespeare is poetry, and Dante too. But if poems are okay to include, then this list would look a lot different.)
Wilde, Oscar – The Picture of Dorian Gray
Williams, Tennessee – The Glass Menagerie
Woolf, Virginia – To the Lighthouse
Wright, Richard – Native Son (Okay, I quit when Bigger Thomas stuffed the body into the incinerator.)
Well that was fun.