Elizabeth Scripturient (the delinquent, ecumenical (hermionesviolin) wrote,
Elizabeth Scripturient (the delinquent, ecumenical

MLA's 2006 "Which book should every adult read before they die?" list

via offbalance: MLA "Which book should every adult read before they die?" list, in order.  Top 30.  [Museum, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA) polled British librarians.]

I put + marks in front of the ones I've read.  With commentaries below each listing.  I even broke them up into tiers with subtotals read for each tier.  *is big cataloging dork*

[First tier: 7½/10]

+ To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Read it in 9th grade.  Cried.  Read it a second time.  Still cried.  When Capote becomes readily available, I plan to reread it and In Cold Blood.

+ The Bible
I keep meaning to read this from the beginning (even just to read the New Testament full through) but so far I've only read bits and pieces.
As I have said before, I wish there were some sort of "The Bible In Literature" course because the stories in it have so influenced the literature (as well as other art forms) for millennia.

+ The Lord of the Rings Trilogy by JRR Tolkien
Plowed through this (preceded by a reread of The Hobbit) the summer after the first movie came out.
While I can see the appeal even though I wasn't taken with it, I'm hard pressed to give it a high spot on the Books Everyone Must Read list.

+ 1984 by George Orwell
Read it when I was in junior high maybe ‘cause it was in the bookcases at home.  Reread it in college for my UMass Brave New Worlds class.
Definitely a powerful book.

+ A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
Read it in junior high.
It's certainly a classic, one of those you absorb by osmosis even if you've never actually read it.

+ Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
Finally read it senior year of college in Skarda's Telling and Retelling class.  Actually kinda liked it.

+ Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Read it once to see what all the fuss was about.  Was then assigned it twice in college.  I think I read it the second time (the first time I only skimmed it 'cause it was for Doug's English Language course and the assignment didn't require more than a skim).  I don't hate it, but I don't have the mad love for it that so many people do.  Of Austen's 6 novels, however, I've read all save Emma and this is probably second only to Mansfield Park (the only one I actively enjoyed) though now I'm trying to remember Northanger Abbey.

All Quiet on the Western Front by E M Remarque
Do I have to?  I'm really not into war books.

+ His Dark Materials Trilogy by Phillip Pullman
Burned through this when I was in high school.  Loved it hugely but really need to reread it because my memory of it is so fuzzy.  Unfortunately, I will have that kind of free time again approximately never; and new reads take precedence over rereads.

Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks
Never heard of this book.  And looking it up on Amazon, it doesn't appeal.

[Second tier: 6/10]

+ The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
Summer reading AP English senior year.  I was bored and barely remembered any of it come test time nevermind now.

+ The Lord of the Flies by William Golding
Summer reading AP English senior year.  I think I read it off the parental bookshelves years prior.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon
I can picture the cover from years at the library, but I never actually picked it up.
Pulling it up on Amazon now, it does sound interesting.

+ Tess of the D'urbevilles by Thomas Hardy
Skarda's Telling and Retelling class, though it had been On The List for ages.  Don't have the hate on for it that some people do.

+ Winnie the Pooh by AA Milne
I don't think I've reread much of it since I was wee, however.

+ Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
Oh, the pain.  I read it once to see what the fuss was about and then had it assigned in my senior year seminar at college so I had to reread it for real.  Unreliable narrator, pastede on Twu Wub, too many people with the same names (not to mention the flashbacks and ghosts) . . . .  Though lunabee34 has helped me appreciate it a bit more.

The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Graham
I might actually have (been) read this when I was wee, but as I have no recollection it doesn't seem fair to count it.  I suppose I should read it at some point since it's so classic, but I just don't really have any desire to.

Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
I tried to read this once (I was in junior high? high school?) and just couldn't get into it and decided it really wasn't worth bothering.

+ Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
After my brother read this in 9th grade I picked it up and finally read it.  Not bad.  And contains some scenes that definitely stick with you.

The Time Traveller's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
I picked this up once because it was a big deal, and I wasn't that interested.  Checking out Amazon, though, I'm intrigued.

[Third tier: 3/10]

+ The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
Mostly I remember the interesting concept of Heaven in this book.

+ The Prophet by Khalil Gibran
I read this (as well as some other Gibran works, IIRC) back in high school, and it's one of those books like Daniel Quinn's, which I find really powerful when I'm reading them and then thinking back on them I'm hesitant though I can't articulate why.

+ David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
Oh, the pain.  Probably the longest of Dickens' works (and supposedly his favorite, due to its heavily autobiographical nature) and I was just really bored throughout.  I read this over a summer once because I had picked up a paperback copy somewhere, and my and my mother's dominant memory of my experience is me in the kitchen raging about why won't this blonde twit just die already.

Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
I've heard of this maybe.
And looking it up on Amazon, I'm just not excited to pick it up.

The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
Has been On The List since I took Russian Lit . .  sophomore year? of college.

Life of Pi by Yann Martel
Lots of people have talked about this, so I keep thinking it's On The List, but then I pick it up and read the back cover blurb and just am not interested enough to read it.

Middlemarch by George Eliot
George Eliot makes Charles Dickens look laconic.  I read The Mill on the Floss for Oxford and haven't tackled her again yet.

The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
On The List 'cause people keep talking about it.  Except that every time I pick it up and read the back cover blurb I think, "I have no interest in reading this."

A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
On The List since sometime in high school.  I actually got it out from the library, but this whole made-up language thing?  Definitely off-putting.

A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Alexander Solzenhitsyn
Title sound vaguely familiar maybe.
Amazon: Wow, that sounds wrenching.
Tags: books: lists

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