My 100 best novels - which has to be a little different.

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My 100 best novels - which has to be a little different.

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1alaudacorax
Editado: Set 5, 2010, 5:35am

Bugger! Wish I could edit the topic title: it should read 'have', not 'has', of course - but I'd also intended to write "-which have to be a little different because ..." Too late now. The above should be a lesson to me not to post in the early hours of Sunday morning after too much rich food and red wine on Saturday night.

I'd meant to continue the theme of the topic title by explaining how I failed to discover the existence of this group despite running various searches; found what seemed to me a good list here -

http://thegreatestbooks.org/

- copied that lot laboriously into a special LT collection; finally found this group (by running a search for '100' - never occurred to me previously), but too late to change my collection, I thought, so decided to go with the website list - and hence the topic title.

However, looking over it all this morning, I see the two groups are really very similar, so I'm going to convert my collection to the group list, after all. Which means editing or deleting all these posts (sigh ...).

2alaudacorax
Editado: Set 4, 2010, 8:12pm

Mensagem removida pelo autor.

3alaudacorax
Set 4, 2010, 8:58pm

Mensagem removida pelo autor.

4alaudacorax
Editado: Set 5, 2010, 7:57am

Right. Done that. Now I'm on the same list as the rest of this group.

I shall start as soon as I've finished my current novel.

5alaudacorax
Editado: Set 7, 2010, 7:11am

I've actually read definitely thirty, possibly thirty-seven, plus there's a few in there where I've failed to stay the distance - War and Peace, for example. But apart from Emma, which I read a couple of weeks ago, and which is an all-time favourite so I practically know it by heart, I haven't read any of them in recent years.

So, if I make it through the other ninety-nine, I'll be well-ready for Emma again.

ETA - And then I put this in the wrong thread! I'll copy it over.

6alaudacorax
Editado: Out 23, 2010, 8:20am

This reading list business is not going to be as simple as I thought - I've hit a stumbling block already and I've only read two so far.

First of all, I read Winnie the Pooh. Okay, I'll put my hand up, I enjoyed this. I did wonder how it got on the list, but now I realise its appeal to adults. I suppose it's one of those cases for the word 'whimsical'.

Then I read Howards End.

I didn't really believe in Forster's characters or their actions, and I didn't really get to grips with the philosophising. Yet it would not be true to say that I disliked it. It held my interest and I had no trouble getting through it, but - lots of questions.

Finished that; shelved it; started on Vanity Fair; read one chapter. The trouble was, as I was reading Vanity Fair, Howards End was still buzzing round my brain - what did he mean by this, or that, what was the significance of those?

So I've had to put Vanity Fair back on the shelf and start on Howards End again.

It's looking as if I'm going to be years reading this list.

7alaudacorax
Editado: Dez 13, 2010, 8:27am

So I've read Howards End for a second time.

It was harder work than reading it for the first time. I didn't believe in Forster's characters or their actions first time round - I believed in them less the second time and didn't have the novelty value of first reading to carry me through. And I thought his philosophising simplistic. I don't believe this novel is as good as it's critically acclaimed to be.

For various reasons, I suspect Forster saw himself as writing a Pride and Prejudice or Sense and Sensibility for the twentieth century; so, on that note, I've decided to read Pride and Prejudice next. As far as I remember I haven't read it for a couple of years, but I know it's going to be a lot more satisfying and a lot less irritating than Forster.

Edited in fruitless attempt to beat touchstones into submission.

8alaudacorax
Out 13, 2010, 6:35pm

And it was.

Just finished it; but I'm not starting another novel tonight as I'm still high on Austen.

Ms Austen is way beyond any words of mine - just imagine me here genuflecting like the clappers.

9alaudacorax
Editado: Out 14, 2010, 7:17am

I'm in a sulk today.

Reading Pride and Prejudice has put me on an Austen kick and I want to read more; but only Emma is on the list and I read that just a few weeks ago, before starting on this list. And there are a number of books on the list that can't compare with anything Austen wrote.

Oh well, I'll just have to go with something completely different: Brave New World.

10alaudacorax
Out 15, 2010, 3:41pm

Brave New World actually quite captured me and I've read it through in twenty-four hours (to the exclusion of some things I should have been doing).

My copy is a yellowing 1981 printing, and I think I must have bought and read it, just the once, within a few years of then, because I had very little memory of it.

It's a bit dated - I think time has rather left it behind - and I'm not quite sure what Huxley was trying to say in the final chapters, but I found it quite gripping, as I implied.

11alaudacorax
Out 16, 2010, 7:14am

... and as a relief from all that bleakness I'm doing some 'comfort reading': The Wind in the Willows. It's one of those novels that I think of as my equivalent to 'comfort food'.

12alaudacorax
Editado: Out 25, 2010, 1:16pm

I enjoyed that - but then I always do.

Next is Tess of the D'Urbervilles.

I had a bit of a craze for Thomas Hardy about forty years back and read most of his work, but since then, all I'd read of his novels until quite recently had been Far from the Madding Crowd occasionally - an all-time favourite. Then, a short time ago, I decided to read Under the Greenwood Tree as, for some reason, I'd missed it first time round - probably the local library didn't have it. I enjoyed that (though it doesn't compare to Far from the Madding Crowd) and it's rather renewed my interest, so I've been vaguely thinking of starting a collection of nice hardback editions ... and then 'Tess' was on this list ...

A second-hand but almost mint copy of the Oxford Clarendon edition arrived this afternoon (gloat, drool).

13alaudacorax
Out 22, 2010, 2:28pm

Hold on a minute!

What the hell kind of greatest novels list has two by Forster and only one by Thomas Hardy?

14alaudacorax
Editado: Nov 8, 2010, 9:23pm

I have a problem.

I really want to read through this list (plus some books that are on the list I mentioned in the OP, but not in this one).

At the same time, if I hadn't started on this list, I think that at this moment I'd be embarking on a project of re-reading all of Jane Austen's and Thomas Hardy's novels. That's the mood I'm in, lately.

I'm in a bit of a quandary about it. Though I habitually read three, maybe four, books at a time, I rarely if ever read more than one fiction novel at a time - that just doesn't work for me - so doing the list and an Austen/Hardy reading project side by side is really not on. At the same time, I'm wondering if I have the patience to alternate them - one from the list, then one Austen/Hardy, then one list, and so forth. By 'patience' I mean the willpower to tear myself away from Austen and Hardy and settle down to some, more modern work.

Then again, what's the hurry? There's no reason at all why I shouldn't read my fill of Austen and Hardy and then return to the list when I feel ready.

Anyway, I think I'll put the whole thing out of my mind till I've finished Tess of the D'Urbervilles. I may be in a quite different mood by then.

15alaudacorax
Editado: Fev 28, 2011, 10:34am

I was a long time finishing Tess of the D'urbervilles. A paradox: it was enjoyable - and hard work. As I've recently written in some other thread, I think Hardy is a wonderful writer but a grim story-teller. He writes prose that is a pleasure to read and you really believe in his characters - which makes it very difficult to take the procession of vagaries of chance and life (Hardy, of course, but you believe in them) grinding remorselessly away at Tess. So I found myself brooding on Tess's fate yet, when I sat down to read, chickening out and picking up some other book.

Reading TotD has prompted me to write a few more words about #6 and #7, above, and the reason I didn't believe in Forster's characters: I believe that when Hardy was writing, in his imagination his characters were very real people to him; I believe that when Forster was writing, in his mind the characters were little more than puppets to illustrate his ideas. So were Hardy's, of course, but I'm sure that he was able to believe in them as real people as well. I hasten to add that this is based on my two readings of Howards End - I may think differently of the other Forster on the list.

I finished Tess of the D'urbervilles some time ago but hadn't started another as I had a non-list novel I wanted to read. This prompted me to think more about what I wrote about not reading more than one novel at a time, and ask myself 'why not?' I realised that I don't do it simply because I've never done it; which is not very logical. I think it dates back to the first public library I used, when a schoolboy. If I remember correctly, juniors were only allowed three books and only one of them was allowed to be fiction. I habitually have a number of books on the go, picking one to suit the current mood or whim, so why not two novels (or more)? It makes sense to not read two very similar novels together, but other than that ...

16alaudacorax
Editado: Mar 1, 2011, 7:31am

... so I'm just starting The Lord of the Rings and Vanity Fair.

I wrote in #6 how I put Vanity Fair back on the shelves to re-read Howards End. Then I completely forgot about it. So I've belatedly taken it back down.

The Lord of the Rings, I suppose, is going to be something in the nature of a slightly sad rite of passage. I thought it was wonderful when I was a youngster and re-read and re-read it. Then I just 'grew out of it' and I haven't read it for decades. My paperback copy dates from the 'seventies and is now falling apart (has fallen, in fact - it's in three pieces and it's probably only a remnant of elf-magic keeping it from four - this reading will probably do it), so it's a last read for old times' sake, then it's going in the bin. Another remnant of my youth fallen away. (sigh)

ETA - I meant to say that I've never read my copy of Vanity Fair - some time ago I picked it up in a second-hand bookshop simply because it was a well-known classic in a quite nice-looking hardback edition. It's another of these books where I can't remember whether I read it once many years ago or I'm simply remembering bits of some television adaptation.

17alaudacorax
Editado: Ago 20, 2011, 5:16am

I finished The Lord of the Rings last night.

I’m a little trepidatious about writing any further. By coincidence, a couple of days ago I happened upon the light-hearted cracked.com list 9 Famous Movie Villains Who Were Right All Along - http://www.cracked.com/article_18417_the-lighter-side-dark-side-5-villains-who-w.... One of the villains was Sauron from Peter Jackson’s film version. Cue the infestation of the comments section by earnest LOTR fans (‘fans’ is too mild a word, really) alert for any perceived disparagement of the sacred text. I dread to think what would happen if some pastor burnt a copy.

Having said that, I actually did enjoy reading it again after all these years. Tolkein is a good story-teller and I did get carried along by it. Having said that, in turn, it was a little more long-winded than I remember it when I was younger. His poetry didn’t help here – and, in the context of reading this list, I’d have felt guilty about skipping any - but I suppose it (the poetry) is not meant to be Keats or Thomas Hardy.

I have to say that there isn’t really a lot for the brain to chew on. I think I’d describe it as the ultimate in adventure yarns - if it’s a ‘great book’ it’s as ‘great entertainment’ rather than as ‘great art’. On that basis I’m going to give it four stars.*

Incidentally, it didn’t end up in four pieces after all ... six! It didn’t end up in the bin either – somehow, it managed to sneak all six of itself back onto the shelves. Though whether I’ll ever read it again I don’t know. It actually only took me seven days – not bad for a doorstop of 1000+ pages - I take that to be a function of its not making my brain do any hard work, so perhaps it will come in handy if I have a dose of flu or similar, some time.

By the way, I’m going to resolutely refrain from asking who the hell Tom Bombadil and his missus were and what the hell they had to with it all; just in case somebody else reads this thread and they decide to tell me (please don’t!) - I probably knew once, long ago, in any case.

I shall go and walk beneath the trees now.

ETA - *I didn't - in the end, I decided on three and a half as more reflecting my combination of enjoyment and reservations.

18alaudacorax
Jun 1, 2011, 9:19pm

I finished Vanity Fair this morning. I can see why it's a classic: a marvellous, multi-hued and multi-shaded book.

I particularly love the sense I got of Thackeray playing games with the reader. He seems to take a delight in making one sympathise with the most unsympathetic characters and become exasperated with the most sympathetic. And he's a most paradoxical author: he obviously had a great empathy and sympathy for people in general; at the same time, he seemed to have a really jaundiced opinion of human relationships, particularly familial ones.

I don't think I can have previously read this as I'm sure I would have remembered. In fact, I'm quite eager to start it again - I'm sure it would offer a lot to repeated readings and, to be honest, finishing it is a bit like the feeling you get on coming to the end of an enjoyable holiday. Also, I'm sure there were a lot of contemporary allusions and satires in it that went over my head; so for my next reading of it I shall get one of those paperbacks - like Oxford Classics or Penguin Classics - with plenty of notes and explanation.

I forgot to mention that I started Joseph Conrad's Nostromo a couple of weeks back.