The Hellhole

Thursday, February 26, 2009

A meme from Maria, but of course I am psychologically incapable of just putting an “X” - there has to be special Hellhole commentary! Also, I wanted Alan to play along so an “X” = Helly read it and an “A” = Alan read it.

The BBC say the average adult has only read 6 of the top 100 books on their list. How many have you read? Look at the list and put an ‘x’ before those you have read. Tally your total at the bottom.

X - Pride and Prejudice ‑ Jane Austen

A X - The Lord of the Rings ‑ JRR Tolkien - I should get to put a bunch of Xs representing how many times – and you could multiply my total by 156 to get the number of times Alan’s read it.

X - Jane Eyre ‑ Charlotte Bronte

A X - Harry Potter series ‑ JK Rowling

X - To Kill a Mockingbird ‑ Harper Lee

A - The Bible - which one? Seriously. I’ve read pieces of my Douay-Rheimes Bible, The Apocrypha and the King James version; I’ve read large swaths of The Vulgate of St. Jerome (hey, I minored in Latin in college - fiat lux, y’all) but I’ve not read any from cover to cover

Wuthering Heights ‑ Emily Bronte. Hell no, and I never will. Somewhere along the way I learned that there was a bit about killing puppies. I have eschewed the entire novel for the puppy-killing reference. I am sure Emily Bronte feels keenly my displeasure and regrets her use of that example to illustrate the motif of cruelty.

A X - Nineteen Eighty Four ‑ George Orwell

A / - His Dark Materials ‑ Philip Pullman That’s half an X. I’ve read 1 out of 3, which technically isn’t half, but my keyboard won’t make 1/3 of an X

X - Great Expectations ‑ Charles Dickens

X - Little Women ‑ Louisa May Alcott

X - Tess of the D’Urbervilles ‑ Thomas Hardy In high school, my AP English teacher was really into Thomas Hardy. If there are more of his on the list, you’ll probably find Xs beside those as well.

A X - Catch 22 ‑ Joseph Heller For many years this was my favorite novel of all time. I could quote large passages. I'm not sure that I could narrow a favorite down to just one novel now, though.

/ / - Complete Works of Shakespeare - Only some. Most of the sonnets and a lot of plays, but not complete. Alan gets an incomplete on this one as well. And honestly, is it fair of the BBC to count this as ONE book on their top 100 list? There are 37 plays and 154 sonnets, for Bard's sake! That's not A book, if you ask me. Which the BBC didn't.

X - Rebecca ‑ Daphne Du Maurier Last night I dreamed I went to Manderly again. I didn’t have to look that up, that’s how much of a geek I am.

A X - The Hobbit ‑ JRR Tolkien - I need more Xs. I love hobbits.

Birdsong ‑ Sebastian Faulk - Never heard of it.

X - Catcher in the Rye ‑ JD Salinger

The Time Traveller’s Wife ‑ Audrey Niffenegger Bleah, too romantic.

Middlemarch ‑ George Eliot

X - Gone With The Wind ‑ Margaret Mitchell She was a friend of my grandmother’s older sister. For serious.

X - The Great Gatsby ‑ F. Scott Fitzgerald Had no patience for ol’ Jay Gatsby who IMO should have compelled Daisy to face the consequences of her stupid, drunken actions (and we see how well meddling turned out for him) but yeah, I read it.

Bleak House ‑ Charles Dickens - At first I put an X because I was thinking this was the one with Miss Havisham, but something was bothering me. I reread the list and saw a few entries up, Great Expectations. Google informs me that Pip and Miss Havisham are in Great Expectations and this one is some complicated story centered around a long-running legal dispute. I haven’t read this. Appropriate X’s installed/removed.

X - War and Peace ‑ Leo Tolstoy - ugh, an experience I’ve no wish to relive

A X - The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy ‑ Douglas Adams I always know where my towel is. I keep telling Alan I’m mostly harmless, too, but he’s not buying it.

Brideshead Revisited ‑ Evelyn Waugh And thanks to BBC America’s incessant promotions of their adaptation of same, I know now that I never will.

X - Crime and Punishment ‑ Fyodor Dostoyevsky I didn't have this marked at first but Alan thought he'd read some Dostoyevsky, just not this one. So we were talking about it and we think he's read Brothers Karamazov. It turns out Crime and Punishment is the one where Raskolnikov kills the lady pawnbroker with an axe. I've read that one.

A X - Grapes of Wrath ‑ John Steinbeck

A X - Alice in Wonderland ‑ Lewis Carroll - only about 10 million times

A X - The Wind in the Willows ‑ Kenneth Grahame - ditto

Anna Karenina ‑ Leo Tolstoy - nah. Saw the movie. Adulteress throws herself under train and it takes 865 pages to get there? Not appealing.

X - David Copperfield ‑ Charles Dickens Chapter One: I am born. And it has Uriah Heep! I still think David’s kind of a twit for marrying Dora first, but anyway.

A X - Chronicles of Narnia ‑ CS Lewis Chronic-WHAT?!?-cles of Narnia! All time best rap line ever, contest over: you can call us Aaron Burr from the way we're droppin' Hamiltons.

X - Emma ‑ Jane Austen

Persuasion ‑ Jane Austen

A X - The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe ‑ C.S. Lewis Well, yeah, which would seem obvious by the X four titles up. Why is this on here if the whole Chronicles is? Redundancy is irksome.

The Kite Runner ‑ Khaled Hosseini

Captain Corelli’s Mandolin ‑ Louis De Bernieres

Neither of those sound like anything I’d ever want to read. Way too depressing.

Memoirs of a Geisha ‑ Arthur Golden Wouldn’t want to read this either, I don’t think.

X A - Winnie the Pooh ‑ AA Milne

X A - Animal Farm ‑ George Orwell

X - The Da Vinci Code ‑ Dan Brown Alan says, “I should get credit for that because I’ve read the book The Da Vinci Code was stolen from!”

A - One Hundred Years of Solitude ‑ Gabriel Garcia Marquez

/ - A Prayer for Owen Meaney ‑ John Irving Read it until the unpatriotic rants and draft-dodging theme became too much to bear. As the child of a Vietnam veteran, I find that neither amusing nor noble.

The Woman in White ‑ Wilkie Collins

X - Anne of Green Gables ‑ Lucy Maud Montgomery. I think I read some others too - weren’t there more, like Anne of Avonlea and Anne of...Something Else?

X - Far From The Madding Crowd ‑ Thomas Hardy (see “Tess”, above)

A - The Handmaid’s Tale ‑ Margaret Atwood

A X - Lord of the Flies ‑ William Golding Hasn't every schoolchild been forced to read this at some point? I mean, I think it's brilliant and I re-read it voluntarily several times, but wouldn't it take a concerted effort and quite a bit of luck to manage to graduate from high school without reading this at least once?

Atonement ‑ Ian McEwan Even the book jacket is too depressing.

Life of Pi ‑ Yann Martel

A - Dune ‑ Frank Herbert I didn’t give myself an X as I don’t recall finishing it.

X - Cold Comfort Farm ‑ Stella Gibbons I have the movie, too. I loved this book.

X- Sense and Sensibility ‑ Jane Austen

A Suitable Boy ‑ Vikram Seth

X- The Shadow of the Wind ‑ Carlos Ruiz Zafon I really liked this book.

X - A Tale Of Two Cities ‑ Charles Dickens

A - Brave New World ‑ Aldous Huxley

A X - The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night‑time ‑ Mark Haddon Alan bought this and then I read it. I didn't dislike it, in fact it was entertaining but don't see quite what was so amazing about it that it belongs on this list.

Love In The Time Of Cholera ‑ Gabriel Garcia Marquez No way - I suspect this novel of being heartwarming.

A X - Of Mice and Men ‑ John Steinbeck

X - Lolita ‑ Vladimir Nabokov

The Secret History ‑ Donna Tartt

X - The Lovely Bones ‑ Alice Sebold Creepy. In a good way.

A X - Count of Monte Cristo ‑ Alexandre Dumas

A X - On The Road ‑ Jack Kerouac We were discussing this and Desolation Angels just the other day.

X - Jude the Obscure ‑ Thomas Hardy

X - Bridget Jones’s Diary ‑ Helen Fielding Why is this piece of fluff on the list? I mean, I read it, but still.

Midnight’s Children ‑ Salman Rushdie

A X - Moby Dick ‑ Herman Melville 9th or 10th grade literature, I disremember which. Alan says about the same time for him.

X - Oliver Twist ‑ Charles Dickens

A X - Dracula ‑ Bram Stoker

A X - The Secret Garden ‑ Frances Hodgson Burnett

Notes From A Small Island ‑ Bill Bryson Never heard of it.

A X - Ulysses ‑ James Joyce Alan: Yeah, I read it but it gave me a fuckin' headache.

X - The Bell Jar ‑ Sylvia Plath

Swallows and Amazons ‑ Arthur Ransome

Germinal ‑ Emile Zola

/ - Vanity Fair ‑ William Makepeace Thackeray I put my little half X here because I know I've read at least parts of this but I can't recall if I was assigned the book itself or if we only had to read excerpts.

Possession ‑ A.S. Byatt

A X - A Christmas Carol ‑ Charles Dickens

Cloud Atlas ‑ David Mitchell

X - The Color Purple ‑ Alice Walker

The Remains of the Day ‑ Kazuo Ishiguro

Madame Bovary ‑ Gustave Flaubert

A Fine Balance ‑ Rohinton Mistry

A X - Charlotte’s Web ‑ E.B. White

X - The Five People You Meet In Heaven ‑ Mitch Albom The glurge! It sickens me.

A X - Adventures of Sherlock Holmes ‑ Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

The Faraway Tree Collection ‑ Enid Blyton I’ve never read any Enid Blyton, actually. No particular reason - I just haven’t.

A X - Heart of Darkness ‑ Joseph Conrad

A X - The Little Prince ‑ Antoine De Saint‑Exupery I've read this in English AND French. I suspect Nancy has, too.

The Wasp Factory ‑ Iain Banks I’ve never even heard of this. Most of the ones I didn’t read I at least knew about.

A X - Watership Down ‑ Richard Adams Matter of fact, I just re-read this a couple of weeks ago. Still love that Bigwig bunny.

A X - A Confederacy of Dunces ‑ John Kennedy Toole

A Town Like Alice ‑ Nevil Shute This title sounded very, very familiar to me but reading the plot summary, I’m sure I’ve not read it. Alan says he's read some Nevil Shute but not this one.

A - The Three Musketeers ‑ Alexandre Dumas

A X - Hamlet ‑ William Shakespeare

A X - Charlie and the Chocolate Factory ‑ Roald Dahl - I read a lot of Roald Dahl as a child. I liked The Witches, The Twits and Matilda, but my favorite was probably James And The Giant Peach.

Les Miserables ‑ Victor Hugo

GRAND TOTAL: Helly - 60, Alan - 38

Is it me, or does that list seem sort of weighted toward chicks? Alan loved "The Wind In The Willows" as much as I did, maybe more, but I can't see him curling up on a rainy day with "Anne of Green Gables" or some Jane Austen. Ditto "Little Women", "The Color Purple" - and mathematicians have not yet invented a number infinitesimally low enough to measure the likelihood of him reading "Bridget Jones's Diary".


  • What, you weren't ever forced to read "Madame's Ovaries"? Also, I just finished an Iain Banks book ("Matter") that my dad lent me. Pretty decent space opera stuff with a British sense of humor.

    I'm ashamed at how few of these books I've read. I did read 100 Years of Solitude in spanish, though.


    By Blogger Topcat, at 9:05 AM  

  • I have read 47 of these and, like you, had not even heard of quite a few. I am amazed that I 'outread' my SMRT son-in-law!


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:48 AM  

  • 43 on the list for me and I suspect Kevin has read more than that. Used a couple of quotes from Dostoyevsky's House of the Dead in my dissertation. Love him!

    I require my students to read the Curious Incident of the Dog... in my advanced clinical assessment class. After we cover the Autism spectrum disorders. Love that book!


    By Blogger L/K, at 2:40 PM  

  • Damn, Sandy beat me to "Madame's Ovaries."

    I can't guarantee that you would like Love In The Time Of Cholera, but I've never read anything of his that I would call heartwarming.

    I haven't heard of the same ones that you haven't heard of. And I agree that it's weighted to chick-lit. And I think Bridget Jones is a bone thrown to people who only read best-sellers.

    And I LOVED the Chronic - WHAT? - cles of Narnia!

    By Blogger Nancy, at 10:00 PM  

  • Ah, you know why The Chronic - WHAT? - cles of Narnia! is listed and then "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe" is also listed? I have bad news for you - this is the incorrect list. For some reason, how the hell things get changed when people have to only copy & paste, two lists are going around - the wrong one (which you have) and the right one, which you can find at the BBC website.

    I'm not sure if I should do the wrong list, which most people have...or the right list, that has a whole bunch of Roald Dahl books that I've never even heard of, like "The BFG".

    The bad news, "Bridget Jones Diary" is on both lists. However, the list is from people (common people, who read bestsellers) who voted for their favorite novels. It's no high 'n mighty, books you SHOULD read...even though, many on the list are classics, and SHOULD be read. "Bridget Jones Diary", which I, too, read, doesn't belong on a SHOULD read list. Alan, you're off the hook.

    By Anonymous FlippyO, at 7:09 AM  

  • OK, I'm gonna be lazy and just put my tally in this here comment... I've read:


    Which translates to: Z - 40

    And that answer? Hasn't really changed much since HIGHSCHOOL... Ah, highschool reading lists...

    By Blogger Z, at 6:29 AM  

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