The Sunday Salon, Whatnot
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67 Books I Must Read in 3 Years, and 11 more

The Sunday Salon

The Sunday Salon

It has been nearly two months since I made any post for The Sunday Salon. I’ve been remiss in writing these posts because I couldn’t think of anything interesting to share with you, dear readers and salonists. I’ve been slow in reading and in doing my bookish write-ups, and I’d rather not bore people, particularly people who don’t know me personally, with tales of how bored and anxious I have been in the last couple of months.

The first quarter of the year has sped by (that fast?), so I checked the number of books that I’ve read and the kinds of books that I’ve been reading. Currently, I am at a measly 12. Goodreads says that I’m one book behind schedule (target is 52 books). That’s alright, but two of those books are short reads: one is a collection of poems and the other is a short story.

Is this a cause for alarm? I admit I panicked a bit, but I think that I could be back on track within this week because I’m concurrently reading two novels (Gilead and Ulverton), and I’m still chipping Les Miserables bit by bit. These are great books, but why do I feel so unaccomplished? It’s like I haven’t been really reading anything, and this is mostly because I haven’t been relying so much on my reading spreadsheet.

A little background on the reading spreadsheet. This is a list of lists, a combined list of all the books included in the lists that I’m following. These lists include literary awards (Pulitzer, Booker, etc.), Top 100 Lists (Time, Modern Library, etc.), and the books by Nobel laureates. I’ve found this spreadsheet to be so useful in the last couple of years whenever I did my monthly reading plans. However, I rarely use it now, except to update new additions in my library.

I’d like to say that I’ve been exploring, but I still want to keep this list. It has the books that I feel I was preordained to read. Fortunately, I love these books, and I’ve been keeping track of it since my college days. It started only with the Pulitzer winners, then I added the Bookers, then Time Magazine’s list, and so on. I know I won’t be able to complete this list soon, but I’d like to see a major progress in a given time span, say three years.

So what I did is that I checked out all the books that I own that are included in more than one list. I came up with 67. If you love lists, go on and check this out:

  1. The Adventures of Augie March by Saul Bellow
  2. All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy
  3. The Ambassadors by Henry James
  4. American Pastoral by Philip Roth
  5. An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser
  6. Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner
  7. Appointment in Samarra by John O’Hara
  8. As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
  9. The Awakening by Kate Chopin
  10. The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood
  11. Buddenbrooks by Thomas Mann
  12. Call It Sleep by Henry Roth
  13. The Call of the Wild by Jack London
  14. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
  15. The Collected Stories of Katherine Anne Porter by Katherine Anne Porter
  16. The Confessions of Nat Turner by William Styron
  17. The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen
  18. The Day of the Locust by Nathanael West
  19. A Death in the Family by James Agee
  20. Dog Soldiers by Robert Stone
  21. A Fable by William Faulkner
  22. The Fixer by Bernard Malamud
  23. The French Lieutenant’s Woman by John Fowles
  24. Go Tell It on the Mountain by James Baldwin
  25. The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing
  26. The Good Soldier by Ford Madox Ford
  27. The Heart of the Matter by Graham Greene
  28. Herzog by Saul Bellow
  29. Howards End by E. M. Forster
  30. I, Claudius by Robert Graves
  31. Kim by Rudyard Kipling
  32. Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann
  33. Light in August by William Faulkner
  34. Lord Jim by Joseph Conrad
  35. The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien
  36. The Magnificent Ambersons by Booth Tarkington
  37. Main Street by Sinclair Lewis
  38. The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett
  39. Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
  40. My Antonia by Willa Cather
  41. Native Son by Richard Wright
  42. Nostromo by Joseph Conrad
  43. On the Road by Jack Kerouac
  44. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey
  45. Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov
  46. Portnoy’s Complaint by Philip Roth
  47. The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James
  48. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark
  49. Rabbit at Rest by John Updike
  50. Rabbit Is Rich by John Updike
  51. Rabbit, Run by John Updike
  52. A Room with a View by E. M. Forster
  53. Schindler’s List by Thomas Keneally
  54. Snow Country by Yasunari Kawabata
  55. Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
  56. Sons and Lovers by D. H. Lawrence
  57. Sophie’s Choice by William Styron
  58. The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields
  59. The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
  60. Tender Is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  61. U.S.A. Trilogy by John Dos Passos
  62. Ulysses by James Joyce
  63. Under the Volcano by Malcolm Lowry
  64. The Wapshot Chronicle by John Cheever
  65. The Wings of the Dove by Henry James
  66. Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel
  67. Women in Love by D. H. Lawrence

This list isn’t even physically 67 because some of the titles in it are trilogies (The Lord of the Rings and U.S.A.). And oh, there’s a list that I’d like to append to these 67 books. The 11 books below are also included in multiple lists, but I don’t own them yet. That means I have to get a copy of each of them.

  1. The Conservationist by Nadine Gordimer
  2. A Dance to the Music of Time by Anthony Powell
  3. Finnegans Wake by James Joyce
  4. From Here to Eternity by James Jones
  5. Gravity’s Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon
  6. A Handful of Dust by Evelyn Waugh
  7. A House for Mr. Biswas by V. S. Naipaul
  8. Loving by Henry Green
  9. The Naked and the Dead by Norman Mailer
  10. Naked Lunch by William S. Burroughs
  11. Under the Net by Iris Murdoch

It’s a total of 78 then. If I do this in three years,  I should read 26 of them per year. It looks quite manageable. I even have room for 12 books of the month from the book club and 24 for other reads (if I keep my annual target at 52). I don’t worry so much about picks for my Nobel Project and The Classics Club because some books here fall under either category, but the question is when should I start? Can this whet my reading appetite or will it just exacerbate the slump?

Books marked as To-Read

Books marked as To-Read

Do you think I am excessively obsessed with lists? Is this obsession a helpful thing or is it, on the contrary, damaging to one’s reading?

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8 Comments

  1. Like the idea of looking across the lists and reading those first. you have some great reads – Blind Assassin and Schindler’s List are two. I’m way behind on all three of my lists but I am not going to get freaked by it – no-body is making me do this after all.
    Would it be possible to get a copy of your list of the lists?

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    • I really can’t help it, I freak myself out too often. Anyway, I’m actually going to read Blind Assassin this year, probably third or fourth quarter. I’ll email the spreadsheet at the address that I see here. :)

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  2. Ummm… I love your lists, please don’t ever call yourself obsessive. I love that you looked through all the lists and made your own and you have so many great books, and epic books on this list. I should do this. I have a word doc on my computer with books on it, in what order I’d like to read them…I’m obsessive too…

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    • Thanks! I wonder though why you wouldn’t want me to call myself obsessive when you call yourself obsessive. :)

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  3. Spreadsheets remind me too much of work, but I love them nonetheless. The list is love! Women in Love! Love! Ay, there’s too much ‘love’ in this comment.

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    • Hahaha! I’ve always wanted to read Women in Love but I am intimidated. I hope that posting this list would inspire me to start tackling them.

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