Friday, May 23, 2008

Many Books I Can Die Without Reading

William Grimes has an article about the book "1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die." It says nothing new - nothing you haven't already thought about. Why was this article even written? But the way it ended did manage to provoke a sneer out of me. So, I quote it here:

No matter how well read you are, you’re not that well read. If you don’t believe it, pick up “1001” and start counting.

In his novel “Changing Places,” David Lodge — not on the list — introduces a game called Humiliation. Players earn points by admitting to a famous work that they have not read. The greater the work, the higher the point score. An obnoxious American academic, competing with a group of colleagues, finally gets the hang of the game and plays his trump card: “Hamlet.” He wins the game but is then denied tenure.

That’s the thing with reading lists like “1001 Books.” There’s always that host of the unread.

Come to think of it, I have a personal white whale: “Moby-Dick.” I really must read it before I die.

Nope. I can die in peace without finishing Moby Dick.


Ana S. said...

lol. Me too.

This reminds me of The Polyssylabic Spree, where Nick Hornby says that people tend to forget that nothing good will happen if you read all the "great works". You don't automatically become more enlightened, or happier, or a better person. Likewise, nothing bad will happen if you don't read them.

Have I mentioned that I like Nick Hornby? :P

Melwyk said...

Love it! I too find the list to have, say, 101 books you couldn't make me read before I die.

Anonymous said...

I read the article last night and felt the same way. But I did laugh at the end because the Moby Dick comment made me think of you!

darkorpheus said...

Nymeth Hornby is right. Reading the great books probably only make the difference because a part of you DESIRE TO KNOW, DESIRE TO LEARN. That is what is really important.

Melanie Me too. Lists like these are just a guide to our own reading. But something is wrong when we take these lists too seriously - because then we are allowing someone else authority over our minds.

Stefanie I started Moby Dick FIVE TIMES and never finished it. It is a romance that will never be. :)

purplefugue said...

I've never liked lists like that. There are too many books to discover. And half the fun of reading, I believe is stumbling on a book that keeps you up and night and one which you can't wait to share with friends.

I should make a list of "Books I Have Nearly Died Reading". And yes, Moby Dick is one. :-)

darkorpheus said...

Kisane - I agree. There should be a sense of wonder and discovery to our reading.

You definitely should make that list: "Books That I Nearly Died Reading."

I should make that list too. Actually, I think I will work on it now.

I will start with Moby Dick. But I would put The Da Vinci Code on it too - because it was so bad!

Carl V. Anderson said...

Fortunately...or unfortunately depending on how you view it...there are many books on the 1001 list that I can and will die quite happily without having read.

darkorpheus said...

Carl - I agree - Most of us can die peaceful deaths without reading a lot of these books.

And some of those books on the list looks reading DULL.