Cecrow's 501 Journey
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Here I'll track the books I've read so far. I'm sure I'll never read all 501 - several don't interest me at all, and I see no point in forcing them on myself. I think 300-350 might be a reasonable goal, however.
note: italics means hard pass, no thanks (these are mostly in the Thrillers category)
CURRENT TOTAL READ: 159
CHILDREN'S FICTION (38/51)
The Adventures of Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi
Emil and the Detectives by Erich Kästner
The Golem by Isaac Bashevis Singer
Heidi by Johanna Spyri
Les Malheurs de Sophie by Comtesse de Ségur
Mary Poppins by P. L. Travers
Nobody's Boy by Hector Malot
Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren
Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm by Kate Douglas Wiggin
Sophie's World by Jostein Gaarder
The Story of Doctor Dolittle by Hugh Lofting
Tom's Midnight Garden by Philippa Pearce
The War of the Buttons by Louis Pergaud
CLASSIC FICTION (40/60)
The Beast Within by Émile Zola
Bliss and Other Stories by Katherine Mansfield
The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton
In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust
Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy
Lady Audley's Secret by Mary Elizabeth Braddon
The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins
North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell
Old Goriot by Honoré de Balzac
Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens
The Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan
The Red and the Black by Stendhal
The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome
To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf
Tom Jones by Henry Fielding
Utopia by Thomas More
Vathek by William Beckford
Waverley by Walter Scott
The Age of the Cathedrals: Art and Society, 980-1420 by Georges Duby
The Annals by Tacitus
The Cheese and the Worms: The Cosmos of a Sixteenth-Century Miller by Carlo Ginzburg
Chinese Shadows by Simon Leys
Citizens: A Chronicle of the French Revolution by Simon Schama
The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy by Jacob Burckhardt
Colossus: The Rise and Fall of the American Empire by Niall Ferguson
The Crusades Through Arab Eyes by Amin Maalouf
Daily Life in Ancient Rome by Jerome Carcopino
The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon
The Decline of the West by Oswald Spengler
A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century by Barbara W. Tuchman
The End of History and the Last Man by Francis Fukuyama
The Fall of Berlin 1945 by Antony Beevor
The Fatal Shore by Robert Hughes
Flesh in the Age of Reason: The Modern Foundations of Body and Soul by Roy Porter
Frozen Desire by James Buchan
God's First Love: Christians and Jews Over Two Thousand Years by Friedrich Heer
The Histories by Herodotus
Hitler and Stalin: Parallel Lives by Alan Bullock
The Holocaust: A History of the Jews of Europe During the Second World War by Martin Gilbert
The Hour of Our Death by Philippe Aries
The Iron King by Maurice Druon
Islam in History: Ideas, People, and Events in the Middle East by Bernard Lewis
Leviathan and the Air-Pump by Steven Shapin
The Lives of the Noble Grecians and Romans by Plutarch
London: The Biography by Peter Ackroyd
Medieval Cities: Their Origins and the Revival of Trade by Henri Pirenne
The Mediterranean and the Mediterranean World in the Age of Philip II by Fernand Braudel
The Naked Heart by Peter Gay
The Origins of The Second World War by A. J. P. Taylor
The Ornament of the World: How Muslims, Jews and Christians Created a Culture of Tolerance in Medieval Spain by Maria Rosa Menocal
Pagans and Christians by Robin Lane Fox
Pandaemonium: The Coming of the Machine As Seen by Contemporary Observers by Humphrey Jennings
Pax Britannica: the Climax of an Empire by James Morris
A People's History of the United States: 1492 to Present by Howard Zinn
The Pleasures of the Imagination: English Culture in the Eighteenth Century by John Brewer
Rites of Spring : The Great War and the Birth of the Modern Age by Modris Eksteins
Seven Pillars of Wisdom by T. E. Lawrence
The Stripping of the Altars: Traditional Religion in England, 1400-1580 by Eamon Duffy
The Trial of Socrates by I. F. Stone
The Women's History of the World by Rosalind Miles
The Wretched of the Earth by Frantz Fanon
Amiel's Journal by Henri Frédéric Amiel
Andre Gide Journals 1889-1949 (Penguin Modern Classics) by André Gide
An Angel at My Table by Janet Frame
Autobiographies: The Collected Works of W.B. Yeats, Volume III by W. B. Yeats
Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda
The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini by Benvenuto Cellini
The Book of Margery Kempe by Margery Kempe
Borrowed Time: An AIDS Memoir by Paul Monette
Brief Lives by John Aubrey
Childhood, Youth & Exile by Alexander Herzen
The Confessions of Jean-Jacques Rousseau by Jean-Jacques Rousseau
De Profundis by Oscar Wilde
The Diaries of Franz Kafka by Franz Kafka
The Diary Of Alice James by Alice James
The Diary of Samuel Pepys by Samuel Pepys
Down and Out in Paris and London by George Orwell
Father and Son: A Study of Two Temperaments by Edmund Gosse
A Grief Observed by C. S. Lewis
I Will Bear Witness: A Diary of the Nazi Years, 1933-1941 by Victor Klemperer
In the Castle of my Skin by George Lamming
Journal of a Solitude by May Sarton
Journal of Katherine Mansfield by Katherine Mansfield
The Letters by Pliny the Younger
Memoirs by Pablo Neruda
Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter by Simone de Beauvoir
Memories, Dreams, Reflections by Carl Jung
My Left Foot by Christy Brown
My Place by Sally Morgan
Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson
Paula by Isabel Allende
Pentimento by Lillian Hellman
Portrait of a Marriage: Vita Sackville-West and Harold Nicolson by Nigel Nicolson
The Pursuit of Love by Nancy Mitford
The Seven Storey Mountain by Thomas Merton
Speak, Memory: An Autobiography Revisited by Vladimir Nabokov
The Towers of Trebizond by Rose Macaulay
The Unquiet Grave: A Word Cycle by Palinurus by Cyril Connolly
Ways of Escape by Graham Greene
The Words by Jean-Paul Sartre
MODERN FICTION (36/140)
The Alexandria Quartet by Lawrence Durrell
Austerlitz by W.G. Sebald
Auto-da-fé by Elias Canetti
Barney's Version by Mordecai Richler
Beloved by Toni Morrison
Berlin Alexanderplatz by Alfred Döblin
The Berlin Stories by Christopher Isherwood
Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks
The Blind Owl by Ṣādiq Hidāyat
The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter
The Blue Flower by Penelope Fitzgerald
Bonjour Tristesse by Françoise Sagan
Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh
The Cairo Trilogy: Palace Walk, Palace of Desire, Sugar Street by Naguib Mahfouz
Cakes and Ale by W. Somerset Maugham
Captain Corelli's Mandolin by Louis de Bernières
Changing Places by David Lodge
Cheri by Colette
Cold Heaven by Brian Moore
The Collected Stories of Isaac Babel by Isaac Babel
The Confessions of Zeno (aka Zeno's Conscience) by Italo Svevo
Couples by John Updike
Disgrace by J. M. Coetzee
Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands by Jorge Amado
Embers by Sándor Márai
Enduring Love by Ian McEwan
The Engineer of Human Souls by Josef Škvorecký
The Executioner's Song by Norman Mailer
Felicia's Journey by William Trevor
Ferdydurke by Witold Gombrowicz
Fifth Business by Robertson Davies
The File on H. by Ismail Kadare
A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry
From the Fifteenth District by Mavis Gallant
Giovanni's Room by James Baldwin
God's Grace by Bernard Malamud
The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing
A Good Man is Hard to Find and Other Stories by Flannery O'Connor
The Good Soldier by Ford Madox Ford
Gormenghast by Mervyn Peake
Le Grand Meaulnes by Alain-Fournier (Henri Alban Fournier)
The Group by Mary McCarthy
Hadrian the Seventh by Frederick Rolfe
Herzog by Saul Bellow
The Horse's Mouth by Joyce Cary
A House and Its Head by Ivy Compton-Burnett
A House for Mr. Biswas by V. S. Naipaul
The Human Stain by Philip Roth
Hunger by Knut Hamsun
An Imaginary Life by David Malouf
In Praise of Older Women: The Amorous Recollections of Andràs Vajda by Stephen Vizinczey
Journey to the End of the Night by Louis-Ferdinand Céline
July's People by Nadine Gordimer
The Kingdom of this World by Alejo Carpentier
Last Exit to Brooklyn by Hubert Selby, Jr.
The Leopard by Giuseppe Di Lampedusa
The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann
The Magician of Lublin by Isaac Bashevis Singer
The Man who Loved Children by Christina Stead
The Master by Colm Tóibín
The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
The Messiah of Stockholm by Cynthia Ozick
Mr Weston's Good Wine by T. F. Powys
Nadja by André Breton
Naked Lunch by William S. Burroughs
The Nephew by James Purdy
The New York Trilogy by Paul Auster
Once Were Warriors by Alan Duff
Oscar and Lucinda by Peter Carey
Our Lady of the Flowers by Jean Genet
The Palm-wine Drinkard by Amos Tutuola
Pedro Paramo by Juan Rulfo
Pereira Declares by Antonio Tabucchi
Perfume : The Story of a Murderer by Patrick Suskind
The Periodic Table by Primo Levi
Possession by A.S. Byatt
The Posthumous Memoirs of Bras Cubas by Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis
The Radetzky March by Joseph Roth
The Regeneration Trilogy by Pat Barker
The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro
The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie
The Sea of Fertility by Yukio Mishima
The Sea, the Sea by Iris Murdoch
Seven Gothic Tales by Isak Dinesen
The Short Stories of Saki by Saki (Hector Hugh Munro)
Soldiers of Salamis by Javier Cercas
Sophie's Choice by William Styron
The Stories of John Cheever by John Cheever
Surfacing by Margaret Atwood
The Sweet Hereafter by Russell Banks
Take a Girl Like You by Kingsley Amis
The Third Policeman by Flann O'Brien
The Time of the Hero by Mario Vargas Llosa
The Tin Drum by Günter Grass
The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera
Underworld by Don DeLillo
Voss by Patrick White
What We Talk About When We Talk About Love by Raymond Carver
Where the Jackals Howl by Amos Oz
The White Hotel by D. M. Thomas
Wildlife by Richard Ford
Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson
Women in Love by D. H. Lawrence
The World According to Garp by John Irving
SCIENCE FICTION (16/50)
2001: A Space Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke
Brain Wave by Poul Anderson
City by Clifford D. Simak
A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
Cosmicomics by Italo Calvino
The Crystal World by J. G. Ballard
The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham
Donovan's Brain by Curt Siodmak
Dwellers in the Mirage by A. Merritt
Erewhon by Samuel Butler
The Green Child by Herbert Read
Hothouse by Brian W. Aldiss
I Am Legend by Richard Matheson
The Invention of Morel by Adolfo Bioy Casares
Inverted World by Christopher Priest
Last and First Men by Olaf Stapledon
Lest Darkness Fall by L. Sprague de Camp
The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury
More Than Human by Theodore Sturgeon
Neuromancer by William Gibson
Out of the Silent Planet by C. S. Lewis
The People Trap by Robert Sheckley
Planet of the Apes by Pierre Boulle
Shikasta by Doris Lessing
The Sheep Look Up by John Brunner
Slan by A. E. Van Vogt
Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
Solaris by Stanislaw Lem
The Stepford Wives by Ira Levin
A Strange Manuscript Found in a Copper Cylinder by James De Mille
The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch by Philip K. Dick
The Time Traders by Andre Norton
To Your Scattered Bodies Go by Philip José Farmer
Two Planets by Kurd Laßwitz
Farewell, My Lovely by Raymond Chandler
Above the Dark Circus by Hugh Walpole
The Beast Must Die by Nicholas Blake
The Big Clock by Kenneth Fearing
Blood Sport by Dick Francis
Bones and Silence by Reginald Hill
Born Victim by Hillary Waugh
The Bride Wore Black by Cornell Woolrich
The Chinese Orange Mystery by Ellery Queen
Deadlock by Sara Paretsky
Death in the Wrong Room by Anthony Gilbert
Death of My Aunt by C. H. B. Kitchin
Devil Take the Blue-Tail Fly by John Franklin Bardin
Double Indemnity by James M. Cain
Dover One by Joyce Porter
Final Curtain by Ngaio Marsh
Gaudy Night by Dorothy L. Sayers
The Glass-Sided Ants' Nest by Peter Dickinson
Hamlet, Revenge! by Michael Innes
He Who Whispers by John Dickson Carr
How Like an Angel by Margaret Millar
In The Last Analysis by Amanda Cross
A Judgement in Stone by Ruth Rendell
The Last Detective by Peter Lovesey
The Laughing Policeman by Maj Sjöwall
Malice Aforethought by Francis Iles
The Man in the Net by Patrick Quentin
The Man Who Killed Himself by Julian Symons
Mr. Hire's Engagement (aka The Engagement) by Georges Simenon
More Work for the Undertaker by Margery Allingham
The Moving Toyshop by Edmund Crispin
The Murder Room by P.D. James
No Orchids for Miss Blandish by James Hadley Chase
An Oxford Tragedy by J. C. Masterman
A Pin to See the Peepshow by F. Tennyson Jesse
The Poisoned Chocolates Case by Anthony Berkeley
Psycho by Robert Bloch
Quiet as a Nun by Antonia Fraser
A Rage in Harlem by Chester Himes
The Red Box by Rex Stout
A Red Death by Walter Mosley
Red Harvest by Dashiell Hammett
The Red House Mystery by A. A. Milne
Rose at Ten (aka Rosaura a Las Diez) by Marco Denevi
The Seven-Per-Cent Solution by Nicholas Meyer
The Sleeping Car Murders by Sébastien Japrisot
The Steam Pig by James McClure
Suicide Excepted by Cyril Hare
The Sunday Woman by Carlo Fruttero
Thus Was Adonis Murdered by Sarah Caudwell
Trent's Last Case by E. C. Bentley
Trial and Error by Anthony Berkeley
Unnatural Exposure by Patricia Cornwell
Vendetta by Michael Dibdin
The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
TRAVEL WRITING (6/40)
Among the Believers: An Islamic Journey by V. S. Naipaul
Arctic Dreams by Barry Lopez
The Cruise of the Snark by Jack London
Danube by Claudio Magris
Roads to Santiago by Cees Nooteboom
Dead Man's Chest: Travels After Robert Louis Stevenson by Nicholas Rankin
Destinations: Essays from Rolling Stone by Jan Morris
Eothen by Alexander William Kinglake
From Southern Cross to Pole Star by A. F. Tschiffely
Golden Earth: Travels in Burma by Norman Lewis
The Great Railway Bazaar by Paul Theroux
In Patagonia by Bruce Chatwin
Into the Heart of Borneo by Redmond O'Hanlon
Journal of the Discovery of the Source of the Nile by John Hanning Speke
La Salle and the Discovery of the Great West by Francis Parkman
The Last Place on Earth by Roland Huntford
The Scorpion-Fish by Nicolas Bouvier
My Journey to Lhasa by Alexandra David-Néel
On Fiji Islands by Ronald Wright
On the Narrow Road: A Journey into Lost Japan by Lesley Downer
The Purple Land by W. H. Hudson
The Road to Oxiana by Robert Byron
A Rose for Winter by Laurie Lee
The Seasick Whale : an Israeli Abroad by Ephraim Kishon
Seven Years in Tibet by Heinrich Harrer
A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush by Eric Newby
The Snow Leopard by Peter Matthiessen
The Traveller's Tree: A Journey Through the Caribbean Islands by Patrick Leigh Fermor
The Travels of Ibn Battutah by Ibn Battutah
The Travels of Marco Polo by Marco Polo
Travels with a Donkey in the Cevennas by Robert Louis Stevenson
Travels with Charley: In Search of America by John Steinbeck
The Valleys of the Assassins: and Other Persian Travels by Freya Stark
Video Night in Kathmandu: And Other Reports from the Not-So-Far East by Pico Iyer
#81: Last night I read Jacob Two-Two Meets the Hooded Fang to my 7-yr old son. He was sick with a cold and tired of television, so we read the whole thing in just over an hour. It's short and brisk, not wasting any time on drawing out the drama longer than necessary.
There's some fun parts here, especially when Jacob threatens the Fang, but I sensed it lost him for a while through its first third, in the same place that stumped me as a kid and made me give it up at that age: the court scene. Kids don't know how a court operates, what a jury is, prosecution and defence, etc. and this book doesn't make any effort to explain it to them. Had a fun debate with my son afterwards though, about whether the bulk of the story was a dream or not.
#82: At last read Jane Eyre, a classic novel I put off far too long for being a romance. Definitely worth any man's time to read; wish I'd read it in highschool, in fact, for the lessons it imparts - presuming I'd found the wisdom at that age to absorb them. The 2011 movie is excellent (and what finally prompted me to read it.)
#83: Read Perrault's Fairy Tales; apparently even he isn't the originator of these stories, but the first to collect them and make them popular for reading: Red Riding Hood, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Puss in Boots, Tom Thumb, etc.
There's not a bit of sugar coating going on here, from the era when it was judged best to scare children into minding their parents. Most startling for me was the Sleeping Beauty story; I had no idea Disney ended at the halfway point, before Sleeping Beauty discovers her new mother-in-law is a man-eating ogress ... so much for happily ever after!
#84: Another title from the Children's Fiction category, The Weirdstone of Brisingamen. I'm not sure how this one made the list. It must have been for the descriptive writing which is admirable in places (claustrophobics should beware), because the story isn't very good. Unless you love to read lots of "they travelled to here, then here, then here, then here, then here ...." This entry could have been something like Over Sea, Under Stone by Susan Cooper, instead.
#85: Read Sailing Alone Around the World, a gentle story that's not at all what I expected. Thought it would be more about the adventurous nature of the voyage, but - with the occasional exception - it comes off sounding almost like a pleasure cruise. Fun to follow with a map, and there's some interesting encounters; he meets Robert Louis Stevenson's widow, and Stanley of Stanley-and-Livingstone fame. This is worth picking up.
#86: Read A History of Warfare by John Keegan which is an excellent high-level overview of 4,000 years of civilization, told in 400 pages and from a military perspective. Some very intriguing theories are explored here, well worth anyone's time who has even a slight interest in history or the military. One caution, it can be a bit difficult in some places.
#87: Read Frankenstein, which has many surprises in store if you think you already know the story. For one: the monster is probably the best spoken of any, ever.
#88: Anderson's Fairy Tales I don't think have aged as well as Perrault's. There are many in this collection that just left me scratching my head. But he's still an author for the ages with his many classics including the Tin Soldier, Ugly Duckling, etc. Just, not one that you should feel any particular need to pursue the more obscure works of unless you're out to conquer the 501 list.
#89: A Tramp Abroad is one of Mark Twain's travel tales about journeys through Europe. It's written as satire so some of its power has been lost over the years, but there's still plenty to chuckle at. The appendices are definitely worth a read and not to be overlooked. I was surprised this was listed under "Travel" ahead of (what I at least thought was) the better known Innocents Abroad; maybe this is the work most quoted from and least aged?
#90: The Picture of Dorian Gray is a great classic, fully of wit and interesting twists. It speaks to youth being "but a season" and the illusion this panicked notion creates.
#91: Read one of many editions of Anton Chekov's collected short stories. Mostly tales of tragic romance, some penetrating character studies, written very concisely and yet illuminating.
#92: A Short Account of the Destruction of the Indies is a grim eyewitness account of the Spanish conquest of the Americas. It's not a play-by-play, rather a citing of travesties inflicted upon native Americans by the conquistadors who exchanged their morals and loyalty to the crown for gold, gold and more gold. Nasty stuff, fascinating for its age (written in the 1540s).
#93: Journey to the Center of the Earth is outdated speculative fiction. Often riffed off of (Hollywood continues to milk it), the original doesn't hold up very well.
#94: I think it's too recently published to definitively call Life of Pi a "must read" book, but it was definitely a fun one to absorb, and the shock of that ending ... really leaves you thinking, and the message hits home. Read this so I can go rent the movie, and I'm looking forward to it.
#95: Walden might be one of the tougher reads on the list, for being long and rambling, but scattered throughout are many thought-provoking quotes to consider. I liked his extolling of nature and anti-materialism, although his was too extreme an approach to both for me. Glad to have read something else from the Memoir category, one of my weaker ones.
#96: I downloaded The King of the Golden River to my Kobo for free, and it's a quick read, a typical fairy tale that strikes me as just okay. I'm more grateful for having had Ruskin's interesting character brought to my attention than for the story recommendation.
Strange that someone like Perrault or Anderson makes the list for their entire body of work, but Ruskin achieves essentially the same honour for just this one less well known fable.
#97: The Man Who was Thursday started off as a fun police farce, but turned into some Christian allegory by its end in a bizarre twist I didn't really follow. Not quite as good in the final analysis as it promised to be at the start.
#98: I'll never read much from the thriller category, but The Mystery of the Yellow Room was a decent book. Apparently this is by the same guy who created the Phantom of the Opera.
#99: Never Cry Wolf is a quick and easy read from the Travel section by my fellow Canadian Farley Mowat. Dubious mix of fiction/non-fiction by most accounts, but I think its central point remains truth: humans are too often guided by fear, and we've done the wolf a disservice accordingly.
#100(!!): Dracula offers a lot more than I expected, well worth reading. It was one of the titles that puzzled me for its presence on the list, but I can accept it now for sure. Definitely one of the books that gave wolves a bad name, lol.
#101: Score one for memoirs, but it wasn't pleasant. Confessions of Augustine is a chore to trudge through, unless you've a deep and abiding interest in early Christian theology. The biography bits are okay, but not really worth it.
#102: The 501 list has led me to some fascinating authors I'd otherwise probably never have tried (e.g. Italo Calvino, E.M. Forster, others). Here's another one. I nearly had to blow the dust off a library copy of Ficciones by Jorge Borges, but what a series of wonders it contains. This sort of mind-bending stuff is right up my alley and I loved every page.
But: the 501 entry for this collection begins with "Imagine a world without science fiction, fantasy, comic books, or computer games. Perhaps without Ficciones, Borges' masterwork, these contemporary genres would not have existed." *cough*hyperbole*cough* Spoken like someone who has no inkling or interest in any of those things or their history. Borges was hardly known outside Argentina until his works were translated from Spanish to French around 1960, English in 1962; more than a little late to garner that degree of credit.
#103: As depressing as advertised, at least The Sorrows of Werther is a short read. Youth's passions carried to an extreme, a good one not to read until you've outgrown your vulnerable teens and can read it with a clear mind that sees through the holes in Werther's rationalizing of his position.
#104: As soon as I read the summary for Hiroshima, it was an instant must-read. Published a year after the bombing in 1945, it was an eye-opener for western readers, and can still be an eye-opener today. A five star read for sure.
#105: The Story of English scores me another point for my weak showing in the History category. My copy is the well-illustrated first edition. Despite the dated content I learned a lot about the history of my mother tongue and why it is so popular around the world. Apparently there's many books on this topic and this isn't necessarily the best among them, but I thought it was good.
#106: The Sword in the Stone is a disappointment similar to Alan Garner's effort, not as good as I'd expected. While there were a lot of fun parts, anachronisms got to me and I couldn't get into the spirit of it (except King Pellinore, whatever he's supposed to be king of; he was fun.) My nine-year-old son found the language too daunting in the opening chapter and lost interest fast. Having read the whole thing, I can't say he's missing much.
#107: I read Heart of Darkness in university long before I saw this list, but I hadn't sampled Joseph Conrad again since. His novel Victory is a wonderful mix of literary talent on display while producing an engaging and suspenseful story, sometimes comic and sometimes tragic.
#108: Barchester Towers is very light and easy reading, low on tension, but I strongly recommend reading "The Warden" first as an introduction to the characters and setting. Trollope really shines at bringing clarity and simplicity to his descriptions of complex emotional states and the resulting behaviours.
#109: While there isn't a lot of forward plot momentum in The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, the characters are well drawn and sympathetic, wide-ranging and yet unified in their loneliness, their sense of being a voice in the wilderness and/or unique in their understanding. I found it melancholy but not depressing, and remarkably insightful (the author was only 22.)
#110: Howards End is one of two E.M. Forster titles on the list, and the one that landed in the classics section. Of all my many thanks-to-501 discoveries, I treasure discovering this author the most. Both of his titles rank among my all-time favourites now.
#111: The Glass Bead Game is braincandy. The pages flew by and I don't even know how, considering there was no plot to speak of. It's a fictional biography from the future, taking place in a made-up province where a new game has evolved to become the token of all human knowledge. And it's great.
#112: How much more classic can you get than something more than 2,000 years old? The Epic of Gilgamesh is on par with Greek mythology, so if you like that sort of thing this reads like a long-lost additional chapter. Long-lost is actually literally true; it went missing for centuries and wasn't rediscovered until the 19th.
#113: A Canticle for Leibowitz left a bad taste with me when I sampled its opening chapter in high school, but it went down smooth this time. One of the stronger titles I've read from the Science Fiction section.
#114: The Accidental Tourist is written in simple language but explores profound questions about self-identity and relationships. I learned a thing or two about my own by reading this novel.
#115: The Vicar of Wakefield is hardly a novel to regret not reading, but it does satisfy curiosity after its many mentions in other works by other authors (Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, Mary Shelley, Goethe, etc.) This one, you can take it or leave it.
#116: The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie is another short one, about a progressive teacher who turns out to be a bad guy. Good balance for typical stories about a teacher inspiring her class to rise above. Style reflects theme in a pleasing way.
#117: Things Fall Apart is a modern classic and deservedly so, and its summary in the 501 book describes why very well.
#118: The Stranger is best interpreted as a discomforting voyage inside the mind of a murderer who feels justified in his callous action. Because the alternative is just too horrible.
#119: I was skeptical about ever tackling "Journey to the Hebrides" (A Journey to the Western Isles of Scotland/A Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides with Samuel Johnson), the combined accounts by Samuel Johnson and James Boswell of their 1773 journey, but obtained each of them for free on my Kobo ereader so I decided to try it. It's wonderful. Johnson's shorter telling is the fairly dry account I anticipated, but Boswell's journal serves as a sort of shortcut to gathering his take on Dr. Johnson, since the alternative is the 1400+ page classic biography "The Life of Samuel Johnson". Johnson's account is still worth starting with because of Boswell's references to it and there's value to be had in reading both that goes beyond learning what Scotland was like in the day. These two accounts contrast autobiography vs biography, an internal view vs the external. Johnson's account of the world comes as he sees it, and then Bowsell's view is of Johnson doing so. These are sometimes published together (good!), but really I'd have liked an interleaved edition: state the day, then give us Johnson's account followed by Boswell's, then the next day, etc. Knowing all, I would have preferred reading them together like that rather than sequentially. Boswell's journal became a steady comfort read that lasted me months, and I may return to it again someday.
#120: Middlemarch is a long slog, but filled with psychological insight. Some readers fall completely in love with it and I'm sorry I'm not one of them. It was too clinical for my taste, the author too present in the story, but it had its (many) moments and I'd be even more sorry not to have read it at all.
#122: The Wars by Timothy Findley is comparable to Remarque's All Quiet on the Western Front for a gritty, realistic telling of the first world war on the western front between France and Germany. This one is different for having been crafted with more mystery and a broader range of style, with a different flavour of ending. One of several Canadian authors on the list.
#123: It was the 501's memoir section that led me to discover Goethe left us an autobiography; that's almost like discovering there's one by Shakespeare! I was surprised and disappointed that it's fairly unpopular reading, which I guess explains it. More research reveals it to be an untrustworthy source, since Goethe chose to embellish his biography with a bit of exaggeration here and there to make it flow better. Reading to the end of Part One (of Four) was enough for me. It describes his origins: he came from a well-to-do household, suffered no hardships, and had a natural genius. It's a bit dry, more engaging when Gretchen enters the picture but she might be invented. Unless you're his fan and would like to read his first-hand accounting of influences and development, I'd say skip this one. Tough one to add to your library here on LT, its many editions are not well organized.
#124: There are four sets of fairy tales in the Children's portion - Hans Anderson's, the Brothers Grimm, Perrault's, and Oscar Wilde's*. The Happy Prince and Other Tales is certainly the least of them, and I can readily think of other titles aimed at this age that are more must-read-worthy than this. Only its first story, "The Happy Prince", has much lasting merit.
* I suppose John Ruskin counts in this category as well, for his standalone fairy tale entry.
#125: The Sound and the Fury is the only book I've read by William Faulkner, and I should probably read more given his reputation. I'm not personally in tune with the culture of the American south, but it is certainly interesting to read about. This is a tough uphill climb through its first half but then becomes easier, and I found it rewarding.
#126: A Christmas Carol seemed like a nuisance entry on the list since, similar to reading the Iliad, I already knew the story inside out from so many renditions. I arrived at it now as part of reading Dickens in publication order (which will eventually get me to Our Mutual Friend, the other must-read). In fact it's short, much faster-paced than his usual fare, and you might even say is "all the good parts" of the story you know.
Technically this entry implies I should also read Dickens' other short holiday stories, but I'm going to leave it at this and count the entry as read.
#127: Lost Horizon is a good adventure classic with a fine message: "All things in moderation". It walks the talk, and would just be a pleasant comfort read if it didn't hint at the darker world events outside this hidden Tibetan valley in 1933.
#128: When is an erotic novel not an erotic novel? When it is Lolita, a modern classic by Vladimir Nabokov that conveys a lesson or two in deft first-person narrative and psychological insight. Not a novel I would have pursued without knowing its status, but as well-written as its reputation suggests (wordplay and descriptions, especially).
#129: At first I was underwhelmed by the simple prose style of Reading Lolita in Tehran, and already skeptical that this memoir would prove dated. It won me over on both counts. This is a great telling of life under Iran's revolutionary regime from an educated woman's perspective. It scores solid points for its study of Western literature. Before you read this one, make sure you've read "Lolita", "The Great Gatsby" and "Pride and Prejudice" from the 501 List.
#130: I've unintentionally pursued some kind of theme by reading Crime and Punishment so shortly after Lolita; another story where the reader is invited to empathize with the perpetrator of a despicable crime. This Russian novel is far more a study of guilty conscience than the other, where much of the title's punishment is self-inflicted. Very compelling.
#131: Boy: Tales of Childhood is probably the "quickest hit" in the Memoirs category if you're looking to score an easy one. Roald Dahl's memoir is geared for readers in the 9-12 years range, the same set his most popular fiction is aimed at. The more of that work you're familiar with, the more parallels you can draw between inspiration and creation. Definite fun.
#132: The Colour of Magic is one of the more ridiculous categorizations on the 501 list. This "Children's Fiction" entry is a fantastic fantasy novel with brains enough to please any adult however discerning, and probably too much for all but the most mature kids to appreciate. Get to this one quick if you haven't read it yet, it's a blast (and just the beginning of a wonderful forty-volume series).
#133: I warmed up to Henry James by reading several of his shorter works first, but this may have been unnecessary. The Portrait of a Lady is his most accessible long-form novel and very readable, granting that my read was informed by spoiling the whole story for myself in advance. I think for this novel that's an asset, given the easier appreciation it affords for how the story unfolds.
#134: Similar to what happened with the Booker Prize, Staying On wins recognition on the 501 list over Paul Scott's Raj Quartet. This was a good read but it was made so much better for having read the quartet already since it does serve as a kind of sequel. I say start with The Jewel in the Crown and read your way through the previous four novels before coming to this title, it's worth going the long way around.
#135: Science fiction is the only 501 category permitting some novellas in place of novels. One of these is Who Goes There? The Novella, basis of the 1982 movie "The Thing". Antarctic exploration has never been so hazardous. Okay - so it's pretty hazardous under any circumstances, granted, but not with such potential consequence for the entire planet. Found this one online: http://nzr.mvnu.edu/faculty/trearick/english/rearick/readings/manuscri/Who%20Goe...
#136: The Trial isn't so depressing as you might expect, nor is it merely a two-hundred-page courtcase, thankfully. You pretty much know from the start that Joseph K. is doomed, but absurdity has its fun side. I've previously read The Metamorphosis and preferred that one, but The Trial is likely Kafka's most widely read and not a surprising choice for the list.
#137: Rebecca is a romance that becomes a suspense novel, filled with insight and then big on drama in turn, and haunted throughout (metaphorically) by the deceased title character. I must thank the list again for another fine discovery I'd not have made without it.
#139: The Demolished Man is a fast-paced sci-fi thriller, winner of the first Hugo award, while noting that it's very 1950s.
#140: The Old Man and the Sea is a short fast read with a straightforward plot; it's Hemingway's style that sells it, more than anything.
>61 Cecrow: I read that recently as well - so far it is the only Hemingway that I have liked.
I've also read A Farewell to Arms and thought that was good, although I knew in advance how it ended.
#141: Millennium: A History of the Last Thousand Years is truly a must-read for history buffs. It's a sharp, alternative look at world history that severely downplays western dominance. There's ample coverage of various Asian and Islamic developments, North and South American, African, etc. While it can't ignore Europe altogether, it grants a much more well-rounded and global perspective that is too often missing, and presents the thesis that western culture's power has been far briefer and more ephemeral (when viewed on a 1000-year scale) than we might imagine. It reads like "the rest of the story" for readers already familiar with at least a passing knowledge of more typically highlighted events that are spared little or no attention here. Really liked this one.
#142: The Voyage of the Beagle was not exactly gripping in e-reader format and it took me a long, long time to finish. I would need a doctorate in something biology-related to enjoy this one but, done.
#143: Candide is another proof, among several instances from the 501 list, that worthy literature can also be fun.
#144: The Handmaid's Tale is the most recently published of the sci-fi titles (and even so, it's thirty years old), and it's a great time to read it with what's going on in the USA these days and the television version now playing. A dystopian tale of a fundamentalist patriarchy where women are essentially slaves to the men.
#145: My Family and Other Animals won't be the most sincere memoir you read from the list, but it might be the most entertaining. Gerald Durrell sends up his entire family to hilarious effect, and teaches a thing or two about the animals of Corfu in the 1930s on the side.
#146: 84, Charing Cross Road is a short collection of letters sent between an author and book lover in New York and a small bookshop in London, England. The letters span a period of twenty years, beginning with an initial book order that flowers into a fun relationship between buyer and seller. Nothing too spectacular but it's a good read about (of course!) a great topic.
#147: A High Wind in Jamaica is similar to Lord of the Flies for theme, but different in content. Childhood innocence should not be presumed to align with moral good, as demonstrated amply here.
I'm glad to see that you are still making progress on this list!
#148: Clarissa is done. What's the takeaway? On this earth there are angels, and there are devils. It required most of this staggeringly enormous book before each of them believes in the other, but you can have that tip for free. An incredible, never to be duplicated feat of writing and a new favourite classic in my library.
>72 Cecrow: I've not heard of this before, but your review has piqued my interest. I hesitate to take on something this size in the near future but maybe someday... how long did you take to read it?
Started in January, but since I mostly read it on the side that’s not indicative. It’s not a tough read as far as the classics go, low on action but high in emotional force, imo.
#149: The Castle of Otranto features a truly unique reason why a groom fails to appear at his wedding that I guarantee you won't find anywhere else. Read up on the pedigree of this one, else you're bound to be mystified: it's the original gothic novel that set the template for meshing supernatural events with realistic responses.
#150: Wuthering Heights is an atypical classic, trodding thoroughly all over the 'happily ever after' meme. A novel of obsession, revenge and violence. Try this one if you think classics have no bite to them.
#151: Of fifty books categorized by the 501 as History, only Che Guevara: A Revolutionary Life is a lone individual's biography; interesting choice. A large book that took me a long while to get through but it's extremely well written (possibly the biggest impetus for this selection), about an intriguing figure and oftentimes symbol.
#152: A Sicilian Romance is a disappointing entry in the list's mostly fantastic selection of classical works. It has some literary history value, but only if you do the background reading to understand its place and influence.
#153: The Power and the Glory is a good read, though I'm not sure its ranking among the Classics is justified. It centres on the persecution of the Catholic church in southern Mexico in the 1920s, featuring proponents for both sides who feel personally driven to pursue their agendas without a whole lot of thought being given to taking the public pulse. Greene is a magnificent writer, but I like other work he's written more than this one.
#154: Islandia is a tour de force of world-building. While it's categorized in the list as science fiction and certainly doesn't exist anywhere on Earth, it could. There's nothing fantastical, but much that is fantastic. A romance, not just between John Lang and the women he meets (although there's plenty of that), but also between him and this amazing country. Its magic worked for me; another amazing discovery that rewards my pursuit of this list.
#155: If you're being thorough, Vanity Fair should maybe be read after Pilgrim's Progress (which introduces the term) and Tom Jones (which introduces the style). Personally I've read neither yet, and no harm done. It's also a classic often cited as best read when you have some years behind you; 40+ seems to have been sufficient. Thackeray was a realist who provided an undisguised look at how often selfishness rules our choices, cynicism laced with humour and never too sour.
#156: Unless is a strong modern fiction novel about a woman raising three daughters, who's forced to do some soul-searching when her eldest inexplicably gives up schooling to live on the street. It was very satisfying upon conclusion, but a bit of time and afterthought has shown me some flaws. Still, very good.
#157: The Corrections was not as grim, turgid or overwrought as I feared it might be; a realistic portrait (but with a lot of off-the-wall stuff thrown in) of a dysfunctional nuclear family trying to gather for one last hometown Christmas.
#158: Memoirs of Hadrian is mostly what's on the can: more fictional memoir than historical fiction, but effectively both. A short novel but a challenging one, it's worthy of the list.
This topic is not marked as primarily about any work, author or other topic.