One Hundred Great Reads

How to go about this?

Posted in method by Jimmy on March 30, 2009

Let me tell you one thing about me right away: I’m lazy.  To quote X-Press 2 and David Byrne:

“I’m lazy when I’m lovin’, I’m lazy when I play.  I’m lazy with my girlfriend a thousand times a day.  I’m lazy when I’m speaking, I’m lazy when I walk.  I’m lazy when I’m dancin’ and I’m lazy when I talk.”

What this means is that I don’t like reading long books, because this makes me think that I’ll never finish them.  This is not strictly true, if I get into a good book I’ll generally finish it.  I read all three parts of the Lord of the Rings for heaven’s sake!

Anyway, the point I’m trying to make is that I’ve signed up to  This is a on-line shop where you can download audio books that sit nicely on your iPod (or other mp3 audio device).  These are books that are read out to you by someone.  I recently downloaded Moby Dick and found the reading to be very interesting.  Although, I do like pirate voices and this was full of them.

Basically, I’m going to try to cover a few of these books by listening to them on audio.  I can do this when I’m cycling or running – to pass the time.

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The One Hundred Greatest Reads

Posted in about by Jimmy on March 29, 2009

According to my mother I don’t read enough:

Son, you know you’ll learn more from books than you will from watching tele or playing video games.

I know this is true, although Civilization IV has taught me how to take a tribe from a bunch of vicious nomads to a civilised democratic nation with the atomic bomb. I’ve learnt a lot from books. I’ve got a good degree and I love reading real life stuff. Then my professor also told me once:

Young man, there’s often more truth in fiction than in non-fiction.

So, I found a list of the one hundred greatest novels from Time Magazine. This seemed like a good place to start. In summary these are the books:

  • The Adventures of Augie March by Saul Bellow
  • All the King’s Men by Robert Penn Warren
  • American Pastoral by Philip Roth
  • An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser
  • Animal Farm by George Orwell
  • Appointment in Samarra by John O’Hara
  • Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume
  • The Assistant by Bernard Malamud
  • At Swim-Two-Birds by Flann O’Brien
  • Atonement by Ian McEwan
  • Beloved by Toni Morrison
  • The Berlin Stories Christopher Isherwood
  • The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler
  • The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood
  • Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy
  • Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh
  • The Bridge of San Luis Rey by Thornton Wilder
  • Call It Sleep by Henry Roth
  • Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
  • The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
  • A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
  • The Confessions of Nat Turner by William Styron
  • The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen
  • The Crying of Lot 49 by Thomas Pynchon
  • A Dance to the Music of Time by Anthony Powell
  • The Day of the Locust by Nathanael West
  • Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather
  • A Death in the Family by James Agee
  • The Death of the Heart by Elizabeth Bowen
  • Deliverance by James Dickey
  • Dog Soldiers by Robert Stone
  • Falconer by John Cheever
  • The French Lieutenant’s Woman by John Fowles
  • The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing
  • Go Tell it on the Mountain by James Baldwin
  • Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
  • The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
  • Gravity’s Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon
  • The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • A Handful of Dust by Evelyn Waugh
  • The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers
  • The Heart of the Matter by Graham Greene
  • Herzog by Saul Bellow
  • Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson
  • A House for Mr. Biswas by V.S. Naipaul
  • I, Claudius by Robert Graves
  • Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace
  • Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
  • Light in August by William Faulkner
  • The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
  • Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
  • Lord of the Flies by William Golding
  • The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
  • Loving by Henry Green
  • Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis
  • The Man Who Loved Children by Christina Stead
  • Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie
  • Money by Martin Amis
  • The Moviegoer by Walker Percy
  • Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
  • Naked Lunch by William Burroughs
  • Native Son by Richard Wright
  • Neuromancer by William Gibson
  • Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
  • 1984 by George Orwell
  • On the Road by Jack Kerouac
  • One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey
  • The Painted Bird by Jerzy Kosinski
  • Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov
  • A Passage to India by E.M. Forster
  • Play It As It Lays by Joan Didion
  • Portnoy’s Complaint by Philip Roth
  • Possession by A.S. Byatt
  • The Power and the Glory by Graham Greene
  • The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark
  • Rabbit, Run by John Updike
  • Ragtime by E.L. Doctorow
  • The Recognitions by William Gaddis
  • Red Harvest by Dashiell Hammett
  • Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates
  • The Sheltering Sky by Paul Bowles
  • Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
  • Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson
  • The Sot-Weed Factor by John Barth
  • The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
  • The Sportswriter by Richard Ford
  • The Spy Who Came in From the Cold by John le Carre
  • The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
  • Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
  • Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  • To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf
  • Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller
  • Ubik by Philip K. Dick
  • Under the Net by Iris Murdoch
  • Under the Volcano by Malcolm Lowry
  • Watchmen by Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons
  • White Noise by Don DeLillo
  • White Teeth by Zadie Smith
  • Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys

Rather tragically, despite thinking that I was rather well read, I had read this many of these books: 6. That’s right six. 6% of the books on the list. These are:

  • Animal Farm by George Orwell
  • Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
  • The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
  • Neuromancer by William Gibson
  • 1984 by George Orwell

All of which are very good and some of the best books I’ve read. Let’s see how I get on…