Saturday, December 8, 2012

If you need a new book to read...

Since graduation, I have embarked on a mission to become a well-read English major. I have been working on this mission since May 2011 until now, so about a year and a half. I thought it would be a good idea to create a blog post specifically to list what I have read, and to do this about once a year. I keep a comprehensive file on my computer detailing my observations of each book, but this exercise gives me an opportunity to reflect in brief, and keep a list of the books I really enjoyed and the books I really did not enjoy. Below is the list in its entirety of what I have read thus far.

Abarat – Clive Barker
The Acts of King Arthur and his Noble Knights – John Steinbeck
The Alchemist – Paulo Coelho
All the King’s Men – Robert Penn Warren
A Thousand Spendid Suns – Khaled Hosseini
Catch 22 – Joseph Heller
The Centurion’s Wife ~ Davis Bunn & Janette Oke
Come Be My Light ~ Mother Teresa
Complete Fairy Tales of Oscar Wilde ~ Oscar Wilde
The Emperor of Ocean Park ~ Stephen L. Carter
Ender’s Game ~ Orson Scott Card
Ender’s Shadow ~ Orson Scott Card
Forever ~ Peter Hamil
For Whom the Bell Tolls ~ Ernest Hemingway
Game of Thrones Series ~ George R. R. Martin
Gandhi An Autobiography: The Story of My Experiments with Truth ~ Mohandas Gandhi
Girl in Translation ~ Jean Kwok
The God of Small Things ~ Arundhati Roy
Harry Potter Series ~ J.K. Rowling
The Help ~ Kathryn Stockett
The Hunger Games ~ Suzanne Collins
Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell ~ Susanna Clarke
The Ladies of Grace Adieu and Other Stories ~ Susanna Clarke
Les Misérables ~ Victor Hugo
Life of Pi ~ Yann Martel
My Name is Asher Lev ~ Chaim Potok
The Once and Future King ~ T.H. White
Palace Council ~ Stephen L. Carter
The Pearl ~ John Steinbeck
Sanditon ~ Jane Austen and Another Lady
Say Her Name ~ Francisco Goldman
Shantaram ~ Gregory David Roberts
Someone Knows My Name ~ Lawrence Hill
The Brothers K ~ David James Duncan
To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
The War Prayer ~ Mark Twain
Water for Elephants ~ Sara Gruen
Watership Down ~ Richard Adams
The Westing Game ~ Ellen Raskin

I thought I would make a Top Five list, but I had too many favorites, so here is my Top Ten list (in no real particular order, and not counting the two series that I read, which were both wonderful).

1. Shantaram
2. For Whom the Bell Tolls
3. Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell
4. To Kill a Mockingbird
5. A Thousand Splendid Suns
6. Watership Down
7. Life of Pi
8.  Les Misérables
9. The Brothers K
10. The Alchemist

These are books I would recommend to anyone, so go to your nearest library and check them out! Just kidding, but if you are looking for a good read, any of these would be awesome, in my most humble opinion.

The two I really did not like were:

1. Catch 22. I try to appreciate books for their artistic value, and can usually value beautiful writing even if the subject material in the book was difficult, but I just could not do this for Catch 22. The characters did not seem real to me, and I did not get the humor. I apologize to those who love this book, and based on my short hate list, hopefully you can see that it takes a lot for me to dislike a work of literature. I try to like them. I just couldn't do it for this one.
2. The Hunger Games. I am embarrassed that this even has to be on the list.

I loved being an English major, and I feel that even outside of college, I have continued to grow in my pursuit of literature and writing, largely through this project. Aaron has really encouraged me, and recommended most of the books on my top ten list. He is incredibly well read, and can read dense novels of a thousand pages in a week, if that. Although I will probably never be the super speed reader that he is, he has trained me to think of books that contain upwards of six hundred pages as no big deal. I think I am ready for War and Peace under his tutelage. Maybe someday I will be as well read as he is! (He is not an English major, although he could have been, and would have been one of the star students in the major.)

I have to thank those of you who have actually read to this point. This post is more of a personal indulgence, and I think it will be a good way for me to keep track of all these books that I have read for the future. Plus, it is also a way for those looking for a new book to try out one on the list. There are many good ones on the general list that didn't quite make it onto the top ten list, but are still really good books. One of the best things about reading is that there are always more incredible stories out there to read!

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