I’m a bibliophile. I think it’s because books were my refuge when I was young. Escapism. I remember, as an early teenager, closing the door to my room, and in the dim light presented by a single, cheap lamp, reading my favorite fantasy novels–The Elric Saga, by Michael Moorcock. To this day I consider those books to be the exemplary way to present an anti-hero. And the hero dies at the end– groundbreaking in the day of Tolkien’esque fantasy.

I managed to bring with me to Germany, about 45 of the books from my library and there will be more on the way. The library here on the base is very good, and I’ll make pleanty of use of it.

Reading through Random House’s top 100 books of all time (English language), it was interesting how many of those books I’ve actually read.

Here’s what I remember reading from the list:

Animal Farm
The Lion, the witch and the wardrobe
The Catcher in the Rye
The Secret Agent
The Magus

I’m embarassed of course at how many books on the list I have not read. I’m sure I wouldn’t like most of them, as I feel that while many of the older writers that make up this list were great artists, most of their techniques and language doesn’t apply now. There are exceptions of course. Leo Tolstoy comes to mind. This list is only of books originally composed in the English language, so the great Russian writers aren’t listed. You can never have a complete list of great novels without Tolstoy’s War and Peace or Anna Karenina.

I own several other books on the list that I’ve not gotten to, but will eventually. I, Claudius (the Public Broadcasting mini-series was awesome, though), Catch-22, A Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man, Nostromo. Also, take note that the lsit was the board’s list. There was also a reader’s list which included more science-fiction, a genre always undercut by “experts”. To me an expert on books is anyone who reads them. I find most literary critics to be pompus, pipe-smoking libs who think a great book is one they can’t understand. Of course, I’m suspicious of the reader’s list too, because it contains far to many novels from Ayn Rand and L. Ron Hubbard, lending more of a cult-following and notoriety factor than you’d want if you were seeking objective critique ( I almost said Objectivism). And the board loses some credibility by forgetting, To Kill a Mockingbird and Middlemarch. Laughable…

There are many great books that will never make any lists. Feel free to list some in your comments. Like I said, great books don’t have to be on literary lists.


6 Responses to “Reading”

  1. November 30, 2008 at 9:52 pm

    Just wondering: were the rest of the Chronicles of Narnia on the list, or did you just not read them? I find myself going through the series a couple times a year usually. Sadly, no great Russian novels have gone under my gaze.

  2. December 1, 2008 at 10:39 am

    Sadly I have not read the other books. I have read several others by CS Lewis though: The Screwtape Letters (pure genius), Mere Christianity (My favorite Christian apologetic) and I believe God in the Dock. We need another CS Lewis. I don’t think anyone would listen, though….

    My friend Jaimie has read them several times.

  3. December 1, 2008 at 1:41 pm

    You’re absolutely right. I haven’t read the Screwtape Letters in full, but I mean to.

    Speaking of words, the “you’re” should be “your” in your last comment at my place.

    The Nitpicker/Grammar Police

  4. December 1, 2008 at 2:53 pm

    My grammar’s fine. My typing after drinking two liter’s of coffee– a bit off…

    The Search and Peck Coffee Addict

  5. 5 kernunos
    December 2, 2008 at 12:17 am

    Woot! Good stuff. CS Lewis was a genius.

  6. 6 Mike Rozos
    December 2, 2008 at 12:56 am


    Well, if she’s going to be the Grammar Police, let’s deputize her as the Fashion Police, too!

    Hannah, raise you right hand and repeat after me…

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