Monday, February 11, 2008

I-Have-Read-That List

It is long past due for another post concerning reading, especially considering reading is part of the title of this blog...

I am currently engaging in a quest. A reading quest. As a undergrad English Lit major, I have a pretty substantial I-Have-Read-That List. It might even rival my I-Know-A-Dance-To-That List.

My quest is to increase my I-Have-Read-That Classics List. I started my journey this weekend at the Cleveland Public Library.

I am happy to announce I am no longer considered a criminal by them as they have now found the video I returned in November, but they said I didn't, but I didn't know about my supposed thievery until January. Water under the bridge. My name is now cleared.

Throughout the weekend, I discussed what classics I should start reading, and shouldn't there be a list somewhere? I love checking items off lists. I almost freaked yesterday when I went grocery shopping and couldn't find a pen in the black hole of my purse. I couldn't continue until I had a writing implement to check my list off with.


I checked out two bags worth of books. Can I read all of these in three weeks? With dedication - No doubt. Although, I might have to ramp up to get back to my optimal reading capacity. Just like everything else, it is a practiced skill. Can I currently read 300 pages a day like I used to in college? Probably not without getting sleepy. How about 50. I could maybe sign up for that.

Now. I know you have been on the edge of your seat this entire blog. Wondering, what did she check out? Well don't worry, I won't keep you waiting any longer. Here is what was in my precious libs bags:

George Green - Can't remember the title (This is not actually a classic. I was looking for Graham Greene and got George instead)
Jane Green - Switching Lives (Also not a classic. I was sidetracked in the G section, obviously)
Doris Lessing - Golden Notebook
Doris Lessing - The Habit of Loving
Vladimir Nabokov - Lolita
George Orwell - 1985

I am starting with Lessing's The Habit of Loving. It is a compilation of short stories. While in what I will now call the Lessing Stacks, I wanted to check out all of her books. After calming down and resisting the urge, I chose just two. She has quality titles. I respect that. Don't we all get caught up in the habit of loving? I think so. Isn't that why people go straight from one long term relationship to another? It is like being in love with love. And why not? Loving and love (I consider them two different things) are great. But it is more complicated than that. Isn't it? Wow, that is a topic for an entire other post...

Now that I have laid my latest library cards on the table, what am I missing? What are your favorite "classics"? What should I be adding to my repertoire?

The great secret that all old people share is that you really haven't changed in seventy or eighty years. Your body changes, but you don't change at all. And that, of course, causes great confusion.


  1. I've been pondering this all day. We already share a love for Jane Austen, so I won't bother to tell you to read all of her books.

    Personally, I'm a huge fan of Toni Morrison. And because I was into plays and stuff (I was so cool and still am, if you didn't know), Tennessee Williams' play The Glass Menagarie has always been one of my favorite works to read.

    Some of the classics I read in AP classes/college, I'd like to revisit, as if maybe I'd appreciate them more now than I did then. Orwell's 1984 and Animal Farm are two of those. Let me know how 1984 goes.

    A book that I've been meaning to read for years -- Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar. It's my list of to-dos, but first I have to finish Atlas Shrugged! :)

  2. M -

    Jane Austen - check
    Toni Morrison - most of her older stuff - check
    T. Williams - super check, I love that play!
    Animal Farm - check

    Now, Sylvia. I have not read The Bell Jar. Adding it!

    For you I am adding T. Williams' Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. He is just amazing.

  3. I am going to get burned at the stake here, but I think I'm one of maybe four people on earth who really dislike The Catcher in the Rye. I could never relate to Holden. He was such a whiney little bitch about everything, and I just wanted to shake him and be like, SNAP OUT OF IT! You're not rebellious, you're acting like a big baby.

    Go ahead.

    Ream me.

  4. No reaming here. With all my moving, I made it through HS without reading it. I went through college not knowing my feelings about it. Finally, after college I decided I was illegit if I hadn't read it. And so I did.

    I went through half the book feeling the same as you. But it was a "classic" - and quite short - so I finished reading. BUT, I kind of felt for him by the end. Which is amazing since I really disliked him for the first half and thought maybe he brought it all on himself?

    I may need to read it again to have a full response to it.

  5. Maybe I just read it circa 1997 when I was a huge brat myself?

  6. I have no idea how my Internet wonderings led me to your site on this exceptionally slow work day, but I do find myself with a couple suggestions for you. That is, if you don't mind suggestions from a complete stranger. They are based only on your post and the comments. You have a broad definition of "classic", which I wholeheartedly endorse. You have probably read most of these already, but if not...

    19th century:
    Frankenstein - Mary Shelley
    Middlemarch - George Elliot

    100 Years of Solitude Gabriel Garcia Marquez
    Cat's Cradle - Kurt Vonnegut
    To The Lighthouse - Virginia Woolf
    The Sun Also Rises - Ernest Hemingway

    American Gods - Neil Gaiman

    And I recently discovered this fantastic short story by Kelly Link. I have not read anything else by her but this story has moved her to the top of the old " to read list." It is called the Faery Handbag and is about 15 pages. Here's a link:

  7. d - Thanks for your suggestions, they all intrigue me!