Monday, November 15, 2010

If any order might be thought upon

I was looking at the 16 books from The List the I have sitting on my desk right now.  Sure, I'll never be able to read all of them before many of them will be due back at the library, but it allows me a few options when I'm selecting my next book, and I'll never have to worry about not having a book ready to go.

I also decided to sort of map out my future reading a little bit better. Up until now, I had just been picking up whatever was available at the library, and reading that.  Now with so many books, I thought I should put a little bit more thought into what'll be next.

I have decided I would read Nineteen Eighty-Four last.  I had tried to start the list with that book, until I found my copy was missing the first few pages.  Then I thought I would read the other two books I had previously read, Lord of the Flies and To Kill a Mockingbird, 80th and 90th.  That would keep with my idea of reading a book I am kind of familiar with every tenth book.  That's why I read Deliverance 20th, and why I plan to read Gone with the Wind 30th, A Clockwork Orange 40th, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest 60th and The Big Sleep 70th.  I also thought I would read the oldest and newest books on The List, 98th and 99th; meaning A Passage to India and Never Let Me Go will be the second and third last.  Now I just need to figure out what order I'm going to read the other 67.

There are seven authors who have two books on The List, so I thought I wouldn't read two of their books in the same half.  That means I can't read Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf, A Handful of Dust by Evelyn Waugh, The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner, or The Heart of the Matter by Graham Greene, until after I've finished 50 books.  It also means I need to read one book by Nabokov, Bellow, Roth, Orwell and Pynchon before I hit 50.  And since I'm reading Nineteen Eighty-Four last, I'll need to make sure Orwell's Animal Farm is before 50.

When perusing The List, I've been, in a way, fearing a couple of books.  Sitting on my desk right now are Gravity's Rainbow, Infinite Jest and Gone With the Wind, which clock in at a combined 2,600 pages.  Then I was at the bookstore the other day, and spotted Lord of the Rings sitting on the shelf.  I noticed each movie has its own book, and each book looks pretty hefty.  In fact, the three books total almost 3,000 pages.  Then it occurred to me that maybe The List is only counting the first book, Fellowship of the Rings.  Looking on Time's website, I wasn't able to find the answer, so I emailed Lev Grossman, literary critic and writer, who was one of the 'authors' of The List.

Grossman was quick to respond, saying "...I'm afraid I do consider all three volumes of The Lord of the Rings as one single mega-novel. Tolkien did -- he only agreed to split it into three volumes because the publisher couldn't sell a single book at that length ..."  I don't find it very assuring when a literary critic refers to a book as a 'mega-novel.'  Either way, I'll have one very long book to read, so I decided to make it the halfway point and read it 50th.  I guess that means I'll be reading Lord of the Rings starting around November of 2011, and hopefully finishing before November of 2012.

The rest of the books will, in a way, be left to the fates.  I'm still going to be trying to get books from the library, so I'll take what I can get., but this will become increasingly difficult, as I read more and more.  With fewer books to choose from, it will obviously become more and more difficult to borrow books from the library.  I currently own copies of two books from The List, neither of which I've read; Neuromancer and A Death in the Family.  Perhaps I should be saving these for later on, when I get to a point where I have only ten books left.  Since I have a copy, I won't need to worry about it being checked out or put on hold.

Now having said all that, I still don't know what I'm going to read after I finish On the Road.  It seems I've done more 'mapping' of the last ten books than I have for the next book.  I want to make sure I kind of alternate between short and long books, so I suppose I'll just take a look at the pile on my desk when I'm finished, and pick something that fits that bill.

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