Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Randoms and Rules and Such, and Poke Your Eye Out Substitutes

I'm just starting out on this 1001 Books project, and working it out as I go.  As most of my IRL books are packed up, I'm mostly using ebooks at the moment, and am suffering from overchoice!  That's a new word I made up to express how there are just too many damn books.  How on earth do I pick one to read next?  Other than attacking War and Peace *sigh* I have just been bouncing around collecting (mostly free) ebooks from the list, then mutely contemplating which to read next, stuck between choices.

I've always been a reader based on gut feelings, I tend to read in genre's that last several books, then naturally and slowly transition to another genre, and so on.  This involves a lot of staring at my bookcases.

Part of the reason I'm doing the 1001 book challenge is just that, to challenge myself.  I've read a LOT of books in my life.  Before having kids, I was up round 250 a year, and that wasn't including books for work (I'm an academic).  I read fast (not speed reading, just fast), my Dad timed me at around 100 pages a hour.  Yes, I am taking it all in (*roll eyes*).  But I found myself in a rut, reading the same kinds of books, looking too much for mind-numbing and not enough at the kind of challenge I really enjoy, something with a bit of deeper meaning in it.  To me, good reading includes both types.

So, I've been stuck.  I read over at 2606 Books and Counting that Falaise was using a random number generator to choose his 1001 list books, and it struck me as a good idea to get some coverage of books I'm not likely to choose on preference alone.  So I used one to generate 20 books that I'm comitting to read this year, in addition to whatever I choose more naturally from the list.  I used the core list on Arukiyomi's excel list.

Here they are:

265      Sometimes a Great Notion, Ken Kesey
316      Homo Faber, Max Frisch
432      They Shoot Horses, Don’t They, Horace McCoy
367      The Case of Comrade Tulayev,  Victor Serge
194      Patterns of Childhood, Christa Wolf

387      Christ Stopped at Eboli, Carlo Levi

460      The Times of Indifference,  Alberto Moravia

428      At the Mountains of Madness, HP Lovecraft [READ]

273      The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, le Carre

366      The Garden Where the Brass Band Played, Simon Vestdijk

53       How Late it Was, How Late, James Kellman

602      King Lear of the Steppes, Ivan Turgenev

473      Remembrance of Things Past, Proust

629      Walden, Henry Thoreau

678      Vathek, Willam Thomas Beckford

291      Solaris (READ)

594      The Enchanted Wanderer, Nikolai Leskov

159      Wittgenstein’s Nephew, Thomas Bernhard

42       The Unconsoled, Kazuo Ishiguro

421      Out of Africa (READ)


567      Tess of the D’Ubervilles (READ)

205      Dusklands, J M Coetzee

106      Oscar and Lucinda (READ)

412      Rebecca (READ)

447      Cold Comfort Farm

86      Amongst Women, John McGahern

I was pretty happy to see Unconsoled on here, as I enjoyed Never Let Me Go so much, and also happy to see Cold Comfort Farm, bizarre as I'd just bought a copy!!

Okay, this list made me realise I am just not going to get through all the 1001 list books.  I need some free passes, substitutes, or something!  Again, stealing from 2606 and counting, I think I'll use some kind of get out of jail card, subbing in books on different lists.  Because I have to say that Christ Stopped at Eboli, and The Case of Comrade Tulayev, in the synopses I read, just make me wanna poke out an eye.  Life is too short to read stuff that absolutely doesn't appeal, right?

I don't want the 1001 list read to be a total chore.  I chose to do this as an exploration of the novel, and exploration I can share with others who are reading the list, or who have heard of the list.  Whether I totally agree with all the selections or not (it's not, but isn't everyone's answer not?), it's a widely recognised collection of some of the greatest novels ever written.  I've never seen a review that completely negated that.

But there are some books on there I just don't want to read, and unlike War and Peace, which I can see the point of, just don't seem to me to add anything to my explorations.  So I'm reserving the right to substitute books.  As I'm reading from the Core list at the moment, I reserve the right to substitute in books that have not made it on all the lists instead.  I'll post about it when I do, giving my reasons.

There, that'll save me poking out an eye, or two!

Sorry, couldn't resist this:

These books shall now be referred to as the "Poke Your Eye Out Substitutes".  That is all.


Kristi said...

I love the picture at the bottom! I've given up on my goal to read the 1001 books for the same reason you mentioned. Not all of them appeal to me, and I don't want to waste my time reading books I don't enjoy. I still like using this list to choose books to read, but I've decided it's okay to skip some.

I hope you enjoy The Unconsoled. I haven't read it, but I love everything else I've read by Ishiguro.

Darlyn (Your Move, Dickens) said...

I haven't read a single book on your list, but I hope you enjoy them. :) If you want another list, I suggest Modern Library 100 Best Novels. I'm trying to read at least a quarter of the books on that list this year.

Selene said...

I loved Homo Faber, so that's something! I like the Modern Library List, I might do a post about what I've read from it, always interested in list-y things!