November 11, 2003

Via Halley Suitt, I see yet another list of 100 greatest novels, this one from the Observer newspaper.

I have only read 29 of them, am listening to another as my current book on tape, and have put about four of them down unread. Like Halley, most of the novels I marked off were books that had been assigned in class. I stopped reading serious novels after college, at least as a regular part of my reading diet. Since I started doing History, my brain-smart reading has been reading for work, and really good fiction rarely makes brain-dead reading.

This change in reading patterns probably explains why most of the novels I checked off date from before 1950 - I just have not been keeping up with the modern stuff.

Making lists can be a lot of fun. I know I once wrote my own canonical list of things that every well-educated person should have read. I followed that with a list of things that were simply highly recommended reads. Both lists had more history, philosophy, and social science than they had fiction. I might update those lists and blog them.


I just dug up the old list. Yep, they need updating before I post them. I had originally made a list of essential reading, a list of things to be read, and a list of out-takes. I have read some of the items on the middle list, changed my mind about some of the items on the first and third lists, and done some more reading on my own.

What amuses me is that I recorded the list of essential reading in the order in which the books came to mind. The top of the list is Alex Haley, The Autobiography of Malcolm X. Is that essential reading? I am not sure. I do know that I decided last time I taught the second half of the US survey, that the next time I teach US 2 I will assign the Autobiography of Malcom X to the kids.

And so to grade homework.

Posted by Red Ted at November 11, 2003 08:28 AM | TrackBack