popular new word cloud

With the recent passing of both Jim Harrison and Gabriel Garcia Marquez, the old adage of "So many books, So little time." came to mind. It was also a reminder of the books I probably should have read but haven't.

Both of these authors were so prolific that I know I'd have to get to work if I were to catch up on them. But here is my first confession: Many years ago I started to read "One Hundred Years of Solitude", got about half way through and, for some reason, gave up. News of Marquez's death told me I had to give it another try.

There are many more unread books on my list, but rather than listing them, I'd like to hear which books you think you should have read, but haven't.

log in to comment
12 total comments
djfrodo 6 years ago

Oh man, there are a ton...

I'm the sort of person who has to read a book within the first month that I get it. If I don't there's a possibility it will sit on my bookshelf for...ever.

So, one, absolutely, is One Hundred Years of Solitude. In the same category is The Brothers Karamazov (I tried twice). Any book that spans multiple generations where characters have the same names (or need to be identified by nicknames) - I'm out. They're great books, but I just can't do it.

One author who also died recently was Zen and the Art of Motorcycle maintenance author (can't remember his name). I started it twice and lost interest both times, and honestly I didn't really like the main character.

As for the top of my head Under the Volcano. At some point I was attempting to fill holes in my great books reading and when I started reading it was obvious Malcolm Lowry wrote one great book (I think it's kind of like Charles Laughton and Night of the Hunter - one great work and then nothing). Lowry's vocabulary was off the charts (a dictionary was actually brought out) and I still vividly remember one of the opening scenes where the main character leaves his apartment, walks by a tennis court, and then heads into the mountains as a storm approached. That's all that happened, but the writing was so good I couldn't believe it.

It's 450 pages, and I knew it was great, and I knew I didn't have the fortitude to finish it. Alcoholism and the crumbling of a marriage in Mexico for that many pages was just too much.

I'm sure I'll come up with more.


O.k. two more - both are insanely dense, which isn't a bad thing - but they both came along when I was not ready for them.

The Hero with a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell. Anyone wanting to write fiction or screenplays for film or television should take a look. It basically lays out "the hero's journey" and how all cultures basically have the same stories/myths that bind them together.

I had just finished a book on screen writing from the Gotham Writers Workshop and thought "Now that I've got my feet wet I'll go for the best." It was sort of like reading a good, mid level novel (think White Noise by Delillo) and then taking on Gravity's Rainbow or Finnegans Wake.

The second is A People's History of the United_States by Howard Zinn. 200 pages in I was so depressed I made the conscious decision to not continue (although I should have).

boyfromnyc 6 years ago

I want add Spice Box of the Earth- Leonard Cohen

boyfromnyc 6 years ago

I have given this considerable thought and I think of any books I should have read.
I truly hope that isn't as arrogant as it sounds.
I Know there are a gazillion books I should read, and I'm sure I will get turned on by other headcyclers lists.
which outside of Dr Tom's post I have not yet seen.

At the same time I don't want to be perceived as a follower waiting to be told where to go next.

I thought of some "classics' which I gave up on finding them boring, e.g. Call of the Wild, On the Road,
The Great Gatsby and most of Sir Arthor Conan Doyle.

However as I considered the question I realized I have a list of books I should reread.

I offer the following in complete list:
A Canticle for Leibowitz
The Good Soldier Schweik
Stranger in a Strange Land
Do Robots dream of Electric Sheep, (or something like that)
All of Vonnegot
The Pill Versus the Spring Hill Mine Disaster
All Quiet on the Western Front.

I'd put Lord Of the Rings and the Hobbit on the list but the movies have kept them fresh in my mind.

I can't wait to see other lists.

djfrodo 6 years ago

I truly hope that isn't as arrogant as it sounds.

Nope, just missing a few words ; )

Also, it's "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?".


boyfromnyc 6 years ago

Thanks foe the help DJ.
As I hoped, I picked up a few suggestions.
I think I will start with The Magus, although I may have to call the Jesuits
for help with the Latin.

mchlphllps 6 years ago

I'm still girding my loins(hmm?) to take on the 3 volume set by Ken Follet, "The CenturyTrilogy". It's quite a commitment, but there are so many shorter books waiting.

scrappy 6 years ago

I read when I need something. I am very selfish that way. I read for comfort, when I need to indulge myself in beauty because I am surrounded by crap, because I am sick of crying and I desperately need to laugh, when I want to be reminded there was a time when people had manners, elegance and style and I haven't changed out of my gym clothes for two days. I binge on crappy airport novels when I don't want to think at all, when I want to feel numb and drown out the negative voices in my head (John Grisham saves lives). All that said there have been times when serious book people I trust have given/suggested must reads - and I have started these books and just thought, "I can't do this right now, it's too much I want/need/crave something else." Then the books sit on my shelf and it becomes a thing, a few have been packed and shipped across the Atlantic multiple times. Some weird stand-off is happening between me and the following three books.

The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
The Magus by John Fowles
A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole

djfrodo 6 years ago

Wow! You've listed two of my favorite books and one that I should have added to my list.

After reading the first chapter of The Master and Margarita I was totally convinced that it had to be the basis for Sympathy for the Devil. Turns out I was right.

I will say that it's one crazy book and I can understand why one might not finish it.

The Magus is the second of my favorites. In college I actually had my literature professor translate the last paragraph, which is in Latin...Unfortunately I can't remember what the passage said. But, it's such a creepy book and The Silence of the Lambs definitely took a page or two from it.

A Confederacy of Dunces is a book countless people told me I would love...I can't really remember if I finished it or not (apathy is the worst) but it certainly didn't do it for me.

If I were you I'd definitely finish The M & M if you can, but be warned it gets really trippy in the last 1/3. You might hate it but any book that was banned for 25 years in the USSR has to be worth something.

scrappy 6 years ago

Okay - M&M and the Magus are my summer challenges - I make no promises for Confederacy.

djfrodo 6 years ago

Deal, although if you only read M&M that's certainly good enough. Listen to the Stones track before you start it again.

The Magus might not be as awesome as I once thought it was, but go for it.

You have any suggestions for me? Currently I've been looking at The Talented Mr. Ripley, but I've been doing that since

giants_fan_28 6 years ago

I bought "Capital"by Thomas Piketty, but have only read about 10 pages. It's definitely on my to do list. I also got a copy of "Dark Money" but I'm finding it hard to get started.