I thought I’d take a little time to give an update on my progress on the BBC 100 Books list.  I’m SLOGGING my way through.

The books crossed out are ones I’ve read in the past, and the books crossed out in bold are the ones I’ve read since I started this project in the fall.  (You’ll see I took some liberties with the first one and put all three titles, and that I’m a procrastinating machine.)

1. The Lord of the Rings, JRR Tolkien
1a. The Fellowship of the Ring
1b. The Two Towers
1c. The Return of the King
2. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
3. His Dark Materials, Philip Pullman
4. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams
5. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, JK Rowling
6. To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
7. Winnie the Pooh, AA Milne
8. Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell
9. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, CS Lewis
10. Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë
11. Catch-22, Joseph Heller
12. Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontë
13. Birdsong, Sebastian Faulks
14. Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier
15. The Catcher in the Rye, JD Salinger
16. The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame
17. Great Expectations, Charles Dickens
18. Little Women, Louisa May Alcott
19. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, Louis de Bernieres
20. War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy
21. Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell
22. Harry Potter And The Philosopher’s Stone, JK Rowling
23. Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets, JK Rowling
24. Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban, JK Rowling
25. The Hobbit, JRR Tolkien
26. Tess Of The D’Urbervilles, Thomas Hardy
27. Middlemarch, George Eliot
28. A Prayer For Owen Meany, John Irving
29. The Grapes Of Wrath, John Steinbeck
30. Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland, Lewis Carroll
31. The Story Of Tracy Beaker, Jacqueline Wilson
32. One Hundred Years Of Solitude, Gabriel García Márquez
33. The Pillars Of The Earth, Ken Follett
34. David Copperfield, Charles Dickens
35. Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, Roald Dahl
36. Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson
37. A Town Like Alice, Nevil Shute
38. Persuasion, Jane Austen
39. Dune, Frank Herbert
40. Emma, Jane Austen
41. Anne Of Green Gables, LM Montgomery
42. Watership Down, Richard Adams
43. The Great Gatsby, F Scott Fitzgerald
44. The Count Of Monte Cristo, Alexandre Dumas
45. Brideshead Revisited, Evelyn Waugh
46. Animal Farm, George Orwell
47. A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens
48. Far From The Madding Crowd, Thomas Hardy
49. Goodnight Mister Tom, Michelle Magorian
50. The Shell Seekers, Rosamunde Pilcher
51. The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett
52. Of Mice And Men, John Steinbeck
53. The Stand, Stephen King
54. Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy
55. A Suitable Boy, Vikram Seth
56. The BFG, Roald Dahl
57. Swallows And Amazons, Arthur Ransome
58. Black Beauty, Anna Sewell
59. Artemis Fowl, Eoin Colfer
60. Crime And Punishment, Fyodor Dostoyevsky
61. Noughts And Crosses, Malorie Blackman
62. Memoirs Of A Geisha, Arthur Golden
63. A Tale Of Two Cities, Charles Dickens
64. The Thorn Birds, Colleen McCollough
65. Mort, Terry Pratchett
66. The Magic Faraway Tree, Enid Blyton
67. The Magus, John Fowles
68. Good Omens, Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
69. Guards! Guards!, Terry Pratchett
70. Lord Of The Flies, William Golding
71. Perfume, Patrick Süskind
72. The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, Robert Tressell
73. Night Watch, Terry Pratchett
74. Matilda, Roald Dahl
75. Bridget Jones’s Diary, Helen Fielding
76. The Secret History, Donna Tartt
77. The Woman In White, Wilkie Collins
78. Ulysses, James Joyce
79. Bleak House, Charles Dickens
80. Double Act, Jacqueline Wilson
81. The Twits, Roald Dahl
82. I Capture The Castle, Dodie Smith
83. Holes, Louis Sachar
84. Gormenghast, Mervyn Peake
85. The God Of Small Things, Arundhati Roy
86. Vicky Angel, Jacqueline Wilson
87. Brave New World, Aldous Huxley
88. Cold Comfort Farm, Stella Gibbons
89. Magician, Raymond E Feist
90. On The Road, Jack Kerouac
91. The Godfather, Mario Puzo
92. The Clan Of The Cave Bear, Jean M Auel
93. The Colour Of Magic, Terry Pratchett
94. The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho
95. Katherine, Anya Seton
96. Kane And Abel, Jeffrey Archer
97. Love In The Time Of Cholera, Gabriel García Márquez
98. Girls In Love, Jacqueline Wilson
99. The Princess Diaries, Meg Cabot
100. Midnight’s Children, Salman Rushdie

So I’ve read a total of five books! WOW! Right now I’m reading Cold Comfort Farm, which shouldn’t take as long as Midnight’s Children, that’s for sure.

What did I think of these books I read? Just to be snarky, here are my six-word reviews.

The Lord of the Rings
Too long, watch the movies instead.

Little Women
Very Christian, still sucked me in.

Midnight’s Children
Like Heroes on crack in India.

* * *

In other news, I’m sure you’ve heard by now that J.D. Salinger died. He was 91 and since Catcher in the Rye, a total recluse.

I read Catcher in the Rye for the first time in junior year English. Although I was in honors English the year before and always did well in creative writing, I was put in the non-honors class, ie, with the dummies (or so I felt). This was all because I hadn’t done well on the grammar portion of the SATs, which I didn’t try very hard on and didn’t know would be a determinant of my placement the following year. (I smelled bullshit, and still do.)

I was angry because of this and for a shitload of other reasons, and so when I started to read Holden’s sad, angry voice, I thought, That’s me.

One of our assignments was to write the “next chapter” of the book in Holden’s voice. I remember my classmates writing about their own piddly problems. That pissed me off. Did they seriously think Holden would care about a physics project and curfew? Did they get the point of the book at all?

People were phonies. At my school, the teachers and administrators were nice to the smart, well-dressed kids who’d get into ivy league colleges and make the school look good. The poor kids who smoked and took shop were a lost cause. I actually heard one of the teachers say that. “She’s a lost cause,” dismissively of some girl with frosted hair and a Slayer T-shirt.

But I still wanted to succeed. I still wanted to fit in. The next year I got into Advanced Placement English (suck it, Ms. Palmieri!) and Advanced Writing. I got a 5 on the AP test and the school award for creative writing. I had friends and was going to my first choice college. Maybe I was a phony too, but it was definitely easier than being angry and trapped on the outside.

The voice of the book continued to haunt me for years. One of the first great things I wrote was a novella about an angry Asian American girl who more than anything wants to leave her parents and seek her long-lost grandparents. What I liked about the piece was the voice. I could hear it – her cadence, the snap of her voice, reluctant tenderness – and only now I realize that was Holden Caulfield, reborn as Doris Tanabata Lee.

Lately I’ve been thinking about giving Doris another visit. Maybe her voice – watered down Holden’s – is worth it.

1 comment

  1. […] time for another BBC 100 books update. Since my last one, I’ve read four more books, crossed out and indicated in red below.  (The ones in black bold […]