Wednesday, 20 April 2011

1001 books to read before you die

In an attempt to widen my intellectual horizons, I embarked on a cultural odissey a couple of years ago, namely to attempt and read as many of the 1001 classic books recommended by some of the world's literature connoisseurs. This has been a slow, and sometimes painful, process which has been greatly helped by the arrival a couple of weeks ago of this little gadget:

I dream one day of having a room dedicated to my love of reading (I am not sure which one would be first: a craft room or a library?) with bookshelves lining all the walls from floor to ceiling filled with books, old and new, with a fireplace, comfy chairs and a giant sheep skin rug...Right, I am getting carried away into fantasy-land. The point is, I agree, books made of paper are the real thing. They smell, they tear, you may even find the occasional sand grains between the pages of a book taken on holidays...but I must admit that the Kindle has proved to be the second best thing. Pros: it is light, you can store 100s of books on it, the battery lasts ages, it does not feel like you're staring at a computer/game console screen (you cand read it outside in full sun!), it can be cheaper to buy electronic books and easier to download books in your language of choice than physically finding them in a foreign country. Cons: your bookshelves remain empty and you may sometimes miss the touch of a real paper book. However, since getting a Kindle two weeks ago, I have been reading a lot more (I have struggled a bit to find affordable books in English and French to buy in Zürich).  Anothert 4 books have been crossed off The List:

George Orwell's 1984 was, for me, quite a disappointment. Yes, I do understand why it is on the list of must-read books, but perhaps the book's impact on the readers would have been greater in 1949 than in 2011. I did not find it a particularly exciting read but I guess I am that little bit wiser for having read it.

Slaughterhouse-five, or the children's crusade, by Kurt Vonnegut was a pleasant surprise. Pleasant because I would not have picked up a book about a soldier abducted by time-traveeling aliens if it hadn't been on The List. A short page-turner, funny and quite moving in places. I'm glad I went out of my comfort zone and discovered this book.

A true classic: Aesop's fables. Not so much a book as a collection of very short stories that you can pick up and read at random. You're bound to find a new fable to fit your mood/circumstances every day!

Plateforme by Michel Houellebecq. How did a book, that reads like a soft porn movie script, make it as one of the 1001 books I absolutely need to read?? I did not see the point of this book and dread now to read Houellebecq's other books on the list.

It can be sometimes a bit tiresome to only read books because you have to (well, I don't have to but I have only read 10% of The List so far) so I am taking a short break now, reading a book recommended by a colleague.

Has anyone else set themselves a book challenge?

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