Monday, June 22, 2009

10 Lauded Works/Authors I Hope to Read One Day

To bring the "book-posts" to a nice, neat trilogy, I thought it would be fun (and kill time at work) to also list some of the "great works" that I've never read, but would really, really like to get around to at some point. No doubt I'm forgetting some, and there are some serious gaps (no women authors?), so I'm open to suggestions from others as well. But here, in no particular order, are 10 "classics" I'm really eager to read (but will probably not get around to anytime soon).

1.) Marcel Proust, In Search of Lost Time - This probably seems like the most pretentious possible pick, but really it's sheer curiosity - for all of the references and praise this work gets (including occasional hilarious pop-culture mentions), I've never met anybody who's actually read it and who can opine on it, and I'm really curious what the fuss is about. So hopefully, sometime in my life (probably post-retirement), I will be able to at least sit down and start Proust.

2.) Anything by Cormac McCarthy - I've heard so much great stuff about him, yet have never read anything; indeed, my only "McCarthy" contact is the Coen brothers' No Country for Old Men, and the consensus seems to be that's McCarthy's worst book. I'd probably start with Blood Meridian, but the whole border trilogy and the Road all seem equally fascinating.

3.) Thomas Pynchon, Gravity's Rainbow - Because Pynchon's work seems like it might be something I really enjoy, and I feel like if I'm going to read him, I might as well start with what appears to be his most challenging work.

4.) David Foster Wallace, Infinite Jest - Long before his suicide, this book intrigued me simply for its title and its girth everytime I handled it working at a bookstore. The praise heaped upon his writing-style (fiction and non-fiction) has only heightened my curiosity.

5.) Par Lagerkvist, Barabbas - A probing take on religion and the story of Jesus, narrated by a less-than-noble man who was present, written by a Swede? How could this not sound interesting?

6.) William Faulkner, As I Lay Dying - Because I somehow have avoided ever having to read Faulkner in my life, and this one sounds as interesting as any of his works does to me.

7.) William Styron, A Tidewater Morning - The themes, while far from unusual, can still be compelling, and, in an extremely random justification, my family used to vacation in that area every summer, so I'd like to see a literary treatment of the tidewater region of VA/NC.

8.) Thomas Mann, The Magic Mountain - Because I'm a dork, and a 700-page novel using a tuberculosis sanatorium as an allegory for early-20th century Europe really seems fascinating to me.

9.) Knut Hamsun, Hunger - Somebody once described Hamsun's work to me as "the literary equivalent of a Munch painting." While I'm not necessarily the biggest fan (or opponent) of German expressionism, the description alone has kept my interest piqued for years.

10.) Jorge Luis Borges, any collection of short stories - I openly admit that my familiarity with (non-Brazilian) Latin American literature is woefully inadequate - I've never read anything other than a few short stories of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, for example. And while I know relatively little about the famous authors of South America, Borges's writings seem like as good a place as any to begin.