Feb 17, 2009

Be a Reader

I took a quiz yesterday and I totally take exception with the result. I am many things (and I'll admit to most of them) but not a book snob... I think. I certainly don't have any illusions about being one of the literati. I'd say that a better description of my reading habits is balanced, by which I mean that I lean heavily towards mysteries but that I try to balance with more enriching reading experiences.

What Kind of Reader Are You?
Your Result: Book Snob

You like to think you're one of the literati, but actually you're just a snob who can read. You read mostly for the social credit you can get out of it.

Dedicated Reader
Literate Good Citizen
Obsessive-Compulsive Bookworm

Fad Reader
What Kind of Reader Are You?Quiz Created on GoToQuiz

Here's a meme I saw on Cursing Mama's blog. It ties in with The Big Read (an event sponsored by the NEA), and a study that found that the average American has only read 6 of the books on the following list.

Here's the chanllenge -
Bold the books you have already read
Italicize the books you intend to read
Notes in parentheses next to note-worthy titles.

1) Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
2) The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien
3) Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte ( I started it and I'll finish someday)
4) Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling
5) To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
6) The Bible
7) Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
8 ) Nineteen Eighty Four by George Orwell
9) His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman
10) Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
11) Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (but I've mostly forgotten it and ought to read it again)
12) Tess of the D'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
13) Catch 22 by Joseph Heller
14) Complete Works of Shakespeare
15) Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier
16) The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien
17) Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks
18 ) Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger
19) The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
20) Middlemarch by George Eliot
21) Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell
22) The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
23) Bleak House by Charles Dickens
24) War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
25) The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
26) Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh
27) Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 ) Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
29) Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
30) The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
31) Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
32) David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
33) Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis
34) Emma by Jane Austen (I started it but got distracted)
35) Persuasion by Jane Austen
36) The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe by CS Lewis
37) The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
38 ) Captain Corelli's Mandolin by Louis De Bernieres
39) Memories of a Geisha by Arthur Golden
40) Winnie the Pooh by AA Milne
41) Animal Farm by George Orwell
42) The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown
43) One Hundred Years of Solitude, Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44) A Prayer for Owen Meaney by John Irving
45) The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
46) Anne of Green Gables by LM Montgomery
47) Far From The Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy
48 ) The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
49) Lord of the Flies by William Golding
50) Atonement by Ian McEwan
51) Life of Pi by Yann Martel
52) Dune by Frank Herbert
53) Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons
54) Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
55) A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth
56) The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57) A Tale Of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
58 ) Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
59) The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon
60) Love In The Time Of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61) Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck (In High School)
62) Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
63) The Secret History by Donna Tartt
64) The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
65) Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
66) On The Road by Jack Kerouac
67) Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy
68 ) Bridget Jones's Diary by Helen Fielding
69) Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie
70) Moby Dick by Herman Melville
71) Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
72) Dracula by Bram Stoker
73) The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
74) Notes From A Small Island by Bill Bryson
75) Ulysses by James Joyce
76) The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
77) Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome
78 ) Germinal by Emile Zola
79) Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray
80) Possession by AS Byatt
81) A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
82) Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
83) The Color Purple by Alice Walker
84) The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro
85) Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
86) A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry
87) Charlotte's Web by EB White
88 ) The Five People You Meet In Heaven by Mitch Albom
89) Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90) The Faraway Tree Collection by Enid Blyton
91) Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
92) The Little Prince by Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93) The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks
94) Watership Down by Richard Adams
95) A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
96) A Town Like Alice by Nevil Shute
97) The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98 ) Hamlet by William Shakespeare
99) Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
100) Les Miserables by Victor Hugo

By their standards, I'm not an average reader but that's to be expected since I'm a librarian by trade. However, like many others, I'm wondering at the choices on this list. While most of the inclusions are obvious and valid, some of the omissions are glaring. Where's the Hemingway? What about some Edith Wharton? How can Toni Morrison's Beloved not make the list?

As an avid reader and the parent of 2 book lovers I have to say that lists of books like this are mostly besides the point. What I'm about to say is going to eliminate all credibility I have when I forbid DQ to read what I deem "bodice rippers" but... I think that the value in literature lies mostly with individual readers. I'll grant you that I find her trashy romances and vampire books mostly garbage but it's what she likes. When I was her age my teachers had a very negative view of the Stephen King books that I favored but I read them anyway. The point is that we read regularly.

I do think that reading the classics is valuable but, especially today when so much is electronic and all about instant gratification, reading is a skill that needs regular excercise. It builds vocabulary and connects us with the past and other cultures. Just read something, anything. See what a book snob I am!

By the way, if you're the type of person who takes recommendations from book snobs, here's one. Try Mudbound by Hillary Jordan, a book I read last fall. Set in Mississippi in the 1940's this novel tells a story of racism and rural isolation beautifully through the eyes of a narrator that shifts from one chapter to the next. Laura McAllan is an educated city girl who reluctantly follows her husband to a very rural farm where she tries to raise her daughters in an environment that is totally foreign to her and lacking all the comforts of home. Her husband's brother comes to stay with them while he makes adjustments of his own, having just returned from the war. They both develop relationships with members of the Jackson family, black sharecroppers on their farm that lead all of the characters to tragedy.

It is as absorbing and affecting as it is tragic. It was amazing to me that the author could be as convincing in the chapters told through the voice of Laura as she was in those told through the voice of her husband Henry, and members of the sharecropping family - Florence, Hap and Ronsel. This is the kind of book I love, one that stays with you long after it's over.


Anonymous said...

Why do you accept that the person creating this quiz has any expertise or valid point of view? Just maybe it is rigged and everyone gets that same answer? They are yanking your chain? Defensively you have written your longest post in quite some time.

Bridget said...

The other thing that bothered me (anal soul that I am) was that there were duplications: both "the complete works of William Shakespear" AND "Hamlet"; both "the Chronicles of Narnia" AND "The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe". And no Robert Heinlein, Arthur C. Clark or Issac Assimov. Definitely some odd choices.

And I agree: the value of literature is what you take away from it. And you aren't going to take anything away from something you won't read.


Cursing Mama said...

Have you read "The Shack"? I'm hearing a lot about it - but am not sure it's for me... might be for you...there are no vampires or bodice ripping.

Sarah-potterknitter said...

That is a strange list, I've read 32 of them and I counted the 7 that were audio, that's almost all the reading I manage these days.

Anonymous said...

Why not a category for books on that list that I wouldn't read if you paid me a thousand bucks? i agree with you. and as for "bodice-rippers", she will probably move on into something else as her life changes. I can remember reading fairy tale collections at one time in my life. (This was before romance, time-travel and sci-fi fantasy novels were available LOL). It was to take a break from Dickesn and friends.
thanks for hint re the book set in the South.
Betty in Texas