Everyone’s To-Read List

Newsweek recently asked readers what five books they most want to read. Here’s the list of most popular wanna-reads:

The Aeneid, Virgil
The Bible
“Crime and Punishment,” Fyodor Dostoevsky
“The Fountainhead,” Ayn Rand
“The Grapes of Wrath,” John Steinbeck
“Gravity’s Rainbow,” Thomas Pynchon
“The Human Condition,” Hannah Arendt
“The Iraq Study Group Report: The Way Forward, A New Approach”
“Jane Eyre,” Charlotte Bronte
“Leaves of Grass,” Walt Whitman
“The Major Works,” John Donne
“Moby-Dick,” Herman Melville
“One Hundred Years of Solitude,” Gabriel Garcia Marquez
“Paradise Lost,” John Milton
“The Pilgrim’s Progress,” John Bunyan
“Remembrance of Things Past,” Marcel Proust
“Ulysses,” James Joyce
“War and Peace,” Leo Tolstoy

Interesting list! I’m sorry to say the only one of those I’ve read is Jane Eyre. I suppose Virgil (and not Homer) is there because of the recent publicity around Robert Fagles’ new translation. And where is Shakespeare? It can’t be any harder to read than Joyce, can it?

Is anyone up for a meme? What are your top five wanna-reads? Here are mine:

  1. The Bible
  2. The Odyssey
  3. The Divine Comedy
  4. Paradise Lost
  5. Shakespeare (all of it)

Very predictable, I suppose, but it’s hard to go wrong with books that have been revered for centuries.

sort of via Book World


23 comments on “Everyone’s To-Read List

  1. Chuck says:

    People are dying to read “The Iraq Study Group Report”??

  2. Sylvia says:

    Actually I'd like to read it (it's quite short) but my library doesn't have it and I don't want to buy it just to read once. It would just be nice to read what some sane American officials (apparently there are some) have to say about the war.

  3. Chuck says:

    Well, what do I know? 😦

  4. Imani says:

    I *was* wondering how on earth Virgil got picked over Homer. I've read Jane Eyre, Pilgrim's Progress and two from the Proust volumes.
    The only book from that list that I “really” want to read is Paradise Lost. There are so many books I desire for different reasons that I don't know if I can winnow it to a top five. It's almost like asking for my favourites.

  5. Sylvia says:

    Chuck, I'm sure you know more than some presidents I could name…
    Interesting list, by the way!

  6. Dorothy W. says:

    I'm with Imani here — this list would be hard for me to make because there's so much I want to read, and I want to read it for different reasons, so I'm really not sure what the top 5 would be. Right now Don Quixote is on there, definitely. After that??

  7. wil says:

    The Newsweek list strikes me as a “books I've thought about from time to time, maybe even picked up, but probably won't actually read unless I'm stranded on a desert island with them, because I'm too busy in general and more specifically, too busy reading other books I'm actually interested in enough to read” list. “Five books I most want to read” seems like a different list entirely. I'll have to think about that one…

  8. Sylvia says:

    You forgot the “but I still like to pretend to myself that I will read them in this lifetime” part.

  9. 1. The Divine Comedy
    2. Remembrance of Things Past
    3. Beyond Good and Evil
    4. The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire
    5. A Brief History of Time

  10. Sylvia says:

    Poor Hawking. So many books sold, so few of them actually read!

  11. Antony says:

    First, in my opinion, the Aeneid is every bit as good as the Iliad, and better than the Odyssey, so there, you Virgil detractors!
    Second, I've read eight of the books on that list in their entirety, including the the first five. I made it all the way through Moby Dick, but have never been able to make it through War and Peace or Ulysses. I won't go into how much and why I just really can't stand James Joyce. (Now feel free to castigate me any Joyce lovers out there; I can take it.)
    Third, Shakespeare is easier to read than Joyce by a long stretch, again, in my opinion.
    Fourth, I want to read everything. I just can't narrow it down to a top five.

  12. Sylvia says:

    I retract my detraction, especially since I haven't read any of the works involved!
    You read The Fountainhead!?! :O

  13. Matt says:

    I prefer Love in the Time of Cholera over 100 Years of Solitude–owing to more of a plot and flow of emotions. My wanna-reads….
    The Human Bondage – Sommerset Maughm
    Divine Comedy – Dante
    Something by Thoreau

  14. Sylvia says:

    Only three!

  15. Stefanie says:

    How can I pick only five? Why do you insist on tortuting me in this manner? I'm sure I will still be thinking about this when I go to sleep tonight, assuming I'll be able to sleep 🙂

  16. Yep. You're right about Hawking. But I suggest you read something by Brian Greene, too, Sylvia. As if you needed more books to read. Hahaha!

  17. Sylvia says:

    Oh. Great. Thanks.

  18. wil says:

    I'm going to follow Matt's example as only three come to mind:
    1. Something by Dickens
    2. Something on Wyclif and the Lollards
    3. Piers Plowman

  19. Jill says:

    These are the ones that I've grown tired of putting off and hope to get through in 2007:
    1. The Odyssey
    2. Middlemarch
    The following are titles that sit on the shelf and I'm wondering how much -oomph- would be required for me to actually get through them.
    3. Heart of Darkness
    4. Don Quixote
    5. Mrs. Dalloway

  20. Sylvia says:

    That's quite a delectible reading list!

  21. Danielle says:

    I couldn't list only five either. How do you narrow it down when there are so many wonderful books. Don Quixote is one and The Iliad and Odyssey–all three I hope to read this year. I want to read Proust, and I am actually working on War and Peace. I read parts of Paradise Lost and the Inferno in high school, but I'm afraid the contents of those have been long forgotten. More to add to the list…It's a never ending project (though one I don't mind a bit!).

  22. Dark Orpheus says:

    My own list of course will change depending when you ask me, but right now, if I have to narrow it down to 5:
    1. The Idiot by Dostoevsky
    2. War and Peace by Tolstoy
    3. Anna Karenina by Tolstoy
    4. In Search of Lost Time by Proust (halfway through)
    5. The Mahabharata
    I read “Vineland” and never understood the appeal of Thomas Pynchon. Sorry if there are fans out there.
    I absolutely refuse to believe people really want to read “The Iraq Study Group Report: The Way Forward, A New Approach” – they are just saying that to look trendy and interested in Current Affairs, right?

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