12 Classics in 12 Months

The Final List, in no particular order

The Harp in the South – Ruth Park
A late entry inspired by the recent death of the author, I read Playing Beatie Bow many times when I was young but never read any of her grown up books.

One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest – Ken Kesey
I’ve seen the movie and just felt I should read the book.

The Plague – Albert Camus
Ok, I just love Camus and am not sure why I haven’t got around to this one. I originally thought I’d steer clear of authors I’d already read but what the heck, they’re my rules and I can change them if I want to.

Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad
How can I resist a book with such a title, it sounds so intriguing and I’d like to put the famous line “the horror, the horror” into context, one assumes it will be, well, horrifying.

Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoevsky
I’ve been trying to find the words, ummm, for someone with my interests I think it’s just something I need to read.

Great Expectations – Charles Dickens
I know the story so well, although I’ve never read the book

Deliverance – James Dickey
Probably a choice out of left field, so well known from the movie but I suspect there is alot more to it than dueling banjoes and squealing like a pig.

Neuromancer – William Gibson
Again, given my interests I don’t know why the hell I haven’t got around to this one, it was the start of something.

Tropic of Cancer – Henry Miller
Given the current freedom of speech debate being ignited by Wikileaks why not include something else that tested the boundaries.

The Island of Doctor Moreau – HG Wells
I likes me a bit of dark fantasy with a moral

Shadow of the Torturer – Gene Wolfe
This is actually book one of a four part series but will just add the first one to the list. Not quite Sci-Fi, not quite fantasy it’s a tricky one to categorise but it’s won a few awards and Wolfe is highly revered. TOH is responsible for the recommendation and has been bugging me to read it for ages so it’s on the list.

Highrise – JG Ballard
Ok, yes, I do have a dystopian bent. This was a late edition today and suggested by a colleague, I’ve seen Crash (bit of a Cronenburg fan) but surprisingly have not read any of Ballards work and I feel he is a worthy addition.

This is just scratching the surface, just the first ideas off the top of my head, will add more as they come to mind and I’ll whittle the list down at the end of December – all input appreciated.

Atlas Shrugged – Ayn Rand
Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad
Paradise Lost – John Milton (Epic Poems count)
Nausea – John Paul Sartre
The Plague – Albert Camus
Thus Spake Zarathustra – Friedrich Nietzsche (Started it but never finished it)
Catcher in the Rye – J.D Salinger
Something by Charles Bukowski, he was pretty prolific
Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoevsky
Something by James Joyce
The Old Man and the Sea or The Movable Feast – Ernest Hemmingway
One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest – Ken Kesey (I bought the Penguin Classic last year but haven’t read it yet, seen the film though)
Something by Charles Dickens, leaning towards Great Expectations but Bleak House is looking good too
The Lost World – Arthur Conan Doyle

My Suggestions
Classics I’ve read and would recommend

A Clockwork Orange – Anthony Burgess
To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
Alice in Wonderland and Alice Though the Looking Glass – Lewis Carrol
Junky – William S Burroughs
Snow Crash – Neal Stephenson (possibly too recent to be considered a classic but was written at the dawn of the Internet age, I am re reading it now and enjoying it as much as I did 14 years ago)
The Wasp Factory – Ian Banks (arguably too recent as well, but a first novel from a brilliant Scottish author and it will chill you to the bone, I’ve now read almost all his work)
Franz Kafka – The Trial (after reading this you will never view being stuck in a bureaucratic tangle the same way again)
1984 – George Orwell (before Big Brother was a lame reality TV show he was Orwell’s omnipotent protagonist)
Any Graham Greene, have read a few The Power and the Glory is my fave so far
A Farewell to Arms – Ernest Hemmingway (though the female love interest was incredibly annoying, I don’t know if this because she was annoying or if Hemmingway just can’t write female characters, I’ve only read one of his novels to can’t judge)

10 Responses to “12 Classics in 12 Months”

  1. Estrive October 16, 2010 at 9:21 pm #

    If you accept some suggestions, here are mine:
    1984 – George Orwell
    Something by Graham Greene: “Our man in Havana”, or “The quiet american”. His books are from an age where spies were far more interesting than today.
    The Lost World – Arthur Conan Doyle
    By Hemingway I’d pick “A moveable feast”. In this book you really “feel” Paris. :-)

    • Em October 16, 2010 at 9:49 pm #

      Ahhh, some good suggestions.

      I have read 1984, many times! I’ve also read both the Graham Greenes suggested and agree they are very good, have read The Power and the Glory too and should definitely read more.

      I’ll add The Lost World to the list though, how could I have missed Doyle?

  2. JH October 17, 2010 at 8:40 am #

    I’d suggest skipping Bukowski. Just skip through a volume of poetry at a book shop – that’s enough. If you really have to read one, I have a couple of books you could use.

    Suggestion: Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller.

  3. Ewen October 17, 2010 at 10:52 am #

    I’d recommend Post Office by Charles Bukowski — I read it a couple of months ago. Very gritty. Not too many pages (always a bonus), but there could have been more.

    At the moment I’m 3/4 of the way through In Cold Blood by Truman Capote. Don’t research it, just read and enjoy.

    I have Nine Stories by J.D. Salinger, but have only read (so far) A Perfect Day for Bananafish (good). Haven’t read The Catcher in the Rye, but would like to.

    A must read running-related classic, is Once A Runner by John L. Parker Jr. It’s in hardback on Amazon. Not a classic, but I’d also recommend What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami.

  4. morseyruns October 17, 2010 at 4:08 pm #

    I would love to join in! I read Crime and Punishment last year after I bought it for some unknown reason- let me know if you want it. (I took three boxes of books to St Vinnies a month ago- but some have stayed as little trophies on the shelf).

  5. deege October 17, 2010 at 4:58 pm #

    How about something by Kafka – metamorphosis or the Trial would be good. Treasure Island? Moby Dick? The Phantom of the Opera?

    As for Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged is good but is really grindy for about 200 pages three quarters of the way through. The Fountainhead is in my opinion a better book.

  6. Beki December 17, 2010 at 8:33 pm #

    I luuuurved the Wasp Factory, awesome book. I have The Old Man and the Sea next to the bed, keep meaning to make a start on it – only has about 40 pages so no excuse really lol!

    I need to work on my list methinks…

  7. morseyruns January 7, 2011 at 7:28 am #

    Okay, I made it through Island of Dr Moreau (and quite loved it), struggled through The Plague- but Heart of Darkness is giving me nothing!


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