Reading List

Books

My uncritical ratings

  • ♔ = okay
  • ♔♔ = good
  • ♔♔♔ = great
  • ☂ = Marvellous! I will read it again.

I have read and/or listened to in English (at least once):

2013

  1. The Practice of Tempera Painting – Daniel V. Thompson ♔
  2. Winter’s Tale – William Shakespeare ♔♔
  3. Materials and Techniques of Medieval Painting – Daniel V. Thompson ♔
  4. The Craftsman’s Handbook – Cennino Cennini ♔♔
  5. Life of Pi – Yann Martel ♔♔
  6. The Book Thief – Markus Zusak ♔♔♔
  7. Great Expectations – Charles Dickens ♔♔♔
  8. The Devil in the Flesh – Raymond Radiguet ♔♔
  9. Romeo and Juliet – William Shakespeare ♔♔
  10. One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez (ninth time) ♔♔♔
  11. Much Ado About Nothing – William Shakespeare ♔♔♔
  12. The Witch, The Lion, and the Wardrobe – C.S. Lewis ♔♔
  13. The Little Prince (Abridged Audiobook) – Antoine de Saint Exupery ♔♔♔
  14. The Alchemist – Paolo Coelho ♔♔
  15. The Republic – Plato ♔♔
  16. Oxford VSI: Ancient Warfare ♔♔
  17. Oxford VSI: Philosophy ♔♔♔
  18. The Northern Lights/The Golden Compass – Phillip Pullman ♔♔
  19. Don Quixote – Miguel de Cervantes ☂
  20. Night – Elie Wisel ♔♔♔
  21. Siddhartha – Hermann Hesse ♔♔
  22. The Call of the Wild – Jack London ♔♔
  23. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde – Robert Louis Stephenson ♔♔
  24. Slaughterhouse-Five – Kurt Vonnegut ♔♔
  25. A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens (Abridged Audiobook) ♔♔
  26. Titus Andronicus – William Shakespeare ♔♔
  27. War of the Worlds – H.G. Wells ♔♔
  28. The Tempest – William Shakespeare ♔♔♔
  29. Cymbeline – William Shakespeare ♔♔
  30. Coriolanus – William Shakespeare ♔♔
  31. Richard III – William Shakespeare ♔♔
  32. The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald ♔♔
  33. Smoke and Mirrors – Neil Gaiman ♔♔
  34. After the Quake: Short Stories – Haruki Murakami ♔♔
  35. The Girl with a Pearl Earring – Tracy Chevalier ♔♔♔
  36. The Graveyard Book – Neil Gaiman ♔♔
  37. The Catcher in the Rye – J.D. Salinger ♔♔
  38. The Reader – Bernhard Schlink ♔♔
  39. The Stranger – Albert Camus ♔♔♔
  40. The Snows of Kilimanjaro – Ernest Hemingway ♔♔♔
  41. The Sorrows of Young Werther – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe ♔♔♔
  42. The Diary of Anne Frank – Anne Frank ♔♔♔
  43. Stardust – Neil Gaiman ♔♔
  44. The Subtle Knife – Phillip Pullman ♔♔
  45. Restoration – Rose Tremain ♔♔
  46. The Amber Spyglass – Phillip Pullman ♔♔
  47. Various Short Stories by Maupassant, Kafka, Hemingway, Chekhov, Borges, and Poe ♔♔♔

2012

The Civilization of the Middle Ages – Norman F. Cantor ♔♔♔
Troilus and Cressida – William Shakespeare ♔♔
The Canterbury Tales (Selected Stories) – Geoffrey Chaucer ♔♔
Harry Potter and Philosopher’s Stone – J.K. Rowling ♔♔♔
The Piano Teacher – Elfriede Jelinek ♔♔
Timon of Athens – William Shakespeare ♔♔
Strange Pilgrims – Gabriel Garcia Marquez ♔♔
Pericles, The Prince of Tyre – William Shakespeare ♔♔
As You Like It – William Shakespeare ♔♔
The Trial – Franz Kafka ♔♔
Steppenwolf – Herman Hesse ♔♔
The Merry Wives of Windsor – William Shakespeare ♔♔
The History of Love – Nicole Krauss ♔♔♔
Measure for Measure – William Shakespeare ♔♔♔
Two Gentlemen of Verona – William Shakespeare ♔♔
The Sun Also Rises – Ernest Hemingway ♔♔
Life in a Medieval Town – Joseph and Frances Gies ☂
Various Short Stories of Mark Twain  ♔
One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez ☂
Everything I Possess I Carry with Me – Herta Muller ♔♔
Henry V – William Shakespeare ♔♔
Henry IV Part Two – William Shakespeare ♔♔
Henry IV Part One – William Shakespeare ♔♔♔
Short Stories by W. Somerset Maugham ♔♔♔
Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter – Mario Vargas Llosa ♔♔
Richard II – William Shakespeare ♔♔
How to Win Friends and Influence People – Dale Carnegie ☂
Love’s Labor’s Lost – William Shakespeare ♔♔
Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway ♔♔♔
Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov ♔♔♔
Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert ♔♔♔
The Pillars of the Earth – Ken Follett ♔♔♔
Animal Farm – George Orwell ♔♔♔
The Merchant of Venice – William Shakespeare ♔♔♔
The Comedy of Errors – William Shakespeare ♔♔
All’s Well That Ends Well – William Shakespeare ♔♔
Doctor Faustus – Christopher Marlowe ♔♔♔
The Three Musketeers [abridged] – Alexandre Dumas ♔♔
The Hunchback of Notre-Dame – Victor Hugo ♔♔♔
The Name of the Rose – Umberto Eco ♔♔♔
Beowulf – Unknown ♔♔
The Song of Roland – Unknown ☂
The Divine Comedy – Dante Alighieri ☂
Ivanhoe – Sir Walter Scott ♔♔♔
The Elements of Style (fourth edition) – Strunk and White ☂

All-time favorites

  • One Hundred Years of Solitude – G.G. Marquez ☂
  • Guy de Maupassant’s Short Stories ☂
  • A Tale of Two Cities – Charles Dickens ☂
  • Anton Chekhov’s Short Stories ☂
  • The Divine Comedy – Dante Alighieri ☂
  • William Shakespeare’s Plays ☂
  • Edgar Allan Poe’s Short Stories and The Raven ☂
  • Jorge Luis Borges’ Short Stories ☂
  • A Song of Ice and Fire – George R.R. Martin ☂
  • Sophie’s World – Jostein Gaarder ☂
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86 thoughts on “Reading List

  1. Good list. I need to get started on One Hundred Years of Solitude again. I was reading it and liking it but I made the mistake of putting it down for a few weeks and when I picked it up again I couldn’t remember who was who.

    I have a brand new Everyman’s Library edition of Chekhov’s short novels on my shelf, which I will tackle soon.

    For me, a list like yours would be 1984, Great Expectations, The English Patient, Shakespeare, and Toni Morrison’s Beloved.

  2. I understand what you mean about One Hundred Years of Solitude. All those names can be confusing.

    I’ve read 1984 and liked it. I’ve heard WBC editions of The English Patient and Beloved and many people say great things about them. Right now I don’t read that much contemporary fiction, but soon I will, and then these two will be among the first I’ll pick.

    Great Expectations is on my iPod and I’ll listen to it sometime this year.

  3. Great list. I have read those books as well ! I also love Dante’s Inferno, Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged , Ovid, A Separate Peace and To Kill a Mockingbird. I just thought I would mention them since I really liked the books you mentioned. I also love Dickens!!!

  4. I feel like an illiterate among this company. Of those works listed, I have read only Poe’s works. The older works are mostly incomprehensible (Shakespeare in particular), and make me feel I need to go back to school.

    1. *laughing* Well, by all means do it, then! Don’t let yourself miss out for a minute longer!

      On a more serious note, though, school is entirely unnecessary to the cultivation of the great mind you have inside of you. If Shakespeare is too difficult, start with something easier (just a LITTLE bit easier) and work up to him. The most important thing is to start.

      1. If there is a book of Shakespeare written in novel format, I might be able to handle it. But I’d need a English/Olde English dictionary. It’s like reading a foreign language and can be daunting, even for an avid reader. I haven’t read anything in another language since highschool, and that was more than a few years ago. lol Still, it would be good to set myself a challenge?

    2. Might be best to choose the more recent titles — see if you can enjoy Hemingway’s short stories, for instance, maybe Maugham’s, too. Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five is story of a man caught in war and beginning to hallucinate about it. Catcher in the Rye is not difficult, and many readers love it. Most of the titles in these lists are daunting; I’m amazed that anyone would have read them — not to say ALL of them! Shakespeare is tough-going, in my opinion, and especially the comedies. In four hundred years the English tongue has certainly undergone tremendous changes — even scholars do not understand everything Shakespeare wrote. Best to read a Hamlet, let us say, when you can also then see the play on stage. Takes both study and play-going to get fully the beautiful feel of it. Wonderful, though — these complex logs of great works (and lesser works) Vincent is providing for us.

      1. I have read some Hemingway, and find I do not like his work, though it has been many years and may be worth another look. I have read Slaughterhouse 5 a number of times, indeed I’ve read all of Vonnegut’s work.

        A few years ago I went through a phase of reading a lot of classics: The Three Musketeers, Victor Hugo, some others and enjoyed those greatly, but I’ve never managed Moby Dick: I found it boring.

        I tried Shakespeare, it’s really difficult to read a play. I did see one of his plays but couldn’t understand what was going on. I would like to see his plays done in modern English. I think I would enjoy some of them.

        Thanks for sharing your insight into these.

        1. Hey you’re pretty far along, probably don’t need advice, after all. I bet you’l eventually come to appreciate the great Shakesperean tragedies, too. I like the classics of the past, but to me Vonnegut is a very fine writer, so glad you like him, too.

  5. Hey, good list! The fact that you take off your hat to Shakespeare’s plays but rate some of them less highly tells me that you are a discerning reader. Try to see and hear them on the stage if you can. I’m enjoying Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories at the moment – a free download on my phone (I read them while I’m in my local Lebanese restaurant). He’s a good clear prose stylist, and not too old-fashioned. Thanks for the like.

  6. Hah, I’ve read almost all of these (except maybe the Divine Comedy). If you haven’t, you must add the following to your reading list. Such beautiful books, I wish I could go back and read them all again.
    Watership Down (Richard Adams). One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (Ken Kesey). The Lord of the Rings, if you’re up for a saga (J.R.R. Tolkien). The Neverending Story, best work of fantasy ever. (Michael Ende). The Grapes of Wrath (Steinbeck) and Of Mice and Men (also Steinbeck). Short and breathtaking. Shogun (James Clavell).

    1. The list mentions only books that I have read this year.

      I’ve read Lord of the Rings and Of Mice and Men. I’ve noted the other books you’ve recommended and I will read them in the future. Thanks!

  7. btw, I love Lolita, and in highschool and since high school have read How to win friends and influence people’….I love the poem in the first few chapters. I memorized it once, but can’t recall it now…I’ll have to re-examine it tonight!

  8. Good list, there are a few on there that are on my ‘to read’ list. I stronly suggest you read The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak if you haven’t already. I’m only halfway through it and already raving about it. Also, Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides and The History of Love by Nicole Kraus are personal favourites.

  9. How did you get past the end of Sophie’s World? I loved the whole thing until it hit the postmoderns. Oh well. You’ve got some great works up there and some great suggestions in the comments. I think you’d like Hemingway. Any of what he wrote. Another good one, in the vein of Watership Down, is The Book of the Dun Cow.

  10. You have a delightful reading list, although there are some exceptional classics you ought to add to it, if you haven’t read them already. Have you read The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery? It is one of the greatest books that has been written, I believe.

    How about G.K. Chesterton? You would not agree with him — not at first, at any rate 🙂 — but he is fascinating even to disagree with.

    And you must, must read some of C.S. Lewis. Mere Christianity is an excellent start, but just about any of his books, essays or letters, picked up at any point, will engage you immediately in the great conversation that he wishes to hold with you.

    I saw that you listed A Tale of Two Cities among the hat-removal-inducing masterpieces. Have you read anything else by Dickens? Because Two Cities is probably my least favorite of the seven or so of his books that I’ve read. Bleak House and Great Expectations and David Copperfield are phenomena.

    How about Flannery O’Connor? P.G. Wodehouse? You must read some Wodehouse and acquaint yourself with the old lingo of British-English. You will not need to read very much, though, before the stories begin to repeat themselves 🙂

    I have just begun reading Borges’ Collected Fictions. I expect to enjoy it as I have by now seen it listed among the best on many lists.

    What poets have you read?

    1. I’ll read The Little Prince soon. Have not read Chesterton, C.S. Lewis, and the other distinguished writers you’ve mentioned. but I plan to in the near future.

      I’ve read Oliver Twist. I will read Bleak House and Great Expectations next year.

      I don’t read much poetry other than Shakespeare. Now I’m reading Baudelaire. Notable poets I’ve read so far hmm Oscar Wilde, Poe, Pope, Emily you-know-who, Dante, a bit of Robert Frost. Also The Song of Roland, which is one of my favourites (unknown writer).

  11. Oh, we have some similar “favorites.” Well… basically three of them I have not read yet, but they are on my list. I do believe that anything from Edgar Allen Poe will always be at the top of my list. He won me over as a child and still has me. 🙂 Thanks for sharing I will be looking up some that you have here!

  12. Great list. As an avid reader and a Shakespeare fan, I have to recommend William Goldiing in the more modern English literature. He has the depth and the understanding of human nature that belongs to the greats. What about Tolstoy? Life is different when you read widely. You have a world at your fingertips.

  13. Being from Romania, surely you’ve read Dracula? I don’t much care for fiction but its icy atmosphere is more noticeable with each turn of the page. Strongly recommended if you haven’t already.

  14. I can’t help but notice that certain writers, who were geniuses (whatever that may mean) do not figure in your lists. Firstly, although poetry is not your primary interest, Emily Dickinson. Secondly, George Eliot. Thirdly, Emily Brontë.

    Amd, given you are interested in fantasy, Ursula K. Le Guin, who is very much alive.

    Thank you for visiting my blog. I am old enough to still find it miraculous that an Australian and a Romanian can read each other’s work, instantaneously.

  15. Of course I can’t help jumping in with Garcia Marquez’ Autumn of the Patriarch, Isabel Allende’s House of the Spirits, Manil Suri’s The Death of Vishnu, poetry by Pablo Neruda and Bulgakov’s Master and Margarita. Oh, and a bit of Faulkner. And Hesse…Steppenwolf & Siddhartha. Must, must, must. Someone else suggested The Little Prince already. Leave Tolstoy for another time….Bulgakov first, then Dostoevsky. 🙂

  16. Hey, you’re one of the coolest bloggers I’ve come to bump into..

    And, considering the fact that you do read a lot, I recommend that you try Khaled Hosseini’s ‘A Kite Runner’ and ‘A Thousand Splendid Suns’…they’re both brilliant….

  17. I’m just wondering — do you read while you write? I find that while I’m working on a novel, I absolutely cannot read other novels. Especially the classics, because then I start to feel miserable. Sadly, this means I didn’t read a single novel in the past year. The last book I read that I loved was Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand. If you, like me, gravitate to nonfiction while you’re writing, I highly recommend it.

  18. List looks interesting. So, you have actually read Divine Comedy..My only introduction to it has been through Dan Brown. and I love your rating style with Umbrella..You have been posting rare nowadays..I wish more posts, enjoy them a lot. How come I never saw this page before..Is it new??

  19. I see many, many classics there! Guy de Maupassant and Dickens are my all time favorites. Have read ‘As You Like it’ and ‘Macbeth’ by Shakespeare but I’m afraid that’s all I’ve got to my credit when it comes to him.
    Looks like I have some catching up to do!

  20. I started reading Shakespeare when I was fifteen and fell in love with his words. I asked my parents for a volume of his writings and received one for Christmas. It was the best gift!! I am now sixty and have it sitting on my bedroom dresser. I find your writing talented and look forward to reading more.

  21. Reading is a terrific hobby. It can make you laugh, cry, learn, and escape, to name a few. You are never alone with a good book. Sometimes reaching the end of a great book is like losing a good friend.

  22. Following up on the above – have you read Nabokov’s collection of short stories? It’s the single volume that got me interested in writing again. Also, I am impressed that you read Chaucer’s CT on your own – I was an English major and “had” to read it for school. I recall enjoying it, though, despite the fact that I had to recite the first 18 lines in Middle English for my professor who also doubled as a demonologist in the Roman Catholic church. Frightening experience.

    Also: Have you read Thomas Carlyle’s Sartor Resartus and/or own the Norton Anthologies? With your clearly innate intellectual facilities I think you may have a field day with either/both. Philosophy, English, storytelling, sociology, politics, art – it’s all in the Norton. Cheers to you. You have a very precise style and an unexpected voice. I suppose Nabokov himself may have handled himself as you do in English as a second language at such a tender age.

  23. Dale Carnegie, William Shakespeare, Charles Dickens and Edgar Allen Poe are by far (in my opinion) the best! Glad to see some of them are on your top 10 list. I love your choice in reading, I think everyone should be reading the old classics instead of Twilight and all these other books that lack TRUE literature! I hope you can post some more great books for me to consider!

  24. YES! I always like finding other writers with reading lists on their blogs 🙂 It’s fun to see what other writers are reading and what their favorites are…FYI A Tale of Two Cities is also on my all time favorites list 🙂

    Nice blog! Looking forward to seeing future posts.

  25. Why so many readings of One Hundred Years…? I’ve read it once and enjoyed it, but don’t know if I’d do it nine times. Just finished Gaiman’s Ocean at the end of the Lane, and also enjoyed his Graveyard Book.

  26. Love this list. You might try Kafka on the shore (murakami). It’s an umbrella book for me for sure. But really I love most of his work.
    There’s a short story I read once, the hitchhikers game, which was very interesting. And notes from underground by Dostoevsky
    Another of my favorites is hunting and gathering by this French woman, I forget her name. But it just had beautiful style.

  27. Hi! Just wondered which translation of Beowulf you read, and which of The Song of Roland? I was interested by your ratings of them – why good for Beowulf and marvellous for Roland? Was it just the narratives, the style, something you can’t put your finger on? It’s hard to judge a text based on a translation and I know that different translations of those two take a wide range of approaches; one can respond very differently to different translations of the same text.

    Just interested in your thoughts!

    This also made me wonder, have you read any Middle English in the original? I see that English is not your first language (though I would hardly know if you weren’t explicit about it) but reading in Middle English can be very rewarding; it was a rich and fresh blend of the Germanic and Romance speeches of the day and in a way it benefits poetically from ‘the rules’ not really being set yet. A sense of freedom of expression is lost in the translation, I feel. It might be an enjoyable challenge for you as you are clearly a skilled linguist. Chaucer is well worth his reputation (the Franklin’s Tale is the one I know best but most of them are excellent in their own way) – one of my favourite texts ever though is Gawain and the Green Knight. Its language is often said to be further from modern English than Chaucer’s, which may be true, but in my opinion it doesn’t make it any harder to enjoy reading because it is so vividly written and immediate. I preferred to read an edition without copious notes in the text but with a good glossary, so I wasn’t tempted to look at the footnotes for the meaning of every line: to me it’s more fun to get the feel of the meaning first and deal with the particulars later. Apologies if I am preaching to the converted here and you are already a medieval literature expert!

    Seeing how much you liked Roland I’d also very much recommend Beroul’s Tristan (I used an excellent facing page edition so you could see the shape of the French as well, I’m no good at medieval French!) and the Lais of Marie de France, which I read in translation only. Both among of my favourite reads ever.

    Best wishes.

  28. I have been reading more lately, my friend turned me on to Blood Meridian, he said its one of the best books he’s read…I just started it yesterday, looks good.

    1. I have a reading list which I constantly update, and I usually pick up a book from it – I cannot say I schedule my readings. I have gotten into the habit of reading for at least 1 hour a day – I’m not a fast reader and like to take my time with my books. I think the best way is to do it like the ants do it, one bit at a time. “A small daily task, if it be really daily, will beat the labours of a spasmodic Hercules.” – Anthony Trollope

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