Tuesday, March 31, 2009

They're not going anywhere

I went to see Easy Virtue at the cinema with the chocolate girls on Friday night. Easy Virtue, for those who (like me, until about 4pm Friday) aren't in the know, is a Noel Coward play.

The film is really rather good and I decided I wanted to read some more Coward plays so I hopped on Amazon last night to have a scout around.

What followed was a veritable orgy of classical literature, as I clicked my mouse with gay abandon at the mere mention of a book or author I had heard of but never got around to reading.

The good folks of Boo keep my feet pretty close to the ground if I ever think I might be slightly intelligent or well read, and I decided last night that Now Is The Right Time To Read The Classics - because everyone else seems to have done. The capitalisation there demonstrates my commitment to this, my latest Grand Plan (and the capitalisation there merely illustrates the regularity with which these whims strike me).

I had a 'cold light of day' moment before I hit the buy button, when I realised that classics are what libraries do best. So instead of purchasing, I saved my shopping list and decided to share it with you all here. I will borrow from the lively Waverley Library instead. OK, so a couple are recent prize winners rather than classics, but none are fluff (because although Phillipa Gregory made the shopping cart, I didn't feel the need to transfer her here).

What I want to know from you all is - what is missing? What do you think I should add to the list to ensure that by the time I reach 35 I am a well rounded and literary dinner party guest?

Notes from the Underground - F.M. Dostoevsky
The Metamorphosis - Franz Kafka
The White Tiger - Aravind Adiga
The Color Purple - Alice Walker
Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
The Catcher in the Rye - J. D. Salinger
To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee (already read - want to read again)
Blood River: A Journey to Africa's Broken Heart - Tim Butcher
Random Acts of Heroic Love - Danny Scheinmann
The Complete Works of Oscar Wilde - Oscar Wilde
Three Plays: "Blithe Spirit", "Hay Fever", "Private Lives" - Noel Coward (because the complete works is a LOT of books).

Oh, and if you are wondering why the title of this post... Elle asked me last night why I was asking about all these authors over MSN, and on explanation, why I felt the need to read them now. I replied; They're not going anywhere - I might as well read them.


Scotty D said...

A few more for the list:

The Dead - James Joyce

Tender is the Night - F. Scott Fitzgerald

Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy

Small World - David Lodge (I quite like the 'campus novel' genre)

Labyrinths - Jorge Luis Borges

@EmVicW said...

Thanks Scotty!

The Great Gatsby is an all time fav. of mine so I will give Tender Is The Night a whirl.

James Joyce - I read Dubliners. Didn't love it.

Hardy I could merrily kill, but that may just be the excessive A level required reading of the drippy Tess of the D'Urbervilles.

Not heard of the other two. I shall add everything to the list - thanks! :-)

Katy Ludditt said...

Definitely read Fiesta, The Sun Also Rises by Hemmingway. I love the way they say 'tight' instead of drunk.

I got a bit tight at the weekend myself, and it sounds so much more sophisticated when put this way!

Felicity said...

Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons

The Hotel New Hampshire - John Irving (or anything else by him)

Strong Poison - Dorothy L. Sayers (This is NOT scary, just beautifully written crime fiction, with a detective you can swoon over)

If This Is A Man/The Truce - Primo Levi

Vanity Fair - Thackeray

Scoop - Evelyn Waugh

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes - Anita Loos (and the one after that, if you insist - But Gentlemen Marry Brunettes)

Flashman series - George Fraser MacDonald

The Alexandria Quartet - Lawrence Durrell

and LOTS more! And glad you are using the library, I am terrified they will close the one in the Letch so I am trying to bump up their borrower numbers all by myself, by reading a lot x

Caroline said...

Did you know that some of Easy Virtue was filmed at Wimpole Hall, just up the road from The Letch?

@EmVicW said...

I did indeed know that! And have felt the need to tell everyone :-)

Nicole said...

I studied English in uni, and we were given this comprehensive 'recommended reading' list, also called 'the canon'. I turned 35 a couple of weeks ago (I actually feel grown up now), and I'm still ticking things off the list. I might be halfway through. So I think being well read at 35 might be a fallacy ;-)

I also love Jude the Obscure - it's my 'if I had to take one book with me to a lonely island, it would be this' book.

There were a lot of great recommendations already, so let me cheer for a whole genre: the Canadian Long Poem. My favourites are:

Robert Kroetsch - Seed Catalogue
Dennis Cooley - Bloody Jack (one of my favourite reads ever - also because I know Dennis, and he is an incredible person)
Michael Ondaatje - Collected Works of Billy the Kid

Red said...

I wouldn't bother with "Catcher in the Rye" - just 100% teenage angst which makes you want to throttle the main character. The Color Purple was a bit disturbing if I remember it right...

Oh, and I agree re Jude. A got to read... Some of the characters are fairly infuriating but a very good book...

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