The OF Blog: Readings some 15 years ago

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Readings some 15 years ago

Every now and again, there might be some post where the poster waxes nostalgic about books read during a formative reading period in that person's life.  For those that blog about SF books, doubtless most of them would discuss either reading the "classics" of SF fiction (long and short form alike) or might list a bunch of 1980s/1990s multi-volume epic fantasy works that they read which got them hooked onto reading works that are over 500 pages each and whose storylines often took a decade or more to unfold.

For myself, however, things are a bit different.  Since I have an area set aside for my earliest books, I can now list some of the 100+ books I owned when I was a 21-23 year-old graduate student.  I think these might be somewhat different than the typical reading selection for people my age then:

Charles Dickens, all of his novels and short stories

Aristotle, Politics

Alexandre Dumas, all of the Musketeer novels, plus Queen Margot, The Count of Monte Cristo, and a few other minor works.

Ann Radcliffe, The Mysteries of Udolpho

Matthew Lewis, The Monk

Daniel Defoe, Roxana, Moll Flanders, A Journal of the Plague Year, and Robinson Crusoe

Thomas Mann, Death in Venice, The Magic Mountain, Dr. Faustus, Felix Krull, Buddenbrooks

William Thackeray, Vanity Fair, Pendennis

Jane Austen, all of her novels

Giovanni Boccaccio, The Decameron

William Langland, Piers Plowman

Upton Sinclair, The Jungle

James Joyce, Ulysses

Norman Mailer, The Naked and the Dead

Thomas Wolfe, Look Homeward, Angel and You Can't Go Home Again

Charlotte Lennox, The Female Quixote

Stendhal, The Red and the Black

Victor Hugo, The Hunchback of Notre Dame and Les Miserables

Emile Zola, several of his novels, including Germinal

Honore Balzac, Cousin Bette

Fyodor Dostoevsky, all of his major works

Gustave Flaubert, Madame Bovary and Sentimental Education

Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace and The Death of Ivan Ilych

Several plays by Bernard Shaw and Henrik Ibsen

Pat Barker, Regeneration trilogy

Umberto Eco, The Name of the Rose and Foucault's Pendulum  

This is in addition to several dozen books that I had read on Weimar Germany, cultural history from the 18th-20th centuries, E.P. Thompson's seminal social histories, a few dozen primary sources on Hitler for my MA research, and a few assorted books whose authors I'm too lazy to look up now.

I wonder if it's time for me to re-read/review several of these as well.


Adam Whitehead said...

I don't think that the list is that unusual at all. By that time (I was 17 fifteen years ago) I had read seven of the books on your list (though I always preferred DUBLINERS to Joyce's other work, a point of contention at the time between myself and a friend who preferred ULYSSES) and an awful lot of them a were required reading on any standard high school, college or university English course (in the UK at the time anyway).

Ben Godby said...

Masters students! Always showing up us Bachelors.

Hélène said...

Cousin Bette made me despair !

It seems Dumas is very much appreciated in USA but he is not very much studied in France. I had to read Balzac, Stendhal, Zola in highschool but Dumas was never mentionned. Snobbish, I'm afraid.

Derrick said...

Hurray for Dickens and Austen!

Larry said...


Virtually none of the books I listed are required reading in most American high schools, but I could see where more would be included in UK schools.


The MA has to be worth something, right?


That certainly was a depressing read, I'll admit.

Interesting that Dumas is not often taught there. I guess it's considered too close to pulp fictions and penny dreadfuls for those who devise the curricula there?


I wonder how many would have pegged me as having read all of Austen's work without being required to do so? :P

Spinoza said...

I find Dickens quite empty (I am, however, going to give Bleak House a chance). I find Jane Austen (and also the Brontes) the emptiest. The German romantics (Goethe, Heine, Hölderlin) really kick things off. Read The Sorrows of Young Werther, Hyperion, and Germany: A Winter's Tale, etc. etc. Everyone should read all of the poetry by these three writers.

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