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The Norwegian Book List

 

Read or Not Read

1. The Stranger by Albert Camus (October 2007)

    This is a very short book and easy to read. I read it in just a couple of hours, but that does not mean it cannot be a meaningful book. The story is set in first person narrative about a man who is so self absorbed that he feels little or no emotion through everything that happens to him and does not realize most of the life that is passing him by. The book starts off with his mother's death, that he never shows remorse for, and that is one of the reasons for his downfall at the end. The main character is led to murder another man and his character is the deciding factor in his innocence. He eventually realizes what he has been like but by then it is too late. The book is written in the "American" style that I particularly enjoy. Short, crisp sentences that are easy to read and easy to understand. I am going to put this on my must read list because not only is it enjoyable, it also provides a pretty good life lesson.

 

2. Berlin Alexanderplatz by Alfred Doblin 

 

3. Gilgamesh by Anon

 

4. Mahabharata by Anon

 

5. Njaals Saga by Anon

 

6. The Book of Job by Anon (July 2006)

    Considered by many to be one of the best stories in the bible because it attempts to justify the presence of evil and good together. It is a little difficult to read at first because who is arguing for what got lost on me sometimes. Otherwise it seems to get it's point  across. Essentially it is about a man named Job (pronounced Jobe) who looses his family and his health because of a bet between Gob and Satan to show that Job will still be a religious man and not spurn God. I understand the moral of the story but I just don't understand why God is making bets that result in the deaths of this poor guys family.

 

 

7. Thousand and One Nights by Anon

 

8. Selected Stories by Anton P Chekhov (December 2012)

Also included in a listing on Zane's Top 10 List - There are two sets of Chekhov stories on these lists. Zane's Top 10 list includes all of his stories (~200) while this one, only has 24 stories. You can find my reviews of the individual stories HERE along with all of the possible translations of the titles (since there are a few known with multiple titles). In general the stories are ok. Many of the early ones feel like Poe without the twist, in other words rather boring. But his later stories did have the ability to make me feel for the characters even if the story was only 2 pages long. The stories ranged in length from 2 to 35 pages long with most of them being under 10 pages. Should you go out and get this? I don't think it is necessary. His writing is good, but overall, I didn't feel anything great reading the stories. Perhaps I am just not a short story advocate.

 

9. Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren 

 

10. Don Quixote by Cervantes (January - June 2015)

    Also on the Sybervision and the Observer lists - Whenever I hear anyone reference Don Quixote, it is frequently in regards to his fighting windmills, or riding around on an old horse with a fat squire on a donkey. Well, that is pretty much the first 20-50 pages of a 1,000 page long story. Preconceptions of the story do not really encompass the true breadth and depth of it. The story is about a man who feels he has been tasked with restoring knight errantry back to Spain and dupes a simple minded farmer to accompany him (Sancho Panza). When I first started to read the story, I felt like this was the story for me. It was serialized television long before television even existed. There were even phrases like "when we last left our heroes...". It seemed perfect for me. The translation I was reading was awesome as well (the Everyman edition). He translated it into basically a very readable sort of Old English with all of the poetry and songs maintaining their rhymes. I assume the context and feel of the story was maintained even though the wording needed to be changed. And my version extended the feel of the novel to the translation itself. The novel is written as if it is a Spanish translation of an older text (Arabic I believe), where my English translator even had notes added on top of his translation by an editor. It definitely gives it a story handed down through time aura about it. 


The problems I have with the story started pretty early though. I felt the story started to drag on really early in the first part. Adventures seemed to take forever, there were many side stories that added little (if anything) to the overall narrative, and I just felt the pace of the story slowing down dramatically. I felt I needed to trudge through most of the middle part of the novel until hitting the second part. When I really started to enjoy the story was during the last third of the novel, when the story became self referential. The first half of the novel was apparently published earlier and characters within the second half of the story had often either read it or had heard of it. There is even parts where a real life sequel to the first book was published by a different author and the characters in the book go out of their way to prove that book to be a false sequel. It's actually pretty meta. As for the ending, it felt very very rush. The ending could have been placed at any point in the book and still have fit, there was no real build up to it during the narrative. It would have been better if certain story points (mainly Dulcinea del Toboso) were even addressed during the ending instead of just dropped as if she never even mattered. Overall, I would say the story was actually quite a bit of fun when it started to pick up during the later half but an abridged version of the story may be the way to go for many people (although I personally refuse to go abridged). 

 

11. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens (2004)

    Also on the Sybervision and BBC lists - My favorite of the Dickens' novels and on my must read list. It follows the life of Pip, as he is saved by a convict and eventually grows up and finds love. At times the plot moves a little slowly and through a variety of ups and downs in the character's life. All in all the balance is well written and easy to follow.

 

 

 

 

12. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe 

    Also on the Observer list-

 

13. The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri (September 2005)

    Also on the Sybervision list - I read the Inferno in one of my college classes and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Then I purchased the entire series and I found Purgatory and Paradise very hard to follow. I believe it was because I did not have the guidance as I did in class and the translation was more like the original text in the last two. So my suggestion if you are going to read this, do so in a class or with a text to help understand the contemporary illusions and with an easy to understand translation.

 

 

 

14. Jacques the Fatalist and His Master by Denis Diderot

 

15. Sons and Lovers by DH Lawrence

 

16. The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing

 

17. The Complete Tales by Edgar Allan Poe 

 

18. History by Elsa Morante 

 

19. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte (May 2006)

   One of the 2 on all 4 lists - A very weird book, not at all what I thought it would be. I considered this to be what is termed "chic lit" (as seen on Jeopardy). I couldn't have been more off. This is one of the most depressing books I have read yet. It is more of how Satan himself can corrupt people in retched beings but in the end sometimes they pull through. Most of the story takes place as a flashback of one of the former housekeepers. It is a little confusing and un-enjoyable at first because of the erudite language she used, but after a few chapters I got used to it. After the flashback it shows an orphaned child, Heathcliff, brought back to the house who is shunned by all, who eventually takes over everything. Since most of this is known at the start of the story, it is interesting to see how everything comes about and to see how two separate families who differ in everything (intelligence, strength, and health intermingle). On my must read and it should be on yours.

 

20. The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway (1994?)

    Also on the Sybervision list - The classic everyone knows about the determination of an old fisherman and the fish that would not give up. A great short story about perseverance and old age. Must reread.

 

 

 

 

 

21. Medea by Euripides

 

22. Gypsy Ballads by Federico Garcia Lorca

 

23. The Book of Disquiet by Fernando Pessoa

 

24. Gargantua and Pantagruel by Francois Rabelais

 

25. The Castle by Franz Kafka 

 

26. The Complete Stories by Franz Kafka 

 

27. The Trial by Franz Kafka 

    Also on the Observer list -

 

28. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor M Dostoyevsky (1999)

    Also on the Sybervision and BBC lists - Another book on my must read list. The story follows a man who feels he can commit the "perfect murder" then his resulting turmoil after the fact. The story was excellently written showing exactly how the main character felt through his entire ordeal. My only problem with the story is the epilogue because it was added afterwards. The only reason it was even in the story was because the publishers felt the story was not complete and they needed closure. It is obvious that the chapter was an afterthought and I feel it should not have been written but that is a little late now.

 

 

29. The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor M Dostoyevsky (July - September 2006)

    On the Sybervision and the Observer lists- This book read a lot like Crime and Punishment, which is the reason why I liked it. I probably would put it on my must read list but Crime and Punishment is already on the list and I thought that Crime and Punishment was a much better book. Overall I though the book was extremely well written, but long (~800 pages) and I did not fully understand the point of the epilogue. The story is about 3 (maybe 4) brothers all from the same father but different mothers. All of them have widely varied personalities ranging from borderline psychotic to deeply religious to the non-religious academic. The story culminates in a murder that we as the reader know the brother did not commit but he is put on trial for. I like the way the story was written, with us knowing more than the people in the trial and the ending for the most part made sense; again except for the epilogue. So if you are in the mood for a long but relatively uncomplicated read, I recommend this one.

 

30. The Idiot by Fyodor M Dostoyevsky

 

31. The Possessed by Fyodor M Dostoyevsky

 

32. Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (October-November 2007)

    Also on the BBC list - Contrary to the bizarre title this is a very good book. The title just signifies the time period that takes place and is not a the basis of the story. The book is a love story with a girl whose father tries to get her married above her station and two men who both fall for the girl. The one man is about the same level as the girl and he falls head over heals for her while the other man is a very prominent doctor who is the supreme bachelor in the community. The story starts off with the woman and the doctor as an old married couple then flashes back to the beginning of the story. It then slowly moves through the lives of these three people advancing a little on one character then falling back again with another character's story. Marquez does this phenomenally so that you do not even realize that the story changes from one character's narrative to another. The story is rather riveting and it kept me worried throughout the story about all the characters. There is no clear "good guy" or "bad guy" so I found myself cheering for both of them, worried that something major would go wrong. I would definitely recommend this for anyone in a romantic mood.

 

33. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez 

    Also on the Observer and BBC lists -

 

34. Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer  (January - March 2010)

    Also on the Sybervision list -  I started off this book with reading the introduction, which in my version states that "Anyone who is too lazy to master the comparatively small glossary necessary to understand Chaucer deserves to be shut out from reading good books for ever," by Ezra Pound. Awesome. I had high hopes for this book in the beginning. My wife said it was great, she really enjoyed what she read so I'm all looking forward to it. Then I start to read it, and I don't understand it, at all. And this had nothing to do with the "small glossary" it was written with but with the fact that all of the words are misspellings of modern words, and not even consistently misspelled the same way. When you sound the words you can make sense of what is going on but my mind doesn't work that way. It turns out my wife read a more friendly translation than my original script of the book. Mine looks more like this: "And daunced wel, he wolde nat come ayeyn..." (and danced well, he would not come again). So it makes sense, but it took me about 400 pages to understand it on my first reading (about 1/2 the book). Anyway I got to reading a summary of what was happening on Gradesaver.com then reading the tales in the book, which was a lifesaver, because even if I missed a line or two I would still know what was happening. Anyway, on to the review of the book. It had it's high points and low points. A lot of the stories were actually rather fun and interesting, but a lot of them were a drudge to get through (i.e. The Tale of Melibee). Then the final story (The Parson's Tale) seems completely out of place and contradictory to everything he has stated before. After several tales of husbands and wives who sleep around he comes in with this sermon about the seven deadly sins, stating things like masturbation is basically homicide and if a woman were to indulge in sexual activity she should be stoned to death. It seemed so out of place, at times I felt like that it was on purpose, to kind of throw off the reader. So overall, Canterbury Tales is really a story that does not need to be read straight through. I recommend if you do want to read it to pick out the best sections and read them alone, because I feel Chaucer added some tales in more for context around that particular tale than actual enjoyment of reading.

 

35. Middlemarch by George Eliot (January - March 2008)

    Also on the Sybervision, Zane, and the BBC lists - I rather enjoyed this book, it started off slow but as the book went on it picked up its pace rather well. Although the book was the longest I have yet read, about 900 pages, the plot was simple enough that it was easy to follow through the whole book. Middlemarch is a town in England where the book follows the lives of the families there, mainly two different families and their daughters. The book also shows a lot of conflicts including doctors versus faith, modern medicine versus traditional medicine, and similar subjects. There was an initial period that took me to get used to the language but afterwards I easily understood and followed the story. I can easily recommend this book as a great story with good lessons, if you are willing to take the time to read it.

 

36. 1984 by George Orwell (February-March 2007)

    Also on the Observer and the BBC lists - I can understand why this is one 3 out of the 4 lists. It is a very powerful novel dealing with a totalitarian society and how one might survive in that society. The problem I had with this book was the utter hopelessness of it. Through every page, every paragraph of the book you had a hope that this may end all right and that everything will be right in the world again. But after all is said and done, you knew that it wouldn't. A very depressing book but a definite must read, if only to show and warn people just might be possible. Because you never know.

 

 

37. Complete Poems by Giacomo Leopardi

 

38. Decameron by Giovanni Boccaccio 

 

39. The Tin Drum by Gunter Grass

    Also on the Observer list -

 

40. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert (April 2010)

     Also on the Sybervision, Zane, and Observer lists - The first thing I noticed while reading this book was how well is flowed. One idea flowed into another, most of it without a break or pause. Seemingly unconnected thoughts were put together seamlessly in a string of narrative that I could only hope to replicate. I loved reading this book, especially after Canterbury Tales, since the language was so much easier to follow and I'm not trying to decipher what the author is saying, I'm just enjoying the words. I did have some problems with the book though. The first being the very weak female characters, especially the main character. She seemed mostly to be reacting to events in her life and not being proactive in any of her choices. Nothing she did was really in response to what she wanted and more in response to what someone else wanted. And her child was the most useless of characters, almost inconsequential for 99% of the story. So, even though it did have some weak points, it was a marvelously written story and I would definitely recommend this as a must read.

 

41. Sentimental Education by Gustave Flaubert 

 

42. Independent People by Halldor K Laxness

 

43. Fairy Tales and Stories by Hans Christian Andersen

 

44. A Doll's House by Henrik Ibsen (June 2006)

    Also on the Sybervision list - This play is about women's lib 100 years before woman's lib. The play is basically about a woman who has done nothing with her life except try to please two men, her father and her husband, and it is when something tragic happens that she realizes that nothing is as perfect as it seems. The characters were written well and believable, and the story is very easy to read. I also have a problem with plays because I often miss the hidden themes and stuff like that but I feel in this play I caught most of them. I enjoyed it and it was a fast read.

 

 

45. Moby Dick by Herman Melville (August-September 1998)

    Also on the Sybervision and Observer lists - Forced to read in my high school senior year I was not looking forward to this book. It has the most memorable first line of any book out there except maybe A Tale of Two Cities. The story line is the classic of a man trying to take control of his fears and being destroyed in the process. The book reads slowly and the chapter describing whales escapes my understanding as to why it is even in the book. Not a recommendation by me but maybe just because I read it when I would not appreciate it.

 

 

46. The Iliad by Homer (February 2004)

    Also on the Sybervision list - Think the Bible written in ancient Greek time. Not as good as The Odyssey but still worth reading. The only problem is that it does not have a conclusion, it just sort of ends. Many of the activities associated with the Trojan War are not chronicled like some people think in the story like the Trojan Horse and the death of Achilles.

 

 

 

 

47. The Odyssey by Homer (February 2004)

    Also on the Sybervision list - The better of the two. Action and adventure on a worldwide (as the ancient Greeks knew it) scale. Worth reading if you can get past the Greek translation.

 

 

 

 

 

48. Old Goriot by Honore de Balzac

 

49. Confessions of Zeno by Italo Svevo 

 

50. Mathnawi by Jalal ad-din Rumi 

 

51. Ulysses by James Joyce (March-April 2007)

    Also on the Observer and BBC lists - This book is often listed as one of the best books of the 20th Century although I have some problems with it. The main problem with this book is it is written in an odd style, where no 2 chapters are similar in vocabulary, style or even concept. Some examples include one chapter written like a play, one with newspaper type headlines and one that illustrates the evolution of the English language over time. Overall the book is based off of the Odyssey set in modern day (early 19th century) Ireland. The author uses his language and format style to illustrate several different portions of the book. Had I read this book in a class where they could explain the information to me this would have been much better, but I didn't. I actually broke down and looked up the book online to help explain what was going on and after that the book became much better, but it is still a very difficult book to read to the point where some of the sections are completely unintelligible. Although the parts I did get I could tell where this book was groundbreaking at its time, I'm just not going to recommend this book to anyone anytime soon.

 

52. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (July 2004)

    Also on the Sybervision and the BBC lists - A book on my must read list and definitely my favorite of the Austen works. The story follows the lives of several people of different social standings all wooing each other. This results in people of completely different attitudes and mannerisms actually finding love with each other. Humorous at times and the easiest of Austen's works to read.

 

 

 

 

53. The Devil to Pay in the Backlands by Joao Guimaraes Rosa 

 

54.The Tragedy of Faust by Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe (September 2014)

    Also on the Sybervision list - Upon reading the first few sentences of Part 1, I was thinking, "Yea, I can really get into this". Part 1 was written in a poem like style very similar to The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, which I also loved. So I could see some promise in this. Then the story shifted and it mimicked Book of Job, which I didn't like, but I felt the concept was good and could see where they could improve upon it. Later on, the story morphed again, this time feeling very much like Dante's Inferno. Another story that I rather enjoyed. So in general, I had some promise for this story. Throughout part 1 I was riveted and excited to see where the story went. When I reached the end of part 1, the way several things were revealed was amazing. Initially I had thought we were supposed to guess at what happened but then the author revealed what happened afterwords, letting the information flow out in an unexpected way. Very enjoyable and satisfactory. IF the story had ended after part 1, this would be a 100% recommend. However, it didn't. The story of Faust is written as a play, although there are so many characters at some points I can't imaging it actually being acted out. Faust is a scholar who makes a deal with the devil, another main character, in exchange for excitement (as I interpreted it). He uses the devil throughout the story in order to get his way and eventually ruins a girls life. And so ends part 1. Part 2, was published after Goethe's death and feels in many ways, like someone else wrote it. Or at the very least, like a different story. The plot is all over the place, sometimes it has Faust, but often it doesn't. The text is difficult to understand at times, perhaps due to the translation, more likely due to the story. At least there are some weak threads which tie back to the first part, especially the image of a beautiful girl seen in Part 1, who reappears for a large portion within the middle of the story. However, the story is barely intelligible and doesn't contain the magic emphasized in Part 1. So in summary, Part 1 is a definite recommend, but I personally can find no reason for anyone to read Part 2. There is a wrap-up to the part 1 story within Act V of Part 2, but really, it isn't all that fulfilling. 

 

55. Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift (2002)

    Also on the Observer and Sybervision lists - An enjoyable book that seems like fantasy but in reality was a political commentary on his time. Very enjoyable. Another book I read for my college class that I feel I should go back and read again now that I have a little more time and little less pressure to read it.

 

 

 

56. Collected Fictions by Jorge Luis Borges 

 

57. Blindness by Jose Saramago

 

58. Nostromo by Joseph Conrad 

    Also on the Observer list -

 

59. Pedro Paramo by Juan Rulfo

 

60. The Recognition of Sakuntala by Kalidasa

 

61. Hunger by Knut Hamsun 

 

62. The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy by Laurence Sterne 

    Also on the Observer list -

 

63. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy (December 2008 - January 2009)

    The only one on all 5 lists (Sybervision, Observer, BBC, and Zane) - Now to state first off I thought this was one of the most well written stories I have ever read. Tolstoy just flows with descriptions that make you feel you understand everything that is going on. The characters are extremely well developed and even though they are Russian (which has a tendency to jump around with names a bit) it is still easy to follow who is who. I enjoyed several of the references to early communist culture (the book takes place about 30 years before the communist revolution) and several of the characters' personality polarities and themes that are emphasized in the book (religious vs non-religious, upper vs lower class, etc.).
Onto my main gripe with the story; it seems like two separate stories going on at the same time. The "main" one should be the one with Anna but I got the feeling that for the most part it was the story line centered around Levin (who supposedly represented Tolstoy himself). The story about Anna I felt was enjoyable and well written. It focused around her leaving her husband for another man which that relationship slowly dissolves over the length of the book as well. While the story with Levin, although in parts were very good, I felt was very political and sometimes unimportant to anything. The whole last section (after the Anna story line was wrapped up) felt out of place and forced and left me wishing the book would just end. All in all I very much enjoyed the first half of the novel but the second half seemed to drag on a bit. I am not going to recommend this on my list and personally would not consider this the greatest book ever. But being that it is on so many book lists it probably should be one that you read.

 

64. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy (August 2011 - February 2012)

    On the Sybervision, Zane, and the BBC lists - This is often mentioned as one of those books known for just being long, and long it is (~1600 pages) but not many people can say what the main storyline is about. This book follows Napoleon's invasion of Russia during the early 1800's but most importantly during 1812. My overall impression of this book is that it feels like a typical Russian novel. The characters are a little easier to figure out than a typical Russian novel because he doesn't use as many names for the same character as Dostoevsky often does. Even so, he does has a lot of reoccurring characters. Even now I'm not sure if all of their story lines were wrapped up by the end of the novel. You forget about some of them, then all of the sudden they return. The story is a historical fiction novel with the characters interacting with historical figures. It actually felt like a history novel the situations played out so well. I would recommend this book to any history buff interested in the Napoleonic Wars, although I still don't understand why Napoleon was driven from Russian even now. The book is divided into 4 books, with 2 epilogues, and an appendix. The first epilogue felt so much like the rest of the book that I'm not sure why it was made as an epilogue. It just continued the story on from the previous section. It even has chapters. But the second epilogue is what broke me. After reading this book for 7 months you give me this theoretical musing on the purpose of war and why Napoleon did what he did. It was definitely a drudge to get through and I am convinced he wrote that last section just so people would never finish this book. The second epilogue mimicked the style used for the first one or two chapters of each book but this was just orders of magnitude worse. During the actual story, he would give an overall synopsis of the war and what Napoleon was thinking then move right back into the story but the epilogue had no place in this book and you would miss nothing by skipping it. Overall, I felt the story was good but I never felt anything for the characters. When they died, I didn't really care. And that about sums up my feelings on this book. It is over and I don't really care.

 

65. The Death of Ivan Ilyich and Other Stories by Leo Tolstoy 

 

66. Journey to the End of the Night by Louis-Ferdinand Celine 

    Also on the Observer list -

 

67. Diary of a Madman and Other Stories by Lu Xun 

 

68. Remembrance of Things Past by Marcel Proust 

 

69. Memoirs of Hadrian by Marguerite Yourcenar

 

70. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain (1996ish)

    Also on the Sybervision, Zane, and the Observer lists - As most children I was forced to read this in school, a couple of times. Its actually one of the better novels most kids read (unfortunately closed-minded people try to ban this novel). It gives the "kid's adventure" that Mark Twain is known for but also has the racial issues of the time with the escaped slave Jim and how Huck eventually learned to just see him as a friend. A book that should be read just because of the criticism it receives from the ignorant people who can't get passed the language.

 

 

71. Essays by Michel de Montaigne 

 

72. Children of Gebelawi by Naguib Mahfouz 

 

73. Dead Souls by Nikolai Gogol 

 

74. Zorba the Greek by Nikos Kazantzakis

 

75. Metamorphoses by Ovid 

 

76. Poems by Paul Celan

 

77. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison

 

78. The Man Without Qualities by Robert Musil 

 

79. Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie 

    Also on the BBC list -

 

80. Trilogy: Molloy, Malone Dies, The Unnamable by Samuel Beckett (July-August 2008)

    Malone Dies is also on the Observer list - The Trilogy at first reminded me of Ulysses, which if anyone has noticed, I despised. But Beckett soon broke away from the incessant ramblings that plagued that novel and gave two really good stories, Molloy and Malone Dies. The novels are written with all emotion removed and in a rather cryptic way that keeps the reader guessing as you read on. The second half of Molloy seems like the second half of the story, but as you read you get the feeling it may be the prelude to the first half. Malone Dies at first seems to be completely disjointed from the first novel but reading on you get the feeling it may be Molloy and is just a continuation of the first novel. In the third novel, The Unnamable, Beckett returns to the rambling speech that is full of run-on sentences saying nothing. If it was not for the last novel I might recommend this but the last novel killed it for me. Unfortunately you need to read all three to get the entire feel for the novels. So although I somewhat enjoyed parts of it, I can not recommend this as a novel to be read.

 

81. The Orchard by Sheikh Musharrif ud-din Sadi 

 

82. The Tale of Genji by Shikibu Murasaki 

 

83. Oedipus Rex by Sophocles (2000)

    Also on the Sybervision list - The classic play about a man who murders his father and marries his mother. The purpose of the play is more about fate. The more you try to avoid it the more likely your just turning it into a self-fulfilling prophesy. Very simple to understand and actually quite enjoyable.

 

 

 

 

84.The Red and the Black by Stendahl (February 2017)

    Also on the Sybervision list - Before I started reading The Red and the Black I was warned by a friend who kept saying that it really wasn't a good book. This did not get my hopes very high and I kept pushing the book off. However, since I am at the very end of the Sybervision Book List it was time to sit down and read it. The translation I read was that used in the Everyman's Library and was remarkable easy to read. That made the book rather enjoyable, at least at first, because I could jump right into the book without having to get used to the writing style. In regards to the story, I was under the impression (for some reason, I do not know) that this was a war story, similar to War and Peace or Les Miserables. Oh, how wrong I was. Apparently, this turned out to be a "romance" novel, and not one that was very well constructed. The main character, Julien Sorel, goes through two main loves in the book, which the book is divided into two main parts accordingly. Through most novels, the reader is made to feel for the protagonist, and to hope they succeed. Julien, though, was just a pain in the ass. At times he was overly arrogant, at others he was wishy-washy. He wanted one thing on one page, then would flip to the exact opposite the next. And the women he was lusting over had the same problems. The back and forths got to be so bad that I couldn't really care less what happened at any one moment, I just wished the story would progress somewhere, anywhere. I did find the hints of a fascinating story mixed in there though. There was at one point that Julien seemed to get mixed up in the politics of the time (just after the fall of Napoleon), which was the aristocracy versus the church, and he was to travel to England to deliver a message. However, that storyline was dropped so quickly that I had to go back and reread a few pages to find out what happened. That excitement is what gives me hope that the other Stendhal novel on my list, The Charterhouse of Parma, could be a great read, but I'm not holding out too much hope. Overall, the style of writing was very easy to follow and I just flew through this rather long novel, but the story itself kept having me banging my head against the wall. There is no way can I endorse this garbled mess.

 

85. Season of Migration to the North by Tayeb Salih

 

86. Buddenbrook by Thomas Mann 

 

87. The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann 

 

88. Beloved by Toni Morrison

 

89. Ramayana by Valmiki 

 

90. The Aeneid by Virgil (March 2006)

    Also on the Sybervision list - This book was written as a way to give to the Romans what the Greeks had with The Iliad and The Odyssey. Unfortunately, that's how it reads as well. The first half follows The Odyssey almost to the point of even going to the exact same places as Odysseus. The second half is much better and kind of reads as its own story although it is still reminiscent of  The Iliad.

 

 

 

 

91. Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf 

    Also on the Observer list -

 

92. To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf 

 

93. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov (January - February 2011)

    Also on the Observer and the Zane lists - This was a rather odd book for me. At first I thought the book would never, ever, make it on to my Must Read List because of the semi-pornographic nature of the book. But it was worse than that, it made me feel awkward because it is all about a man who has sexual interest in pre-pubescent girls (around the age of 12-14). So all the while I am reading this I feel like I am going to get in trouble for child pornography. By once you get past the initial portion of the book things got really interesting. The second half of the book I found to be far the better half. It focused more on the mental anguish of the main character as he pursues his Lolita, both knowing that he has and will destroy her life, but also not being able to control himself. It is a perfect view into self-destructive behavior. The main plot point of the story is similar to another book I had read, An American Tragedy, which focused on a person in jail and you basically found out how he ended up there. But there is a difference in Lolita, where the story is a first person narrative of basically how he ended up in jail. And throughout the story you assume how he ended there but as you progress you realize you were wrong and it really is for something different. The story was actually rather riveting in this aspect and I did enjoy the second half of the story immensely. So, all in all, I can't recommend this story due to the awkward feeling first half (which is almost impossible to get through for several people) but I did enjoy it and would recommend it for those who could get past that point.

 

94. Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman 

 

95. Absalom, Absalom by William Faulkner 

 

96. The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner 

 

97. Hamlet by William Shakespeare (1998)

    Also on the Sybervision and the Zane lists - Considered the best Shakespeare play by most, except for maybe Macbeth. The tale everyone knows about a man trying to find the murderer of his father and the slow ensuing madness of most of the characters around him. Intriguing even to a non-Shakespeare fan.

 

 

 

 

 

98. Othello by William Shakespeare (2004)

    Also on the Sybervision list - Not one of my favorites although I can see why people enjoy it. A dark play about love, interracial romance (taboo especially at that time), jealousy, and eventually death.

 

 

 

 

 

99. King Lear by William Shakespeare (July 2006)

    And the last of the Shakespearean plays I have left to read on the list. Like I said before I do not understand Shakespeare that well and this play is no exception. The plot is essentially easy to follow; King Lear (aka Dad) is nuts and his kids divide against him. His son and one daughter on his side, his bastard son and two other daughters on the other. And in true Shakespeare fashion 90% of the characters are dead at the end. Easier to follow than most of his other plays I read but still not my favorite playwright by far.

 

 

 

100. The Sound of the Mountain  by Yasunari Kawabata