Another Book Meme

It has been some time since I did one of these book meme things. So, as I haven’t been writing much lately I thought it only appropriate that I spend some time that should be spend reading or writing having some fun with this.
These introductory words are blatently stolen from Vermont’s Own who likely took them from elsewhere:

What we have below is a list of the top 106 books most often marked as “unread” by LibraryThing users. They took the trouble to catalog them — but their owners admit to not reading them. They sit on the shelf though, perhaps to make their owner feel smart or well-rounded.
The meme comes with these instructions: Bold the ones you’ve read, underline the ones you read for school, italicize the ones you started but didn’t finish.

As of today there are nearly 10000 links to the top 106 unread books.
Going through this list provided a stark reminder of the truth in the saying use it or lose it. Once upon a time I had a working knowledge of quite a few of these. A knowledge built upon multiple readings, lot’s of thinking, analysis and frequent discussion. Alas, it would take at least one if not two rereadings to get most of that back.
As for the once read books. Well, the more recently read the more likely I can do a mental scene review…even if I can’t remember the characters names. The long ago read…maybe it still evokes an emotional sense of the book but, for the most part, details are not handy…

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell
Anna Karenina
Crime and Punishment
Catch-22
One Hundred Years of Solitude
Wuthering Heights
The Silmarillion
Life of Pi : a novel
The Name of the Rose
Don Quixote
Moby Dick
Ulysses
Madame Bovary
The Odyssey
Pride and Prejudice
Jane Eyre
The Tale of Two Cities
The Brothers Karamazov
Guns, Germs, and Steel: the fates of human societies
War and Peace
Vanity Fair
The Time Traveler’s Wife
The Iliad
Emma
The Blind Assassin
The Kite Runner
Mrs. Dalloway
Great Expectations

American Gods
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius
Atlas Shrugged
Reading Lolita in Tehran : a memoir in books
Memoirs of a Geisha
Middlesex
Quicksilver
Wicked : the life and times of the wicked witch of the West

The Canterbury Tales
The Historian : a novel
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
Love in the Time of Cholera
Brave New World
The Fountainhead
Foucault’s Pendulum
Middlemarch
Frankenstein
The Count of Monte Cristo
Dracula
A Clockwork Orange
Anansi Boys
The Once and Future King
The Grapes of Wrath
The Poisonwood Bible : a novel
1984
Angels & Demons
The Inferno (and Purgatory and Paradise)
The Satanic Verses
Sense and Sensibility
The Picture of Dorian Gray
Mansfield Park
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
To the Lighthouse
Tess of the D’Urbervilles
Oliver Twist
Gulliver’s Travels
Les Misérables
The Corrections
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Dune
The Prince
The Sound and the Fury
Angela’s Ashes : a memoir
The God of Small Things
A People’s History of the United States : 1492-present
Cryptonomicon
Neverwhere
A Confederacy of Dunces
A Short History of Nearly Everything
Dubliners
The Unbearable Lightness of Being
Beloved
Slaughterhouse-five
The Scarlet Letter
Eats, Shoots & Leaves
The Mists of Avalon
Oryx and Crake : a novel
Collapse : how societies choose to fail or succeed
Cloud Atlas
The Confusion
Lolita
Persuasion
Northanger Abbey
The Catcher in the Rye
On the Road
The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Freakonomics : a rogue economist explores the hidden side of everything
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance : an inquiry into values
The Aeneid
Watership Down
Gravity’s Rainbow
The Hobbit
In Cold Blood : a true account of a multiple murder and its consequences
White Teeth
Treasure Island
David Copperfield
The Three Musketeers

When An Author’s Autograph is Worth Nothing

Just why the hell would anyone stand in line for not an autograph:

Author Margaret Atwood has grown weary of the traveling that comes with promotional book tours. Such tours are grueling, and her experience with delivery drivers who hold out an electronic device for a signature gave her an idea: maybe there was a way to create a system whereby she could sign a book from a distance.
She teamed with Matthew Gibson and several others to produce the device, naming the firm Unotchit pronounced “you no touch it.” The device was given its first-ever public demonstration on Sunday, and despite technical glitches that had to be overcome, they managed to get the device working.

This gives a whole new meaning to autographed first edition and no enhancement in value: either emotional or financial.
I’ve been to a few book signings over the years and enjoyed hearing authors read from their work and discuss related issues with the audience. This would be ok via teleconferencing which probably will be standard once holographic/virtual presence technology becomes the norm.

There is no way, though, that mechanical scribbling is an acceptable stand in for the author’s in the flesh signature.

Who Dies?

Sure, you all hope it will not be one of your favorite characters:

“Yes, sorry,” Rowling said, when asked yesterday on her Web site whether there would be casualties in her upcoming book, “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.”
But, I suspect that Professor Bainbridge has this one correct:
Personally, I suspect that Dumbledore’s days are numbered. Rowling has hewed pretty closely to Joseph Campbell’s Hero Myth thus far in the Harry Potter series.
The Professor has more.

Books to Read

If you have been looking for a few good books to read Jessa Crispin’s list is the place to go:

These were all books that changed the books I was interested in, that shot me off in a different direction. They’re not even my list of favorite books ever, just the ones that changed something. The list starts with the books read to me as a child, and then on to the books I started reading on my own and on through life.
Hey, I’m not recommending this list just because it’s the first list of this sort that I have seen that includes Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita which is one of my favorites. There’s a lot of good material here including some that just got added to my to read list.
For those that care here are just a few from my list of direction changing books that are not on hers:
Adam Bede by George Eliot
Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
Steppenwolf by Hermann Hesse
Melmoth the Wanderer by Charles Maturin
The Tin Drum by Gunter Grass

Home Learning ’60s-80s

Many of you probably learned a bit from the How and Why Wonder Book series:

These were produced in the US during the 1960’s and covered many subjects in science, technology, nature and history. They were large format books of 270x205mm, mostly softcover, but hardcover was also available. They are always 48 pages long, and mostly illustrated with simple painted artwork, though some photographs are used. The books are structured into chapters based on sub-topics of the title subject, and within these are questions that a child might ask, followed by a half page answer to the question.
Rob Storey has collected most of the covers.
Via Reflections in d minor.

So You Want to be a Lexicographer

Check out a day in the life of the folks who work at the Oxford English Dictionary. For example David Martin, Senior Assistant Editor:

Spent all day editing the entry for the word phoenix, which poses an interesting etymological question about a possible connection with Phoenician. During my trawl for new quotations I was perhaps lucky to add only one quotation about Harry Potter: his �phoenix-feathered wand�.

The OED word of the day is always interesting.
Via Languagehat.