to new england… and beyoooooooond!

If a gang of menacing public radio producers held me hostage, threatening me with novelty tote bags and an endless fundraising drive unless I write a This I Believe essay — because let me tell you, I would be resistant to putting pen to paper for a This I Believe essay — I would write about lists. I believe in lists. I believe in their promise of small victories. I believe that many of the most pressing organizational problems of the twenty-first century could be solved with strategic stickie notes and stylized bullet points.

(Of course, in order to meet the demands of a This I Believe essay, I would probably have to come at my love of lists sideways, through a story about the death of my childhood pet — a bullfrog named Tony — or through a meandering love story in which I was reunited with my sixth-grade sweetheart through the unlikely misplacement of a to-do list. I love public radio. But the genre of the This I Believe essay is a strange and sometimes unsettling form.)

But lists are failing me now, because itemizing the next few months task-by-task feels a little unmanageable. Our “Let’s Move to New England!” list includes big-ticket items like “find a place to live” and “pack entire apartment” and “drive across the country with two cats.” I’m really dreading that last one. Toby is a yowler in the car, and Echo is afraid of light rain, plastic bags, and some varieties of lint. It will be an interesting caravan, to say the least.

Troubled by the enormity of the task, Danny and I decided to subdivide the list into a few sublists. A list of things to buy before we leave Texas: a large crate for said cats with disposable litterboxes and perhaps soothing tuna aromatherapy oils, new tires, a winter coat for Danny. A list of things to donate, recycle, or trash: the stereo I’ve had since sixth grade, the hopper full of flat tennis balls stuck in the corner of our hall closet, and c’mon please at least one set of golf clubs because lordy there are so many. A list of towns we might want to live in, sorted by cost of living and proximity to campus. A list of rental properties in those towns to check out when we travel northeast in May. A list of our lists.

Today we began chipping away at our to-dos by going through all of the books in our apartment, determined to sell duplicates or titles that no longer held our interest to Half Price Books. We managed to cull about two-and-a-half boxes worth of books from our library, which is pretty good. The bookcases are still packed, but the spindly one that was leaning precariously is, once again, upright.

Among the books that made the cut: my collection of vintage Ray Bradbury paperbacks. I love Ray. Let me list the ways. I love that he wrote The Martian Chronicles, a book that I find breathtaking every time I read it. (Read it. You don’t like science fiction? I don’t care. Read it anyway.) I love his not-often-read collection of verse, I Live by the Invisible, which includes a poem entitled “When God in Loins a Beehive Puts.” I love that he apparently refuses to change his author portrait, in which he sports a very eighties calculator watch.

We have newer editions of many of Bradbury’s books. William Morrow published well designed hardcovers of many of the more prominent titles beginning in the 1990s. These newer editions look sophisticated and quiet. They are understated.

But it is because those supposedly classier editions are so demure that I’m compelled to keep my older copies of Bradbury’s stories and novels — Bantam paperbacks that were once, many years ago, displayed on revolving wire racks and sold, at full price, for 75 cents. My dog-eared copies of Ray sport covers that thrum with the raucous energy of 1960s and 1970s science fiction. Hitching onto the momentum of the space race, the publishing industry churned out cheap editions covered in acid oranges and nuclear reds.

And there on the cover, amid his bubble-helmeted spacemen and cratered moonscapes, is Ray, his hair swept off his forehead, staring into deep space through horn-rimmed glasses.

next, i’m buying a cranny

I long resisted the Cult of the e-Reader. I defended my choice with the cliched reasons usually trotted out by bookworms such as myself. I love the smell of books, the rough texture of a page between your fingers. I enjoy browsing a bookstore or library and selecting an actual book. I spend enough time staring at screens. I like penciling my notations in the margin.

I reveled in my position as a sort of literary Luddite. Resist the machines! They will turn against us one dark day, and I will defend myself behind a sturdy barricade of books!

But resistance was futile, really. I still plan on purchasing an honest-to-goodness book now and then, but a few weeks ago I decided that an e-reader would be… well… convenient. Most of the books I use for primary research, long out of copyright, are free online. And traveling for a conference or for research often entails lugging a suitcase stacked with books. I often had a very tense moment at the scales at the airport, hoping my luggage didn’t exceed the weight limit. Best to avoid the baggage fees.

Once I’d waved the white flag, I began my research. While there are many options out there, I limited my options to the nook and the Kindle, the two dominant products in the e-reader market. I read a lot of online reviews, consulted with friends, watched corny online promotional videos, and tried out the Kindle at Target, where I discovered its buttons mashed beyond repair by barbaric Target shoppers. By then, however, I had decided that I would adopt the Kindle, seduced by its wee keyboard.

Then, during a recent trip to Charlotte, my Dad, the inimitable Mike “Boots” Ford, offered to purchase me the e-reader of my choice as an early birthday gift. With this incentive, we headed out to the closest Barnes & Noble, where I planned to confirm my pro-Kindle conviction.

But oh, carrots readers. I was seduced by the nook. While the first generation nook was not to my liking, I realized, while sampling the newest version, that the features that had given the Kindle its edge were matched by the nook.* A quick run-down comparing nook and Kindle:

  • Both feature non-glare screens that use e-Ink for readability. I’ve been delighted to discover that my nook allows me to change not only the size of the type on the screen but also the font and line spacing. The Kindle may do this as well. I’m not sure.
  • Most nook readers use touch-screen gestures to navigate through the device, but both the nook and the Kindle allow users to navigate from page to page with side buttons. The nook people praise their one-button interface, but really there are hidden side-scroll buttons, as well.
  • The Kindle includes a small keyboard, while the nook includes a touchpad keyboard. I thought this would be a problem, but I found I could enter text more quickly using the touchpad. And I’m not going to lie. It’s prettier.
  • Both include adequate contemporary titles at reasonable prices and free out-of-copyright texts, a boon for a nineteenth-century scholar like myself. Both boast an impressive battery life (although each claims theirs is better.)
  • Both accommodate word look-up, highlighting, bookmarking, and note-taking, and both allow readers to export their notes to a PC or other mobile device, despite some online chatter that the nook cannot do this. I’ve already done it. It can.
  • The Kindle is available with built-in 3G as well as WiFi. The nook is not. I decided this was not a problem, as I am usually near enough to my own wireless network or another hotspot when the urge to buy a book hits.
  • Both support quote-sharing and recommendation through social media, including facebook and Twitter.
  • The nook currently supports lending privileges from public libraries. I’ve tested this and found it pretty intuitive and easy to manage. Most ebook titles are available for 14-day check-out from Houston Public Library. The Kindle plans on initiating a library lending program within the year.
What I discovered, really, is that there isn’t much difference between the two, aside from navigation. I don’t love the fact that the nook is attached to a bookstore chain instead of Amazon, but I prefer its design over the Kindle.
And so, dear carrots readers, when that dark day arrives — when we wake to find that the gadgets we love are hovering above us in our sleep, ready to strangle us with their USB cords — I will be among the vulnerable.
I better treat the nook nicely.

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* I am describing the latest black-and-white nook. I had already decided against a color e-reader.

bookworm

There are many reasons why I want to earn a tenure-track professorship.  But I’m not going to lie.  One reason I want to make my way to a permanent position at a university is because I’m ready to start my library.

I don’t mean my collection of books.  That I started long ago, and the overburdened Ikea bookcases in my apartment are evidence that I often buy without rationale or discretion.  (I do, however, have one lovely mission-style bookcase that was a gift from my father, the inimitable Mike “Boots” Ford, and I try to keep it stocked with my loveliest of volumes.)  I have tried to maintain a sense of order, but I married a man who has a similar book-buying habit, and these days our shelves are a baffling mish-mash, my marked up copy of William Blake’s Songs of Innocence and Experience leaning against Danny’s collector’s-item Confidential Guide to Golf Courses by Tom Doak.  My series of vintage Ray Bradbury paperbacks is smooshed between Danny’s very elegant bust of Hellboy and a MOMA statuette of a fat, sleeping cat I inherited from my mom.

No, I don’t need a tenure-track job to start my collection of books.  But the day I sense that settled-ness that comes with finally beginning my career in earnest will be the day I begin my Library, the room in my house that will be completely dedicated to desultory reading and, hopefully, those late evenings when I find myself surrounded on either side by a stack of novels and histories and books of literary criticism, weaving them together into something new.

I’ve been planning my someday-library as I read Alberto Manguel’s The Library at Night, a wonderful collection of meditations on books and how we live among them.  (I blogged about Manguel’s book briefly here, but I hadn’t read it at the time; instead, I had heard the author in a radio interview.)  Manguel’s own library is housed in a restored stone barn in France.  Books floor to ceiling, the shelving only broken by sunken windows.  Exposed rafters criss-crossing a plaster ceiling.  Puddles of yellow light thrown by small lamps scattered across long, low tables.  Rugs and studded chairs.

My library will resemble Manguel’s if we end up in the small tudor house with stained glass windows that Danny is always imagining.  Perhaps unlikely.  But reading about Maguel’s ideal space for reading and wandering among books — and how he made that room appear — have made me consider my own dream library.  Here goes.

One large table. Nothing that comes packed flat in a box, and nothing that requires assembly with an Allen wrench.  Instead, something I picked up at a flea market or antique store.  And I mean large.  I love my cubby-holed desk from Target, but I love to spread out when I work, and in our tiny Houston apartment, this is impossible.  It needs to be distressed, because inevitably I will spill my coffee or write on it accidentally, and I want such mishaps to add character.

Shelves, obviously.  But if I’m building an ideal library, I’m going to be particular.  They should line every wall, starting just below my waist and stopping at the height of my reach.  Dark wood around the edges, painted inside–royal purple, indigo, dark red.  When I take out a book, I want to see a jewel, not barely-hanging-in-there particle board.  At least one set of shelves — maybe those on either side of the door — should be closed with beveled-glass doors, my favorite nineteenth-century photos pressed against a few of the panes.  Below the shelves, reaching to the floor, cupboards and file drawers.

A reading chair, wide enough for me to sit sideways with my feet tucked to one side while still comfortably sharing with one quite chubby cat.  Next to the chair, a small table with distressed mirrored panels and a small drawer for pens, bookmarks, and stickies, because I never remember to bring them with me, and I never realize it until I’m settled.

Warm light.  One nice, large shaded lamp on the main table that, when turned on at night, makes the rest of the house recede.  Many smaller lamps throughout that offer enough light to browse by but don’t suggest work or study.

And then the things that make an empty room feel occupied. The aforementioned MOMA statuette, to remind me of mom when I’m frustrated.  The owl bookends Danny gave me for Christmas.  A framed copy of the nineteenth-century small press advertisement featured in my Stevenson article.  A clutch of sharp pencils in any color but yellow, angling out of the bright orange pencil cup from Lilian, sitting next to a fat pink eraser.

Deciding to earn my PhD, to live apartment to apartment until that tenure-track job comes along — these are decisions that have forced me and Danny to put a settled and seemingly adult life on hold.  Hopefully in the next few years I’ll have at least a small space to call my library, and I know Danny is looking forward to an art studio — natural light, large easel, sinks, shelves of John Singer Sargent and Mike Mignola.

So what’s your dream room, and what’s inside?

in came the doctor, in came the nurse…

I’m still plugging away at Anansi Boys, and it’s growing on me.  Perhaps it’s growing like shelf fungi, a growth Gaiman would appreciate.

There is a scene mid-way through the book that involves a really huge flock of birds.  The sly and savvy character Spider, while talking to his brother at the bustling intersection of Piccadilly Circus, is dive-bombed by a wall of pigeons, swallows, wrens, and other sundry flying things.  It’s all very Hitchcock.  I like imagining this flock of birds.  In particular, I like to imagine myself working in some cubicle in a London skyscraper only to see a swarm of seagulls and screech owls and sparrows rush by.  (Sure, screech owls are nocturnal.  Whatever.)  I would calmly set down my coffee mug and close the game of Solitaire I was playing — because really, if I’m working in a cubicle I’m probably not that into my job — and leave on a quest, pursuing the birds.

I can follow the white splatters!  A life of adventure, my friends!

This scene made me think about some of my favorite collective nouns.  In the words of my good friend Amy McCann, NERD ALERT! But who doesn’t love the quirky turn of language that dubbed a group of crows a murder?  Or a herd of sharks a shiver?  I mean a shiver of sharks.  I love this language.  I also liked the idea of an aerie of eagles — an obsolete usage, but an interesting one — until a too-hip-for-you clothing store gave the same title to their underpants line.

“Wouldn’t it be weird,” I mused to Danny that night over spaghetti, “if animals that didn’t normally travel in groups started traveling in groups?”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, suppose you’re hanging out by the bayou and suddenly, like, fifty snakes went by.  I wonder what you would call a group of snakes?”  I promptly invented names for many different groups of animals.  A group of fifty snakes, I decided, is a slew.  A slew of snakes.  I like the sibilance.  And a collection of alligators is obviously a purse.  Get it?  Alligator purse?

Unfortunately, snakes and alligators must indeed hang out in groups sometimes, as collective nouns already exist for them.  A nest of snakes.  Yawn.  Not nearly as fun as a slew, which is in fact another name for a group of sharks.  But who would refer to a slew of sharks when you could call them a shiver?  An alligator group is a bask or a congregation.  The latter isn’t bad, I suppose.

My new favorite?  A wake of buzzards.  Very apropriate.

on finishing what i started

I would like to begin with a few words in praise of Mr. Neil Gaiman.

I love Neil Gaiman, although I’ve only finished two of his books.  I obviously had to read Neverwhere, because it’s set in (quite literally) the underbelly of London, and I love books set in the underbelly of London.  I’ve also read The Graveyard Book, which is a fantastic young adult novel that won the Newbery in 2009.  The latter proves that Gaiman really knows how to handle a cemetery with the proper degree of humor, eeriness, and tombstone crumbliness.

I have also heard many wonderful things about Neil Gaiman the Person.

Despite my Gaiman fandom, I’m faced with a problem.  I’m halfway through one of his books — Anansi Boys — and I’m thinking about quitting.

I call it quitting because I consider this a failure on my part as a reader.  I hate replacing a book on the shelf before I finished it.  What if, two pages later, the author trots out an ingenious description or plot device that would completely change my mind?  What if I discover, on the final page, that in fact I’ve been missing the point, and EUREKA! I get it now!  Or what if I’m just in a reading funk, and I’m not giving the author a fair shake?

At times such as these my brain begins lobbying for the author, citing particular character quirks and turns of phrase that I found funny or endearing or clever.  As I fell asleep last night, pondering the fate of Anansi Boys, the wee Gaiman lawyer in my brain was collecting evidence.  But remember that part with the flamingos?  You like the part with the flamingos!  And what about that business with the mirrored brothers in the photograph?  Nice.

I’m going to finish Anansi Boys, because I’ve realized that I care too much about the characters to leave them frozen in their current postures, on page 197.

And, in any case, I suspect that my restlessness is not entirely due to the novel but instead to the surprising and unprecedented length of my to-read list.  Trying Leviathan by D. Graham Burnett is still sadly unread, I just picked up Into the Woods by Tana French for three bucks at Half-Price Books, and the behemoth of one of the newer relevant critical books in my field — The Evolution of Childhood by Melvin Konner — leers at me from the top of my bookcase.  And oh so many others.

So carrots readers — are you compulsive book finishers?  What, if anything, makes you take out your bookmark and close the covers?

picture (book) this

I don’t always like making book recommendations.  Sure, I think everyone should read The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins, and I think The October Country is really overlooked in the Ray Bradbury oeuvre.  (In that collection, “The Jar” is supremely creepy and wonderful.)  But suggesting that a friend make the commitment to reading one hundred pages or more is kind of like setting her up on a blind date.  She might call me later that night, annoyed and confused.  Really?  You thought I would like John Cheever?  But he talked about himself all night and hogged the bread basket.  What kind of reader do you think I am, anyway?

As the first paragraph of this post suggests, while I don’t always like the consequences of book recommendations, I cannot help myself.

The Compulsive Need to Recommend a Book came over me a few nights ago at Borders, where I encountered Memoirs of a Goldfish by Devin Scillian and Tim Bowers.  Scillian’s book has inspired me to compile the Official (But Not Exhaustive) Carrots List of Picture Books You May Enjoy.  I am not including words like “best of” anywhere in there, because such lists tend to be pretentious.  And wrong.  So I offer, instead, ten picture books that I think are awesome.  Picture book recommendations, I feel, are safe.  Reading a picture book doesn’t require much of a time commitment.  I am not including Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak, which many readers already know and love.

Memoirs of a Goldfish by Devin Scillian and Tim Bowers.  I’m posting the book as a pick by carrots.*  Scillian’s humor is sharp and doesn’t condescend to kids, and the illustrations manage to be simultaneously beautiful and funny.  “Day One: Swam around bowl,” goldfish records.  “Day two: Swam around bowl twice.”  If picture books weren’t so expensive, I would have bought copies for all of my friends with kids.  And perhaps for my friends without kids.  And maybe for random people on streetcorners.

Lon Po Po, by Ed Young.  A Caldecott award winner, Young’s book is a Chinese telling of the Little Red Riding Hood story.  This story focuses on the ingenuity of three little girls as they encounter a wolf that is simultaneously more menacing and more sympathetic than your usual sly charmer wolf in English versions.  The illustrations are so sophisticated and beautiful that I want to buy an extra copy to break apart and frame, but the artistic play between wolf and child will still entertain younger readers.

Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!, by Mo Willems.  Who doesn’t want to read a book about a pigeon who insists on driving the bus?  Really?  Willems uses hilarious, color-block illustrations reminiscent of children’s artwork and tells a compelling tale of foiled avian desire.  It will have an entire room of kids laughing by the second page, and you’ll probably be laughing, too.  A Caldecott winner, and deservedly so.

The Three Questions, based on a story by Leo Tolstoy, by Jon J. Muth.  I gave this book to my mom quite a few years ago to read to her fourth-graders.  It’s a moral fable, but it’s not preachy or heavy-handed.  Rather than try to explain the imprecise negotiations of ethics to young readers, Muth-through-Tolstoy encourages them to ask important questions: When is the best time to do things?  Who is the most important one?  What is the right thing to do?  Muth is a wonderful illustrator, as well, and I recommend his other books, in particular Zen Shorts.

Wombat Divine, by Mem Fox and Kerry Argent.  Mem Fox is just — sigh — wonderful.  I love all Mem Fox, but her book Wombat Divine is particularly read-worthy.  Young wombat tries throughout the book to find his place in his community’s nativity play but finds himself too clumsy, too big, just wrong for most roles.  I won’t give away the ending, but the final page — which reads, simply, “And wombat beamed” — gives me the warm fuzzies just thinking about it.  Argent’s delightful illustrations of Australian wildlife dressed as wise men and sundry biblical characters are set against simple backdrops.

Swimmy, by Leo Lionni.  Okay, okay.  So most people know about Swimmy already, and certainly Leo Lionni is not some undiscovered gem.  But I can’t recommend picture books without putting in a plug for my favorite book about a small fish.  I fondly remember many elementary school art projects based on Lionni’s unique collage illustrations — intricate displays of fish and coral and sea floor that reveal to young readers how beautiful and unexpected the ocean can be.  And then there’s Swimmy, the archetypal unexpected hero who takes on the big bad bully.  This is one of Lionni’s many Caldecott winners, but it’s certainly my favorite.

Little Pea, by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Jen Corace.  I find Little Pea and other books in the series — Little Hoot and Little Oink — irresistible.  An interesting lesson about perspective, Little Pea tells the story of a small vegetable who doesn’t want to eat his candy.  Corace’s simple illustrations make pod veggies so adorable — peas on swings!  peas playing hopscotch! — that, each time I encounter peas on my plate, I reconsider eating them.  Also a great depiction of parent-child relationships.  Carrots recommends.

The Story of Ferdinand, by Munro Leaf and Robert Lawson.  Another book many readers may already know and love, but worth revisiting.  Ferdinand is really a story about the expectations others have for you and how to escape them, a topic that resonates with kids as well as adults.  It’s also a book that asks us to consider how we see — and judge — the world around us.  And!  It merited a few mentions in The Blind Side.  My favorite part of Ferdinand is, however, the cork tree.  I would love to sit under a cork tree smelling the flowers.  With Ferdinand.

Millions of Cats, by Wanda Gag.  I didn’t run across Wanda Gag until I was studying children’s literature as a graduate student, but now I know that many children grow up with her books.  Millions of Cats is probably her most famous and tells the story of — you guessed it — millions of cats, and the couple who negotiates what the Amazon review calls a “legion of felines.”  If that doesn’t make you want to buy this book, your heart is three sizes too small.  Gag’s catchy, creative text is accompanied by bold, graphic illustrations.

Ragtime Tumpie, byAlan Scroeder and Bernie Fuchs.  Yet another picture book I encountered through Danny’s collection of his favorite illustrators — this story of a young Josephine Baker does a fantastic job of evoking the day-to-day life of a young girl moving amid the jazz life of St. Louis.  It’s historical and educational without being boring, and the paintings by Fuchs range from warm sepias, yellows, and reds to tranquil blues and greens — the perfect reflection of music in illustration.  It makes you want to dance, or turn off all of the lights and listen to a mellow trumpet.

Carrots readers — what would be on your picture book list?  I’m always looking for recommendations!

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* I am making some changes to the “picks by carrots” section.  Check it out for more info.

I found the following on my friend Heather’s blog and could not resist, even though it means I have to admit that I have not yet read Little Women, which is a source of Great Shame for me.  I also suspect that I will be put to shame by Sophie, Queen of Books.  (Of course, she is a benevolent queen.)

Anyway, on with the show:

The Big Read is an NEA program designed to encourage community reading initiatives. They’ve come up with this list of the top 100 books, using criteria they don’t explain, and they estimate that the average adult has only read 6 of these. So, we are encouraged to:

1) Look at the list and bold those we have read.
2) Italicize those we intend to read.
3) Underline the books we LOVE
4) Reprint this list in our own blogs

I’ve read 53!  HA, average adult who has only read six.

1 Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
2 The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
4 Harry Potter series – JK Rowling
5 To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee

6 The Bible
7 Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four – George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations – Charles Dickens

11 Little Women – Louisa M Alcott
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 – Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare
15 Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien
17 Birdsong – Sebastian Faulks
18 Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveler’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch – George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind – Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald
23 Bleak House – Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
26 Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck
29 Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll
30 The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame

31 Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield – Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis
34 Emma – Jane Austen
35 Persuasion – Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe – CS Lewis
37 The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh – AA Milne
41 Animal Farm – George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown

43 One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney – John Irving
45 The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins

46 Anne of Green Gables – LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy

48 The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies – William Golding
50 Atonement – Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi – Yann Martel
52 Dune – Frank Herbert (Danny is obsessed with Dune.  I should probably read it soon.)
53 Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities – Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Mark Haddon

60 Love In The Time Of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck
62 Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History – Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road – Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary – Helen Fielding
69 Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie

70 Moby Dick – Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens
72 Dracula – Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett

74 Notes From A Small Island – Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses – James Joyce
76 The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath
77 Swallows and Amazons – Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal – Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession – AS Byatt (well, I’m actually reading it now — halfway through)

81 A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple – Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry

87 Charlotte’s Web – EB White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven – Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection – Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince – Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory – Iain Banks
94 Watership Down – Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole

96 A Town Like Alice – Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet – William Shakespeare (but wasn’t the complete works included earlier?)
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables – Victor Hugo