21 July 2008

Listing to the right

This morning I checked in on a friend's private blog and found she'd posted a list of books, reportedly circulated by the NEA, of their Top 100 Books . . . of all time? of readers' choice? of modern culture? Not sure about that part. I searched the NEA site to try and find the answer, plus #99 and #100 on the list, since my friend had inherited a truncated one from another blogger. I didn't find what I was looking for, but spotted several other similar Top 100 Books lists from other groups as I was Googling about. There's a healthy overlap among these, as might be expected. I'll share a few links with you, in case you like to peruse lists like I do.

Harvard
Radcliffe
Guardian UK
Us and Them
Jackpot!
Waterstone
An illustrated guide—page onepage twopage threepage four
Project Gutenberg
NY Times Notable Books of the Year
College Board
Banned Books
Entertainment Weekly's "The New Classics"
100 Best Children's Books

And so it goes on for 22,100,000 results.

So I had lists and 100s and books on my brain first thing today, and I was immediately primed and ready to obsess over reading—you know, get busy absorbing and check all those neglected books offa those lists. But I had a workday laid out before me that wouldn't allow for the leisure of sitting down with any book, good or bad, so I decided to strap on my iPod and let my ears do the page-turning for me while I painted. I looked over the NEA list and sort of did an eeny-meeny-miney-mo; the first title for which I could quickly find a free audio recording would be my listen du jour. Whaddya know? I came up with Dumas' The Three Musketeers, thanks to Librivox, my old haunt. So much for random selection. But okay, I thought, at least that will provide me with some light entertainment.

Trouble was, it took a while to download the TWENTY-FOUR PLUS HOURS of recorded readings (ack, what an investment!), so while I waited for the main event I thought I'd give a new podcast a try. Last week I subscribed to the New Yorker: Fiction podcast, and was eager to see what it was like. Oddly enough, I was surprised that the very first episode I listened to was A List of Books, featuring a terrific short story by Bernard Malamud called A Summer’s Reading, about a young man who, in order to make a good impression, claims he is spending his summer reading through a list of 100 books recommended by the library. Perfect! That's what I call happy synchronicity.

I took it as my sign to forge ahead with a serious reading/listening plan. Today while working I enjoyed several amazing short stories (thanks to the New Yorker), all I could handle of The Three Musketeers, several chapters from The Book of Mormon, and an episode of This American Life.

I highly recommend reading . . . and iPods . . . as work and mental health helpers.

What are you reading with your eyes or ears right now?

9 comments:

b. said...

I'm currently reading (still) The Holy Secret.
I am looking to download a few good books on my player to listen to.
Thanks for the list!

wendy said...

b, is The Holy Secret good? The title put a bad taste in my mouth, but the description made it sound better. I liked Ferrell's Peacegiver.

I am reading the Beloved Mitford series, which are wonderful and wholesomely fun, and I'm reading The Count of Monte Cristo, which is also fun.

Becca said...

um, nothing. sort of revisiting "religion in the making", not exactly light entertainment but interesting. thanks for all the links to inspire more reading and listening!

Bev Sykes said...

Oooo...FREE audio books! I'll have to check out your sites. With all the driving to and from visiting the granddaughter, I'm getting more into audio books. I just finished Jon Stewart's "America: the Book"

As to what else I'm reading, I'm working on Bill Bryson's "The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid" (reading with eyes) and have one of the "cat who..." books waiting for my next road trip.

Geo said...

Yeah, b., is it one you'd recommend? I'm not familiar with that author.

Wendy, we're both reading Dumas! Maybe we should meet for some swashbuckling.

Becca, I think one day I shall read that too.

Bev, Librivox is truly da bomb. A real work of love by so many people too. I hope you find lots of good stuff to enjoy there. Maybe you'll even want to do some volunteer reading for them, hey? Your reads sound like fun ones.

compulsive writer said...

I need to learn how to work and listen at the same time.

Just finished The Bonesetter's Daughter (Amy Tan) and The Picture of Dorian Gray (Oscar Wilde). Couldn't put either one of them down. I need more books!

Geo said...

C-dub, your job probably requires more of your actual brain than a lot of mine does. Don't sprain it! I really like Amy Tan, and I lovelovelove Dorian Gray. I just visited the OPL and brought home a ridiculous haul of great fiction. I'll never get it all read, but it's nice just to have it in the house!

Signed,
Sleeps with Books Under the Pillow

Chemical Billy said...

I'm reading Magic Mountain! I slogged through it in high school (although there were shining moments), but found the new translation (John E. Woods) at my neighborhood library. BIG difference.

Geo said...

CB. I never did slog all the way through that one. It always reminds me of Kevin—he was mad for it. I wouldn't mind trying that translation you mentioned—I always felt I should give it another go.