Monday, April 30, 2012

Warm Up

Tomorrow we kick off our first book Frankenstein.  Some believe that this old "horror" book is not still relevent today.  I would like to remind you of this.
Remember Dolly? 

Think there may be human examples of cloning out there already?  I do.  But even if there are not, there will be some soon.  Some scientist somewhere is going to clone a human at some point and there is probably little we can do to stop them.  What will that mean for the new child?  How will the child be treated?  Is the child even a real person?  Will everyone agree on this?

Still think Frankenstein is not relevent today? 

Sunday, April 29, 2012

My dream room

I have always dreamed of having a room like this to read and write in.  This place has everything including the best atmosphere possible.  I think I could possibly die in this room.  Here is a link to several more great places to read.  Check it out

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Off to the library

I am on my way to my favorite place.

I love everything about the library.  I love being surrounded by books.  I love sitting on the floor in a isle somewhere finding an author or book I have never heard of before.  I love the cozy feeling I have every time I am in there.  Most of all though, I love the smell.  It is the greatest smell on Earth.  I love the slightly musty smell of old well loved books and I also love the crisp smell of fresh ink in a new book.  Please tell me I am not the only one.

BTW:  Some genius has created a candle with this scent.  Awesome, but I will just surround myself with books instead. 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Bible and other Missing books

I have been asked why many of the most important books in history have been omitted from this list.  Some have asked why the Bible is not included, others have asked about Pilgrim's Progress (the second best selling book of all time) and others have asked about other books.  I can't answer for those who made the list but I will give my best guess.

First, this list is exclusive for novels.  That removes the books such as the Bible (which is a collection of letters and documents).  It also excludes books that are poetry by definition such as Homer's Odessy or Iliad.  Other great books are also left off because of language barriers and translation issues.  This list is specific to an English audience.  We as 21st century Americans probably would find little meaning in works such as I Ching or Tao Te Ching

Secondly, any list created automatically carries with it the bias of those who are selecting.  It also carries with it the bias of the culture at large.  Sadly the modern English speaking culture has lost its respect for classic religious texts and this list brings light to this situation.  Almost all religious books have been removed from this list, from all faiths.  Not only is Christian literature missing, but also are books of Catholic importance and others. 

No thinking person (whether religious or not) can doubt the impact that these books have had on the world. 

Lastly, this list contains mostly recent novels.  There are very few books listed that are more than 150 years old.  These books were written for our audience and we can immediately relate to them because we live in (or near in time) to the context of the book.

Regardless of whether one agrees 100% with the list or not it cannot be missed that these are all great novels.  Perhaps when this is over in 8 years we can start reading the others.  Start looking now for your copy of I Ching

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Got to keep posting

I really don't have anything to say yet.  We haven't started reading and everything I have to post is for our first book.  I don't want to use all of that material and have nothing left to say while we are reading.

I have to keep posting though.  The Internet is a funny place where everything has to do with search engine rankings.  In order to get people to come here I need a greater ranking.  In order for the greater ranking I need more material on here.  That means that I need to keep posting, even when there is no reason to.  Like now.

I also need to mention words like '100 Greatest Novels' and 'book club' and 'online' often enough that when people search with those terms this blog shows up.

So really, all of this to say that there is no need to read this.  This is just a post for the sake of posting.  carry on with your day...

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Epic Fail

I started reading our first book last night.  I know, I'm sorry.  I will read it again starting May 1 I promise. 

It is good though.  If you havent read this before I think you are going to enjoy it.  It's actually not at all what I expected.  It's much more.

Thank you again for joining me in this adventure.  I am really excited to read these books and hopefully meet some new people.  I am hoping that in 8 years this is going so well that we need to find a new list of books to read together.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Difficult not to start reading...

I am having trouble not jumping the gun and starting our first book.  I want to do this right which is why I think waiting until May 1 is the best idea.  It gives us all a chance to get the book ready and it also allows time for more people to join in on the fun. 

I have the book in my hands though (actually on my Kindle) and its not like me to not read it.  I need something else to do instead so I will be grabbing another book.

With that in mind I was wondering what you favorite book is.  Why?

Also, whats the worst book you have ever read?

For me nothing beats The Hitchhikers Guide books.  I love every page of the books.  The worst book ever is War and Peace.  We will get to read both during this challenge.

Celebrity bloggers?

My goal is to make this one of the greatest book clubs on the net.  We will already be reading the best books available written by some of the greatest writers in history.  Its going to be hard to get better than that.  I am going to bring in fun historical facts regarding the books and the writers themselves which I am excited about.  I do love history.  I am also looking to bring in elements of pop culture inspired by the books.  maybe during our read of Frankenstein we can talk about Herman Munster. 

I want to make it bigger than that though. 
Starting today I am looking for guest posts from various famous celebrities for each book.  These will be people that can add value to the conversation regarding the book such as people who have played in the film versions or other authors that have been inspired by the work.  I am also looking to bring in professors of literature and history in order to bring value to the conversation. 
I am not sure if I can pull this off put I figure its worth a try.  The worst they can do is say "no".  If there is someone you would like to hear from on a particular book please let me know and I can hunt them down.  I figure the further we go in this project the bigger it should get.  This will give us greater odds of hearing from those we want to hear from. 

Also, if any of you happen to be besties with Stephan King please let him know that we would love to hear his thoughts on our first book Frankenstein.

Buy Frankenstein for $0.00!!!

Our 'book club' will be kicking off on May 1, 2012 with Mary Shelley's Frankenstein.

There are dozens of copies of this book that you can get or go to you local library.  I did find though that if you have a Kindle you can download it for free.  In fact, I think several of the books we will be reading in this can be gained free on the Kindle.

Do you have a Kindle or another ereader?  Do you prefer reading from it or paper books?

If you are using something besides Kindle let us know if this book is free on it as well.

Friday, April 13, 2012

About the top 100 list

Before we get started I figure I should let everyone know where this list of 100 books came from. 

After reviewing several different top 100 lists a lady by the name of Leisa Watkins had a brilliant idea to create the perfect top 100 list.  She took the lists created by Random House Readers, The Random House Board, the Radcliffe List, Time Magazine, Guardian Unlimited and the BBC and combined them.  Using these lists she created a list that takes into account the majority of the English speaking world, the readers of these books, and those at a higher level.

You can read all about her system HERE.

Many of the books are the same, but there are some differences between lists.  We could have used any of the lists on this journey but I figured we might as well get the best of the best.

So without further adieu.  Here is our list.

1.    THE GREAT GATSBY by F. Scott Fitzgerald
2.    ULYSSES by James Joyce
3.    1984 by George Orwell
4.    THE CATCHER IN THE RYE by J.D. Salinger
5.    ON THE ROAD by Jack Kerouac
6.    THE GRAPES OF WRATH by John Steinbeck
7.    CATCH-22 by Joseph Heller
8.    LOLITA by Vladimir Nabokov
9.    BRAVE NEW WORLD by Aldous Huxley
11.  THE SOUND AND THE FURY by William Faulkner
12.  TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD by Harper Lee
13.  THE LORD OF THE RINGS by J.R.R. Tolkien
15.  ANIMAL FARM by George Orwell
16.  TO THE LIGHTHOUSE by Virginia Woolf
17.  INVISIBLE MAN by Ralph Ellison
18.  A CLOCKWORK ORANGE by Anthony Burgess
19.  GONE WITH THE WIND by Margaret Mitchell
20.  AS I LAY DYING by William Faulkner
21.  A FAREWELL TO ARMS by Ernest Hemingway
22.  A PASSAGE TO INDIA by E.M. Forster
23.  LORD OF THE FLIES by William Golding
24.  THE CALL OF THE WILD by Jack London
25.  DAVID COPPERFIELD by Charles Dickens
26.  EMMA by Jane Austen
27.  TESS Of The D’URBERVILLES, Thomas Hardy
28.  THE SCARLET LETTER by Nathaniel Hawthorne
29.  WUTHERING HEIGHTS by Emily Bronte
30.  THE HEART IS A LONELY HUNTER by Carson McCullers
31.  SLAUGHTERHOUSE FIVE by Kurt Vonnegut
32.  JANE EYRE by Charlotte Bronte
33.  BELOVED by Toni Morrison
34.  ANNA KAREINA by Leo Tolstoy
35.  THE SUN ALSO RISES by Ernest Hemingway
36.  NATIVE SON by Richard Wright
37.  ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF SOLITUDE by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
38.  NOSTROMO by Joseph Conrad
39.  HEART OF DARKNESS by Joseph Conrad
40.  UNDER THE VOLCANO by Malcolm Lowry
41.  THE GOOD SOLDIER by Ford Madox Ford
42.  HERZOG by Saul Bellow
43.  THE WIND IN THE WILLOWS by Kenneth Grahame
44.  U.S.A. (trilogy) by John Dos Passos
45.  FINNEGANS WAKE by James Joyce
46.  AN AMERICAN TRAGEDY by Theodore Dreiser
47.  WOMEN IN LOVE by D.H. Lawrence
48.  THE AGE OF INNOCENCE by Edith Wharton
49.  THE WOMAN IN WHITE by Wilkie Collins
50.  THINGS FALL APART by Chinua Achebe
51.  TROPIC OF CANCER by Henry Miller
52.  MY ANTONIA by Willa Cather
53.  LIGHT IN AUGUST by William Faulkner
54.  THE MAGUS by John Fowles
56.  DON QUIXOTE by Miguel de Cervantes
57.  TOM JONES by Henry Fielding
58.  WAR AND PEACE by Leo Tolstoy
59.  MOBY-DICK by Herman Melville
60.  MADAME BOVARY by Gustave Flaubert
61.  WINNIE THE POOH by A(lan) A(lexander) Milne
62.  GREAT EXPECTATIONS by Charles Dickens
63.  THE BROTHERS KARAMAZOV by Feodor Dostoevsky
64.  TRISTAM SHANDY by Laurence Sterne
65.  LITTLE WOMEN by Louisa M. Alcott
66.  VANITY FAIR by William Makepeace Thackeray
67.  PRIDE AND PREJUDICE by Jane Austen
68.  IN SEARCH OF LOST TIME by Marcel Proust
69.  THE AMBASSADORS by Henry James
71.  GRAVITY’S RAINBOW by Thomas Pynchon
72.  THE AWAKENING by Kate Chopin
73.  DUNE by Frank Herbert
74.  A TOWN LIKE ALICE by Nevil Shute
76.  CLARISSA by Samuel Richardson
78.  A PRAYER FOR OWEN MEANY by John Irving
79.  THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO by Alexandre Dumas
80.  THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY by Henry James
81.  OF MICE AND MEN by John Steinbeck
82.  ALL THE KING’S MEN by Robert Penn Warren
83.  GO TELL IT ON THE MOUNTAIN by James Baldwin
84.  CHARLOTE’S WEB by E. B. White
85.  ROBINSON CRUSOE by Daniel Defoe
86.  CRIME AND PUNISHMENT by Feodor Dostoevsky
87.  THE STAND by Stephen King
88.  REBECCA by Daphne du Maurier
89.  I, CLAUDIUS by Robert Graves
90.  HOWARDS END by E.M. Forster
91.  TENDER IS THE NIGHT by F. Scott Fitzgerald
92.  THE RAINBOW by D.H. Lawrence
93.  BLEAK HOUSE by Charles Dickens
94.  ATLAS SHRUGGED by Ayn Rand
95.  ABSALOM, ABSALOM! by William Faulkner
96.  THE WINGS OF THE DOVE by Henry James
97.  AUSTERLITZ by W. G. Sebald
98.  THE TRIAL by Franz Kafka
99.  WISE BLOOD by Flannery O’Connor
100. FRANKENSTEIN by Mary Shelley

The greatest novels ever written

What are the greatest novels ever written?  If this question was asked in a group of 100 people we would get 100 different answers.  Some people would include books that others wouldn’t even consider because they touched them deeply.  Others would list books that they had never even read knowing that they had a large impact on the world.  We could spend the rest of our lives debating the topic, but the answer can never truly be known because the list really would be different for each person. 

For example, I love the book Pilgrim’s Progress.  I love its allegorical method of telling a story much larger than itself.  I love the story of the man (John Bunyan) who wrote the book from his jail cell.  Some of you reading this though may hate the book.  You may find it cheesy how a man name “Christian” is traveling through things such as the “slough of despond”.  You may even find its Christian message offensive. 

This book would be on MY list, but it may be nowhere close to being on YOURS.

This is why lists such as the one done by Times or BBC are so important.  They allow us to see what the greatest books are for our generation.  They allow us to see beyond our personal tastes and reactions into the greater scope of literary works.  Sometimes these works, that we may never have found otherwise change us forever.  They allow us to see the world in a way previously foreign to us.

That is the purpose of this blog. 

Starting on May 1, 2012 I am going to start reading the 100 greatest novels.  I am going to start with #100 and work my way down to #1 reading one book a month.  No matter how busy life gets and how full my schedule is adding one more book during the course of a month shouldn’t be too bad. 

I would like to invite you to join along.  Doing this together we can go together through some of the great books of all time.  We can discuss what’s happening in them with the characters and the setting.  We can take a look at the author and what made them tick. 

During the course of the month we can become near experts on a great literary work.

May 1, 2012 we will start our journey with #100.

 Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein