1001 Books to Read Before You Die (Sort Of) Challenge: 76-80

“There’s so much more to a book than just the reading.” – Maurice Sendak

Does anyone else suffer from book guilt? I consider it to be that feeling you get when you realize you’re not paying close enough attention to what you’re currently reading because you’re busy figuring out which one to read next. It usually strikes me when I’m forcing my way through a book that is a little disappointing or that I have to read for an assignment. Sometimes it’s just because I’m coming up on the last few chapters and the end is in sight and I don’t want it to end so I sabotage my efforts and have to go back to read passages over again. The real problem is when I give in and start a new book before I’ve actually finished the one I’ve already started. That’s how I end up reading so many books at once. Definitely something I still need to work on.

9780618640157_p0_v1_s260x420 The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

I will admit, I did not read The Lord of the Rings until after the films came out. I had tried and failed to get through The Hobbit so I had to be talked into seeing the first movie by my very excited father. After sitting enthralled for those three hours and realizing I’d have to wait a year for the next film, I decided to give the books a chance. Since then, I’ve found that I’m not alone in preferring one so much more than the other. I’ve heard people generally enjoy one and can’t stand the other. I have read The Lord of the Rings twice now and plan to read it again a few more times in the coming years.

The Nose by Nikolay Gogol 9780451529541_p0_v1_s260x420

An odd short story, it isn’t my favorite by Gogol, but it isn’t the worst. I much preferred Taras Bulba, which happened to be included in the collection of Gogol stories when I read The Nose. Still, every once in a while it’s interesting to read something from the realm of the absurd.

9781503185203_p0_v1_s260x420 The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway

I know there are people who will never like Hemingway and who think that The Old Man and the Sea is overrated, tedious, etc. I tend to think that those are people who haven’t read Moby-Dick. I read the Melville classic before I ever read The Old Man and the Sea. Since my biggest criticism of Moby-Dick has always been that it was too long and could use some heavy editing. I like to think of The Old Man and the Sea as what Moby-Dick would have been like with a lot more editing. For that, I will always enjoy it.

The Once and Future King by T.H. White 9780812417562_p0_v1_s260x420

I received this book as a gift from my parents one year for Easter many years ago. When a new King Arthur movie was announced, I began the task of reading it. I’d only ever seen the Disney version of The Sword in the Stone and knew little beyond the names of the key players (and there was a little from Monty Python as well but that doesn’t really count in the grand scheme of Arthurian legend). I was surprised at how closely Disney managed to make their adaptation. I was only part way through The Candle in the Wind when the King Arthur movie came out. Upon reading reviews, I decided it was not a movie I would be interested in after all, especially since I’d been enjoying the book so much.

9781593080259_p0_v4_s260x420 The Picture of Dorian Grey by Oscar Wilde

Oscar Wilde is always a joy to read. While his witting writing is generally comical, when he goes dark, he does so fantastically. Dorian Grey is one of those cases where he’s gone fantastically dark. Delving into the, well, gray areas of morality and desire. The descent of impressionable Dorian into his destructive selfishness is a classic for both the richness of Wilde’s language and the inherent relatability of its themes. Everyone struggles at some time in their life with wanting to do something that society and/or common moral codes say shouldn’t be done. I had to re-read it in my Gothic literature class for grad school alongside Dracula, Frankenstein, and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. When placed in that company, the themes jump from the page in amazing ways that only make me love it more.