“I can’t read everything” I wail

I tried reading Ulysses once, the beginning and a random part in the middle and somewhere near the end. And once I read the woman’s monologue, which might have been the end. Or not. I think that’s all the energy I’ll put into Ulysses, happily accepting that it’s my loss.

Marilyn Monro reading Ulysses

Marilyn Monro reading Ulysses

This line of thinking was set off by a list of one hundred books that one should have read in order to be “well-read”. As I fancy myself to be in that category, I couldn’t resist checking the list, to find I’ve read 56 of the hundred. I’m not sure of the credibility of the list, though, which includes Fifty Shades of Grey, The Da Vinci Code and Atlas Shrugged (two of which I have read). That’s along with Henry James, Tolstoy, Dickens, Austen and so on. The list is here. http://bookriot.com/2013/12/26/go-zero-well-read-100-books/

The compiler of the list had a rationale for his choices, which you can read in the comment preceding the list. It includes a loose description of who the list is for. He is less of a book snob than I am.

All of which feeds in to my constant pondering about what to read next. There are always plenty of choices, like a to-be-read pile of twenty-plus, a list of books I’ve noted that I’m interested to read, three public libraries within reach, and all those I want to read again. So it feels a bit of a relief to decide on a few books to not read, along with Ulysses. The remaining novels of Charles Dickens (I’ve read three) for example, and Vanity Fair.


Early January, for the record, is shaping up to be a re-reading time, of David Foster Wallace’s The Pale King and Eleanor Catton’s The Luminaries. In both cases this is because I’ve read a lot about both of these books since first reading them (two years ago and last September respectively) and that has made me want to read them again. It doesn’t happen that often.