Have You Read These Books?

I am responding to Danielle’s post at A Work in Progress entitled Have You Read These Books? She tells us about Michael Dirda’s Book by Book: “In a chapter on the pleasures of learning, he lists books he calls ‘patterning works’. These are not necessarily obvious classics, but he says that these are the books later authors regularly build on. ‘Know these well, and nearly all of world literature will be an open book to you.'” What a fun concept, hm? She’s listed the books for us, so I don’t have to read Book by Book to play along πŸ™‚ (unless I want to). So I wanted to list which ones *I* have read, as Danielle did:

The Bible (Old and New Testament–King James Version): Heck no. Raised by atheists and am the same. I’ve always thought I should, for this very reason: literature and culture reference it so frequently that I should know what the heck is going on. I DID however have a book when I was kid called Children’s Bible Stories, for this very purpose: to prepare me for The Bible In Pop Culture. My mother bought it from some door-to-door sales people and my father was scandalized. Then when I suffered my very bad wreck in 2007, my best friend brought me some flowers and a Bible – not to proselytize but, again, because I’d told him about my goal of reading it one day for the sake of cultural and literary references. My mother, this time, was scandalized. I still have not read it.

Bulfinch’s Mythology (or any other accounts of the Greek, Roman, and Norse myths): Haven’t read Bulfinch, but have read the Greeks pretty exhaustively from many sources. Roman and Norse, no.

Homer, The Iliad and The Odyssey: over and over. Love them.

Plutarch, Lives of the Noble Grecians and Romans: No, I read some Plutarch but not this…

Dante, Inferno: I don’t think I finished it.

The Arabian Nights: no

Thomas Malory, Le Morte d’Arthur (tales of King Arthur and his knights): I know I read The Once and Future King and I think I’ve read some other tales but not Malory. I’m vague on this.

Shakespeare’s major plays, especially Hamlet, Henry IV, Part One, King Lear, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Tempest: yes. I’m pretty solid on Shakespeare.

Cervantes, Don Quixote: No, it’s always been a goal, though.

Daniel Defoe, Robinson Crusoe: Yes

Jonathan Swift, Gulliver’s Travels: Yes

The fairy tales of the Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen: No, I don’t guess I have. I have vague knowledge of them…

Any substantial collection of the world’s major folktales: No

Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice: absolutely, several times

Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland: Yes several times.

Arthur Conan Doyle, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes: Recently in fact.

I faired only okay on this test. But it gives me some good ideas! Maybe this is the year for Don Quixote, for example. That would go towards the Classics Challenge.

Thanks Danielle for the great idea!

3 Responses

  1. I really liked reading studying mythology in school, though its been years and years since I’ve read any of them. I have a Modern Library edition of mythology–would love to read it sometime. And I have had good intentions on reading The Iliad and Odyssey in full sometime–I know someone who read it but also listened to it at the same time–I love that idea. It’s interesting hearing about who’s read what and I think there are a lot of commonalities–so maybe Dirda really is on to something! He’s wonderful by the way if you get a chance to read his essays.

  2. …And thanks for playing along! πŸ™‚

  3. Hey, thanks for the idea! Iliad and Odyssey are two of my favorite books ever – preference for the latter. You know, they were originally composed as spoken-word pieces, in the prehistoric oral tradition, so listening to them makes a great deal of sense. I recently tried to listen to Sir Ian McKellen’s reading of the Odyssey, which sounded like a great idea. Turns out I’m really not an audio book person, ah well. It’s a great reading and I do recommend it. I just don’t think that format works for me.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: