Thursday, August 13, 2009

Wonderful World of Books!

Of all the diversions of life, there is none so proper to fill up its empty spaces as the reading of useful and entertaining authors ~ Joseph Addison

My mom was an avid reader for as long as I can remember. She had a book with her whenever we left the house and, at home, there were books everywhere. She read classic literature, best-selling fiction, some historical fiction, biographies as well as art books, gardening books and cookbooks. I don't recall her reading much non-fiction. Mom was an english major in college and she also loved to paint in oils and watercolors. She passed her love of reading on to me (unfortunately, the sketching and painting gene doesn't seem to have taken hold...yet... I'm patiently waiting for it to bloom...still waiting... lol).

It's funny how things happen - my love of reading is a blessing and has saved me from boredom, fear, loneliness, sadness and so much more. A rare bone and endocrine disease present at birth necessitated I undergo yearly surgeries, often twice a year, from the early age of 4. The bulk of the surgeries occurred by my late 'teens with a smattering over the ensuing years until (so far) age 32. Growing up wasn't that easy (is it really for any one of us?! lol). I spent a lot of time alone and with adults, away from children my own age. When I was with children my own age, there were many activites in which I couldn't participate. Books saved me. I always had a couple with me and I was always reading. The doctors and nurses who didn't know me personally at Babies Hospital at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center, knew me as the girl who loves to read. My family, my friends, my mom's friends all knew that I loved to read and often contributed to my "stash"! lol Books took me away to different worlds, different lives and backgrounds, they let me learn about things I didn't know about, have adventures I couldn't have in my real life and they kept me company during, long lonely nights in the hospital, during a friends roller-skating party or any time pain, a bad dream or something else woke me up in the middle of the night. (I know books have done the same for many other people).

I read almost all of the books (except for the ones I wasn't interested in, such as books about vampires, monsters, some sci-fi) in the YA section of our library by age 13. My mom didn't know what to do. She didn't want to set me loose in the adult section of the library because she was afraid I would read books filled with sex! lol My mom didn't even want me to read "Are You There God it's Me Margaret? by Judy Blume. (I did, but I didn't tell mom and I definitely didn't tell her that Forever was passed around my 7th grade classroom with the "steamy" pages dog-eared! lol). Enter Agatha Christy, Phyllis Whitney, some P.D. James, among others. My mother believed these authors wouldn't go heavy on the sex scenes if they even had any in their books. I thoroughly enjoyed these books, they were riveting, exciting, sometimes funny and my soul wasn't tarnished! It was a win-win situation! A couple of years later my mom started giving me the classics to read - The Bronte Sisters, Edith Wharton, Hemingway and Faulkner. Of course, I majored in English (with an eye towards law school!) and would have been happy to study for another 4 years. I loved my english classes and wanted to take more!

That leads me to this list: The BBC think most people have only read about 6 out of 100 books on this list. How many have you read? I got this from Jessica at A BookLover's Diary (It's originally from Jaimie at For the Love of All That is Written)

If you want to, copy this list into your into your notes or blog and put an X next to the books you've read. Let me know what you've read and tell your book loving friends to c'mon over and check out this list!

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen (X)

2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien ()

3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte (X)

4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling (X)

5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee (X)

6 The Bible (X)

7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte (X)

8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell (X)

9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman ()

10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens (X)

11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott (X)

2 Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy (X)

13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller (X)

14 Complete Works of Shakespeare ()

15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier(X)

16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien (X)

17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulk ()

18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger (X)

19 The Time Traveler’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger ()

20 Middlemarch - George Eliot (X)

21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell (X)

22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald (X)

23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens ()

24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy ()

25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams (X)

26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh (X)

27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky (X)

28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck ()

29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll (X)

30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame (X)

31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy (X)

32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens ()

33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis (X)

34 Emma-Jane Austen (X)

35 Persuasion - Jane Austen (X)

36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis (X)

37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hossein ()

38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres ()

39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden (X)

40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne (X)

41 Animal Farm - George Orwell (X)

42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown (X)

43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez (X)

44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving (X)

45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins ()

46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery (X)

47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy ()

48 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood (X)

49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding (X)

50 Atonement - Ian McEwan (X)

51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel (X)

52 Dune - Frank Herbert ()

53 Cold Comfort Farm ()

54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen (X)

55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth ()

56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon ()

57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens ()

58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley (X)

59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night - Mark Haddon (X)

60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez (X)

61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck (X)

62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov (X)

63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt (X)

64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold (X)

65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas ()

66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac (X)

67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy ()

68 Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding (X)

69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie ()

70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville (X)

71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens (X)

72 Dracula - Bram Stoker (X)

73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett (X)

74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson ()

75 Ulysses - James Joyce ()

76 The Inferno – Dante (X)

)77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome ()

78 Germinal - Emile Zola ()

79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray (X)

80 Possession - AS Byatt (X)

81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens (X)

82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell ()

83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker (X)

84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro ()

85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert (X)

86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry ()

87 Charlotte’s Web - EB White (X)

88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom (X)

89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (X)

90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton ()

91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad ()

92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery (X)

93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks ()

94 Watership Down - Richard Adams (X)

95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole (X)

96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute ()

97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas ()

98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare (X)

99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl (X)

100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo (X)

I've read 66. Many I read in college and I've thought often about re-reading the classics and I will at some point. I'm also going to read several books on this list that I haven't read yet, like the Kite Runner!



  1. I am impressed. Sixty six books that is brilliant. I loved reading about how you grew up, sorry to hear that you have suffered so much pain, but pleased to hear you found an outlet in books. I hope my love of books will eventually pass down to my girls.

  2. I'm sorry to hear that you've had so much pain in life. Thank goodness you were introduced to books. I think reading is one of the great joys of life.

    I'm very impressed that you've read 66 books on the list! I'm a little embarrassed to tell you how many of them I've read. I'm an avid reader, myself, but I haven't read as many as you have. I guess I should take this list with me next time I go to the library or bookstore!

  3. Wonderful post Amy! Very inspiring.

    My favorite author at the moment is Haruki Murakami and I have read every book he has written. I'm very impressed that you have read 66 books on the list. I don't come close but at least I've read more than the BBC predicted!

    Thanks for following my blog. I will do the same. It's wonderful that you rescue kitties. Loved looking at the pics of all your sweet furry kids!

  4. Amy: Thank you so much for stopping by my blog and commenting! I am so glad that you did, because now I can follow your blog. I used to be the mommy of seven cats. 4 have passed on, so I am down to three. I was born and raised in NY (Westchester County) and I also have a lot of "cat tails" to tell! I look forward to getting to know you better, and exploring your blog. :)

  5. Thanks for the wonderful list. I am going to compare it with my own, although I will most likely be adding many more of yours to my list.
    Your blog looks great, and I am very glad it has taken off the way it has. Keep on, keepin' on!

  6. Wow! You have me beat by half! I've read about 33 -- still much more than they predicted! Boo on them!

  7. Hi Amy! Very nice post. I am so sorry for your health problems, you have kept such a positive attitude and that comes through in your posts and comments! I have read 22, but I bet if I combined mine with Seashell's we would double that!

  8. It does sound like books have been special for you. I'm sorry you've had to endure so much. I've read 29 of the books listed.

  9. 44 for me...although I own quite a few others that I have not read yet. someday....

    I had a cat once, a stray, named Kitty (lol) who has since gone on to kitty heaven. I think of myself as more of a doggie person usually but since I can't really get another dog at this time, from time to time I consider getting another cat. Is it an insult to cats to consider a cat as sort of second best? Would my kitty know?...

  10. Wow Amy! 66 books! I've seen other people who'd marked just 13-16, I think I hadn't seen a post that passed the 20 books!

    I'll explain how you can get that signature to you in an email :o)


  11. Hello fellow lawyer. Lovely post. I have read 67 of these! I can't believe some people have only read 6, because at least 15 of these I had to read in school! By the way Cold Comfort Farm is by Stella Gibbons. My personal favourites which you have not read and you must read immediately are a Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry and The Suitable Boy, both by Indian writers. A Fine Balance is easily one of the most profound books I have ever read. Oh and you have a great attitude given what you have been through when little. I have other friends who have been through similar experiences and they also found solace in books.

  12. I wonder who the BBC polled about the book list? But there are many good authors not represented on this list and some authors are named more than once. I'm not even sure if my favorite author, Wallace Stegner made the list. But there are some very good books on the list. I'm glad you all went through the list!

    Thank you to all of you for your wonderfully kind comments and support. My disability is part of who I am and it has shaped the person I am, sometimes I forget that. Sure there are plenty of days when I wish I didn't have it but I know I am who I am in large part because of it and I honestly wouldn't change that.

  13. Hmmm..Can I count the Bible if I only read the New Testament? (Just never could get through the "begats" in the Old Testament)

    And I probably shouldn't count Life of Pi, which I'm pretty sure I was just about the only person on the earth who hated it and bailed halfway through!

    Interesting and thought provoking post. I never had the physical challenges you had, but had a relatively solitary childhood and books were my best friends and lifeline too!

  14. Oh, my, it's kind of disappointing to me to realize how few of those books I've read. Some of them I've seen the movie version but not read the book.

    Thanks for stopping by and posting on my blog. :-)

  15. I got 53 - but there were so many that I read for school and don't really remember... You should definitely read the Philip Pullman series - it's wonderful. A little controversial - but regardless of your religious views, it's a fascinating story and one of the best "adventure" stories about a girl (I've already purchased the series for my 2 year old daughter). There were also a number of books that I own but have of yet to read. Do you do that? I have the hardest time finding time to read now that I have small children AND now that I have a blog. I used to listen to recorded books in the car during my work commute - but now I'm staying home with the kids... I'm going to have to figure something out!

    I have a blog suggestion for you. The 3 R's Blog ( Florinda writes about books, as well as other "random" things (hence the blog title). She's also a super nice lady.

    Thanks so much for your lovely comment! Funny how we all find each other (PVE is one of my favorites - I'm kind of addicted to the artist blog sites).

  16. Great post Amy. I'm sorry you suffered so much as a child. It's hard to go through something like that as a kid. Thank God for books I say. I have Rheumatoid Arthritis which makes it hard for me to always do a lot and boy have books ever made it a lot easier to deal with life at times. Thanks for sharing such a big part of your life with us.