The Story of The List

Coming up with a list of books was anything but easy. How did I go about it then?

The first step in this self imposed adventure is, of course, to make The List. Tempted as I was to pick a certain genre or read the books I’ve been wishing to for a while, I figured it would be a lot more interesting to throw a wider net. In comes Google.

A basic search showed ‘Must Read’ lists ranging from the classics to children’s books to new age authors and so forth. I however, narrowed down to the below lists to compile my own

  1. Telegraph – 100 novels everyone should read
  2. Goodreads by Amazon
  3. Guardian – 100 best novels compiled by Robert Mcrum (2015 version)
  4. BBC Big Read – A famous compilation
  5. Time Magazine – All time 100 novels

Of these, BBC Big Read, Amazon Goodreads and The Telegraph have titles by authors ranging from Jane Austen and JRR Tolkien to Charles Dickens and Rowling. This list is what I would call ‘The comfortable list’, one that most voracious readers have either read from or are familiar with. Titles that are comfortable to the eye and genres that one is familiar with. Every other book that one hasn’t read is either the among the ones they read the abridged version of sometime when they were younger, or are by authors whose other works they are familiar with. Comfortable List.

Along came The Guardian’s list. A not-completely-unfamiliar set of books, but titles that you’ve heard somewhere and forgotten. Names that ring a distant bell in that memory of yours but you cannot place where or when you heard of it. Most of the authors look familiar, some of the works have even been read. Yet, something about this list makes it seem like you know lesser and lesser of the literary world that you thought you were a pro at.

And then came the list by the Time Magazine. Deliberately published by the makers (of the list) by excluding books that might appeal to a larger audience, this list had more than 75 books out of 100 that were not only completely new to a reader’s eyes, but also dark. Very dark. I had to look up the synopsis of each of the books mentioned, to get an idea of the genre they belonged to or the author’s style of writing. A very scary list. Not just in its character, but also in the fact that it makes you realise how little you know.

Did I ever mention that I am a voracious reader. Well, that is one description that is definitely out of the window.

Book Lover. A book lover, making a humble attempt to read a miniscule percent of acclaimed books. Yes. That’s more like it.

As I put together my list, I excluded obvious books such as LOTR, The Hobbit, a few Jane Austen classics, The Harry Potter series, Memoirs of Geisha, Sherlock Holmes, Chronicles of Narnia, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Dracula, Robinson Crusoe, Gulliver’s Travels, Great Gatsby, Gone with the Wind, Hamlet, One Hundred Years Of Solitude… you get the drift. Yet, I am mentioning them here because most of them are present in all the lists and are classics that one must definitely not miss.

But yes, I have kept a few (12 precisely) books that are very dear to me, the ones I can never get enough of.

Presenting, my plans for the next 100 weekends, my 100 books:

  1. 1984 by George Orwell
  2. A Bend in the River by VS Naipaul (1979)
  3. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
  4. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess (1962)
  5. A Passage to India by EM Forster (1924)
  6. A Single Man by Christopher Isherwood (1964)
  7. A Tale Of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
  8. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll (1865)
  9. All the King’s Men by Robert Penn Warren (1946)
  10. Amongst Women by John McGahern (1990)
  11. An Artist of the Floating World by Kazuo Ishiguro (1986)
  12. Animal Farm by George Orwell
  13. As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner (1930)
  14. At Swim-Two-Birds by Flann O’Brien (1939)
  15. Breathing Lessons by Anne Tyler (1988)
  16. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller (1961)
  17. Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons (1932)
  18. David Copperfield by Charles Dickens (1850)
  19. Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant by Anne Tyler
  20. Far From The Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy
  21. Gentlemen Prefer Blondes by Anita Loos (1925)
  22. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad (1899)
  23. Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson (1981)
  24. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë (1847)
  25. Joy in the Morning by PG Wodehouse (1946)
  26. Kane And Abel by Jeffery Archer
  27. Little Women by Louis May Alcott
  28. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov (1955)
  29. Lord of the Flies by William Golding (1954)
  30. Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis
  31. Middlemarch by George Eliot (1871-2)
  32. Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie (1981)
  33. Moby-Dick by Herman Melville (1851)
  34. Money: A Suicide Note by Martin Amis (1984)
  35. Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf (1925)
  36. Murphy by Samuel Beckett (1938)
  37. My Name Is Red by Orhan Pamuk
  38. Nightmare Abbey by Thomas Love Peacock (1818)
  39. Of Human Bondage by W Somerset Maugham (1915)
  40. Of Mice And Men by John Steinbeck
  41. On the Road by Jack Kerouac (1957)
  42. Party Going by Henry Green (1939)
  43. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
  44. Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe (1719)
  45. Scoop by Evelyn Waugh
  46. Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse
  47. Sybil by Benjamin Disraeli (1845)
  48. The Adventures of Augie March by Saul Bellow (1953)
  49. The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton (1920)
  50. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
  51. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath (1966)
  52. The Call of the Wild by Jack London (1903)
  53. The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger (1951)
  54. The Dream of the Red Chamber by Cao Xueqin
  55. The End of the Affair by Graham Greene (1951)
  56. The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing (1962)
  57. The Good Soldier by Ford Madox Ford (1915)
  58. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck (1939)
  59. The Heat of the Day by Elizabeth Bowen (1948)
  60. The Help by Kathryn Stockett
  61. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
  62. The Home and the World by Rabindranath Tagore
  63. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
  64. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exuper
  65. The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett (1929)
  66. The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins (1868)
  67. The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket by Edgar Allan Poe (1838)
  68. The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
  69. The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan (1678)
  70. The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane (1895)
  71. The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne (1850)
  72. The Stranger by Albert Camus
  73. The Thirty-Nine Steps by John Buchan (1915)
  74. The Trial by Franz Kafka
  75. The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame (1908)
  76. Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K Jerome (1889)
  77. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (1960)
  78. Under the Net by Iris Murdoch
  79. Vanity Fair by William Thackeray (1848)
  80. Waiting for the Mahatma by RK Narayan
  81. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
  82. Beloved by Toni Morrison
  83. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
  84. Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison (1977)
  85. The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler
  86. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
  87. And Then there were None by Agatha Christie
  88. Watchmen by Alen Moore
  89. The Wind up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami
  90. Herzog by Saul Bellow
  91. Loving by Henry Green
  92. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kessey
  93. Light in August in William Faulkner
  94. Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret by July Blume
  95. The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood
  96. The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen
  97. White Teeth by Zadie Smith
  98. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
  99. Mort by Terry Pratchett
  100. The Magic Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton

Starting with a famous author’s account of legal case through the eyes of innocence. Any guesses?

See you next week.

photos: Remya Nair


The Story of being Booked for 100

Reading was like second nature to me. My earliest memory of a happy time is when I read my first book. Opening a comic book by the candlelight to while away time during those infamous Bangalore power cuts in the early 90s, still brings a warm feeling to my heart. My dad then introduced me to big room full of books – the library. And that became a tradition. With every house we moved or new location we shifted to, my dad and I had this little outing where the first thing we’d figure out was the location of the neighbourhood library. And I’d come back home happy with the library card in my name. My gate pass to the only version of heaven I believe existed. The world of books.

To date nothing beats the thrill I feel when I enter a library. Rows and rows of books with worlds within. So many voices to be heard, so many thoughts to be understood, so many perspectives to be seen. Teleportation was a real concept to me and not just a Star Wars theory. Those books did just that to me. When I curled up with my book, I was in there. In that world. In that time. At that very instant. Teleported. The scent of an unopened book, the touch of rows of works that are waiting to be read, sigh, I am going there again.

But here I am, a busy adult as I once wished to be, and yet not happy. Not entirely atleast.

And I realised, of all the sacrifices that I made to get here and the habits I chose to discard, books took a backseat. Reading now has been reduced to browsing through the new snippets on aggregator apps or articles that follow and of course, tons and tons of mails.

I want to read again. Really read. Get lost in a book, in the world the author has woven, be one of those characters, live that life. Live a hundred lives and more in one lifetime.

A hundred lives. A hundred books.

Why not… How will I make time for this? Then again, if not now, then when?

And that’s precisely how the idea for this blog came up. A little space where I put down my thoughts on the 100 lives I am going to live from now on. One week at a time. A promise that I am making to myself and putting out there so that 100 weeks from now, I wouldn’t have to say to myself, ‘what have I been doing all this while?’

The name bit was quite a challenge but a dear friend helped me out in the knick of time. Like she said, “you are afterall going to be book-ed for a 100 weeks from now on, aren’t you”

Welcome to my journey as I live these 100 lives in the next 100 weeks. Some that I have yet to experience and some others that I am excited to re-live. One book at a time.

Do come along.


Photos: Remya Nair