What Ten Books Must All Men Read BeforeThey Die ?

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Roger Breedlove

climber
Cleveland Heights, Ohio
Oct 26, 2009 - 02:03pm PT
Zander, I did find the answer to my question that you rose up thread. That thread Way off topic question on literature April 2008 had lots of good posts. Many along the same lines as this thread.

The question I asked was about any sources on literary criticism for Roth's novels. I had just finished "American Pastoral" and was very put off by what I considered sloppy writing and placid storytelling. What got my goat were Roth’s whole paragraphs of essentially the same sentence with different endings. I found a short section in "How Novels Work" by John Mullen on Roth's technique of amplification, which apparently links back to renaissance writing methods. I found it very tiresome and skimmed to the bottom on any paragraph in which he couldn't get what he wanted to say out without repeating it ten times. I think that this probably works fine for a reader who just loves the way all those letters form little groups of and pass time until they are needed in another little group of letters somewhere later, and they sound so sensuous as they roll down with the spittle and drool. More seriously, I think it works okay if the reader cares about the character, or if the writer has a real rant going with momentum. I didn't feel any of those things about "American Pastoral," so the amplification just seemed like ballast.

That said, there is a good interview in last Friday's WSJ ‘Weekend Journal’ with a list of five of Roth's 'indispensable' books to read by Ross Miller, the general editor of his compelte works for the Library of America. The list includes "The Ghost Writer," "The Counterlife," "The Facts," "Sabbath's Theater," and "The Human Stain." I will read these over time. I figure if I don't like a major writer, I should at least fire live.
Fogarty

climber
Back in time..
Oct 26, 2009 - 02:48pm PT
This is a great book my mom would reed it to me in 1965 I loved reeding it to my kids, I just took them to see the new motion picture, what a blast!


Credit: Fogarty

Zander

Trad climber
Berkeley
Oct 26, 2009 - 11:28pm PT
Hey Roger,
I’ve never read Roth. I asked around after your thread from last year and got kind of luke warm responses. I guess I’ll try one of the five you mentioned.

I enjoyed reading your “top” ten list. About ten years ago my younger son was in 7th grade and at one of his school functions a couple of the parents were talking and one said, “I wish I had read that.” They decided to start a book club where you only read books where you say, “I wish I’d read that”. We call ourselves the Odyssians because we started with The Odyssey. We've read a bunch of the books from your list. The Illiad, War and Peace, The first five chapters of the Koran, Greek plays, every year we read and then go see a Shakespeare play, The Devine Comedy and even Ulysses. On your suggestion, I will now read Blood Meridian. Thanks for the tip. Our book group is pretty relaxed. Last night we met to discuss the first half of the Aeneid. A third of the group hadn’t done the reading. The potluck was good so all was well. I’m enjoying the book, though. As you said, it is good to push yourself out of our comfort zone with your reading. I find as I get older I’m a less flexible reader. I get ticked at books and authors. Your response to Roth was very familiar in feeling if not detail.

I’m kind of a fan of Karen Armstrong. I own five or six of her books.
Anyway, thanks for your response,

Zander
Jaybro

Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
Oct 26, 2009 - 11:53pm PT
I think maybe it should be a list of a hundred, or a thousand so I can include Geek Love.
Roger Breedlove

climber
Cleveland Heights, Ohio
Oct 27, 2009 - 08:00am PT
Zander, I am very impressed with your book group. The one I belong to won't read old classics. They call my personal reading, "reading for pain." I remind myself of all the payback I got when I was pushing myself to be a better climber-great routes at higher standards; same for books.
I am reading Herodotus' "The Histories." I am hoping the context will bring more to the Greek and Roman literature
I read the Egyptian "Book of the Dead" for the same reasons. It was interesting, but I don't think it provides much backgroud for our world; we really start as a people with Homer. It is amazing that the first literature out of the box was so big and fine. Like Lynne Hill climbing the Nose all free in 1956 before Royal and Warren were ready to go. .

I suggest that reading a short introduction to "Blood Meridian" is worth it. It is based on a true story which helps with all the blood and gore. It also helps to focus on the brief note McCarthy places in the front and the strange postscript at the end. I didn't begin to understand the postscript until I had read more classics. The novel is not hard to read-it is a good story and beautifully written. It ended up on the list of the best five American novels, along with Updyke's "Rabbit" series, Roth's "American Pastoral," Morrision's "Beloved," and (I think) DeLillo's "Underground."
Zander

Trad climber
Berkeley
Oct 27, 2009 - 11:02am PT
Hi Roger, We read Herodotus' "The Histories. There is a lot of interesting stuff in there. I agree it is not in the same category as the Odyssey. It was fun reading about the Amazons and some of the other stories we’ve all heard about.

Have you read the Three Kingdoms? It is the great Chinese Ancestral myth, like the Homer is for the west. It’s a great sprawling book. The version we read is highly abridged and it’s still huge. It is a pretty good read too. I’d never heard of it before we read it. Wendy got kudos from the asians at her work so I suspect a third of the world knows the stories well.

I haven’t read any of the five greatest novels in your post. I better get busy.
Take care,
Zander
Barto

climber
Minneapolis, MN
Nov 4, 2009 - 11:46am PT
EIGHT GREAT

1. The Road: heartbreaking; horrific; Blood Meridian with the full ache of humanity.

2. Blood Meridian: Savageness without relent. Who IS the Judge?

3. Sutree: a litmus test for the impulse for solitude: I related to S. when I was in my bad marriage; now he is so much less appealing. Astounding writing.

4. Ironweed

5. Downward Bound

6. A Day in the Live of Ivan Denisovich

7. Goodnight Moon

8. How Footbal [soccer] Explains the World



Rhodo-Router

Gym climber
sawatch choss
Nov 12, 2012 - 09:51pm PT
+1 for Infinite Jest. Did you ever give it another go JCA?

I moved to a new town and brought Geek Love to the book club. Not everyone's cuppa but I loved it. Have not picked a book since because the internet has destroyed my brain and I hardly read anymore.
eeyonkee

Trad climber
Golden, CO
Nov 12, 2012 - 09:58pm PT
I see that at least one person already mentioned To Kill a Mockingbird. Atticus is the finest example of a human being in literature that I think of. (Sylvester Stallone in Rambo II gets my vote for 2nd).
Jaybro

Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
Nov 12, 2012 - 10:08pm PT
Not yet Rhodo. But I'm halfway through anathenum as a gauge warm up.
Yeah that geek love is good for raising a few eyebrows, my mom at 87 or something, couldn't put it down though, much as she wanted to ....

You're too right about the Internet. Living in a tent the last almost 2 months, at least has me reading regularly again. Though the net still reaches its garroting tendrils through the smaht phone pretty efficiently anyway.....
Rhodo-Router

Gym climber
sawatch choss
Nov 12, 2012 - 10:26pm PT
I only managed to get through Gravity's Rainbow on a solo backpack trip in the Escalante. Now i couldn't even tell you the last book I've actually finished. I should get off this thing...something about immediate gratification is really bad for us. Good for you living in a tent.
Gary

Social climber
Right outside of Delacroix
Nov 12, 2012 - 10:43pm PT
The Histories - Herodotus

Catch 22 - Joseph Heller

Little Big Man - Thomas Berger
(OK, anything by Thomas Berger, the most under-rated and under-appreciated American author)

Mother Night - Kurt Vonnegut

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest - Ken Kesey

Dr. Sax - Jack Kerouac
(Both Cuckoo's Nest and Dr. Sax should be read after taking a tab of acid. Dr. Sax, especially won't make any sense if you are straight. And the opening of Cuckoo's Nest is a wild ride as you hook up with the chief)

All Quiet on the Western Front - Erich Maria Remarque (the follow up "Flotsam" might even be better)

The Trial - Franz Kafka

The Octopus - Frank Norris

The Winter of Our Discontent - John Steinbeck

crunch

Social climber
CO
Nov 12, 2012 - 11:14pm PT
What Ten Books Must All Men Read BeforeThey Die ?

"men?"

Germaine Greer's The Female Eunuch should be in there somewhere....
AP

Trad climber
Calgary
Nov 12, 2012 - 11:26pm PT
Gravity's Rainbow
Freedom at Midnight
In Exile From the Land of Snows
other 7 I have to think about
MisterE

Social climber
Nov 12, 2012 - 11:36pm PT
FYI, Zip? Per your first reference, if you are using the word "sheer" and the word "manliness" in the same sentence? You might be gay.

That being said:

Narcissus and Goldman

Siddhartha

The Pearl

Start Where You Are

The Tao of Pooh

Catcher in the Rye

Out of Freedom, Into Slavery

Desert Solitaire

Brave New World

On The Road

Breakfast of Champions

Book of 5 Rings...

I could go on.













socialclimber

Trad climber
CA
Nov 12, 2012 - 11:51pm PT
The Snow Leopard - Peter Matthiessen
Caught Inside - Daniel Duane
Desert Solitaire - Edward Abbey
My Side of the Mountain - Jean George
Yukon Ho! - Bill Waterson
Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
Ulysses - James Joyce
Waiting for Godot - Samuel Beckett
Mountains of the Mind - Robert Macfarlan
The Little Prince - Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
BONUS - The Giving Tree - Shel Silverstein

Charles
Ksolem

Trad climber
Monrovia, California
Nov 13, 2012 - 12:03am PT
I'll give you one.

Basic Economics, Thomas Sowell.
Reilly

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Nov 13, 2012 - 01:34am PT
A Theory of the Consumption Function, Milton Friedman 1957
paul roehl

Boulder climber
california
Nov 13, 2012 - 03:35am PT
Ten's hard but if only ten:
King James Bible
Divine Comedy
Shakespeare's plays
Candide
Wordsworth's Collected Poems
Magic Mountain
Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
Ulysses
Tender is the Night
Blood Meridian

QITNL

climber
Nov 13, 2012 - 04:15am PT
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