Tuesday, February 07, 2006

As promised

I shall have a go at a list of essential books. To make it easier both to read and to write, I'll break them into categories...

1-5 Shakespeare

1 Hamlet
2 Julius Caesar
3 Romeo and Juliette
4 The Taming of the Shrew
5 King Lear.

6-10 Latin and early Italian

6 The Divine Comedy - Dante Aleghieri
7 The poems of Catullus
8 Metamorphosis - Ovid
9 The Prince - Niccolo Machiavelli
10 Lives - Plutarch

11-15 Other Ancient

11 The Odyssey - Homer
12 The Mahabharata - (Ancient Sanskrit epic - author unknown)
13 Tao Te Ching - Lao Tse
14 The Book of War - Han Tzu
15 Aristotle (I'm not sure which book to choose)

16-20 More Pre-Shakespeare

16 Canterbury Tales - Geoffrey Chaucer
17 Le Morte D'Arthur - Malory (Not the best version but you need to know about King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table)
18 Dr Faustus - Christopher Marlowe
19 Snorri Snurrlasson (sp?) again, I'm not sure which to pick, this guy wrote down many of the Viking Sagas, I think if forced to choose, I'd pick the Vinland Saga.
20 The Adventures of Robin Hood and His Merrie Men (I don't know which version to choose but again, something that you need to know).

21-25 17th century

21 The King James Version of the Bible
22 Paradise Lost - John Milton
23 Fanny Hill - John Cleland (one of the earliest if not the earliest known novel written purely as pornography - and well written it is too)
24 Poems of John Donne
25 To His Coy Mistress (a poem) by Andrew Marvell

26-30 18th century

26 Robinson Crusoe - Daniel Defoe
27 Gulliver's Travels - Jonathan Swift (you might also try "A Modest Proposal" which is short and influential - cf J G Ballard's "To Howard Hughes - A Modest Proposal" in which a rich man holds the world to nuclear ransom).
28 Confessions of a Justified Sinner - James Hogg
29 To a Mouse - Robert Burns (known as Rab in life, but never as Rabbie)
30 Poems of William Blake

31-35 19th Century

31 Ivanhoe - Sir Walter Scott (or pick any other of his novels, all influential, all readable and all great fun)
32 The Rime of the Ancient Mariner - Samuel Taylor Coleridge
33 The Mask of Anarchy - Percy Bysshe Shelley
34 A Study In Scarlet - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (and all the other Sherlock Holmes stories of course)
35 The Charge of the Light Brigade - Alfred Lord Tennyson.

36-40 Charles Dickens

36 Great Expectations
37 Bleak House
38 The Olde Curiosity Shop
39 A Christmas Carol
40 Oliver Twist

41-46 20th Century

41 Tarzan - Edgar Rice Burroughs
42 The Trial - Franz Kafka
43 The Sun Also Rises - Ernest Hemingway
44 The Wizard of Oz - L Frank Baum
45 Stranger in a Strange Land - Robert A Heinlein

AND I COULD NOT LEAVE OUT

46 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoevsky
47 Sonnets on Orpheus - Rainer-Maria Rilke
48 The Castle of Crossed Destinies - Italo Calvino
49 Things Fall Apart - Chinua Achebe
50 Dracula - Bram Stoker
51 Frankenstein - Mary Shelley
52 Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer - Mark Twain

I'm afraid the list goes on. I don't think I can do it after all. Sorry 6.

9 Comments:

Blogger Alcuin said...

Pah... the Art of War is Sun Tsu, not Han Tzu. There were too many philosophers around with similar names...

Sun Tsu, Han Tzu, Kung Fu Tzu (aka Confucius) amd Lao Tse.

Tuesday, 07 February, 2006  
Blogger Gavin Corder said...

Now you see you've given us a reading list. Yeah yeah yeah, we all know they're all great. But what YOU haven't done is tell us (which actually involves a small matter of decision and sharing on your part)what you like.

Me I like different things at different times.

Thursday, 09 February, 2006  
Blogger Alcuin said...

What I LIKE Gavin... well that's a different list.

Of contemporary writers, I'd say my favourites are:

Well... remind me to post a separate note on this rather than a comment

Thursday, 09 February, 2006  
Blogger flyingfinn said...

Some good choices there, especially Juluis Caesar, and your Dickens list, though I was disappointed you didn't have a Tale of Two Cities in it - it's his best book.;-)

Friday, 10 February, 2006  
Blogger Span Ows said...

Fantastic list Alcuin...you studied History at Oxford didn't you?...;-)

Now I don't need to tell you re Sun Tzu (probaly the only essential reading on War except for Clausewitz) and I'm not too sure re Daniel Defoe, if anything Moll Flanders... but...whatever.

There is just SO MUCH out there, hundreds of authors worth a mention...just to satrt with: what about Bede...just before Alcuin...;-)

Friday, 10 February, 2006  
Blogger Alcuin said...

No. I wrote essays in History in Cambridge although at the time I was working in a Chemistry lab. For my OWN degree, I studied Cultural Studies at North East London Polytechnic.

As for von Clausewitz. I have read him and I understand why he's seen as essential but his work is so DULL.

Sun Tzu thought about war and wrote down some brief (and effective) ideas. On the other hand von Clausewitz' On War reads to me as if it was written by a petty bureaucrat.

Saturday, 11 February, 2006  
Blogger Span Ows said...

it was...:-)

Sunday, 12 February, 2006  
Blogger Alcuin said...

It was indeed but Kafka was a petty bureaucrat as well. He didn't WRITE like one.

Tuesday, 14 February, 2006  
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Monday, 20 March, 2006  

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