Wednesday, June 04, 2008

50 Cult Books, or just another book list

We could also label this post as "a list of books I could not care less." With a couple of exceptions, the definition of cult books here seems to be books no one has read, but they claim they want to read them or wish they had. If they read them, they would not admit it (The Celestine Prophecy? Have you met anyone who has read this?). I will be honest. A lot of these books, some of which are considered classics, are books that I simply do not care for. In terms of readers' advisory, they do not have the appeal factors for me as a reader, and I have no problem admitting it. Life is too short to spend it worrying about not having read a book, especially when I can just go on any number of sources and read a summary and critical commentary of the book. Thus, in seconds, I can have the information I need for when I go to that next social function and someone mentions some book I have not read. At least I can talk about it. You get the idea. Not that I lie about what I read, but as a librarian, you should have the common reference points. Overall, I tend to be rebellious about lists that purport to make you look well read if you have read the items on the list. Yes, I know: shocking for a librarian to say that, but no one said I was your granny's librarian either.

Anyhow, here is the list, with any comments of mine in parenthesis.


*= I read it (and this can be I either own it or borrowed it. Hey, it's reading, so it's all good)
** = Own it, have not read it (i.e. it is part of the eternal TBR pile)

Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut (1969)
The Alexandria Quartet by Lawrence Durrell (1957-60)
A Rebours by JK Huysmans (1884)
Baby and Child Care by Dr Benjamin Spock (1946)
The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf (1991)
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath (1963)
Catch-22 by Joseph Heller (1961) * (I liked this when I read it. Would probably read it again.)
The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger (1951) * (I hated this piece of tripe. This day, I have serious difficulty seeing the allure of this story about a teenage loser. Salinger owes me for the time I wasted reading this "classic." The really sad thing? I read it on my own, so I can't even say I was forced to read it in school.)
The Celestine Prophecy by James Redfield (1993) (Have not read it. Maybe some day. I am curious what the fuss is.)
The Dice Man by Luke Rhinehart (1971)
Chariots of the Gods: Was God An Astronaut? by Erich Von Däniken (1968)
A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole (1980)
Confessions by Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1782)
The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner by James Hogg (1824)
Dianetics: the Modern Science of Mental Health by L Ron Hubbard (1950) (Might actually pick it up out of curiosity.)
The Doors of Perception by Aldous Huxley (1954) (I did read Brave New World.)
Dune by Frank Herbert (1965) * (and I own it too. Cool book)
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams (1979) ** (Meaning to read it. However, I could not get into Pratchett's first Discworld novel recently, and I hear Adams is similar, so it is not boding well. Then again, I think I was just not in the mood at the time, so may try later.)
The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test by Tom Wolfe (1968)
Fear of Flying by Erica Jong (1973)
The Female Eunuch by Germaine Greer (1970)
The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand (1943) * (It was ok, but it is nothing great.)
Gödel, Escher, Bach: an Eternal Golden Braid by Douglas R Hofstadter (1979)
Gravity’s Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon (1973)
The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail by Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh and Henry Lincoln (1982)
I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith (1948)
If on a Winter’s Night a Traveller by Italo Calvino (1979)
Iron John: a Book About Men by Robert Bly (1990)
Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach and Russell Munson (1970) * (Read it ages ago, in a Spanish edition. I may have to revisit it.)
The Magus by John Fowles (1966)
Labyrinths by Jorge Luis Borges (1962) * (I have read an awful lot of Borges. I bet a lot of so-called "cult book" readers can't say that, ha! And in Spanish too.)
The Leopard by Giuseppe di Lampedusa (1958)
The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov (1967)
No Logo by Naomi Klein (2000)
On The Road by Jack Kerouac (1957) * (Another overrated piece.)
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S Thompson (1971)
The Outsider by Colin Wilson (1956)
The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran (1923)
The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists by Robert Tressell (1914)
The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám tr by Edward FitzGerald (1859) *
The Road to Oxiana by Robert Byron (1937)
Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse (1922)
The Sorrows of Young Werther by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1774)
Story of O by Pauline Réage (1954)
The Stranger by Albert Camus (1942)
The Teachings of Don Juan: a Yaqui Way of Knowledge by Carlos Castaneda (1968) (This is another one I am curious about.)
Testament of Youth by Vera Brittain (1933)
Thus Spoke Zarathustra by Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche (1883-85)
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (1960) (This is kind of amazing. I was never forced to read it in school or college, and since I already know the story of Atticus Finch, I am not planning on reading it either. No incentive.)
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: an Inquiry into Values by Robert M Pirsig (1974) (Fifty-fifty chance I may pick this up someday. If it's like Kerouac though, I will likely drop it.)

Well, I got 8 books read. I may read two or three more on the list, mostly the ones I labeled as being curious about, but that is about it.

I found the prompt from the blog Ruminations.


jjohnshea said...

Try the Adams, I think he's pretty funny, though some seem to feel he's a little too 80s now. As for the Pratchett, Colour of Magic, is alright, but he doesn't really start writing great books until MORT which is where I'd suggest you start your Pratchett reading. And if you don't like that -- well plenty of other authors to enjoy out there.

Angel, librarian and educator said...

I will have to try the Adams then. Hmm, I may do that for Pratchett, and try something different. Thanks for stopping by. Best, and keep on blogging.