At some point in 2003, I made a list of books I wanted to read. These lists always intrigue me because when I go back to look them, I've inevitably forgotten why on earth half the books were even on there, and have certainly never read all the books. So here's an update on those 11 books in particular:
Books I actually read:
Mme Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
Ahh, this was one of those immensely memorable reads for me. As in, I remember exactly what I was doing around the time I read it, and how I felt. I remember also how the little book itself felt in my hands - it was such an unusual edition, a tiny, almost square hardback with a green and white checked cover. It looked more like a diary than a book. I read it in the original French, I'm happy to say.
The Reader - Bernhard Schlink
My memory is very hazy here, but I think this is about an affair of a young man with an older woman (teacher?) and it's very readable and rather touching.
La gloire de mon pere - Marcel Pagnol
This book was so pointless. At the time, all I noted was: I didn't love this. It read more like an episode of his childhood rather than a novel, though it was touching at times. However, my memory of it is more negative than that; I remember being bored throughout.
Love's executioner and other tales of Psychotherapy - Irvin D. Yalom
I read this (a collection of stories based on Yalom's experience as a therapist) and thoroughly enjoyed it. The Girl has suggested Neitzsche Wept, his novel, which I will be eagerly adding to my current to-be-read list.
Book I started but didn't finish:
A short treatise on the great virtues - Andre Comte-Sponville
I did read some of this, but it was a bit heavy-going - a little too didactic for my taste I suppose - and the translation from French into English was cumbersome. And perhaps I couldn't quite get over the fact he proposed politeness to be the first great virtue.
How the mind works - Steven Pinker
I think my officemate put me off reading this. I was an impressionable first year, he was a self-assured third year, and he said Pinker was arrogant. I quickly abandoned his books.
The Master and His Margarita - Mikhail Bulgakov (in Russian)
I didn't get beyond where I was 4 years ago, I'm afraid. I think the trick is to admit defeat and read it in translation. A man on the bus tried to chat me up the other day while I was reading Flaubert's Parrot (Julian Barnes), and his pick-up lines consisted of 1) asking whether I was reading 1984, because my copy of Flaubert's Parrot confusingly had the year of publication printed in huge print on the jacket, and 2) extolling the virtues of The Master and His Margarita. The latter impressed me, but the fact that he hadn't heard of Flaubert did not.
Books I haven't even started:
Mrs Dalloway - Virginia Woolf
I've read and studied To The Lighthouse instead for now, but this is one to return to in future.
Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha - Roddy Doyle
Never got round to reading this - I might do one day, but it's hardly a priority.
To the promised land - a history of Zionist thought - David J. Goldberg
OK, I'm a bad Jew (see below). I haven't read any books on Zionism. Ever.
The Fateful Triangle - Noam Chomsky
I got ticked off from many sides for including this on the list. I was just being controversial. Also, wanted to see what all the fuss was about - why people had such extreme reactions. I guess I still don't know.