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message 1: by Kristel (new)

Kristel (kristelh) | 4207 comments Mod
Sometimes we have things that doesn't fit under one of the other thread. This is the place to make those comments.


message 2: by Jen (new)

Jen | 1608 comments Mod
I had the opportunity to meet up with Tracy when she was visiting Boston. We got iced chocolates at a Cambridge chocolate place and then visited the Harvard bookstore. Then I got completely lost taking her home so she got to see some areas of Boston that no tourists ever see :) I love meeting fellow 1001 members. I had a great time meeting one of my book twins- I should say book triplet

I'll be in Denver we'd-Sunday if anyone is there.

I've now met Tracy and Sashinka-- both at the same place. I really love chocolate


message 3: by John (new)

John Seymour Jen wrote: "I've now met Tracy and Sashinka-- both at the same place. I really love chocolate "

If I ever get to Cambridge again we'd need to find someplace else to meet. I'm allergic to chocolate. :-)


message 4: by John (new)

John Seymour The discussion at the end of the July thread got me thinking: For you, what are the qualities that puts a book on your "worst" list?


message 5: by Dianne (new)

Dianne | 194 comments For me, it's anything that is considered 'chick lit'


message 6: by Tracy (new)

Tracy (tstan) | 559 comments It was an adventure! It was wonderful to meet you and Miss E., who is, by the way, a beautiful young lady inside and out. And the chocolate was delicious! I felt like I was meeting an old friend for the first time this weekend. Thanks!


message 7: by Jen (new)

Jen | 1608 comments Mod
Tracy wrote: "It was an adventure! It was wonderful to meet you and Miss E., who is, by the way, a beautiful young lady inside and out. And the chocolate was delicious! I felt like I was meeting an old friend fo..."

I felt the same way and loved meeting your lovely family too, if only briefly.


message 8: by Jen (last edited Aug 02, 2016 08:40AM) (new)

Jen | 1608 comments Mod
John wrote: "The discussion at the end of the July thread got me thinking: For you, what are the qualities that puts a book on your "worst" list?"

For me...
Graphic sex and/or violence without a strong reason for it. It doesn't always bother me as long as it's integral to the plot or message but when included for the simple reason of being scandalous or controversial it makes me loose respect for the author.

Like Dianne, I dislike books labeled chick-lit and to be honest, I find the term rather offensive. As if it's appropriate that books about women and growth of women should be lumped into a special category that is stereotypically characterized by fluffy plots and women who love to spend their days shopping and gossiping.

Boring books with plots that meander endlessly with little point - aka The Handkes of the world. Sorry, I know some people love his works but I find his particularly style to be sleep inducing.

Graphic details of animal torture/killing. I've put some books down when they contain this kind of material.

Racist, sexist or other "ist" books.


message 9: by Jen (last edited Aug 02, 2016 08:42AM) (new)

Jen | 1608 comments Mod
John wrote: " I'm allergic to chocolate...". Really? You're the first person I've heard about being allergic. Luckily Cambridge and Boston are filled with great places so I'm sure we could find something. Would love to meet you in person!

I also love wine, coffee, and cheese. If only my food passions were healthier.


message 10: by John (new)

John Seymour I also don't like graphic sex, violence or language and will often simply not read a book if that is its focus or essence. But if it's handled well or integral to the story, like in Animal's People, I can move over it. But to get on my worst list you have to write lies. Literature is, to me, using fiction to unveil truth, or at least trying. Some books, like Gone with the Wind, use the writer's art to peddle lies, gross, unforgiveable lies. That earns a spot on my worst list.

As far as "-isms" or "-ists," if it is true to the setting of the story, it doesn't bother me; it might bother me if it wasn't there. And if it is reflective of the period in which written, I might think it's past its sell-by date, but it seems anachronistic to put it on a worst list for that.


message 11: by Kristel (new)

Kristel (kristelh) | 4207 comments Mod
I dislike graphic sex, extreme violence and I struggle with bad language, mostly because this stuff gets in your thoughts and stays there.


message 12: by Jen (last edited Aug 02, 2016 11:31AM) (new)

Jen | 1608 comments Mod
John wrote:
As far as "-isms" or "-ists," if it is true to the setting of the story, it doesn't bother me; it might bother me if it wasn't there. And if it is reflective of the period in which written, I might think it's past its sell-by date, but it seems anachronistic to put it on a worst list for that.


I guess I should clarify. Taking the example of sexism, I do allow for the time period of the story in how authors talk about men and women and that isn't something that will merit a negative mark from me. It's more the explicit sexism, racism that goes beyond what would be expected from the time period and the type that seems to represent the author's specific thoughts rather than societal norms of the time. That is what I mean when I say racist/sexist books being on my worst list.

I'll also say that Thomas Hardy wrote in the late 1800s and his books portrayed views of women and men that were sophisticated and more equitable than some writers today. So when I read books where racist/sexist/homophobic view points come across strongly and appear to be part of the author's point of view (rather than a critique or part of the setting of the story), I am less likely to excuse them and more likely to think that the author is clearly not very sophisticated in his/her thinking.


message 13: by Pip (new)

Pip | 1448 comments I have a hard time with fantasy and science fiction. At the Mountain of Madness and Titus Groan were two books that I really struggled to finish. Rushdie's Grimus was another I really disliked. I am dreading Midnight's Children because I have twice started and abandoned it. I have to admit that I enjoy graphic sex scenes! However Season of Migration to the North was full of silly sex scenes that I loathed.


message 14: by Tracy (new)

Tracy (tstan) | 559 comments It's almost as hard to explain what is "bad" as it is what is "good"! Graphic violence, child abuse (especially sexual), and animal abuse are definitely difficult for me to read, as are graphic sex scenes that are for shock value. I also have trouble with excessive use of the "c" word, but I can get over that if the writing is good.
For the most part, I like short stories, graphic novels, poetry and stream of consciousness the least, but there are exceptions to these. Oh- no political extreme propaganda or ghostwritten celebutant memoirs!


message 15: by Paula (new)

Paula S (paula_s) | 220 comments A bad book to me is a book that feels like I wasted time reading it. Often that is because of badly written characters. Characters that do things because the author uses stereotypes to guide the characters actions instead of creating a believable personality that acts from its own motivations. Some authors do that well, Agatha Christie is one author who always uses stereotypes to create her characters and manages to make them come to life anyway, but she's an exception.

I also agree on stupid,unnecessary sex scenes, excessive violence, and willful racism and sexism. Grimus was definitely one book that suffered from that, mostly because the author seems so oblivious to the fact that what he wrote was in any way offensive...


message 16: by Diane (new)

Diane Zwang | 1289 comments Mod
Well August is wicked month, I managed to delete my whole challenge point list by accident. I have managed to reconstruct it but now my points don't match. John, I think you will have to create a new link for me since the old one no longer works. Sigh...


message 17: by John (new)

John Seymour It is shockingly easy to delete posts here. As an Admin, that scares me. No problem on the new link - I should be able to fix that this weekend.


message 18: by Diane (new)

Diane Zwang | 1289 comments Mod
Thanks for understanding and it is shockingly easy. I have trouble figuring out if the delete button is for the post above or below. I think it is bad placement.


message 19: by Sallys (new)

Sallys | 38 comments Jen wrote: "John wrote: " I'm allergic to chocolate...". Really? You're the first person I've heard about being allergic. Luckily Cambridge and Boston are filled with great places so I'm sure we could find som..."
Would love to go for a glass of wine with you if you.re ever in NYC>


message 20: by Jen (new)

Jen | 1608 comments Mod
Sounds great Sally! I go to NYC about 3-4 times a year. I might be there in November. I will let you know.


message 21: by John (new)

John Seymour Jen wrote: "John wrote: " I'm allergic to chocolate...". Really? You're the first person I've heard about being allergic. Luckily Cambridge and Boston are filled with great places so I'm sure we could find som..."

It's not truly an allergy - I don't swell up, it's not life threatening, but I do have an adverse reaction to chocolate. It's probably not to cocoa because I have had some chocolate (unknowingly) that I didn't have the reaction. And sometimes I've had the reaction without, as far as I knew, having chocolate. So probably some other ingredient that is most frequently found in chocolate. It's easier to say "I'm allergic."


message 22: by John (new)

John Seymour Sashinka, that's one of the reasons I haven't spent a lot of time and energy figuring out exactly what's up. It's easier to just avoid a food group and I am in a constant (and most often losing) battle with my weight as it is.

Australia is on the list for our post-retirement trip, though that is sadly still many years away.


message 23: by Jen (new)

Jen | 1608 comments Mod
Hi all,
Another question for the group. Kristel mentioned this a few weeks ago in responding to another question...

The 1001 list hasn't been updated in a while. If you were one of the editors, which books would you add to the list (books published since the last edition: 2010)? Why would you add those books?


message 24: by Tracy (new)

Tracy (tstan) | 559 comments Religious texts, Shakespeare, The Iliad and The Odyssey, Beowulf, Grimm's Fairy Tales, and the Ancient Greek Plays (e.g. Lysistrata) for starters! So many of the novels we read are retellings of these stories, and none of them are on the list. (Maybe they should have a prerequisite list of reading material for the 1001 list??)

As far as fiction goes, I would add one of Ray Bradbury's short story collections, since he was truly a master of them, A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra (although The Tsar of Love and Techno would be acceptable, too!), and Homegoing by Gyaasi. For starters.

I've noticed a surge in graphic Memoirs, and though I haven't read many, Persepolis and Hyperbole and a Half stand out the most. Allie Brosh gives the best definition of depression I've ever seen in H&1/2- it's even used in college Psych classes.


message 25: by Dianne (new)

Dianne | 194 comments Wait are the new book suggestions supposed to be post 2010?

I'm amazed at how many on the current 1001 I have never heard of ! Which is great except for those that are hard to get ahold of.


message 26: by Jen (new)

Jen | 1608 comments Mod
Tracy wrote: "Religious texts, Shakespeare, The Iliad and The Odyssey, Beowulf, Grimm's Fairy Tales, and the Ancient Greek Plays (e.g. Lysistrata) for starters! So many of the novels we read are retellings of th..."


I think Shakespeare and others are out b/c they are not novels although the list does include some epic poems so seems inconsistent.

Interesting idea graphic memoirs. I loved Persepolis.


message 27: by Jen (new)

Jen | 1608 comments Mod
Dianne wrote: "Wait are the new book suggestions supposed to be post 2010?

yes, that's what I was thinking although you are welcome to make other suggestions too. I was thinking post 2010 since that is the last edition of the Boxell book that was published.



message 28: by Kristel (new)

Kristel (kristelh) | 4207 comments Mod
I would make this comment or rather question; if you are going to be a editor of a book like 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die, "What criteria do you think should be used?"
Do you think the criteria that the original book stated it used is accurate? The editors said that they selected books that contributed to the development of the novel. I think Tracy's point is valid that they are foundations of the stories that we read today but really, should it include plays?


message 29: by Paula (new)

Paula S (paula_s) | 220 comments There is a Swedish version of the 1001 books to read before you die and the editor for that has taken a different track. He lists texts (not necessarily books) that he thinks everyone should know about. So he includes books in the Bible (like Genesis), influential children's books, political and scientific texts, as well as the most important novels. Not all texts he includes are things most people want to read (among other things he includes Mein Kampf, for it's political influence), but it's all texts that people should know about. I think his criteria makes for a more useful book for the general reader.


message 30: by Book (new)

Book Wormy | 2064 comments Mod
Kristel wrote: "I would make this comment or rather question; if you are going to be a editor of a book like 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die, "What criteria do you think should be used?"
Do you think the ..."


In terms of this 1001 I would also argue that multiple books by the same author should be ruled out as what does the next book add to the development of the novel? Although I could never choose just 1 Dickens to stay on the list or Murakami for that matter.

If I was making the list I would say books should be either original, stand the test of time (think Dickens), should teach us about a time and place (The Diary of Anne Frank) or are important in terms of world history/culture and understanding others.

I would not add books that have nothing more to recommend them than how disgusting they are (Story of the Eye, Crash, Piano Teacher I could rant on)


message 31: by Kristel (new)

Kristel (kristelh) | 4207 comments Mod
I think I've found a way to improve GR participation for myself. I am having such a hard time as I don't get the emails (that I used) when keeping up and I don't get reminders of groups unless I've commented on a thread recently, but if I use the app group setting, I can see all the topics and the unread, etc. This might fix my problem.


message 32: by Jen (new)

Jen | 1608 comments Mod
I would add the following books to the list if we interpret as contributing to the development of the novel:

A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James
The Sellout by Paul Beatty
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone or the complete Harry Potter - the reason for this being the way it brought children's and young adult genre into great popularity again with both children and adults reading the books


message 33: by Jen (new)

Jen | 1608 comments Mod
Book wrote: "Kristel wrote: "I would make this comment or rather question; if you are going to be a editor of a book like 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die, "What criteria do you think should be used?"
D..."


I don't think multiple books by the same author is necessarily a problem but depends on the author. I do agree that too many Dickens are on the list and they are not sufficiently different to each be contributing to the development of the novel. Some authors write very different sorts of books that each may contribute to the development of the novel in very different ways. Of course I'm blanking on a good example of that right now


message 34: by Kristel (new)

Kristel (kristelh) | 4207 comments Mod
I agree about Harry Potter and I would add, the author wrote the book at the level of the reader (age of the Harry Potter) that school year. I am really impressed with the series. Reading the last of the series right now.


message 35: by Kristel (new)

Kristel (kristelh) | 4207 comments Mod
One example of author different work would be Iain Banks, wrote SF and other. And I think would be Edna O'Brien. In the Forest is totally different from The Country Girls and August is a Wicked Month. (Probably not the best examples but came to mind quickly)


message 36: by Book (new)

Book Wormy | 2064 comments Mod
Kristel wrote: "One example of author different work would be Iain Banks, wrote SF and other. And I think would be Edna O'Brien. In the Forest is totally different from The Country Girls and August is a Wicked Mon..."

Would add Ian McEwan as his books are all different from each other.


message 37: by Jen (new)

Jen | 1608 comments Mod
Yes! Those are great examples


message 38: by John (new)

John Seymour Though I suspect Jen of asking this question in part to push my buttons, why not rise to the bait?

The first edition was a fail in several ways, if measured by the standards claimed by the author. First, if these are the works that contributed to the development of the art form known as the novel, then the title is a marketing lie. For surely no one except university literature faculty "must read" 1,001 books "contributing to the development of the novel." For the rest of us, who cares? The rest of us would want to read the 1,001 best books in the world, or at least some learned individual's perception of that standard. Perhaps Boxall felt that was too subjective.

Assuming his explanation of the criteria was correct, there are some pretty glaring absences: Homer, for example. Yes, yes, Homer is epic poetry, not a novel. But, (1) why can't a novel be in the form of an epic poem, (2) even if an epic poem is not a novel, surely the Homeric stories were seminal in the development of the novel, and (3) Eugene Onegin. Then there is the exclusion of the Bible. I do not believe there is any other work that has been or continues to be the inspiration of more novels, of more great literature than the Bible. If your criteria is really the development of the novel, then you cannot ignore the Bible. Finally, Shakespeare. The Bard essentially invented modern English and there is a treasure trove of great literature that you cannot hope to fully understand if you are not familiar with Shakespeare's work.

Then there is the delicious fact that Boxall's book was severely criticized for being too Anglocentric. That lead to a major revision in the list in which about a quarter of the list was dropped and replaced with such earthshaking literary masterpieces as Matigari and The Taebek Mountains. However good these books might be, no one can seriously claim that they have impacted the development of the novel.

The book that would be worthy of this title would, IMHO, be a list of books that some group of worthies felt uniquely revealed aspects of the human condition. My working definition of history is true facts used to tell lies and of literature as false facts used to tell truth; maybe even Truth. To me, a list of the 1,001 Books That You Must Read Before You Die would be a list of the 1,001 books that revealed truth about the human condition. It would include a fair number of the books on Boxall's list, but also Homer, the Bible, Dante, Shakespeare, Locke, Montesquieu, Adam Smith, Darwin (this is obviously going well beyond literature, but I think they still meet my criteria). Published in English, it would include only works written in or translated into English, so it might include Matigari, but it wouldn't include The Taebek Mountains.

But until that book comes along, this one will have to do.


message 39: by Jen (new)

Jen | 1608 comments Mod
John wrote: "Though I suspect Jen of asking this question in part to push my buttons, why not rise to the bait?

Why would you think that? All I asked was what books people would add to the list that have been published since 2010. Kristel then added the question about what kind of criteria should be used.

I don't disagree with anything you have stated. In fact, you and I feel the same way about the list so I certainly wasn't trying to push any buttons but simply curious to see what other books people would add from recent years since we are waiting on the next edition.


message 40: by Jen (new)

Jen | 1608 comments Mod
and for the record, I wish it was a list of books with the criteria you mentioned. It was Boxell who stated it was specifically put together as a list of books that advanced the novel. A problematic statement considering that it includes some epic poems and numerous books that did little to advance the novel.

It does make me wonder how people answer the question "does it belong on the list." I always try to answer it as if considering Boxell's original intent - does the book advance the novel -- while ignoring the multiple inconsistencies to that purpose in the rest of his list.


message 41: by John (last edited Aug 20, 2016 07:24PM) (new)

John Seymour Jen wrote: "John wrote: "Though I suspect Jen of asking this question in part to push my buttons, why not rise to the bait?

Why would you think that? All I asked was what books people would add to the list th..."


Similar topics came up when we were on Shelfari, and I've stated my views pretty strongly there. No criticism was intended and it was aiming for tongue in cheek.


message 42: by John (new)

John Seymour Jen wrote: "
It does make me wonder how people answer the question "does it belong on the list." I always try to answer it as if considering Boxell's original intent - does the book advance the novel -- while ignoring the multiple inconsistencies to that purpose in the rest of his list. "


I think Boxall's stated intent is academic turd-polishing to dress up the obvious marketing focus of the book. So I feel entirely free to use the criteria implied by the title of the book: Is this a Book You Must (i.e., ought to) Read Before You Die? Advancing the idea of the novel, whatever the heck that means, doesn't enter into it.


message 43: by Jen (new)

Jen | 1608 comments Mod
John wrote: "Jen wrote: "John wrote: "Though I suspect Jen of asking this question in part to push my buttons, why not rise to the bait?

Why would you think that? All I asked was what books people would add to..."


not upset, just curious. The intent of my original question was really just about soliciting ideas for new books that should be added but the following discussion diverged from there. it wasn't really intended to be a controversial question. You know me, I never push your buttons :)

In all seriousness, I agree with you for the most part on the list and its limitations.


message 44: by Jen (last edited Aug 20, 2016 08:55PM) (new)

Jen | 1608 comments Mod
John wrote: "I think Boxall's stated intent is academic turd-polishing to dress up the obvious marketing focus of the book. So I feel entirely free to use the criteria implied by the title of the book: Is this a Book You Must (i.e., ought to) Read Before You Die? Advancing the idea of the novel, whatever the heck that means, doesn't enter into it."

While your comment made me laugh, I think this is perhaps where we diverge in our thinking very slightly.

I do think that the academic question of how we define a novel and and how it has developed over time is an interesting question (at least it is to me). The problem is that I don't think Boxell was particularly successful in that task for the reasons you mention above. I also agree with you that it is largely a marketing ploy.

I'd like to read a list of books that follow the criteria you mention: books that reveal the human condition. Maybe that's more along the lines of what the Times 100 list does. Yet, I also like the idea of a list that attempts to capture the novel in all its forms including examples of classics, post-modern, noir, etc. Maybe that's because I am an academic so I find these sorts of questions interesting. As much as I have disliked some of the books on the list, I have been exposed to new forms and styles as I have made my way through the list.


message 45: by Tracy (new)

Tracy (tstan) | 559 comments Maybe his intentions were mis-stated. I agree that I have been exposed to styles and genres I may not have seen before- some wonderful, some not so much. Maybe that was his intention: to expose the general reader to books that broaden the reading experience. And to force us to read lots of Beckett.
I still think there should be a list of material to read before you read the list, or any book, so those religious, Shakespearian, ancient, epic, mythological and fairy tale references are caught more readily.


message 46: by Kristel (new)

Kristel (kristelh) | 4207 comments Mod
There are so many lists out there to read. I like that this list is long and different than other lists. I think any basic literature college course covers what John lists. At least mine did and I agree that those are the foundations for truly study and appreciation of the novel. I agree that non translated books should be left off the list. I also believe that one does not need so much exposure to Beckett.


message 47: by Kristel (new)

Kristel (kristelh) | 4207 comments Mod
There are so many lists out there to read. I like that this list is long and different than other lists. I think any basic literature college course covers what John lists. At least mine did and I agree that those are the foundations for truly study and appreciation of the novel. I agree that non translated books should be left off the list. I also believe that one does not need so much exposure to Beckett.


message 48: by John (new)

John Seymour Jen wrote: "John wrote: "I think Boxall's stated intent is academic turd-polishing to dress up the obvious marketing focus of the book. ..." While your comment made me laugh, I think this is perhaps where we diverge in our thinking very slightly.

I do think that the academic question of how we define a novel and and how it has developed over time is an interesting question (at least it is to me). The problem is that I don't think Boxell was particularly successful in that task for the reasons you mention above. I also agree with you that it is largely a marketing ploy."


I think it is a worthy question and acknowledge that it could be of interest to some non-academics; but it has little to do with the actual list and nothing at all to do with the title. And that was before his scurrying to respond to the PC police. I have lots of issues that interest me, but most of the articles and books addressing them don't belong on a list of things that must be read before you die.


message 49: by John (new)

John Seymour Kristel wrote: "I think any basic literature college course covers what John lists. At least mine did and I ..."

Maybe. But not everyone studies literature in college. I, regretfully, only took the one required course in my last year (and it covered little of what I am referring to). But perhaps not so regretfully, it was taught by a great adjunct professor who left me with a recognition that great literature is not boring and a desire to read more broadly and more deeply.


message 50: by Kristel (new)

Kristel (kristelh) | 4207 comments Mod
Yes, that was not a good assumption on my part. My basic humanities was fantastic but having a great instructor is better.


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