13 June 2012

Take the Flavorwire 30 Before 30 Challenge, If You Dare

It's been at least 15 minutes since we've contended with one of those must-read lists, so let the games begin! Flavorwire just posted a "30 Books to Read Before You are 30" list, responding to a similar Divine Caroline piece. Conveniently, I still have a year and change to do something about these lists, so it's not too late to really make an impact. But should I bother?

Notes on the Flavorwire list:
  • 20.5 out of 30 isn't bad (the half-point is for reading THE ODYSSEY, but not THE ILIAD). 
  • Seeing somewhat of an emphasis on graphic novels between MAUS and GHOST WORLD.Two books out of thirty is significant -- not that I'm complaining,
  • It's a shame that the author had to point out that PRIDE AND PREJUDICE is important to read "even for guys." As if there's some kind of mythic Lady List out there. (No boys can like Jane Austen! Back in the clubhouse!)
  • I had no idea CAT'S CRADLE was Kurt Vonnegut's thesis. What an eternal badass.
  • The described "best book in the Western canon" is -- a stretch. 
  • All this said, I am surprised when I meet someone around my age who hasn't read 1984, THE SUN ALSO RISES, ON THE ROAD, THE CATCHER IN THE RYE, THE GREAT GATSBY, LORD OF THE FLIES, TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD and FAHRENHEIT 451. (There are certainly
And as for the Divine Caroline piece:
  • I did slightly worse on this - 18/30 - attributed to the works of classic nonfiction whose excerpts I didn't count as having read the whole book.
  • I had to look up FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS to figure out whether I had read it. Not an encouraging sign. (Although, once I did, I realized I had read it while I was in Spain and on a spree of "books about Spain.") 
  • THE MASTER AND MARGARITA was the book my old (as in previous) Russian teacher said was the essential volume of Russian lit. Take it as you will. (I still never got to it, because I was busy swooning over EUGENE ONEGIN because that's how I roll.)
  • But seriously: has anyone here actually read all of ON THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES? Elizabeth, this is your category to lose, I think!


Emily said...

22.5 for Flavorwire (I counted reading excerpts of Iliad and Odyssey, and am tempted to count reading SOME Flannery O'Connor although not the complete stories).

Re: Cat's Cradle, the entire reason I applied to U of Chicago is because they gave him his PhD for that book. It wasn't intended to be a thesis, they just did it in retrospect. Totally rad. (I didn't go there since their admissions officers told me to go somewhere else. Really.)

Only 12.5 (I didn't finish Wind and the Willows - I bought it on Kindle on my phone and just kept forgetting) on the other list. I don't think Origin of Species, Rights of Man, etc. should be allowed in a list like this. If you get the principles, isn't that enough? Am I being a philistine?

Emily said...

Wind in the willows, sorry.

Anonymous said...

How about taking a 30 before 30 travel challenge? Check this out and see how she did it...
30 Before 30: Traveling Under the Influence:


Marjorie said...

I haven't read all of ORIGIN OF SPECIES, but I have an illustrated edition that I'm very keen to get to when I find the time. There's been some convincing criticism written (Gillian Beer and Adam Gopnik are the names that chiefly come to mind) about the importance of Darwin's writing and how it shaped evolutionary thought, as well as how it's structured like a readable Victorian novel.

Anonymous said...

Origin of Species is actually not a bad read! It does require a certain amount of attention to the argument not to be bored by details about pigeons, but I found it pretty readable. 15 on the Divine Caroline list, 17 on Flavorwire (.5 for the Iliad, .5 for reading Don Quixote currently!). - Erin