Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Read me, Meme me ...but I hate memes!

Blogging is a cool way to develop a personal soapbox - I think that's what drew me in to creating on my own blog. A lot of other people use blogs as creative outlets, and forums for posting pictures and family info for relatives and friends. For those who develop friendships in the blogosphere, blogs can become a way to learn more about each other. I guess that's why "memes" have become so popular. [For the uninitiated, here's what Wikipedia has to say about the origin of meme - for internet purposes, basically it's a replicated unit of information.]

Memes have exploded all over the 'net, in social networking sites (ie, Facebook's "25 things about me" and the countless other quizzes and lists) as well as on blogs and such. In theory they can be interesting, revealing, and stimulating of further discussion. However, they have suffered the usual curse of the internet, gone "viral" - meaning that they are passed along so frequently they are as bad as these programs designed to attack your computer. They have evolved into the next generation of the "chain letter" - and are very often as poorly thought-out and repetitious.

The meme below about reading habits is supposedly from the BBC. However, if you look carefully, you'll notice repeated elements (such as The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, #36, appearing separately from its collected volume, The Chronicles of Narnia, #33), as well as an apparently random order, and some authors represented by multiple works (Dickens, Austen) whereas others are totally lacking (L. Frank Baum - The Wizard of Oz, Stephen King, The Brothers Grimm - you get my point). Plus some items are collected works, and others are short children's novellas - should they have equal weight? Who determines which authors are "classics" / worthwhile? These lists are often thrown together from very dubious sources, sometimes passed off as coming from "authorities" (ie, the BBC), and very lazily thrown together without thought toward organization.

If you haven't figured it out by now, I'm a bit anal.

Regardless, sometimes the content of memes IS worthwhile, whether to share info or to generate discussion. I chose to complete the meme below for both reasons. Although my complaints above demonstrate that I find it a poor example, I won't bother "cleaning it up" because part of the purpose of these memes is to see how your "progress" compares to your friends. Plus that is more work than I was looking for. I like being lazy too. I will take a little initiative - see the part in brackets below. Also - I refuse to "tag" anyone ... if you wanna "play" feel free, and please comment below with your results (and a link to yours, if you are posting anywhere).

---------------
READING MEME (follow-up to this entry, which spawned from this one)

The BBC believes most people will have only read 6 of the 100 books here. How do your reading habits stack up?

Instructions: Copy the list, and put an 'x' after those you have read, count 'em up, compare tallies. [My contribution - books marked "X-s" = read for school, many (but not all!) I would have avoided otherwise. "X-t" = book on tape. Also - see the bottom for other recommendations.]

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen (X-s)
2 The Lord of the Rings (X-t) (not sure if I would have had the patience to READ it!)
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte ()
4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling (X) (all 7!)
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee (X-s)

6 The Bible - () (not enough to include as "read" - either testament)
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Brontë ()
8 Nineteen Eighty-Four - George Orwell (X-s)
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman ()
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens () (read an excerpt only)

11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott ()
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy ()
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller ()
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare () (many works, but by no means all!)
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier ()

16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien (X-t)
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulk ()
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger (X)
19 The Time Traveller’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger ()
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot ()

21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell ()
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald (X-s)
23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens ()
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy ()
25 The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams (X) (and all the sequels)

26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh ()
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky (X)
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck (X-s)
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll (X-s)
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame ()

31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy ()
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens () (I tried - ugh!)
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis ()
34 Emma - Jane Austen ()
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen ()

36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis ()
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini ()
38 Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres ()
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden ()
40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne ()

41 Animal Farm - George Orwell (X-s)
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown ()
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez ()
44 A Prayer for Owen Meany - John Irving ()
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins ()

46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery ()
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy ()
48 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood ()
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding (X-s)
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan ()

51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel ()
52 Dune - Frank Herbert (X)
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons ()
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen ()
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth ()

56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon ()
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens (X-s)
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley (X-s)
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon ()
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez ()

61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck ()
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov ()
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt ()
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold ()
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas ()

66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac ()
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy ()
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding ()
69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie ()
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville ()

71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens ()
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker (X)
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett ()
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson ()
75 Ulysses - James Joyce ()

76 The Inferno – Dante (X)
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome ()
78 Germinal - Emile Zola ()
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray ()
80 Possession - AS Byat ()

81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens ()
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell ()
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker ()
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro ()
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert (X-s)

86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry ()
87 Charlotte’s Web - EB White ()
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom ()
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (X)
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton ()

91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad (X-s)
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery ()
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks ()
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams ()
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole ()

96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute ()
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas ()
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare (X-s)
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl (X)
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo ()


[For readability, I took the liberty of grouping them by 5's.]

Here's my tally: 24 - not bad, if the "average is 6"!

That's actually pretty conservative, considering I probably read additional Jane Austen and Dickens works, as well as MANY more Shakespeare plays not listed above. Quite surprising to see what is left off this list. It would be better represented by AUTHOR, maybe with a tally for how many different authors you have read, and then a separate tally for total # of works. That would shrink the list of 100 above down by at least 14.

What authors should be included? How about the following (which I have read):

  1. L. Frank Baum - The Wizard of Oz (and 13 sequels, read 1 so far)
  2. Nathaniel Hawthorne - The Scarlet Letter
  3. Homer - The Odyssey
  4. Jack London - White Fang
  5. Mary Shelley - Frankenstein
  6. Edgar Allen Poe - The Raven (and many other works)
  7. Mark Twain - A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court (and others)
  8. Arthur Miller - Death of a Salesman
  9. Stephen King - The Shining (among MANY others)
  10. Gregory Maguire - Wicked
  11. Robert Jordan - The Wheel of Time series (thru book 7 so far, I think)
  12. Thomas Harris - The Hannibal Lecter books (first 3 so far)
  13. Jim Butcher - The Dresden Files (just two so far, but newly-discovered)
  14. Esther Forbes - Johnny Tremain

Ok, I guess the last few are a bit weak. Especially if this really WAS a British-generated list originally [I'm guessing works about the American Revolution (#14) are not too popular!] Here are several other authors that should be on there (although I haven't read 'em all yet):
  • John Milton - Paradise Lost
  • Ayn Rand - Atlas Shrugged
  • Stephen Hawking - A Brief History of Time
  • Arthur C. Clarke - 2001
  • Robert A. Heinlein - Stranger in a Strange Land (I "grokked" via book on tape)
  • others in the SciFi genre, like Ray Bradbury, Isaac Asimov
  • what about ancient philosophers? Socrates, Aristotle, Plato
  • other famous authors - Graham Greene, Henry Miller, Harriet Beecher Stowe
  • And who can ignore all those classics by Dr. Seuss?!?

To each their own - so many more I could list.

At some point I will set up an account at Good Reads, which is supposed to be a good place for sharing book reviews and keeping track of your "to read" and "already read" lists. Any other recommendations out there?

How did you score on the reading meme?

Picture ripped from google images.

1 snide remarks:

Ron May 28, 2009 at 10:05 PM  

Bonzo, that was a great list you posted - turns out I've read 25 out of the hundred, much to my surprise! We're still coming in May, I'll send out an email about a week before we leave.

4/19/2009 11:28 AM

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