The Big Read

Back in 2003, BBC began a search for the U.K.’s 100 most beloved novels. Of course, you can’t really create a definitive list ranking the best of literature, but it’s worth a shot. I found the list circulating on Facebook notes this week. (A lot of these notes say that BBC stipulates most people have only read six out of the 100 books listed, but I haven’t found the original source behind that so I’m guessing it’s just a rumor.) I decided this would make an interesting blog post. I bolded the titles that I’ve read completely and italicized the ones I attempted or “read” for class.

1. Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen

2. The Lord of the Rings – J.R.R. Tolkien

3. Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte

4. Harry Potter series – J.K. Rowling (all)

5.  To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee

6. The Bible

7. Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte

8. Nineteen Eighty Four – George Orwell

9. His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman

10. Great Expectations – Charles Dickens

11. Little Women – Louisa May Alcott

12. Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy

13. Catch-22 – Joseph Heller

14. Complete Works of Shakespeare

15. Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier

16. The Hobbit – J.R.R. Tolkien

17. Birdsong – Sebastian Faulks

18. Catcher in the Rye – J.D. Salinger

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

23. Bleak House – Charles Dickens

24. War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy

25. The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams

26. Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh

27. Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky

28. Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck

29. Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll

30. The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame

31. Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy

32. David Copperfield – Charles Dickens

33. Chronicles of Narnia – C.S. Lewis

34. Emma – Jane Austen

35. Persuasion – Jane Austen

36. The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe – C.S. Lewis

37. The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini

38. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis De Berniere

39. Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden

40. Winnie the Pooh – A.A. Milne

41. Animal Farm – George Orwell

42. The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown

43. One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez

44. A Prayer for Owen Meaney – John Irving

45. The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins

46. Anne of Green Gables – L.M. Montgomery

47. Far From The Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy

48. The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood

49. Lord of the Flies – William Golding

50. Atonement – Ian McEwan

51. Life of Pi – Yann Martel

52. Dune – Frank Herbert

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

58. Brave New World – Aldous Huxley

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

73. The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett

74. Notes From A Small Island – Bill Bryson

75. Ulysses – James Joyce

76. The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath

77. Swallows and Amazons – Arthur Ransome

78. Germinal – Emile Zola

79. Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray

80. Possession – A.S. Byatt

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

86. A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry

87. Charlotte’s Web – E.B. White

88. The Five People You Meet In Heaven – Mitch Albom

89. Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

90. The Faraway Tree Collection – Enid Blyton

91. Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad

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

99. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl

100. Les Miserables – Victor Hugo

So overall, I’ve read 18 and attempted ten. So I’ve got some books to add to my winter break reading list, though I haven’t even heard about plenty of these! And to my defense, a lot of my favorites, like A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and The Bonesetter’s Daughter didn’t make the list. How many have you guys read? Which ones are your favorites? And do you have any book recommendations for Christmas?

~ Sarah

“Mischief Managed”

Hey everyone, I’m back from vacation and back in the blogosphere! Before we catch up though, I’d just like to thank you guys for reading my blog! This is actually my 50th blog post and I don’t know if I would’ve stuck with this if it wasn’t for all your support. So thank you again. 🙂

My vacation was really great. I got back Monday night, but it was utterly exhausting so it’s taken me awhile to get back to my daily routine. You know how it is after a trip. My friend Daniela and I took a train from Ft. Lauderdale up to Orlando, where we stayed with our friend Brittany, who’s a student at the University of Central Florida. I hadn’t been to Central Florida in a couple years (which is a long time for a Floridian!) so it was great going back. I let my inner-tourist out, especially during our trips to Downtown Disney and the beach.

Sunday was the main event. As some of you may have already guessed from this post’s title, our trip to Orlando wouldn’t have been complete without a visit to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, a new section at the Islands of Adventure theme park. And it was an absolute blast! It may have been over-crowded and as hot as the surface of the sun (read: heat index of 104° F) but it was so worth it. The rides and the food were great, and all the detailed attention put into the park really show. It was like walking right onto the movie set- maybe even better!

Below are a few of my snapshots from the trip:

First sighting of Hogsmeade!
Hogwarts Express
Entrance to Hogwarts Castle
Because Harry Potter obviously took place in a tropical climate.
Foreboding British Clouds
The Three Broomsticks
Butterbeer!
The Castle at Dusk

If you’re going to be in Central Florida anytime soon, I definitely recommend stopping by Islands of Adventures and seeing the new Harry Potter attractions. I tend to favor Disney when it comes to theme parks, just because I feel a stronger connection to the stories and characters behind the rides, but this just blew me away. Have any of you guys been to the park? And what has everyone been up to? I’d love to catch up with my readers!

~ Sarah

 

Book Review: Paper Towns

I’m sad to say I haven’t done much reading this summer. I know, my English teachers would be disappointed in me. I’ve started three different books, and I’ve only managed to finish one. (Not that the other ones were bad, they were just overdue at the library.) So this is why my first book review is coming towards the end of July.

Paper Towns was recommended to me by my friend Katie. She’s a big fan of author John Green, and she thought I would enjoy this novel in particular because it’s set in Florida. The main character is narrator Quentin Jacobsen, who goes by Q, who lives in a suburb of Orlando. His neighbor growing up was Margo Roth Spiegelman, the quintessential girl-next-door: beautiful, mysterious, and unattainable. Q is, of course, in love with Margo, and has been since they were childhood friends. They drifted apart though after a grim incident when they were in elementary school and haven’t been close since.

Orlando Map

That is until one school night weeks before graduation, when Margo appears outside of Q’s bedroom window. She’s on a mission and Q agrees to be her accomplice after little hesitation. And so the two set off on an adventure across Central Florida, enacting revenge on high school classmates and breaking into Sea World. It’s a night Q won’t soon forget, and he sincerely hopes that will bring him and Margo closer.

The next day Margo doesn’t show up at school. People aren’t worried at first- Margo, with her effortlessly cool and adventurous persona, has disappeared before. This time feels different for Q, and it’s not long before he starts finding clues Margo left for him. Soon Q decides that it’s up to him to find Margo, wherever she is. He gets help from his appropriately quirky and nerdy buddies, Ben and Radar, plus Margo’s best friend, Lacey.

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I didn’t have any expectations when I picked up Paper Towns. John Green is actually a pretty big name in the Young Adult publishing world, but I had never heard of him. Regardless, I absolutely devoured this book. I read it over two days, and it was hard for me to put it down. We’ve met the characters of Q and Margo before. He’s the quiet, smart kid- certainly no loner, but definitely not a “cool kid”. She’s the popular girl with a heart. Still, we get to know both of them intimately so they don’t feel like ordinary stock characters. The rest of the friends are the kind of people I would like to hang out with in real life- how often do you get to say that?

Another reason I loved Paper Towns is that it was about Florida, my Florida. For those of you who aren’t Florida (or even U.S.) natives, Florida is a state that is often misrepresented. It’s usually summed up by two things: Disney World and retirees. Instead, I know it is a flat, sprawling suburbia, with perfectly manicured lawns, streets lined with palm trees, and mega-high schools. This is the Florida that Green captures in Paper Towns, and he does it really well because he grew up here too.

Depending on your literature tastes, some of you may feel wary of picking up Paper Towns. I’ll admit I felt “meh” about it when I saw it was a young adult novel. However, just because this book is about teenagers doing teenager-y things, it doesn’t mean it reads like one. Green’s writing is very layered, so there’s psychological and literary perspectives on the characters and the plot. Still, it’s an easy read, and I’d recommend it for a day in, or even a trip to the pool or beach. It’s a nice change of pace from the usual “chick lit” targeted for girls my age.

What do you think? Have you read Paper Towns or any other books by John Green? What have you been reading this summer?

~ Sarah