The Booklovers Project – A Perpetual Challenge


A Perpetual Challenge with no time limits

Amanda at The Zen Leaf is hosting this project. She writes:

Last year, the lovely Ana of Things Mean a Lot introduced me to the song “The Booklovers” by The Divine Comedy. I adore this song, and while listening to it recently, I started to wonder about some of the authors it touches on. If you’ve not heard the song, it lists literary authors from hundreds of years ago to the present, and as it calls their names, they each respond. Their responses often have to do with their books, their relationships, and/or the perception we have of them. For all those authors I’ve read, I understand their responses, but many of the responses from writers I’ve never read go completely over my head.

Hence, this project. I’ve never been tempted to try to read every author off any other list – awards lists, BBC top 100 list, ML top 100, 1001 books to read before you die, etc. But this list, these 73 authors – I want to be sure to try each of them, and then to come to understand their lines in “The Booklovers.”

Here is the list (with some extra credit authors tagged onto the bottom). I will BOLD the ones I have completed and add comments and links to my reviews (where relevant). Some I have read previous to the project, and according to the rules I can count these as “complete.”

  1. Aphra Benn
  2. Cervantes
  3. Daniel Defoe
  4. Samuel Richardson
  5. Henry Fielding
  6. Lawrence Sterne
  7. Mary Wolstencraft
  8. Jane Austen – I am not a huge Austen fan, but I have read a couple of her books including Pride and Prejudice, and Northanger Abbey. I do want to read more from this author at some point just because.
  9. Sir Walter Scott
  10. Leo Tolstoy - LOVE Tolstoy. I gobbled up War and Peace back in the late 80s and was completely enthralled by Anna Karenina. I have also read his novellas Family Happiness and The Death of Ivan Ilyich.
  11. Honore de Balzac
  12. Edgar Allen Poe – Another terrific writer. Murder in the Rue Morgue scared the bejesus out of me in high school. I’ve read quite a few of Poe’s works over the years, but nothing recently.
  13. Charlotte Bronte
  14. Emily Bronte
  15. Anne Bronte
  16. Nikolai Gogol – I have read a short story by this author. I really liked The Overcoat (read my review) and this made me want to read more by this author in the future.
  17. Gustav Flaubert
  18. William Makepeace Thackeray
  19. Nathaniel Hawthorne
  20. Herman Melville
  21. Charles Dickens – In high school I read A Tale of Two Cities (loved it) and A Christmas Carol. In January 2008, I read Great Expectations (read my review) which I didn’t love. I have several of Dickens’ novels in my TBR stacks…so I plan on reading more of his work.
  22. Anthony Trollope – Thanks to the Classics Circuit, I read The Warden in 2010 (read my review). This was one of Trollope’s shorter novels (and the first in his Barchester series). It is quite Victorian in style – and although I didn’t love it, I thought it was a worthy read.
  23. Fyodor Dostoevsky – I read and enjoyed Crime and Punishment back in 2004 or 2005 (before I began reviewing books). I have The Brothers Karamazov in my TBR stacks.
  24. Mark Twain
  25. George Eliot
  26. Emile Zola - Again thanks to the Classics Circuit, I am able to check this one off my list. I read Therese Raquin in April 2010 (read my review) and was impressed with how accessible Zola’s writing is to modern readers.
  27. Henry James
  28. Thomas Hardy
  29. Joseph Conrad
  30. Katherine Mansfield
  31. Edith Wharton - I am a big Wharton fan. I loved Ethan Frome – one of her darker works (read my review), and appreciated House of Mirth (read my review). Although I did not review it, The Age of Innocence is probably my least favorite novel by Wharton thus far. I also read (and thoroughly enjoyed) The Writing of Fiction (read my review) which is a non fiction book by Wharton.
  32. DH Lawrence
  33. EM Forster
  34. James Joyce
  35. Virginia Woolf
  36. Marcel Proust
  37. F Scott Fitzgerald
  38. Ernest Hemingway – I am sure I read Hemingway in high school, but I can’t remember what. In 2007 I read For Whom the Bell Tolls which I had mixed feelings about (read my review). I am not keen to read a whole lot more from this author.
  39. Hermann Hesse
  40. Evelyn Waugh
  41. William Faulkner
  42. Anais Nin
  43. Ford Maddox Ford
  44. Jean-Paul Sartre
  45. Simone de Beauvoir
  46. Albert Camus
  47. Franz Kafka
  48. Thomas Mann
  49. Graham Greene
  50. Jack Kerouac – I attempted to read The Town and The City some years ago. I think I made it through 100 pages before tossing it aside. I couldn’t relate to Kerouac’s style at all and don’t have any motivation to try him again.
  51. William S Burroughs
  52. Kingsley Amis
  53. Doris Lessing
  54. Vladimir Nabokov
  55. William Golding
  56. JG Ballard
  57. Richard Brautigan
  58. Milan Kundera
  59. Ivy Compton Burnett
  60. Paul Theroux – I’ve only read a short story by this author – so I’m not crossing him off the list yet. I read Mr. Bones (read my review) which impressed me with its stunning, vivid writing. I’d like to eventually read a novel by Theroux.
  61. Gunter Grass
  62. Gore Vidal
  63. John Updike – Some years ago I attempted to read Rabbit, Run (the first in the Rabbit series by this author). I read 1/2 the book before ditching it. I really couldn’t get into the author’s writing style. I don’t plan on reading more from this author…but I could be convinced to try if someone pointed out a novel by him that they loved.
  64. Kazuro Ishiguro
  65. Malcolm Bradbury
  66. Iain Banks
  67. AS Byatt - In May 2005, I read The Children’s Book (read my review) which I loved, loved, loved. I am definitely planning on reading more from Byatt.
  68. Martin Amis
  69. Brett Easton Ellis
  70. Umberto Eco
  71. Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  72. Roddy Doyle
  73. Salman Rushdie - I read Midnight’s Children in May 2009 (read my review) … and although Rushdie is certainly brilliant, the magical realism and complex themes lost me a bit.

Extra Credit Authors:

  • Thomas Pynchon
  • John Irving - Irving is one of my all time favorite authors. The list of books by him which I’ve read is lengthy: The World According to Garp, The Hotel New Hampshire (one of my favorites), The Cider House Rules, A Prayer for Owen Meany (another favorite – read my review), A Widow for One Year, Until I Find You (disappointing), and Last Night In Twisted River (read my review). I am working my way through all of his books, and will probably re-read a few of them.
  • Ayn Rand
  • Truman Capote - In high school I read In Cold Blood – an amazing book. In July 2007 I read a wonderful novella titled Summer Crossing (read my review). Then in May 2008, I read a bizarre book by Capote: Other Voices, Other Rooms (read my review) which had I read first, I would never pick up another book by this author!
  • Haruki Murakami – I’ve only read a short story by this author: Landscape with Flat Iron (read my review) – so I’m not crossing him off my list yet.
  • Victor Hugo
  • Toni Morrison - I’ve read Song of Solomon by this Noble Laureate and found it beautiful (read my review). I plan on reading more from Morrison.
  • Tobias Woolf
  • Dave Eggers
  • Norman Mailer
  • Philip Roth
  • Orhan Pamuk
  • Jose Saramago


9 thoughts on “The Booklovers Project – A Perpetual Challenge”

  1. If you are looking for a Paul Theroux to strike that one off, THE MOSQUITO COAST is a quick and fascinating read. There is also the added bonus of a quite serviceable movie adaptation with Harrison Ford, so you get the book/movie comparison thing going as well, which is always good fun.

  2. Kailana: Thanks!

    Monica: I agree – a lot of those authors are ones I have been wanting to read at some point.

    The Reading Ape: Thanks for the recommendation! THE MOSQUITO COAST is one that I have had on my wish list – good to know it was one you enjoyed!

    Jillian: Thanks! It is always fun to customize, isn’t it?

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