Wednesday, 10 November 2010

The BBC figures most people will have read about 6 of the 100 books here.

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Stuff and Nonsense by Amy Cockram is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 UK: England & Wales License.

I just found this in a friend's Facebook notes, and thought that I would see how many I have read.

You are meant to put an X by ones you have read. In true book geek fashion, I have annotated the list with a few comments.

My score is quite high, but this might be due to enforced reading at 6th form and university. A few of these I would never have finished if I didn't have to (Thomas Hardy - sorry Alicia)

I'd be interested to know other people's count in the comment section - or if anyone thinks there is a book on the list that I haven't read, which I really should get around to.

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen

2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien (started it a couple of times in school summer holidays, never finished it)

3 Jane Eyre -Charlotte Bronte X

4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling X

5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee X

6 The Bible X

7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte (started it, never got past the dull opening)

8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell X

9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman X

10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens

11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott (bleurgh)

12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy X (not voluntarily - for A levels, and I loathed it)

13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller X

14 Complete Works of Shakespeare (bits of it)

15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier X

16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien (started it, got annoyed by his writing style)

17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks

18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger X (I think that I might have been too old when I read it, as I found Holden profoundly annoying and was ready to slap him if he used the word phoney one more time)

19 The Time Traveller’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger X (too sad)

20 Middlemarch - George Eliot

21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell

22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald X

23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens X

24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy

25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams X (yay!)

26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh

27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky

28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck

29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll (I think I read it when I was a child, but I'm not positive. I did have it on audiobook being read, I think, by the brilliant Willie Rushton)

30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame X

31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy

32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens

33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis X

34 Emma - Jane Austen (on my bookshelves to read)

35 Persuasion - Jane Austen

36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis X

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 - AA Milne

41 Animal Farm - George Orwell X

42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown X

43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez

44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving

45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins (it's been on my bookshelves for ages, but I haven't read it yet)

46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery

47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy

48 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood X

49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding X

50 Atonement - Ian McEwan

51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel

52 Dune - Frank Herbert

53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons X (very funny)

54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen X (again not voluntary, but I have grown to like it)

55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth

56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon (on bookshelves)

57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens

58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley X

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 X

62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov X

63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt X (I love this book and have read it a few times - can I count each time I read it?!)

64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold (listened to audiobook, but if films don't count, this probably doesn't either)

65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas

66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac X

67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy X (hated it, and am still traumatised that I read it because it was on the university reading list, which they later changed to another Thomas Hardy so I needn't have put myself through the torture after all)

68 Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding X (oddly, hated the book but enjoyed the film)

69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie (on bookshelves to read)

70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville (on bookshelves to read)

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 (I think I might have read it years ago - I read some of his but they kind of blur into each other)

75 Ulysses - James Joyce X (loved Leopold Bloom, bored by Stephen Daedalus)

76 The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath X

77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome

78 Germinal - Emile Zola

79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray

80 Possession - AS Byatt (I have an admission - this was bought for me by friends when I broke my ankle when I was 17, and I still haven't read it. I'm sorry if that seems ungrateful. I promise I will)

81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens X (I try to read it every Christmas, and we watch the Muppet version on Christmas Eve)

82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell

83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker X

84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro X

85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert

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 (not all of it - I have favourite stories that I tend to go back to. I have been to the Sherlock Holmes Museum in Baker Street though, and I have a beautiful annotated copy of all the stories)

90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton

91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad X

92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery

93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks (I started it, but it is pretty tough and i think I might not have finished it)

94 Watership Down - Richard Adams

95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole X (hated it)

96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute

97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas

98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare X

99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl (I was a very sensitive child - a wimp - and this scared me when it was read to us at school. Evil chocolate is against all my beliefs)

100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo 

Read: I think 40. I hate numbers almost as much as I love words, so I might not have counted too rigorously.

Partially read: about 6

I think I might have read it when I was young, but I'm not positive: 2

Audiobook: 1

Read to us at school and scared me too much: 1

On my bookshelves to read: about 6

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Karl Pilkington Abroad: idiot savant, or just an idiot?

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Stuff and Nonsense by Amy Cockram is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 UK: England & Wales License.

Last week I ended up in a bit of a discussion with one of my husband's friends (hello Dave!) about Karl Pilkington, as I mentioned that I was reading (Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant send) "An Idiot Abroad." I am a bit of a Karl Pilkington fan, but I can't quite decide if he is playing a character, or if he is genuine in his reactions. I got the impression that Dave enjoys Karl Pilkington less than I do, because he suspects that it is only an act (I'm sure he will correct me if this is not the case, if he reads this). I'm not sure if Karl can be as dopey as he seems - I incline slightly more to thinking he is genuine, although if this is the case I am amazed that he is allowed out on his own - but I don't think that I mind if he is just playing a character. I just find him funny.

Maybe I should explain a bit about who Karl Pilkington is, just in case this is read by someone who has never heard of him. When Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant worked for the radio station Xfm, Karl Pilkington worked for the station as a producer. When Ricky and Stephen went on to launch a podcast, Karl became an integral part of the show with regular features such as "Monkey News" and extracts from his diary. While I sometimes feel that Ricky and Stephen's treatment of Karl borders on cruelty, for me he is the star of the podcast. His world view is at once warped and twisted, and yet oddly logical at times (few things scare me more than thinking Karl has a good point). He has innovative ideas, but fails to recognise when an idea is impossible and has no bearing on the reality of the world. His ideas pass straight by genius and go directly to barking mad. For Karl, the "Fortean Times" (which I occasionally buy, and read in the same way that you might enjoy a ghost story told by a roaring fire) is fact, and Ripley's Believe It Or Not is highly educational. He is capable of amazement at watching an ant eat a biscuit crumb.

In "An Idiot Abroad," Karl is the idiot who is sent abroad to visit seven wonders of the world. This was a TV series for Sky recently - which I haven't seen, as we don't have Sky - as well as the book. Karl dislikes travelling, and would rather go to Devon than go abroad. Stephen Merchant's reason for sending Karl abroad is an altruistic one; he believes that travel broadens the mind, and that Karl's life would be enriched by the experience. Ricky just thinks it would be funny, as Karl will probably hate the experience (and, to this end, he is booked into some of the world's worst hotels).

The experience does seem to be a traumatic one for Karl, as normally the biggest surprise he can handle is to wonder what flavour he will get in a bag of Revels. His twisted insights into the places he visits are very entertaining. In Brazil he is invited to stay with someone, but decides to leave when he finds a dead cockroach in the flat; he thinks it is a bad sign if cockroaches are meant to be able to survive beheading and nuclear war, but can't survive living in this flat (this is good example of what I mean by his occasionally persuasive logic). In India he sees a sacred cow being washed and blessed - and decides the cow looks embarrassed by the experience.

The main humour arises because Karl is supremely unimpressed by many of the wonders he visits. The statue of Christ the Redeemer in Brazil has a big chin like Jimmy Hill (someone points out to him that it is meant to be a beard). He is unimpressed by the Great Wall of China as it might be long, but so is the M6. He is more favourably inclined towards the Taj Mahal, but is skeptical of its origins as a mausoleum for emperor Shah Jahan's beloved wife. Karl thinks that he probably always wanted to build it but she wouldn't let him while she was alive, just as his uncle wasn't allowed to get a plasma telly while his wife was alive but bought one after she died. However, in Machu Picchu, he does actually find a wonder that impresses him.

I'm sorry that I have just given away a couple of things that made me laugh, but there were plenty other funny moments to enjoy in Karl's book. The humour arises as much from Karl's bewilderment at the minutiae of every day life and customs in other countries as it does from his reaction to the wonders. Karl is less amazed by the Great Wall of China than he is by the lack of doors on Chinese toilets.

In short, Karl would probably be a very annoying person to travel with - he'd spend the whole time complaining - but his book makes a very funny read.