3.12.2006

25 Books to Remember

The New York Public Library has released a list of 25 Books To Remember from 2005.

I'm ashamed to admit I've only read two. Must be too many nights in the slush pile (ya right...too many nights reading thrillers is more like it).

One of the things I love most about lists like this from my idea of the modern day superhero, librarians, is that they have no vested interest in what goes on that list. Did you see how many of the Times Notable, or best, books were written by Times authors? ya, me too.

So, how many of these have you read? Fess up!


Thanks to the Reluctant Mr. Champion for the link.

48 comments:

Milady Insanity said...

None... And not all of them are on my wish list either. LOL.

kitty said...

Don't be ashamed. The list's overall tone sounds rather grim.

Jean said...

Pathetically, none. Even sadder, I haven't heard of many of these. On a brighter note, some looked very interesting.

Linda Adams said...

How many have a I read? I haven't even heard of these titles. Of course, my tastes do lean toward thrillers ...

domynoe said...

I haven't heard of any of them either, but I tend towards other genres in my reading.

Bernita said...

None.
And not likely too.
I am bad.

Tori Lennox said...

So, how many of these have you read? Fess up!

Um, that would be none. And I can't say that really have any desire to read any of them.

Jen said...

I have not read any of the books on the list - and I'm not ashamed of it. Instead, I read books that kept me up all night when I had to get up early. I read books that the minute I finish them, I can't wait to read the next one in the series. Why aren't those types of books every on these types of lists?

SherryD said...

Not to be a stick-in-the-mud, but this list was probably compiled because one person at the library was assigned the job. The only book on the list that sounded intriguing (enough for me to go look for it) is, "Vindication: A Life of Mary Wollstonecraft." Everything else sounds typical and ordinary.

dink said...

I've read 3 (the poetry books). I attempted one more, "The March." I couldn't get into it (in spite of being a huge C.W. fan)I made several attempts then faced the fact --I don't like it. ha

I'm trying to read more fiction so I'm curbing my serious addiction to NonF. but this list triggered me and makes me crazy to read some of those listed here.

I'm still not ready for 9-11 books so those are automatically out for me.

Sha'el, Princess of Pixies said...

I never take the New York Public Library lists (or any other pronouncement that comes out of there) seriously. (The phrase "Pompous and Lecturing" echoes through my head in this context.)

I haven't read one of these. I probably won't read any of them. They're, well, "just not right for my list."

New York Public Library lists can be taken as political statements. They aren't especially literary statements.

Meg said...

Nope. Only one or two sound like something I might pick up.

ann said...

"Bound for Canaan," non-fiction, is about the Underground Railroad is inspiring. "The March" disappointed me, to be honest. I thought some of the characters were cliche'ed and you could see one of the story lines coming a mile away. That surprised me.

Anonymous said...

Only 2 with only another 2 in my to be read pile. I'm still trying to read all my must reads from 2003-04. :)

Anonymous said...

Um, what "political statement" could the NYPL possibly be trying to push? They have no agenda, except perhaps to interest more people in reading (which we as writers should applaud). It doesn't make sense, IMHO, to criticize a public institution as wonderful as the library, one of the few great we still have left, and castigate their picks as "pompous and lecturing." You don't want to read the books? Don't. Personally I'm grateful for any non-commercial entity of their stature that puts out a list designed to help people pick what to read out of the daunting numbers of titles published each year.

srchamberlain said...

The frequency with which Jonathan Safran Foer shows up on these sorts of lists never fails to amaze me. Are we talking about the same guy? The one with the blank pages and weird drawings and absolutely nothing to offer but the sly suggestion that yes, we are in fact reading a novel?

Thanks, buddy, but I knew that when I picked it up. I didn't choose it to be reminded that I'm reading fiction and fiction is subjective and all of that postmodern crap. I buy books to get lost in them.

Some of the others on this list were excellent, though. I've read four, and despite the fact that I've never liked Didion, I liked "The Year of Magical Thinking" very much. Unlike "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close", it wasn't a bit overrated.

alau said...

Maybe it's just a New York thing...I've heard alot about these books in the past year, especially about Joan Didion (though admittedly I haven't picked any of them up). I've been meaning to read "A Year of Magical Thinking," for awhile... I just haven't wanted to be that depressed.

Elektra said...

Read any? Not a single one. Ever heard of them? Yes, but only because I worked in a bookstore. Ever actually see anybody buying them? Not once.

These all seem the type of books that everyone likes to be seen reading, but nobody actually does. Fodder for the bookshelves behind an ambulance-chaser in his commercial.

jta said...

Zero. I'd probably flunk on the Times too, but I don't know: never look at it.

The Didion is probably good...

Anonymous said...

I've read Small Island, and loved it. That's all, and all I want read. Highly recommended.

Anonymous said...

*a year of magical thinking* was lovely, read it shortly after it came out.

*never let me go* and *on beauty* are on deck (ok, on nighttable if you must get specific).

Anonymous said...

Never heard of any of them, but my taste is my own and I love thrillers, too, both readin' and writin' 'em.

When I'm researching in the stacks, spinning through 60 year old microfiched newspapers, I find similar lists. They tout significant books for the century and other hype leading the public to believe these will be read for generations to come.

And I've never heard of them either. Most deal with topics that were hot back in the day that have long cooled with time. When I bother to check the library's catalogue the outcome is predictable: few to none are there. If they are available it usually means Hollywood turned it into a movie somewhere along the way.

However, they DO tend to keep the thrillers (even the real old ones!) on hand in the fiction stacks, hee-hee!

Sha'el, Princess of Pixies said...

Why would one be dependent on a public library, no matter what their stature, for reading suggestions?

And how does one measure "stature" when dealing with a library? There is a world of difference between the Library of Congress and the New York Public Library system. They both have a bazillion books. The one has true professionalism. The other ... sometimes.

Most who visit a library are already readers, aren't they? Are most readers so mindless they lack personal tastes and judgment? Readers are so befuddled that they can't select a book without aid? Really?

Exactly what kind of person needs a library's list of recommended reading? The terminally bored? The indecisive?

Anonymous said...

A previous poster commented that this list was probably compiled by one person. No! It was compiled by seven librarians who scoured book reviews, each read nearly 100 books (2 per week) for a total of nearly 700 titles, debated extensively over their favorites, and then voted on the final 25. All the librarians on the selection panel love books and love to read. Personally, I have heard of about half of the titles--though I've only read two, Carnivorous Nights which is funny and heartbreaking, and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close which I also loved. Looking forward to reading more when they're available in paperback--or maybe I'll go over to the library....

Eileen said...

Read and enjoyed Never let me go, by Ishiguro. I liked Remains of the Day better, but he always impresses me with his spare prose that still paints such a vivid picture. Also impressive is how each of his books is so different from one another. Interesting- do readers/agents/editors prefer to have a set style so they know what to expect? For example you just know that Danielle Steel is never going to write a book about cloning for organ donation. Good thing or bad?

girija said...

I love Foer's microfictions and I picked up EL&IC but didn't get into it much... loved the film though. Joan Didion--I've been waiting for this to arrive in our library. And I'm interested in the Zadie Smith but I'm not in a hurry to read it--unlike my husband, I never got into White Teeth and the first one, the name of which I've forgotten. I have the feeling that I should like her stuff, but...

KJ said...

Oh, gosh...one here, and that reluctantly, and with some difficulty in reaching the finish line.
I've written down three more, though.

I actually think reading the things on these lists, the things that get attention from book experts, is important, even when they don't appeal to you immediately. Something about the book is catching attention, and it's worth trying to figure out what. Not that I'd go out and buyt them all, but I picked up a few from ther Times list, too, and really liked one (Indecision, Benjamin Kunkel). I learn from them all, and to be honest, I don't tend to learn from the books I choose for fun--in part because,well, they're fun and in part because I get too caught up in the story!

Sarah said...

Well, I've always meant to read A Sudden Country... and the Zadie Smith has been on my list for awhile. I loved White Teeth! (entirely depressing that she wrote it when she was my age) Other than that, however, I hadn't really heard of anything else. And I read the NY Times and am a pretty literate person. But then, I almost never read non fiction.

Anonymous said...

Sha'el, no one said anything about being "dependent" on the library for suggestions; however, as a previous poster noted, the seven librarians who compiled the list read 700 titles between them, and I, for one, am not too proud to say I can benefit from their work. Jeesh.

McKoala said...

Oh dear, none here too. Should I feel shame? I do a little. I have read loads this year, but I've been concentrating more on YA as that's what I'm writing. Now if there was a top 25 for YA, I'd be interested in that.

Anita said...

Oh, Miss Snark. I'll make you feel better. I've read zero.

I own two. Does that count?

Anonymous said...

"A previous poster commented that this list was probably compiled by one person. No! It was compiled by seven librarians who scoured book reviews, each read nearly 100 books (2 per week) for a total of nearly 700 titles, debated extensively over their favorites, and then voted on the final 25."

Well, there is a discussion I'll thank God I missed. Nothing could be more boring except maybe 3/4 the books on that list.

Sonarbabe said...

Not a single one. None of them are in my favored genre. Would I be likely to pick any of them up? Mmm, probably not. I'm a very fussy reader.

Bill Peschel said...

Read the Foer book, about which I am dubious. I'm surprised "No Country For Old Men" didn't make it.

Interesting list to contemplate. Always important to check out books you've never heard of. That's why I like reviewing.

Rachel said...

I read the Didion book, and then did what I love to do most with books, I gave it to my grandfather, who'd been wanting to read it. I do like to read books that other people I know have read so I have someone to discuss them with, but that being said, generally, I think people need to seek out books that *they* like, not that some list or godlike deity or "well-read" person liked. I read widely, everything from teen girl chick lit to memoirs to mysteries, etc. I love going on Amazon and poking around from author to author, finding potential new favorites. To me, browsing books and selecting which I want to read is almost as much fun as finally digging in. Not to knock the books on this list, but I don't think anyone should feel "bad" about not having read books some random person deems "worthy."

Kirsten said...

Hey, it's books to "remember," not to "read." If I print the list & tape it to the side of my computer monitor, does that count? :-D

Anonymous said...

What an intriguing and eclectic list! I haven't read any of these Books to Remember, but that's what I like about these kinds of lists. They give you great suggestions. I appreciate that there are both fiction and nonfiction choices, too. My bookclub is always looking for interesting (and good) new books to read. Maybe we'll even try some of the poetry. Thanks, Miss Snark.

Anonymous said...

Jeepers creepers... Not a one. A couple looked interesting, though. I'll bookmark the page. Did someone made a comment about buying books rather than borrowing from the library? Sometimes when I fall in love with a library book I go out and buy it, or check the bookshops for other books by the author.
C.

Maya said...

Two: Purchased "The Year of Magical Thinking" and checked "On Beauty" out of the library.

Greta LaGarbeaux said...

Have read a few of these and actually would love to read them all. Even if I don't like some of them so much, I like the whole idea of this list, which is: Books About Something.

To be sure, I'm a sucka for thrillers and witty mysteries and private-eye yarns and groovy sci-fi, all of which do a fine job of taking me off the face of the earth when Real Life becomes just too annoyng.

But.

Like with films, after while all that escapism wears thin. There is something incredibly bracing about a lovely, well-written book that wraps its hands around some chunk of real life, wrestles it to the ground and bites it on the neck. That kind of book? Keeps me awake and reading to 3 a.m. just as reliably as Evanovich or Kaminsky.

Keziah Hill said...

Never Let me Go and The Year of Magical Thinking. I liked both of them.

lady t said...

I've heard of some of them but have not read a single one. I was tempted to read the Zadie Smith but didn't even finish White Teeth(looks like I'm not alone there!)and the Foer but he's too gimmicky for my taste.

I can name a couple of good reads from '05-Towelhead by Alicia Erian(it's a novel about a young Arab American girl's coming of age set in the early 1990s)and Popco by Scarlet Thomas(Brit novel about a code breaker on a corporate retreat). Definately memorable,to me.

Jpatrick said...

I've read zero, and I don't regret it. Lemme tell you something. Any time I see a title of this form...

_________: A Novel

I am immediately put off. The publisher and author may as well be telling me that they think I'm a lowbrow hick from West Virginia.

Okay, I admit it. Somtimes a good cover will help sell me a book.

O hAnnrachainn said...

The March was worth reading. About one-third of O'Malley's novel consists of allusions to cow dung (we know it smells) and one can skim through to the good story that's there. As for A Sudden Country - I gave up after twenty-five pages. I'm sure there was a story in there somewhere, drowning in all that verbiage.

Stacy said...

I haven't read any of these. In fact, now that I think about it, since I let my library membership lapse - who has time to go to the library anymore?- I haven't read a single newly published book in about 2 years.

That is unbearably depressing. I used to care about this stuff. Now I can barely keep up with work and childcare and . . . Adulthood sux. Seriously.

Anonymous said...

One-Never Let Me Go, and it didn't live up to its hype.

bonniers said...

Zadie Smith, Ishiguro, Foer, and Didion are on my to-read list, which is still back at about 2003. I figure I'll get to them in 2007 or so.

I looked at several of the others and decided they weren't for me. I am not into war and gore.

nbm said...

Making these lists seems to be a thankless task. Either a list is said to be snobbishly full of obscurities, "dull" or politically favored books, books one hasn't heard of and aren't in one's favorite genre; or it's deemed a pointless middlebrow reflection of the bestseller or lit comment pages without anything surprising or new.