First, I came across the following quote when I was browsing Goodreads last night:
“The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid.” ― Jane Austen,
Then, looking a bit further during my browsing last night, I was revisiting Harold Bloom's The Western Canon. It then occurred to me that I would like to avoid being "intolerably stupid," so I ought to seek a return to the pleasures I once upon a time experienced as a reader of good novels. But the problem next arose: What novels should I read? I decided that there are two categories of novels that I should include in my "bucket list" of novels-to-be-read:
(1) ones that I have read before and want to revisit before I kick the bucket;
(2) ones that I have over the years overlooked, ignored, or avoided but should read before I kick the bucket.
Okay, friends, here are my preliminary lists. These lists, thrown together in no particular order, might surprise you. Well, the lists certainly surprise me.
Bleak House by Charles Dickens
A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
Persuasion by Jane Austen
The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by R. L. Stevenson
Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Moby Dick by Herman Melville
Billy Budd by Herman Melville
The Awakening by Kate Chopin
Pudd'nhead Wilson by Mark Twain
Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather
The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
Wise Blood by Flannery O'Connor
Possession by A. S. Byatt
Don Quixote by Cervantes
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Emma by Jane Austen
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
Middlemarch by George Eliot
A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court by Mark Twain
The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James
Ulysses by James Joyce
Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh
Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann
Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien
I'm sure that I have omitted dozens of other novels that I could have added to my lists (and even now as I write these words I have thought of several more titles but will avoid adding them), and I bet my lists surprise you, but I will stop now with my obsessive-compulsive list-making because as is so often accurately said, "Life is short." That, my friends, is so very true!
Now, while I rededicate myself to reading good novels and not being "intolerably stupid," and while I know that I will never be able to complete my lists, I leave you with this challenge:
Tell me about the novels you would include on your own separate lists: (1) ones you want to reread before you kick the bucket; (2) ones you have overlooked, ignored, or avoided.
I hope you will visit and comment. I think this can become an interesting discussion.
Now, though, I think I will begin reading the novel I have most conspicuously overlooked, ignored, and avoided for far too long: Don Quixote.
NOTE: I may or may not be saying anything more here about my novel reading progress because I have no way of knowing my state of mind beyond the present moment (i.e., the deterioration of my Swiss-cheese memory and worsening problems with my bipolar mind interfere with even the most simple tasks in everyday life).