Jan 25, 2009

The Sunday Salon (with Bookish Memes)

The Sunday Salon.comThis is my first time participating in The Sunday Salon. It's not that I didn't want to participate before, but I either didn't get around to it or I couldn't think of what to write. But today I'm in a chatty mood, so here it goes:

Yesterday I started reading Hard-boiled Wonderland and the End of the World. I've been in the mood for Murakami, especially after talking about Kafka on the Shore with Trish. Anyway, I'm not too far into the book yet, but so far there are two independent storylines, both of which are quite bizarre. I have no idea what's going on in either, but I'm enjoying both. That's not it usually goes with Murakami for me.

I was happy to see today that Sputnik Sweetheart was picked for the Unshelved Bookclub. That was my very first Murakami, and I still remember being both delighted and frustrated with it. I'd love to read it again someday, especially now that I no longer try to make sense of Murakami's books.

I guess now is also a good time to do the Sci-Fi and Fantasy Novels Everyone Must Read Meme Carl started. It's based on a Guardian list of books everyone "should" read. I'm always interested in lists like that simply because I love looking at lists of books, the longer the better. But I also don't take them very seriously - after all, what they boil down to is a list of books that whoever compiled the list thinks are important. How could they be anything else?

Anyway, I like this list in particular because it challenges conventional definitions of sci-fi and fantasy and includes several works of non-realistic fiction, regardless of how "literary" or "respectable" they are considered. And that always makes me happy. On the other hand, in doing that it ends up leaving out several classic sci-fi and fantasy authors who were never concerned with being confined to the "genre" ghetto. I'd have been even happier with a list that reached a middle-ground of sorts.

Here's the list. I bolded the ones I've read, italicized the ones I own, and purpled the ones I don't own yet but would like to read in the nearish future:

1. Douglas Adams: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (1979)
2. Brian Aldiss: Non-Stop (1958)
3. Isaac Asimov: Foundation (1951)
4. Margaret Atwood: The Blind Assassin (2000)
5. Paul Auster: In the Country of Last Things (1987)
6. Iain Banks: The Wasp Factory (1984)
7. Iain M Banks: Consider Phlebas (1987)
8. Clive Barker: Weaveworld (1987)
9. Nicola Barker: Darkmans (2007)
10. Stephen Baxter: The Time Ships (1995)
11. Greg Bear: Darwin’s Radio (1999)
12. Alfred Bester: The Stars My Destination (1956)
13. Poppy Z Brite: Lost Souls (1992)
14. Algis Budrys: Rogue Moon (1960)
15. Mikhail Bulgakov: The Master and Margarita (1966)
16. Edward Bulwer-Lytton: The Coming Race (1871)
17. Anthony Burgess: A Clockwork Orange (1960)
18. Anthony Burgess: The End of the World News (1982)
19. Edgar Rice Burroughs: A Princess of Mars (1912)
20. William Burroughs: Naked Lunch (1959)
21. Octavia Butler: Kindred (1979)
22. Samuel Butler: Erewhon (1872)
23. Italo Calvino: The Baron in the Trees (1957) (I LOVE this book)
24. Ramsey Campbell: The Influence (1988)
25. Lewis Carroll: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1865)
26. Lewis Carroll: Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There (1871)
27. Angela Carter: Nights at the Circus (1984)
28. Michael Chabon: The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay (2000)
29. Arthur C Clarke: Childhood’s End (1953)
30. GK Chesterton: The Man Who Was Thursday (1908)
31. Susanna Clarke: Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell (2004)
32. Michael G Coney: Hello Summer, Goodbye (1975)
33. Douglas Coupland: Girlfriend in a Coma (1998)
34. Mark Danielewski: House of Leaves (2000)
35. Marie Darrieussecq: Pig Tales (1996)
36. Samuel R Delany: The Einstein Intersection (1967)
37. Philip K Dick: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (1968)
38. Philip K Dick: The Man in the High Castle (1962)
39. Umberto Eco: Foucault’s Pendulum (1988)
40. Michel Faber: Under the Skin (2000)
41. John Fowles: The Magus (1966)
42. Neil Gaiman: American Gods (2001)
43. Alan Garner: Red Shift (1973)
44. William Gibson: Neuromancer (1984)
45. Charlotte Perkins Gilman: Herland (1915)
46. William Golding: Lord of the Flies (1954)
47. Joe Haldeman: The Forever War (1974)
48. M John Harrison: Light (2002)
49. Robert A Heinlein: Stranger in a Strange Land (1961)
50. Frank Herbert: Dune (1965)
51. Hermann Hesse: The Glass Bead Game (1943)
52. Russell Hoban: Riddley Walker (1980)
53. James Hogg: The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner (1824)
54. Michel Houellebecq: Atomised (1998)
55. Aldous Huxley: Brave New World (1932)
56. Kazuo Ishiguro: The Unconsoled (1995)
57. Shirley Jackson: The Haunting of Hill House (1959)
58. Henry James: The Turn of the Screw (1898)
59. PD James: The Children of Men (1992)
60. Richard Jefferies: After London; Or, Wild England (1885)
61. Gwyneth Jones: Bold as Love (2001)
62. Franz Kafka: The Trial (1925)
63. Daniel Keyes: Flowers for Algernon (1966)
64. Stephen King: The Shining (1977)
65. Marghanita Laski: The Victorian Chaise-longue (1953)
66. Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu: Uncle Silas (1864)
67. Stanislaw Lem: Solaris (1961)
68. Doris Lessing: Memoirs of a Survivor (1974)
69. David Lindsay: A Voyage to Arcturus (1920)
70. Ken MacLeod: The Night Sessions (2008)
71. Hilary Mantel: Beyond Black (2005)
72. Michael Marshall Smith: Only Forward (1994)
73. Richard Matheson: I Am Legend (1954)
74. Charles Maturin: Melmoth the Wanderer (1820)
75. Patrick McCabe: The Butcher Boy (1992)
76. Cormac McCarthy: The Road (2006)
77. Jed Mercurio: Ascent (2007)
78. China Miéville: The Scar (2002)
79. Andrew Miller: Ingenious Pain (1997)
80. Walter M Miller Jr: A Canticle for Leibowitz (1960)
81. David Mitchell: Cloud Atlas (2004)
82. Michael Moorcock: Mother London (1988)
83. William Morris: News From Nowhere (1890)
84. Toni Morrison: Beloved (1987)
85. Haruki Murakami: The Wind-up Bird Chronicle (1995) (It's good to see I'm not the only one who sees Murakami as primarily a fantasy author. Then again, he did win the World Fantasy Award, so clearly I am not.)
86. Vladimir Nabokov: Ada or Ardor (1969)
87. Audrey Niffenegger: The Time Traveler’s Wife (2003)
88. Larry Niven: Ringworld (1970)
89. Jeff Noon: Vurt (1993)
90. Flann O’Brien: The Third Policeman (1967)
91. Ben Okri: The Famished Road (1991) (A lovely choice)
92. Chuck Palahniuk: Fight Club (1996)
93. Thomas Love Peacock: Nightmare Abbey (1818)
94. Mervyn Peake: Titus Groan (1946)
95. John Cowper Powys: A Glastonbury Romance (1932)
96. Christopher Priest: The Prestige (1995)
97. François Rabelais: Gargantua and Pantagruel (1532-34)
98. Ann Radcliffe: The Mysteries of Udolpho (1794)
99. Alastair Reynolds: Revelation Space (2000)
100. Kim Stanley Robinson: The Years of Rice and Salt (2002)
101. JK Rowling: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (1997)
102. Salman Rushdie: The Satanic Verses (1988)
103. Antoine de Sainte-Exupéry: The Little Prince (1943)
104. José Saramago: Blindness (1995) (I tried. More than once.)
105. Will Self: How the Dead Live (2000)
106. Mary Shelley: Frankenstein (1818)
107. Dan Simmons: Hyperion (1989)
108. Olaf Stapledon: Star Maker (1937)
109. Neal Stephenson: Snow Crash (1992)
110. Robert Louis Stevenson: The Strange Case of Doctor Jekyll and Mr Hyde (1886)
111. Bram Stoker: Dracula (1897)
112. Rupert Thomson: The Insult (1996)
113. Mark Twain: A Connecticut Yankee at King Arthur’s Court (1889)
114. Kurt Vonnegut: Sirens of Titan (1959)
115. Robert Walser: Institute Benjamenta (1909)
116. Sylvia Townsend Warner: Lolly Willowes (1926)
117. Sarah Waters: Affinity (1999)
118. HG Wells: The Time Machine (1895)
119. HG Wells: The War of the Worlds (1898)
120. TH White: The Sword in the Stone (1938)
121. Gene Wolfe: The Book of the New Sun (1980-83)
122. John Wyndham: Day of the Triffids (1951)
123. John Wyndham: The Midwich Cuckoos (1957)
124. Yevgeny Zamyatin: We (1924)

22/124. More to look forward to!

There's another meme I've been meaning to do: the 6 Things that Make Me Happy Meme Ladytink tagged me for. But since this is The Sunday Salon, I thought it'd be fun to make it 6 bookish things:
  1. New books by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. Nothing beats that.
  2. Series. I love getting obsessed with a good series. I love the familiarity, the comfort, the complete immersion in the series' world. I'm currently having that experience with Fables. Yesterday I decided to read books 1 and 2 again because now that I (more or less) know how it ends, it'll be fun to see how it all began.
  3. Comics and illustrated books. I love looking at pretty artwork, and I love seeing a story be told through images.
  4. Pretty editions. For example, last week I bought this edition of The Three Musketeers, a book I already owned but haven't read, just because of how pretty it is:

    (Actually, it wasn't just that. First, it was in the bargains section. Secondly, it's a new and better translation! And thirdly, I figured that having a pretty edition would motivate me to, you know, actually read the thing at last.)
  5. A good ending. How I love a good ending. The kind that is satisfying but also leaves you longing for more. That kind for which you hope, but that surprises you nonetheless. The kind that highlights all the things the book is about.
  6. Books about books. I've only realized recently how happy they make me. More than formal criticism, I enjoy the informal ones, the ones that are about the author's personal experience of reading, the reading life, all the little things that are instantly recognizable to bookworms and that other people find so odd. Of course, these are the exact same reasons why I love reading book blogs.
What about you? Which things, bookish or not, make you happy? I'm not going to tag anyone, but do play along if you want to.


  1. I'm with you on every one of your happy bookish things except the new Terry Pratchett books. (I've only read two of his books thus far, and neither of them exactly blew me out of the water. I figure I must've chosen the wrong ones, so I'll give him another go one of these days). I actually saw that same edition of THE THREE MUSKETEERS in the bargain section of my favourite independent the other day, and I was sorely tempted to buy it. It's so very, very pretty!

  2. I don't know why it bugs me so much not being able to make sense of a book. I guess part of the pleasure, though, is trying to make sense of the book--or at least thinking about the book. I find so much joy in a book that makes me think--even if it is a little bit of work. I'm glad that my confusion has spurred you into revisiting Murakami. I'll definitely be looking for more of his works. I loved reading your Sunday Salon. I've always regretted that I have never really had the time or topics to posts, but maybe one day I'll join in as well.

  3. I just did my post on Carl's meme! I linked back to the Guardian post too, since I was curious about how they chose the books and defined the list, as i disagreed with a lot of it. http://susanflynn.blogspot.com/2009/01/sunday-salon-guardian-unlimiteds-124.html
    I think we've read close to the same books! there are some I want to read, and some I could care less about! I'm currently looking at the crime one from the Guardian and wondering about that list too.
    I like your 6 things I like meme - I haven't done it yet, hadn't seen it, so I'll do it this week. I love that you love happy endings too!!!
    Welcome to the Sunday Salon, Nymeth! :-)

  4. This week was my second week. Yay fellow newbie :)

  5. Welcome to the Sunday Salon, Nymeth!

    I love that title: Hard-boiled Wonderland and the End of the World. I hope it is a good one!

    I will be doing the happy meme later this week. I loved your list of 6 bookish things! I may have to steal your idea when I answer. :-)

    I hope you have a great week!

  6. Welcome to the Sunday Salon Nymeth! It really is a great opportunity to just chat about anything that pops into your mind. And it's perfect for memes!

    I love this Sci-Fi/Fantasy List, it looks like a lot of good reading. I'm glad to see you've purpled "A Clockwork Orange" I read this for the first time in Jr.High English and still adore it. I love the creativity that Burgess added by creating the Nadsat slang - check out wikipedia for links to a really good glossary. There are also many fascinating critical essays to be found about the satirical meaning Burgess was going for. Ok yes I'm doing the fangirl thing again :)

    Happy Sunday!

  7. Grrrrr....my whole comment just disappeared when I went to post it and it was really long :( But basically what it said is that you should read the time machine soon...we have lots of fun Neil books coming out soon including Blueberry Girl, Crazy Hair, and the Non-Fic book which is indeed something to be happy about, and I love books about books too!! And they should publish more of those!

  8. Both of us had our first Sunday Salon :) It's about time, I think!

    I'm surprised by how many of those 124 books I really really want to read. Especially:

    15. Mikhail Bulgakov: The Master and Margarita (1966)

    One of these days... mark my words! I hope you're enjoying the Murakami

  9. There are many on that list I want to read but I've only read 7 :o( Loved your bookish meme! Umm... one bookish thing that makes me happy is discovering an old book (my favorites are what is considered YA now) published before my time (maybe during my mother's or grandmothers) that nobody really knows about anymore. I hate it when an author is forgotten!

  10. I am doing the cheerleading for Flowers for Algernon in regards to this meme. For some reason I love that book... And the movie... And the play... I really need to track down a new copy of that book because mine is falling apart and now I want to reread it! The books on these lists are more often than not books that I really have never had much desire to read... I strongly consider all the fantasy that I have read over the years great literature, even if like none of it is on this list and actually makes me look a bit uneducated!

    I'm reading Lonely Werewolf Girl. Recommended by you, I believe? Why is it that every time I tell you what I am reading because you recommended it I am supposed to be doing the dishes? I seem to recall an email where the same thing was supposed to be happening... (haha, and no, they are not the same dishes! lol) Yep, off on a tangent. Off to... well, we will see what I wind up doing. :)

  11. I have to check out that list more thoroughly. I think I'll print it out. what fun. and I love series too! I also love really getting into an author and then reading everything they've done. It's so great.

  12. I had the exact same experience as you with Sputnik Sweetheart. It was my second Murakami, and it frustrated me because I was still trying to apply logic and make sense of his books. I know better now. LOL. But I would like to read it again as I'm sure I'd feel very differently about it now.

    Hope you enjoy Hard-boiled Wonderland. It's the most bizarre of his books that I've read but a great read. Another one I want to read again.

    Love the picture with kitty all curled up. I'm a sucker for a pretty edition too. Last year I got a 2nd copy of The Tale of Genji, partly for the pretty cover but also because it was by a different translator and with more notes. One of these days I'll actually read the darn thing!

  13. Great Sunday Salon post! I've only participated in it twice. :)

    The Three Musketeers book looks pretty! I like the white pics on a purple background. Oh and that's your kitty next to it. I wondered what it was!

    I've been meaning to find any Terry Pratchett book and read it but till now, not yet. :( I do so want to try his books.

  14. It's a very interesting list! I also like the diversity of titles and authors included!

  15. something i love about books is when you find a book you have enjoyed so much that the instant you finish it you know without a doubt that you will be reading it again!..how special is that?!!

  16. What a fun, fun post, Nymeth! I knew you'd have a bunch of "bold" titles on that meme. In fact, I saw an updated list, and your percentage would be even better on that one as it had Discworld book, The Hobbit, LOTR, and lots more I know you've read.

    One thing that bummed me out though was seeing that you've tried to read Blindness, but didn't finish it. I bought this lecture course that I'm going to use next year for homeschooling...it's called Masterpieces of the Imaginative Mind: Literature's Most Fantastic Works. I'm sooooo very excited to get started with it. Anyway, Blindness happens to be one of the required readings.

  17. That list seemed more than a little odd to me, especially once I realised it was suppoed to include fantasy as well as sci-fi, but I've read 24 of them and have another 3 on my TBR shelf.

    I enjoyed your things that make you happy meme! Three Muskateers is a lot of fun, and a faster read than you'd expect. And I love books about books too, a genre I didn't read before book blogs! I consider them my comfort reads. :D

  18. I did the scifi/fantasy meme, too, and ended up adding a lot of titles to my TBR list. I'm not sure how I feel about Haruki Murakami; I've only read a few titles from him, but so far I've been disappointed that he characterizes a lot of his female characters as being elusive ciphers.

  19. Memory: were the ones you read early Discworld books? If so, I really think you should try again because they're definitely not nearly as good. I can't imagine you not liking the Tiffany Aching series at least (it starts with The Wee Free Men). And it is pretty!

    Trish: It actually normally bugs me too...Murakami is the only author who made me "surrender" in that sense. I like making sense of things and I get frustrated when I can't. I really can't explain why that doesn't happen with Murakami anymore...I don't remember the moment when I decided to give up on applying logic to his books :P But somehow it happened.

    Susan: The way those lists are chosen always seems more or less random to me. I don't really take them seriously, but I still enjoy reading them. And like I told you over at your blog, I can really see where you're coming from with your objections. And thanks for welcoming me :D

    bookworm: *waves* hello! I'll definitely participate more often from now on...this was fun.

    Literary Feline: Thank you :D I love the title too! And I'm about halfway into it now and so far so good! For an introvert like myself listing 6 bookish things is easier than 6 personal things...so I cheated :P I hope you have a great week too!

    Joanne: It is! I should do these chatty posts more often...I really enjoy them. A Clockwork Orange is one I've been meaning to get to since my teens! Hopefully this year I will. And feel free to do the fangirl thing any time!

    Chris: I hate it when blogger does that >:( Sorry! And guess what! I actually got The Time Machine from the library today, so I'm really glad you said that. I'm very much looking forward to all the new Neil releases!

    saveophelia: It is! I always wanted to participate, but somehow never did. And I am indeed enjoying the Murakami :)

    Ladytink: That makes me happy too! I love finding hidden gems. It is sad that some books end up being unfairly forgotten.

    Kailana: LOL! I'm glad to hear they're not the same dishes :P Flowers for Algeron is another one I've always wanted to read. I think Chris also recommended it to me a while back. And yes, I think fantasy is great literature too! As much as any other genre, really. I can't wait to hear your thoughts on Lonely Werewolf Girl! I loved that book so much.

  20. Daphne: It is fun. What I love about these lists is that they bring books I never noticed before to my attention. And yes, exploring an author's back catalogue is great too :)

    tanabata: lol, I know better now too :P Back then I really enjoyed the book until the ending, which frustrated me terribly. But I doubt that'd happen now. I'm about halfway through Hard-boiled Wonderland and I'm finding it hard to put down :) I'm glad you like the picture! And I can't resist a pretty edition...I'm hopeless.

    Josette: lol! It just looks like a bundle of fur at first, I know :P I hope you manage to find some Terry Pratchett soon. Nation would be a great one to start with.

    Michelle: I really like the diversity too.

    Deslily: It's very special indeed!

    Loren Eaton: Yeah, the lack of some classic authors really is puzzling. I haven't read the Martian Chronicles yet, but Bradbury most definitely should be there.

    Debi: Ooh, I'll have to see that updated list! I was actually sad Discworld had been left out...especially since this is The Guardian! About Saramago, it's really just me...a lot of people love him, and that book in particular. But I had that same experience with several of his books, even the ones I was supposed to read for classes :P I quite like his ideas and I can see why he'd be picked for that course. But I just can't get into his writing style.

    Eva: It's true, fantasy seems to have been neglected. Also, a book I really expected to see there was Little, Big, but nothing! The Three Musketeers intimidates me a bit because all chunky classics do at first, but I think I'll enjoy it once I find the motivation to actually read it. And you've just given me some!

    Chayenne: I know what you mean. In the book I'm currently reading the protagonist won my antipathy in the first few pages by commenting that seeing chubby women always makes him imagine them eating, and the thought disgusts him a little. But I'll give Murakami the benefit of the doubt and assume that the comment is meant to make readers want to slap him silly.

  21. You are so right about getting obsessed with a good series! I've had that feeling about some really wonderful series, like the Tales of Pellinor, Icemark Chronicles and The Black Jewels.

    I'm dipping into Shakespeare Wrote for Money every day or two, desperately trying to take my time as I know its the last of his columns! There's something about sharing the love of books with someone else...reminds me of a quote from Sun Dog by Monique Roffet, I'll have to email you it!

    And as for pretty special editions, did you see the collector's Rebecca?


  22. nice SS post :)
    interesting meme, I had The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy in my hands at the bookstore, then put it back! I need to grab a copy next time. I wondered if it was good.

  23. I forgot to say...nice 6 things!
    I love a good ending too and I like books about books :o)

  24. I've read the first few chapters of Hard-boiled Wonderland and really enjoyed it. I got off track with Murakami because of my sci fi jones but I need to get back to that one as it is sort of sci fi ish. Bizarre? Yes it is, but I'm kind of liking that. It will be interesting to see how we both feel when we've read the whole thing.

    I too like this list. There is a lot to argue about with it, but the variety is something I am very pleased with. It is a nice eclectic list and that appeals to me.

    I just added one more to my 'read' list as I finished Ringworld over the weekend.

  25. Cute meme - I agree, a good series does make one happy :)

    Hope you enjoyed your first Sunday Salon. I haven't had a chance to participate in a while but it's a great way to "meet" more bookworms and add more books to the list - haha.

  26. Mariel: Oooh, that edition of Rebecca is so pretty! And The Black Jewels trilogy was definitely another series that have me that feeling. The others I haven't read (yet!). I wanted to make Shakespeare Wrote for Money last too, but I just couldn't :( And I'm curious about that quote now!

    Naida: I LOVE Hitchhiker's! One of my all-time favourite series. And who can resist books about books :)

    Carl: You know, the more I read the book the more I realize it could count for the Sci-Fi Experiment! It is indeed very sci-fish. And yeah, the conversation those lists always generate is a great part of the fun :)

    Iliana: And if there's one thing we all need is to add more books to our lists :P I really enjoyed doing the Sunday Salon. I'll definitely do it again!

  27. What a fun post, Nymeth! Loved seeing your list... and I think your list for the 6 Happy Things are great too! I know you'll mention Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett because they're your favourite authors!! :D

  28. Welcome to the Sunday Salon! The sci-fi challenge looks like fun & you've got a great list!

  29. I liked Snow Crash a lot, and it got me into Neal Stephenson in a big way, but I actually like Diamond Age a lot better and would recommend it first if you decide to check him out. I suppose Snow Crash was more "important", but Diamond Age is still my favorite book by him.

  30. About 5 years ago I turned to a coworker and said "I'm looking for something new to read and you're always reading something cool. Will you lend me something awesome?"

    And he lent me Hard Boiled Wonderland.... It was my first Murakami. I loved it, but haven't read any Murakami since, until this week. I'm almost done with Wind Up Bird Chronicle. I really do need to read more by him!


Thank you so much for taking the time to comment - interaction is one of my favourite things about blogging and a huge part of what keeps me going.