OMG, Luke Is So Hott!

Remember those book lists that are always going around the internet, where you’re supposed to say which ones you’ve read, which ones you’ve started but never finished, and which ones you haven’t read? I’m pretty sure I’ve done that here, at some point, but I don’t put too much credence in it because any list that has The Five People You Meet In Heaven on it just doesn’t really impress me with its dedication to the great literature of our time.

I’ve read a string of really terrible books lately, and the other day I was forced to realize that the whole “read all the books Amazon.com lists as “great for teens”” thing wasn’t really working out.  Really good young adult literature is my very favorite stuff to read, ever, but in between books like Speak and The  Only Alien on the Planet and Star Girl and Just Listen and Sloppy Firsts and The Cheerleader and Walk Two Moons and The Westing Game and Youth In Revolt, well, in between all of those books there is a mountain of dreck, and I don’t want to name names so I will just say that it feels like I’ve been reading it ALL, a veritable slew of terrible books put together by some computer program which simply rearranges, in random order, the words “hot” “mean” “Luke” “parents” “cute” and”girls”.

So I decided that instead of reading the dreck, I would read the best, by which I mean I am going to read, in random order, all of the Pulitzer Prize winners, and then I am going to read all of the Booker Prize winners.  I would read all of the Michael Printz (the Young Adult Fiction version of the Newbery award) winners but I’ve already read all of those.  And I’m making one exception and I am not reading The Road, because thanks to 9-11 and Battlestar Galactica, I already have nightmares about a postapocalyptic wasteland about once a month, and I think we can all agree that to preserve my mental health I deserve a pass.

The list is below.  I’ve crossed out the ones I’ve already read.

Wish me luck!  And feel free to play along.  Or better yet send me books in the mail! I have the feeling some of these might take me more time to get through than checking them out from the library might allow.

Fiction

2008: The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
2007: The Road by Cormac McCarthy
2006: March by Geraldine Brooks
2005: Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
2004: The Known World by Edward P. Jones
2003: Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
2002: Empire Falls by Richard Russo
2001: The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon
2000: Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri
1999: The Hours by Michael Cunningham
1998: American Pastoral by Philip Roth
1997: Martin Dressler: The Tale of an American Dreamer by Steven Millhauser
1996: Independence Day by Richard Ford
1995: The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields
1994: The Shipping News by E. Annie Proulx
1993: A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain by Robert Olen Butler
1992: A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley
1991: Rabbit at Rest by John Updike
1990: The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love by Oscar Hijuelos
1989: Breathing Lessons by Anne Tyler
1988: Beloved by Toni Morrison
1987: A Summons to Memphis by Peter Taylor
1986: Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry
1985: Foreign Affairs by Alison Lurie
1984: Ironweed by William Kennedy
1983: The Color Purple by Alice Walker
1982: Rabbit Is Rich by John Updike
1981: A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
1980: The Executioner’s Song by Norman Mailer
1979: The Stories of John Cheever by John Cheever
1978: Elbow Room by James Alan McPherson
1977: No Award
1976: Humboldt’s Gift by Saul Bellow
1975: The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara
1974: No Award
1973: The Optimist’s Daughter by Eudora Welty
1972: Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner
1971: No Award
1970: Collected Stories by Jean Stafford
1969: House Made of Dawn by N. Scott Momaday
1968: The Confessions of Nat Turner by William Styron
1967: The Fixer: by Bernard Malamud
1966: Collected Stories by Katherine Anne Porter
1965: The Keepers of the House by Shirley Ann Grau

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18 Responses

  1. I have Middlesex, The Hours, the Shipping News (I think– gotta double check), all of the “Rabbit” novels (in one convenient package!), and Angle of Repose. I would love to send any/all of them to you.

  2. uh…what does it say about me that i haven’t even heard of most of those books?

    (hangs head in shame)

    apparently, i must get my ass in gear.

  3. My favorite recent book off of my daughter’s shelf was The Princess Academy by Shannon Hale. It’s a Newberry winner so maybe you’ve read it already.

    My favorite book that has not won an award but should have: Peace Like A River by Leif Enger.

  4. My favorite teen books are a series by Scott Westerfeld – Uglies, Pretties, Specials, and Extras. If you haven’t read them, you should. Every teenage girl in America (and those of us who are young at heart) should read them. Wonderfully written, imaginative, futuristic, and great, great themes.

    I don’t know you, but I was hoping I’d have some of these books on my shelf so I could mail them, but the only ones I’ve read you’ve already read, too. Happy reading!

  5. Mark me down for one whole book on that list. Am AWESOME!

    I’m trying to get through all the Printz books (both the winners and the honors) and it’s killing me. Some rock and others make me want to just stick my head in a full tub and end the suffering now.

  6. Before I even got to the part where you said you weren’t going to read The Road I was already thinking about how I was going to tell you how much I HATED it. Good luck. I always think I should do lists, but I am not disciplined and then the library doesn’t have what I want and I get side-tracked and there’s just too darned much out there to read that I get sidetracked. But good luck.

  7. Were the No Prize Given years so very lacking in anything worthwhile that they just said “The hell with it”????

    Just out of curiousity, what did you think of Gilead?

  8. I loved Middlesex (but some of my more prudish friends were weirded out by it) and Interpreter of Maladies was AMAZING. Just so you know where to go next! 🙂 (I couldn’t make it through Gilead. I’m going to try again, but the first time? Ugh. It just didn’t work for me.)

  9. that’s ambitious! I mean, omg!

  10. Ahem, haven’t read any of the books in the list. I thought I read the 5 people you meet in heaven but I think I actually read Tuesday’s with Morrie. Either way I was underwhelmed by whatever I read. I mostly just read biographies. I tried to read Sense and Sensibility, then gave up and decided to rent the movie but got mixed up and rented Pride and Prejudice by accident. Am an idiot. Good for you and your list!

  11. It will be interesting to see how the older ones have held up over the years.

    You could read the Newberry winners too. That should be some good YA lit.

  12. Does seeing the movie count? I hate reading a book after I’ve seen a movie or vice versa. The one exception was The Firm. I liked both versions of that though it’s not likely to end up on a great books of lit list! 🙂

  13. Oh my, “March” is soooo good!
    I wish I had it to send to you, but I sold it back. Oh, I’m so going to regret being a poor college student and selling all my books back someday.

  14. Ooh! I’ve read a lot of those (I made the same resolution a few years back.) Middlesex is awesome, as is A Confederacy of Dunces. The Shipping News is good, but poorly written (sentence fragments everywhere!). The Hours was fair, but not great. I HATED The Road, so I’m glad you’re skipping it. My husband read The Killer Angels and really liked it, but it’s a war book and he’s former military, so take his opinion with a grain of salt. You’ve already read my two favorites, Empire Falls and The Amazing Adventures of Cavalier and Klay. What did you think of them?

    Also, I second the recommendation of Leif Enger. He has two books, both of which should have been considered for the Pulitzer, Peace Like a River and So Brave, Young and Handsome. Both are awesome.

  15. I… have not read any of these.

    Eek.

  16. What a wonderful idea! Hmmm. I may join you, Princess. I have read quite a few of these and several hundred others not on the list, but it would be kind of neat to be systematic about it. Any ideas which will be first?

  17. Er, well…just so you know that we librarians scratch out heads when the awards are announced. Sometimes I think they just pick the most depressing or difficult to understand book of the year.

    I rather liked The Road, though it was not light and fluffy by any means. Have you read The Hunger Games or Graceling yet (teen books both recently published)? Fabulous.

  18. Gosh, I’ve only read 2 of the books listed. I feel inadequate!

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