I am a University Graduate (Pure Math) and am bilingual - English/German. I am currently housebound due to disability and would like to spend some of my enforced leisure reading. Over the past few years I've only read a few 'best-sellers' -much of my 'spare' time was spent on journals and reports, and would dearly love to become, for want of a better phrase, 'well-read'! To be honest, it's hard to decide where to start....do I go for 'big' names...Shakespeare, Austen, Dickens...(or Goethe, Brecht, Mann...for the German side!)? There just seems to be so much out there! Thanks in advance for any help.
I would look for lists of prize winners, such as the Pulitzer Prize or the Booker Mann Award. I always try to read the Pulitzer Prize winner to see if I can determine on what merit the book won. Last year's winner, Olive Kitteridge, was a clever series of linked vingettes. The unique structure and well-developed, interesting cast of characters certainly kept me reading. I have not loved them all, but this practice has allowed me to exand my horizons and keep myself current with novels judged worthy of honor. Many will be the "classics" of the early 21st century when my grandchildren are in school!
It's great that you have this sudden "enforced leisure reading time." (I hope you recover quickly, however.) You might want to consider the most popular eNotes reading choices; the following titles provide the most-often asked questions for eNotes editors:
- To Kill a Mockingbird
- Lord of the Flies
- Romeo and Juliet
- The Crucible
- The Great Gatsby
- Fahrenheit 451
- Julius Caesar
- Animal Farm
- The Scarlet Letter
- Of Mice and Men
Many of these novels and plays are required reading in schools throughout the United States, and some fall in the realm of middle and high school literature. I would consider every single one as a must-read, however, so if you've missed reading any of them (or, if you're like me and like to re-read the classics every now and then), this list would be a great place to start. I'd also like to throw in my favorite novel, Joseph Heller's Catch-22, which I read again just recently.
Sorry to hear about the disability. If you are looking for some titles to read, let me suggest to you some of the great classical works of the Greek and Roman world. If you have not read them already, try to read: Homer, Hesiod, the Greek tragedies and comedies, Thucydides, and Herodotus, to name a few. On the Roman side, you might want to take a look at Vergil, Livy, Cicero, Ovid and Tacitus. Once you get into these, you will find other classical authors that interest you. Another way to go is to read the world's best seller every year, the bible. There are also good commentaries on the bible or people who write about themes related to the bible. One of my favorite is from a German scholar, pastor and martyr: Dietrich Bonhoefer.
Check out the following link to recommended reading lists:
You will find the greatest novels, authors, non-fiction books, most influential books, and Harold Bloom's literary cannon.
Also see the link of the Enotes reading list at the bottom.
If you are English/German you may want to read some of the greatest German writers (or who wrote in German) translated into English, if you haven't read them already: Goethe's Faust, Kafka's The Trial, and Thomas Mann's The Magic Mountain, and Herman Hesse's Siddhartha.
My favorite writer in German is Kafka. Both his short stories and his novels are exquisite. Metamorphosis is one of the greatest novellas ever written, and my favorite short story of his is "The Hunger Artist." Must reads, both.