Pretentious books; Killing you with kindness; Another Arar

The Globe mentioned yet another Canadian detained overseas in suspicious circumstances today, one I hadn’t heard of, despite my serious news addiction (his name’s Abousfian Abdelrazik). The confidential papers the reporter uncovered are mostly concerned with how to keep the story from turning into a scandal when it became public. sigh So much for learning from the case of Maher Arar.

Speaking of actions done in our name to keep us safe, the US Air Force promises to kill us with kindness from now on, by either sequestering carbon equivalent to their jet’s emissions or using agrofuels to reduce their overall ecological footprint. That’s very magnanimous of them and all, and I’m sure everyone currently being bombed by them will greatly appreciate the gesture, even though at first glance they appear to be merely greenwashing over complaints about a planned switch to oil made from coal, possibly the dirtiest commercially viable fuel on the market today.

On a lighter note, here’s a list of the books most often marked unread on LibraryThing. I’d be interested in making an account on that site, except that you can only list 200 titles with a free account, so there seems little point, given that I’m too cheap to pay. About six years ago I met a woman who had kept a list her entire life of every book she’d read (inspired by her father, who kept one as well). It would be an interesting exercise; although I dismissed the idea of starting one at the time, I wouldn’t mind having a list of everything I’ve read since then. Anyways, this list is interesting; it includes a lot of books I’ve read in large part because I’d heard so much about them, and many others which I’ve long meant to read for much the same reason.

Titles from their list which I’ve actually read:

  • 1984
  • A Clockwork Orange
  • American Gods
  • Angela’s Ashes: A memoir
  • Anna Karenina
  • A People’s History of the United States: 1492-present
  • Atlas Shrugged
  • The Blind Assassin
  • Brave New world
  • Catch-22
  • The Catcher in the Rye
  • Crime and Punishment
  • Collapse: How societies choose to fail or succeed
  • The Count of Monte Cristo
  • Cryptonomicon
  • The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
  • Dune
  • Emma
  • The Fountainhead
  • The God of Small Things
  • The Grapes of Wrath
  • Great Expectations
  • Gulliver’s Travels
  • Guns, Germs, and Steel: The fates of human societies
  • The Hobbit
  • Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell
  • The Kite Runner
  • Les Misérables [in English]
  • Life of Pi
  • Love in the Time of Cholera
  • Mansfield Park
  • Moby Dick
  • Neverwhere
  • Oliver Twist
  • One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
  • One Hundred Years of Solitude
  • Oryx and Crake
  • The Poisonwood Bible
  • Pride and Prejudice
  • Slaughterhouse-Five
  • Tess of the D’Urbervilles
  • The Three Musketeers
  • Treasure Island
  • Watership Down
  • White Teeth
  • Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An inquiry into values

Books I would particularly recommend are in bold, and books which I thought were an utter waste of my time are in italics. Why I finished some of these last is beyond me.

Titles which, like the user community of LibraryThing, I started but never finished:

  • Middlemarch
  • The Mists of Avalon
  • Mrs. Dalloway
  • Northanger Abbey
  • Quicksilver
  • The Silmarillion
  • War and Peace (this is still sitting on the shelf with a bookmark in it, but I haven’t picked it up in ages)
  • Wuthering Heights

Titles I’ve never even opened, although in some cases I’ve meant to for years:

  • A Confederacy of Dunces
  • The Aeneid
  • A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius
  • The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay
  • Anansi Boys
  • Angels & Demons
  • A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
  • A Short History of Nearly Everything
  • Beloved
  • The Brothers Karamazov
  • The Canterbury Tales
  • Cloud Atlas
  • The Confusion
  • The Corrections
  • David Copperfield
  • Don Quixote
  • Dracula
  • Dubliners
  • Eats, Shoots & Leaves
  • Foucault’s Pendulum
  • Frankenstein
  • Freakonomics: A rogue economist explores the hidden side of everything
  • Gravity’s Rainbow
  • The Historian
  • The Hunchback of Notre Dame
  • The Iliad
  • In Cold Blood: A true account of a multiple murder and its consequences
  • The Inferno
  • Jane Eyre
  • Lolita
  • Madame Bovary
  • Memoirs of a Geisha
  • Middlesex
  • The Name of the Rose
  • The Odyssey
  • The Once and Future King
  • On the Road
  • Persuasion
  • The Picture of Dorian Gray
  • The Prince
  • Reading Lolita in Tehran: A memoir in books
  • The Satanic Verses
  • The Scarlet Letter
  • Sense and Sensibility
  • The Sound and the Fury
  • The Tale of Two Cities
  • The Time Traveler’s Wife
  • To the Lighthouse
  • Ulysses [neither Joyce nor Homer]
  • The Unbearable Lightness of Being
  • Vanity Fair
  • Wicked: The life and times of the Wicked Witch of the West

This list is from Jake.

What have you been reading lately?

Edit: I’ve now read Cloud Atlas, one of the few titles on the list I’d never heard of, and whose description intrigued me. Lovely novel.