Saturday, March 17, 2007


For some reason I was thinking about my love of reading aloud. One of the great advantages of having younger siblings or children is that you can usually persuade them to listen. Spouses can be trickier, but if s/he is willing to do the driving on long trips, you can provide the entertainment. In the early days with my wife I didn't even drive, so per force she did the driving and I did the reading. The situation obtained for some time. Long drives with our daughter with my wife driving were the occasions for much of my reading -- as in regular trips back and forth, Princeton, NJ, to New Castle, DE, or to Philadelphia, PA, and later CT to DE. There were also a few occasions of reading aloud, round-robin style, with friends, but that was restricted to Joyce and Pynchon. Reading aloud was also a pastime when my wife was making something with fabric or my daughter was doing art for college courses she took in junior high and high school. Often only one or the other was the audience; for instance, my wife heard Love in the Time of Cholera; my daughter heard 100 Years of Solitude. Of course, there is no way to list all the innumerable bedtime books of her childhood and the frequency with which they were read. I've listed those whose authors I recall.

To the best of my memory, these were the books read, to various listeners...

Alexander, Lloyd: The Chronicles of Prydain (5 volumes)
Austen, Jane: Mansfield Park; Pride and Prejudice; Emma; Northanger Abbey
Bradbury, Ray: Fahrenheit 451 [twice]; Something Wicked This Way Comes [twice]; The Martian Chronicles
Brown, Donald: Between Days [as mp3s]
Carroll, Lewis: Alice's Adventures in Wonderland [twice; +on tape]; Through the Looking-Glass [twice; +on tape]
Cather, Willa: O Pioneers!
Cleary, Beverly: all the Ramona books; The Mouse and the Motorcycle
Conan Doyle, Arthur: various stories; The Hound of the Baskervilles
Dahl, Ronald: James and the Giant Peach; Matilda; Witches; Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Defoe, Daniel: Robinson Crusoe
Dickens, Charles: Great Expectations [twice]; David Copperfield [twice]; Oliver Twist
Disch, Thomas M.: The Brave Little Toaster
Dostoevsky, Fyodor: The Idiot
Fagles, Robert: translation of The Illiad
Fitzgerald, F. Scott: The Great Gatsby
Fitzgerald, Robert: translation of The Odyssey
Forster, E. M.: A Room With a View
Franzen, Jonathan: The Corrections
Garcia Marquez, Gabriel: One Hundred Years of Solitude; Love in the Time of Cholera
Gottlieb, Gerald: The Adventures of Ulysses [multiple times]
Grahame, Kenneth: The Wind in the Willows
Hemingway, Ernest: The Sun Also Rises
Hinton, S.E.: The Outsiders [twice]; That Was Then, This is Now; Rumblefish
Hobsbawm, Eric: The Age of Extremes
Irving, John: The Hotel New Hampshire
Jackson, Shirley: The Haunting of Hill House
James, Henry: The Turn of the Screw; What Maisie Knew; Washington Park; Portrait of a Lady
Joyce, James: Ulysses [twice]; Finnegans Wake [twice; +portions on tape]
Juster, Norton: The Phantom Tollbooth
Kerouac, Jack: The Subterraneans
Key, Alexander: The Forgotten Door [multiple times]
Kundera, Milan: The Book of Laughter and Forgetting
Lewis, C. S.: The Chronicles of Narnia (five volumes)
Lodge, David: Small World
Maddox, Brenda: Nora
Morrison, Toni: Sula; Song of Solomon; Tar Baby; Paradise
Orwell, George: Animal Farm
Poe, E.A.: various stories
Pym, Barbara: The Sweet Dove Died; Quartet in Autumn; Some Tame Gazelle; An Unsuitable Attachment; Excellent Women; A Few Green Leaves; No Fond Return of Love
Pynchon, Thomas: Gravity's Rainbow [twice; +portions on tape]; Vineland
Randall, Florence Engel: The Watcher in the Woods
Roth, Philip: The Human Stain
Russo, Richard: Straight Man; Nobody's Fool
Shakespeare, William: Julius Caesar; Macbeth
Shelley, Mary: Frankenstein [twice]
Simpson, Eileen: Poets in Their Youth
Snyder, Zilpha Keatley: Black and Blue Magic [twice]
Stevenson, R.L.: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde [twice]
Thackeray, William: Vanity Fair
Tolkien, J.R.R.: The Hobbit [twice]; The Lord of the Rings (three vols.) [twice]
Twain, Mark: Tom Sawyer; The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn; A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court; The Prince and the Pauper
Vonnegut, Kurt: Cat's Cradle; Timequake
Wells, H.G.: The Invisible Man (twice)
Wilde, Oscar: The Picture of Dorian Gray

There are many other books I'd like to read aloud, but it really only works with someone listening. And some books just don't go over too well for the listener no matter how much I enjoy reading them. Modernists tend to suffer in this regard: Woolf, Faulkner, Joyce (unless you've got the text in front of you). I've heard from those enamoured of books on tape that there is a very good quality Ulysses out there, but I haven't looked into it. I'm not interested in listening.

Book after book
I get hooked
Everytime the writer
Talks to me like a friend

--Marc Bolan, "Spaceball Ricochet" (1972)

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