How to Be Well Read

Thứ bảy - 27/04/2024 01:12
If you want to be well-read, then, in the words of William Faulkner, you'll have to "Read, read, read. Read everything..." You can start at the very beginning, or just make your way down an eclectic list of books that you'd like to read....
Table of contents

If you want to be well-read, then, in the words of William Faulkner, you'll have to "Read, read, read. Read everything..." You can start at the very beginning, or just make your way down an eclectic list of books that you'd like to read. What's important is that you pick books that are lively, challenging, and which broaden your horizons. If you want to be well-read, here are some tips and recommendations to get you started.

Part 1
Part 1 of 3:

Reading the Classics

  1. Step 1 Read the classics before 1600.
    Reading the classics is the very first thing you have to do to be well-read. If you want to build a solid foundation for your understanding of the books you read, then you can't avoid some of the earliest plays, poems, and oral tales ever written down. Remember that the novel didn't really get popular until the 18th century, so you won't find novels on this list. Without reading the poetry of Homer or the plays of Sophocles, you won't be able to call yourself well-read. Here's a list to get you started:
    • The Epic of Gilgamesh (Unknown author) (18th – 17th century BCE)
    • The Iliad and The Odyssey by Homer (850–750 BCE, 8th century BCE)
    • "The Oresteia" by Aeschylus (458 BCE)
    • Oedipus the King by Sophocles (430 BCE)
    • Medea by Euripides (431 BCE)
    • Aeneid by Virgil (29–19 BCE)
    • One Thousand and One Nights (Unknown author) (700–1500)
    • Beowulf (Unknown author) (975-1025)
    • The Tale of Genji by Murasaki Shikibu (11th century)
    • The Divine Comedy by Dante (1265–1321)
    • The Decameron by Boccaccio (1349–53)
    • The Canterbury Tales by Chaucer (14th century)
    • "The Mahabharata" by Vyasa
  2. Advertisement
  1. Step 1 Read the classics from 1600-1913.
    Though a large amount of material is covered in these measly 300 years, reading the books from the time period when the novel emerged until the beginning of World War I will give you a sense of the progress that the novel and other works had made throughout the Romantic and Victorian periods, as well as an understanding of the realism that was the traditional mode for novels which was then turned on its head with the advent of Modernism and the disillusionment that came from WWI. Here's a list to get you started:
    • Don Quixote by Cervantes 1605 (part 1), 1615 (part 2)
    • "Taming of the Shrew," Romeo and Juliet, "A Midsummer Night's Dream," "The Merchant of Venice," "Much Ado About Nothing," "As You Like It," "Julius Caesar," Hamlet, "Othello," "King Lear," and "Macbeth" by William Shakespeare (1593, 1594, 1595, 1596, 1598, 1599, 1599, 1600, 1604, 1605, 1605)
    • Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift (1726)
    • Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (1813)
    • Faust by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1832)
    • Le Père Goriot by Honoré de Balzac (1835)
    • Dead Souls by Nikolai Gogol (1842)
    • Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë (1847)
    • Moby-Dick by Herman Melville (1851)
    • Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert (1856)
    • Great Expectations by Charles Dickens (1861)
    • War and Peace and Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy (1869, 1877)
    • Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad (1899)
    • Crime and Punishment and The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky (1866, 1880)
    • Middlemarch by George Eliot (1871)
  2. Step 2 Read the classics from 1914-1995.
    This time period spans the advent of Modernism, an experimental form of fiction, as well as a rebellion against traditional narratives. Reading the classics of this time period will help you gain an understanding of the dramatic transformation of literature in the 20th century. Here's a list to get you going:
    • In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust (1913–27)
    • Ulysses by James Joyce (1922)
    • The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann (1924)
    • The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (1925)
    • The Trial by Franz Kafka (1925)
    • Mrs Dalloway and To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf (1925, 1927)
    • The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner (1929)
    • The Stranger by Albert Camus (1942)
    • The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand (1943)
    • Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell (1949)
    • The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger (1951)
    • Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison (1952)
    • The Sun Also Rises and The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway (1926, 1952)
    • "The Lord of The Rings" by J.R.R. Tolkien (1954, 1955)
    • Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov (1955)
    • Pedro Páramo by Juan Rulfo (1955)
    • Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe (1958)
    • Rabbit, Run by John Updike (1960)
    • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (1960)
    • The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing (1962)
    • The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath (1963)
    • One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez (1967)
    • Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut (1969)
  3. Step 3 Read more contemporary classics from 1980 to the present.
    Though these books haven't stood the test of decades of time, there are still a number of contemporary novels that are so popular that it may feel like everyone has read them. In fact, reading these books may make you feel the most well-read because people will be talking about them the most. Here are some books to get you started:
    • Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie (1981)
    • The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood (1984)
    • Beloved by Toni Morrison (1987)
    • The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami (1997)
    • American Pastoral by Philip Roth (1997)
    • The God of Small Things" by Arundhati Roy (1997)
    • Disgrace by J. M. Coetzee (1999)
    • White Teeth by Zadie Smith (2000)
    • Atonement by Ian McEwan (2001)
    • The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Klay by Michael Chabon (2001)
    • Everything is Illuminated by Johnathan Safran Foer (2002)
    • Middlesex by Jeffery Eugenides
    • The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini (2003)
    • The Known World by Edward P. Jones (2003)
    • Gilead by Marilynne Robinson (2004)
    • The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz (2007)
    • 2666 by Roberto Bolaño (2008)
    • Swamplandia! by Karen Russell (2011)
  4. Advertisement
Part 2
Part 2 of 3:

Becoming Well-Read in Different Genres

  1. Step 1 Read short stories.
    Short stories are an incredible genre all their own, and if you really want to be well-read, then you have to read the short stories of classic masters as well as some contemporary short stories. For short stories, it's more important to read the works of a particular author than a collection, so here is a list of classic short story writers as well as more contemporary writers that you have to check out:
    • Classic short story masters (1600-1950): Edgar Allan Poe, Anton Chekhov, Ernest Hemingway, Jorge Luis Borges, Kafka, Isaac Babel, John Updike, Katherine Mansfield, Eudora Welty, and Ray Bradbury.
    • Contemporary short story masters: (1950-Present): Flannery O'Connor, Raymond Carver, Donald Barthelme, Tim 'O Brien, George Saunders, Jhumpa Lahiri, Junot Diaz, Z.Z. Packer, Joyce Carol Oates, and Denis Johnson.
    • Classic Short Story Collections:
      • In Our Time by Ernest Hemingway (1925)
      • A Good Man is Hard to Find by Flannery O'Connor (1953)
      • What We Talk About When We Talk About Love by Raymond Carver (1981)
      • Jesus' Son by Denis Johnson (1992)
      • Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri (1999)
  2. Step 2 Read plays.
    If you want to be well-read, then you also have to read the works of classic playwrights. Though Shakespeare is the playwright you should know the best, he has been previously listed. However, there are other contemporary and not-so-contemporary plays that you should read if you want to call yourself well-read. Check these out:
    • Everything by Shakespeare, including Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet, and Much Ado About Nothing (1606, 1597, 1599)
    • Hedda Gabler and A Doll's House by Henrik Ibsen (1890, 1879)
    • The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde (1895)
    • Cyrano de Bergerac by Edmund Rostand (1897)
    • The Cherry Orchard and Uncle Vanya by Chekhov (1904, 1897)
    • Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw (1912)
    • Our Town by Thornton Wilder (1938)
    • Death of a Salesman and The Crucible by Arthur Miller (1949, 1953)
    • Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett (1949)
    • Twelve Angry Men by Reginald Rose (1954)
    • A Streetcar Named Desire, The Glass Menagerie, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof by Tennessee Williams (1947, 1944, 1955)
    • No Exit by John-Paul Sartre (1944)
    • Inherit the Wind by Jerome Lawrence (1955)
    • Long Day's Journey into Night and The Iceman Cometh by Eugene O'Neill (1956, 1946)
    • A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry (1959)
    • Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? by Edward Albee (1963)
    • Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead by Tom Stoppard (1966)
    • Betrayal by Harold Pinter (1978)
  3. Step 5 Read popular fiction and non-fiction.
    If you really want to know what everyone is talking about, then you can't just sit around reading Virgil. You'll have to know what's going on in the modern world too, and to read those beach reads or plane reads or Oprah's book club has been talking about. How do you know what to read? Well, check out what people are reading on planes, beaches, etc., and also check out the New York Times bestseller list to check out which books are on the list. Here are some popular books that have all been published in the last twenty years that nearly everyone has read these days:
    • "The Wheel of Time" series by Robert Jordan
    • The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
    • Any novel by Nicholas Sparks
    • Any novel by John Grisham
    • The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins
    • The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown
    • Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe
    • Fear of Flying by Erica Jong
    • Books by Bernard Cornwell
    • The "A Song of Ice and Fire" series by George R.R. Martin
    • The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion
    • A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers
    • Freakonomics by Steven Levitt
    • Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
    • Outliers and The Tipping Point by Malcom Gladwell
    • The Twilight series by Stephanie Meyer
    • The Alchemist by Paolo Coelho
    • The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo series by Stieg Larsson
  4. Advertisement
Part 3
Part 3 of 3:

Making Reading More Fun

  1. Advertisement

Total notes of this article: 0 in 0 rating

Click on stars to rate this article