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    Saturday, March 06, 2010

    100 Books to Read

    Obviously I'm not writing much. Why? Because I've spent the last year and half going insane. About a year ago, I went to work in the research lab and I was talking to my professor, when he made an interesting comment.

    "So, it's good to see you looking happy," he said.
    "Well, I am. I really am."
    "A lot of people have a hard time with third year [of medical school], but you seem to be doing well."
    "Umm...I think I really like third year much better than the first two. I feel like I'm really learning medicine, and I get to work with people -- no more nose in my textbooks all day long."
    "That's good to hear. A lot of students that move to the wards have a hard time with it. Over my years, I've seen a lot of them crack under the pressure."
    "Well, I dunno about that, but we did have one girl drop out a month or so ago."
    "No, I mean they really need to see psychiatrists. They just can't handle the responsibility and the change from being a student."
    "Oh... That's not me. I'm liking this much better than before."

    His reference to people cracking under the pressure rang too true then and now. I've been ruminating over it for the last four days. Mainly, I find that doing medicine all day, every day, kills me. I need a release. Mostly, I need a book to read.

    Throughout third year, I longed for the day when I could read what I wanted to read, because it piqued my interest, not because I had to. Even medical books -- I used to go down to the medical library in the Texas Medical Center and read medical journals for fun, because I found them interesting. Now those same journals are a chore, because I'm forced to read them daily.

    Things turned for the better when my friend posted a list of 100 books on his facebook page. Supposedly the BBC thinks the average American has only read 6 of the 100. I've read 29. But therein lay my release! I'd been wondering what to read to get my mind off of medicine, and now I'd decided: I would read each book until I'd read all 100.

    As my fourth year of medical school got underway, I was amazed at how much free time I truly had. Medicine started to become fun again - outside of the required courses, I could study what I wanted and typically had a little free time to read something outside of medicine.

    Trying to find the list online, I ran into some other lists. Every list is a little different, but there are many similarities between them, which I think speaks to the strengths of those respective books.


    Here's one list from the BBC that had the most interesting (to me) books. In April 2003, by popular vote (one person, one vote), it tried to find the most popular book of all time among UK readers. This is the list in order:

    1. The Lord of the Rings, JRR Tolkien
    2. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
    3. His Dark Materials, Philip Pullman
    4. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams
    5. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, JK Rowling
    6. To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
    7. Winnie the Pooh, AA Milne
    8. Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell
    9. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, CS Lewis
    10. Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë
    11. Catch-22, Joseph Heller
    12. Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontë
    13. Birdsong, Sebastian Faulks
    14. Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier
    15. The Catcher in the Rye, JD Salinger
    16. The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame
    17. Great Expectations, Charles Dickens
    18. Little Women, Louisa May Alcott
    19. Captain Corelli's Mandolin, Louis de Bernieres
    20. War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy
    21. Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell
    22. Harry Potter And The Philosopher's Stone, JK Rowling
    23. Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets, JK Rowling
    24. Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban, JK Rowling
    25. The Hobbit, JRR Tolkien
    26. Tess Of The D'Urbervilles, Thomas Hardy
    27. Middlemarch, George Eliot
    28. A Prayer For Owen Meany, John Irving
    29. The Grapes Of Wrath, John Steinbeck
    30. Alice's Adventures In Wonderland, Lewis Carroll
    31. The Story Of Tracy Beaker, Jacqueline Wilson
    32. One Hundred Years Of Solitude, Gabriel García Márquez
    33. The Pillars Of The Earth, Ken Follett
    34. David Copperfield, Charles Dickens
    35. Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, Roald Dahl
    36. Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson
    37. A Town Like Alice, Nevil Shute
    38. Persuasion, Jane Austen
    39. Dune, Frank Herbert
    40. Emma, Jane Austen
    41. Anne Of Green Gables, LM Montgomery
    42. Watership Down, Richard Adams
    43. The Great Gatsby, F Scott Fitzgerald
    44. The Count Of Monte Cristo, Alexandre Dumas
    45. Brideshead Revisited, Evelyn Waugh
    46. Animal Farm, George Orwell
    47. A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens
    48. Far From The Madding Crowd, Thomas Hardy
    49. Goodnight Mister Tom, Michelle Magorian
    50. The Shell Seekers, Rosamunde Pilcher
    51. The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett
    52. Of Mice And Men, John Steinbeck
    53. The Stand, Stephen King
    54. Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy
    55. A Suitable Boy, Vikram Seth
    56. The BFG, Roald Dahl
    57. Swallows And Amazons, Arthur Ransome
    58. Black Beauty, Anna Sewell
    59. Artemis Fowl, Eoin Colfer
    60. Crime And Punishment, Fyodor Dostoyevsky
    61. Noughts And Crosses, Malorie Blackman
    62. Memoirs Of A Geisha, Arthur Golden
    63. A Tale Of Two Cities, Charles Dickens
    64. The Thorn Birds, Colleen McCollough
    65. Mort, Terry Pratchett
    66. The Magic Faraway Tree, Enid Blyton
    67. The Magus, John Fowles
    68. Good Omens, Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
    69. Guards! Guards!, Terry Pratchett
    70. Lord Of The Flies, William Golding
    71. Perfume, Patrick Süskind
    72. The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, Robert Tressell
    73. Night Watch, Terry Pratchett
    74. Matilda, Roald Dahl
    75. Bridget Jones's Diary, Helen Fielding
    76. The Secret History, Donna Tartt
    77. The Woman In White, Wilkie Collins
    78. Ulysses, James Joyce
    79. Bleak House, Charles Dickens
    80. Double Act, Jacqueline Wilson
    81. The Twits, Roald Dahl
    82. I Capture The Castle, Dodie Smith
    83. Holes, Louis Sachar
    84. Gormenghast, Mervyn Peake
    85. The God Of Small Things, Arundhati Roy
    86. Vicky Angel, Jacqueline Wilson
    87. Brave New World, Aldous Huxley
    88. Cold Comfort Farm, Stella Gibbons
    89. Magician, Raymond E Feist
    90. On The Road, Jack Kerouac
    91. The Godfather, Mario Puzo
    92. The Clan Of The Cave Bear, Jean M Auel
    93. The Colour Of Magic, Terry Pratchett
    94. The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho
    95. Katherine, Anya Seton
    96. Kane And Abel, Jeffrey Archer
    97. Love In The Time Of Cholera, Gabriel García Márquez
    98. Girls In Love, Jacqueline Wilson
    99. The Princess Diaries, Meg Cabot
    100. Midnight's Children, Salman Rushdie

    So, since last June, I've tried to broaden my reading, and perhaps read the books on these lists. So far I've read:

    All 7 Harry Potter novels
    All 5 Dan Brown novels
    Blink by Malcome Gladwell
    Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons

    and I'm currently reading Open by Andre Agassi.

    Plus, my scholastic freedom culminated last month on ultrasonography. There I worked 8 to 5 but could read whatever I wanted, allowing me to study things I found interesting. Since I didn't work nights or weekends, I had the freedom to read Watchmen - a decidedly un-medical novel - to help me unwind. That was a truly great month.

    So, as I continue my exploration outside of medicine, how many novels on the list above have you read? What are you currently reading?


    Marie said...

    20... alright! Of course, that's adding together 2 halves of books I'm not yet finished with. Thanks for this list... I've been looking for some good books lately.

    Triet said...

    Not bad. I'm at 28 on that list, not counting Memoirs of a Geisha (seen the movie, not read the book) or halves. The other lists are a little different - less contemporary or more diverse. I think I've read more on the other lists. Good goal though!

    Susan said...
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    P.Linh said...

    just 15...(buồn!) Most of them are novels by Charles Dickens and J.K Rowling.( besides J.D Salinger,Colleen McCollough,Margaret Mitchell,George Orwell).
    I am learning "The old men and the sea" at school.
    Anyway, i will read completely these books before getting 30.lol