Monday, March 23, 2009

The ones I have already read: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's (or Philosopher's) Stone

This is the entry I am the most mystified about, and is the choice that I feel the greatest level of disagreement with. In the entire Harry Potter series, why is the first title the only one on the list of excellent books?

There are a few instances in the list in which only one book from a series is listed. Foundation, for example. Dune. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, which I disagree with, but which also lets me off the hook because I've never finished the entire series. In each of these situations, however, it can be argued that the first book in the series is the best, the one to read if you must only read one.

Not so with The Sorcerer's Stone. Many fans consider Prisoner of Azkaban the best of the series. I am personally fond of the Order of the Phoenix, in which Harry and his friends learn that most adults are motivated by self interest, and cannot be relied upon to do the right thing. Rebellion is introduced to the series in that novel. I always hear the Sex Pistols in my head when I think about it.

I suppose the point of selecting only the first book of a series when the entire series is not excellent makes sense from the point of view that the first book will make more sense than picking up in the middle. But this is Harry Potter. It wouldn't be all that hard to start in the middle and still understand everything that is happening. In fact, you could just watch the films up to the book in question, and then read Prisoner of Azkaban, or Order of the Phoenix. Both books are far better than their film versions, and the films leading up to each are sufficient to catch you up to date.

Or you could just read the entire series. It's not that hard. If scads of 9 year olds can finish a Harry Potter novel in one all-nighter, an adult can read the entire series in the space of two months, easily.

Meanwhile, the entire Discworld series by Terry Pratchett is on the list, which is 36 novels. Soon to be 37. I doubt that I will read that series all together - I'll probably have to read other novels in between. I really doubt I could finish it in two months time. I wonder if I will finish that series in one year's time.

Which brings up a point that I've been dodging for a while now. This isn't actually a list of 149 novels. It's a list of 149 novels and series. It's much more than 149. It's actually 196 novels. And also 7 short stories in the Earthsea series by Ursula K LeGuin.

If we count in individual novels, I've finished 20 so far. In completed titles/series, I've finished 17. I'm going to stick with the original 149 novel count, but I think it's worth noting that at times, I am reading well more than it seems like I am reading. Especially once I start on that Discworld series.


  1. You can quit now. No one would blame you! Go read American Psycho instead. SuSSUdio!

  2. No way am I quitting!
    I will probably take breaks from the list now and then to read something else. But overall, I like having a list. I am constantly reading something anyway, and It's nice, not wondering what I should read next.