Literary Blog Hop: Last Words

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Literary Blog Hop

Today's literary blog hop, hosted by The Blue Bookcase, asks the question:

What one literary work must you read before you die?

As pointed out by Christina, who answered the question on the hosting site, there are two ways to interpret the question. Which work do I think you should read before you die, and which work should I read before I die?

I think you should read Of Human Bondage by W. Somerset Maugham. This book spoke to me on a level I have rarely experienced with any novel. Philip's romantic struggles, indecision about life decisions, and overall growth as a person were moving and close to my heart.

As for myself, lately I have been thinking a lot about Shakespeare. I made my way through most of his comedies in high school (with limited understanding, I'm afraid) and I want to at some point in the future read everything attributed to him, for a few reasons. First of all, his characters and stories are amazing. Second of all, it is a family rumor that we are related to him. I don't know if this is true or not - I should probably try and figure it out at some point. Third of all, I would just feel very accomplished to have read the complete works of Shakespeare. There was actually a play at the Boise Shakespeare Festival that I went to in middle school called "The Compleat Wks. of Wm. Shakespear" that included references to every play. It was very irreverent and very funny. But I'd like to experience it in the uncondensed version.

What about you? What books do you think I should read before I die?


  1. That's a good question. Is there anything you HAVEN'T read yet? I'm reading Howards End by E.M. Forster. It's pretentious as hell, but surprisingly enjoyable and I think it's something you would like too.

  2. Shakespeare is a great choice. I think any reader should read A Reader on Reading by Alberto manguel

  3. Have you read A Razor's Edge as well? I've got to read Of Human Bondage...glad you suggested it. It's been sitting on my shelf, unloved :/

    I chose Southern novels:

  4. I discovered only a couple of months ago that my mom had Maugham's Of Human Bondage sitting in her shelf. I guess, since you so highly recommend it, I'll move it up my to-read-from-mom list!

    And Shakespeare's a good choice!....I hope I finish read all of his works before I go, too!

  5. Shakespeare's a good idea! It's definitely work though, at least for me. I read Hamlet in class in high school and barely understood most of it.

  6. There are a few other people mentioning Shakespeare as well. I think I could read a modern version (if they exist) but not the original (as Sarah says, hard to understand).

    I've pledged to read the book I chose by April 12th! How's that for dedication?

  7. Shakespeare is so endlessly rich. I love the cross-dressing comedies, especially Twelfth Night. And I really love the sonnets; reading the criticism (Folger Shakespeare edition and Helen Vendler's book) really enriched my understanding of the sonnets.

  8. @Jamie - I haven't read that one yet, for sure! I have A Room With a View but haven't read any Forster. I'll have to add Howard's End to my list.

    @parrish lantern - Sounds interesting!

    @What Book Today - Yes, Razor's Edge is the only other Maugham I've read. I loved it almost as much as Of Human Bondage.

    @Risa - I hope you enjoy Of Human Bondage!

    @Sarah - I was like that too. I had a really nice version that had "plain English" on one side and the Shakespearean on the other side. It helped a lot, but I don't know if it's available for all of Shakespeare's works!

    @leeswammes - That's awesome! Way to be on top of your list.

    @bibliophiliac - I think my favorite cross-dressing comedy is Two Gentleman of Verona, but that might just be because it was the first Shakespeare I ever saw performed.


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