Today’s List: The Art of Reading

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HIGH BROW | Garfunkel’s amazing list

Art Garfunkel has read 1,023 books since June 1968. How do we know this? He’s kept a meticulous diary of his literary conquests over the last 40 years, which include quite a bit of scholarly stuff that smart people read and very little of the kind of pulp fiction the rest of us read. If you’d like to see his list, you can check it out on his website here.

I felt pretty insignificant while perusing the Garfunkel collection. My sister and I graduated from a small high school nestled out in the prairie adjacent to a Kansas wheat field; my one literary experience there was reading “Catch-22.” High brow we weren’t. In high school, Stephen King was more my speed. To boost my sophistication level, I would occasionally read the dust jacket of one of the Leon Uris novels my brainy sister loved.

But I do remember the Simon & Garfunkel song “The Dangling Conversation,” and the references in it to Emily Dickinson (whom I haven’t read) and Robert Frost (yes, I have) and intellectual pursuits as a barrier to a real relationship. So I’m not as depressed now as I was when I first heard about this impressive list. For fun, you can read the “Talk of the Town” piece about Art’s list from the recent edition of The New Yorker magazine (which I read solely for the cartoons) here.

And if you’re artsy-schmartsy, you can also find some of Art’s poems on his website, including this dazzler:

Write the poem out loud.
Authorize the heart.
Burn the Bridge
and Be the work of art!

Yikes.

Here’s Art’s list of his favorites… The two books in bold are the only ones off the list I’ve read. (P.S.: I showed the list to my wife…she’s read 16 of them. But she doesn’t know the lyrics to half the Simon & Garfunkel songs I do…)

1. Jun 1968 Jean-Jacques Rousseau The Confessions 1781 606 pp.
2. Jun 1968 Erich Fromm The Art of Loving 1956 146 pp.
3. Oct 1968 P.D. Ouspensky In Search of the Miraculous 1949 389 pp.
4. Feb 1969 L.N. Tolstoy War and Peace 1869 1444 pp.
5. May 1969 Philip Roth Portnoy’s Complaint 1969 274 pp.
6. Sep 1969 Emily Brontë Wuthering Heights 1847 320 pp.
7. Jan 1970 Johann Wolfgang Goethe The Sorrows of Young Werther 1774 199 pp.
8. Mar 1970 Garrett Mattingly The Armada 1959 402 pp.
9. Mar 1971 Bill Moyers Listening to America 1971 342 pp.
10. Jul 1971 Charlotte Brontë Jane Eyre 1947 477 pp.
11. Jan 1972 L. N. Tolstoy Anna Karenina 1873 852 pp.
12. Mar 1972 Albert Schweitzer J.S. Bach, Vol. 1 1911 428 pp.
13. Oct 1973 Jane Austen Pride and Prejudice 1797 430 pp.
14. Oct 1974 Sir Arthur Conan Doyle The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes 1892 248 pp.
15. Feb 1975 Robert A. Caro The Power Broker 1974 1162 pp.
16. Jun 1975 Henry James Portrait of a Lady 1881 545 pp.
17. Dec 1976 John S. Shelton Geology Illustrated 1966 424 pp.
18. Jan 1977 Saul Bellow Humboldt’s Gift 1973 472 pp.
19. May 1977 C.G. Jung Modern Man in Search of a Soul 1933 244 pp.
20. May 1977 Charles Chaplin My Autobiography 1964 497 pp.
21. Sep 1977 Stephen King The Shining 1977 447 pp.
22. Jul 1977 Bulfinch Mythology 1855 236 pp.
23. Apr 1978 Charles Darwin The Origin of Species 1859 460 pp.
24. Apr 1978 Robert M. Persig Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance 1974 406 pp.
25. May 1978 Erik Erikson Childhood and Society 1950 424 pp.
26. May 1978 Marcel Proust Swann’s Way 1928 325 pp.
27. Jul 1978 Plato The Last Days of Socrates Euthyphro, The Apology, Crito, Phaedo 390 b.c. 199 pp.
28. Aug 1978 Fydor Dostoevsky The Idiot 642 pp.
29. Sep 1978 Robertson Davies Fifth Business 1970 268 pp.
30. Dec 1978 Jack Kerouac On the Road 1955 310 pp.
31. Aug 1979 Jean Rhys Good Morning, Midnight 1974 190 pp.
32. Sep 1979 Richard Price Ladies’ Man 1978 264 pp.
33. Sep 1979 Jean Rhys Voyage in the Dark 1934 159 pp.
34. Nov 1979 Thomas Hardy Jude the Obscure 1896 164 pp.
35. De 1979 Jonathan Swift Gulliver’s Travels 1726 360 pp.
36. Jan. 1980 Isaac Bashevis Singer The Slave 1962 287 pp.
37. Sep 1980 Jean Dorst The Life of Birds, vol. 1 1971 341 pp.
38. Sep 1980 Marcel Proust Within a Budding Grove 1920 386 pp.
39. Feb 1981 Edward Gibbon The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (Abridged) 1787 713 pp.
40. Feb 1981 J. P. Donleavy The Destinies of Darcy Dancer, Gentleman 1977 402 pp.
41. Mar 1981 James Joyce A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man 1916 253 pp.
42. Jun 1981 Gary Zukav The Dancing Wu Li Masters 1979 332 pp.
43. Jul 1981 David Halberstam The Powers That Be 1979 1027 pp.
44. Oct 1981 Saint Augustine Confessions 398 a.d. 347 pp.
45. Jan 1982 Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra Don Quixote 1604 940 pp.
46. Jan 1982 Virginia Woolf A Room of One’s Own 1929 118 pp.
47. Feb 1982 Baldesar Castiglione The Book of the Courtier 1518 345 pp.
48. Mar 1982 D.M. Thomas The White Hotel 1981 240 pp.
49. Apr 1982 Leon Edel Henry James – The Middle Years: 1882–1895 1962 389 pp.
50. Jun 1982 Johan Huizinga The Waning of the Middle Ages 1919 335 pp.
51. Jun 1982 Honoré de Balzac The Black Sheep 1842 339 pp.
52. Oct 1982 Robert G. Weisbord Ebony Kinship 1973 220 pp.
53. Feb 1983 William James The Varieties of Religious Experience 1902 500 pp.
54. Mar 1983 Thornton Wilder The Bridge of San Luis Rey 1927 124 pp.
55. Jun 1983 Emil Ludwig Napoleon 1926 682 pp.
56. Aug 1983 Henry David Thoreau Walden 1854 247 pp.
57. Aug 1983 Peter Gay The Enlightenment (The Rise of Modern Paganism) 1966 419 pp.
58. Sep 1983 W. Somerset Maugham The Razor’s Edge 1944 314 pp.
59. Sep 1983 Vladimir Nabokov Lectures on Literature 1980 382 pp.
60. Jan. 1984 James Joyce Ulysses 1921 783 pp.
61. Mar 1984 J.D. Salinger Nine Stories 1953 198 pp.
62. Ap. 1984 Thomas Mann The Confessions of Felix Krull Confidence Man (The Early Years) 1955 378 pp.
63. May 1984 L.N. Tolstoy What is Art? 1896 191 pp.
64. Oct 1984 Iris Murdoch A Severed Head 1961 205 pp.
65. Jan 1985 William M. Thackeray Vanity Fair 1847 636 pp.
66. Feb 1985 Thornton Wilder The Ides of March 1948 204 pp.
67. Mar 1985 Constantin Stanislavski An Actor Prepares 1936 295 pp.
68. May 1985 Harriet Beecher Stowe Uncle Tom’s Cabin 1852 590 pp.
69. Jun 1985 Lucretius On the Nature of the Universe c. 54 bc. 256 pp.
70. Jul 1985 Marcel Proust The Guermantes Way 1925 425 pp.
71. Aug 1985 Lao Tsu Tao Te Ching 6 Cent. bc. 81 pp.
72. Sep 1985 L.N. Tolstoy Confession 1879 93 pp.
73. Oct 1985 Richard Ellmann James Joyce 1959 744 pp.
74. Oct 1985 Herodotus The Histories 446 bc. 624 pp.
75. Nov 1985 Edith Wharton The House of Mirth 1905 329 pp.
76. Jan 1986 Virgil The Aeneid 30-19bc. 336 pp.
77. Ap. 1986 Julian Jaynes The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind 1976 446 pp.
78. Sep 1986 William Kennedy Ironweed 1983 227 pp.
79. Nov 1986 Vladimir Nabokov The Enchanter 1939 95 pp.
80. Dec 1986 Harold C. Schonberg The Lives of the Great Composers 1970 627 pp.
81. Dec 1986 David A. Stockman The Triumph of Politics 1986 411 pp.
82. Jan 1987 Thomas Hobbes Leviathan 1651 729 pp.
83. May 1987 Carrie Fisher Postcards from the Edge 1987 218 pp.
84. Jun 1987 Marcel Proust Cities of the Plain 1913 378 pp.
85. Oct 1987 Rudyard Kipling Just So Stories 1902 158 pp.
86. Oct 1987 Peter Ladefoged Elements of Acoustic Phonetics 1962 108 pp.
87. Nov 1987 Mark Twain Life on the Mississippi 1882 352 pp.
88. Feb 1988 Fyodor Dostoevsky Notes from the Underground 1864 158 pp.
89. Apr 1988 George Eliot Middlemarch 1872 908 pp.
90. Jun 1988 Francis Parkman The Oregon Trail 1849 286 pp.
91. Jan 1989 Charles Dickens Bleak House 1853 975 pp.
92. Mar 1989 E.L. Doctorrow Billy Bathgate 1989 323 pp.
93. Jul 1989 Brenda Maddox Nora – The Real Life of Molly Bloom 1988 381 pp.
94. Aug 1989 Sanche de Gramont Epitaph for Kings 1969 428 pp.
95. Oct 1989 Sigmund Freud Civilization and Its Discontents 1930 104 pp.
96. Jul 1990 Mark Twain Innocents Abroad 1867 492 pp.
97. Jul 1990 Sylvia Plath The Bell Jar 1963 216 pp.
98. Nov 1990 Thomas Mann The Magic Mountain 1927 716 pp.
99. Nov 1990 Fredric Dannen Hit Men 1990 327 pp.
100. Feb 1991 Will and Ariel Durant The Story of Civilization VIII: The Age of Louis XIV 1963 74 pp.
101. Mar 1991 Thomas L. Friedman From Beirut to Jerusalem 1989 525 pp.
102. Apr 1991 Marcus Aurelius The Meditations 177 ad. 129 pp.
103. May 1991 Marcel Proust The Captive 1921 289 pp.
104. Au. 1991 Oscar Hijuelos The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love 1989 407 pp.
105. Nov 1991 John Updike Rabbit, Run 1960 249 pp.
106. Nov 1991 William Styron The Confessions of Nat Turner 1966 429 pp.
107. Jan 1992 H.G. Wells A Short History of the World 1922 357 pp.
108. Feb 1992 Swami Prabhavananda The Sermon on the Mount according to Vendanta 1963 126 pp.
109. Apr 1992 Nathaniel Hawthorne The House of Seven Gables 1851 245 pp.
110. Dec 1992 Camille Paglia Sex, Art and American Culture 1992 287 pp.
111. Fe. 1993 Hermann Hesse Demian 1919 179 pp.
112. May 1994 Franz Kafka The Trial 1920 256 pp.
113. May 1994 Daneil Defoe A Journal of the Plague Year 1725 256 pp.
114. May 1994 Jean Rhys After Leaving Mr. Mackenzie 1931 191 pp.
115. Aug 1994 Henry Kissinger Diplomacy 1994 835 pp.
116. Dec 1994 Gustav Janouch Conversations with Kafka 1923 201 pp.
117. Jan 1995 Samuel Butler The Way of All Flesh 1903 444 pp.
118. Apr 1995 Stendahl The Red and the Black 1830 574 pp.
119. Mar 1996 Robert D. Kaplan Balkan Ghosts 1993 300 pp.
120 Ma. 1996 Gustave Flaubert Flaubert in Egypt 1850 222 pp.
121. Jun 1997 Charles and Mary Lamb Tales from Shakespeare 1807 313 pp.
122. Oct 1997 Keith B. Richburg Out of America 1997 254 pp.
123. Dec 1997 David Denby Great Books 1996 463 pp.
124. May 1998 Patrick Süskind Perfume 1985 263 pp.
125. Au. 1998 Ralph Ellison Invisible Man 1952 469 pp.
126. Nov 1998 D.H. Lawrence Sons and Lovers 1913 484 pp.
127. Feb 1999 Arthur Golden Memoirs of a Geisha 1997 428 pp.
128. Apr 1999 Russell Banks Cloudsplitter 1998 758 pp.
129. Oct 1999 Dan Kindlon, Michael Thompson Raising Cain 1999 267 pp.
130. May 2000 Zora Neale Hurston Their Eyes Were Watching God 1937
131. Aug 2000 Jacques Barzun From Dawn to Decadence 2000
132. Nov 2000 Jakob Walter The Diary of a Napoleonic Foot Soldier 1830
133. Mar 2002 Elizabeth Gaskell Wives and Daughters 1866
134. Dec 2002 Harold Nicolson Good Behavior 1955 285 pp.
135. Feb 2003 Charles Bukowski Post Office 1971 196 pp.

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