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“Hi! Welcome to Gaslight Bookstore, how may I help you?”

“I was here last week and saw ______. I’ve been so looking forward to reading it!”

“We’ve never had that book.”

“Really? Jason put it on hold for me, even though you had lots of copies. He was very helpful.”

“I don’t know any Jason. Are you sure it wasn’t Samantha?”

“I don’t think so. Jason has worked here for years; I know him well. Anyway, can I order the book?”

“This is a bakery.”

“I beg your pardon? This is clearly a bookstore.”

“I think I know the difference between books and loaves of bread. Are you hungry?”

“Well, yes I am, but that’s beside the point. I want to buy a book!”

“Perhaps the hunger is affecting your brain. I can help you with that, but you need to admit that there was never a bookstore in the first place.”

“What…?! I’ve been buying books here forever! Can’t you just give me the book I want?”

“Don’t you mean you want this marble rye? We’re known for your marble ryes.”

“It does look delicious… fine, I’ll have one loaf of the rye and some of these croissants.”

“Ma’am, those aren’t croissants, they’re The Hunger Games series.”

“Please lock me away now.”

Lists are all the rage on social media like Facebook: how do you stack up against your friends or your peer group or complete strangers? About two years ago I started my own peculiar lists of books, with the idea to determine how much you and I might be alike, in our reading habits and history. I like to think that I have an eclectic taste in books; I also have a lot of gaps in the list of so-called “canon”–books that I’ve never read. For example, I’ve never read Wuthering Heights, or Gone With the Wind, or Huckleberry Finn. I’ve always gone my own way, and read what I wanted to read, rather than what I should have read. Have you read even a quarter of the books on this list? We might be soulmates.
1. Post Office – Charles Bukowski
2. Slaughterhouse Five – Kurt Vonnegut
3. One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
4. The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
5. The Foundation Trilogy – Isaac Asimov
6. Lord Foul’s Bane – Stephen R. Donaldson’
7. Blue Movie – Terry Southern
8. Shoeless Joe – W.P. Kinsella
9. To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
10. Nostromo – Joseph Conrad
11. The Man in the High Tower – Philip K. Dick
12. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie – Muriel Spark
13. Lanark – Alasdair Gray
14. Lucky Jim – Kingsley Amis
15. Confessions of an English Opium Eater – Thomas de Quincey
16. As I Lay Dying – William Faulkner
17. The Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck
18. This Can’t Be Happening at Macdonald Hall – Gordon Korman
19. The New ATom’s Bombshell – Robert Browne
20. any Encyclopedia Brown books – Donald J. Sobol
21. A Spell for Chameleon – Piers Anthony
22. The Breast – Phillip Roth
23. The Collected Works of Billy the Kid – Michael Ondaatje
24. The Possessed – Fiodr Dostoevskii
25. Never Cry Wolf – Farley Mowat
26. Watchmen – Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons
27. Jimmy Corrigan, the Smartest Kid on Earth – Chris Ware
28. The Dead Zone – Stephen King
29. Myra Breckinridge – Gore Vidal
30. The Stranger – Albert Camus
31. Lord of the Flies – William Golding
32. The Tin Drum – Gunter Grass
33. Shikasta – Doris Lessing
34. The Razor’s Edge – W. Somerset Maugham
35. Things Fall Apart – Chinua Achebe
36. The Swing in the Garden – Hugh Hood
37. 1984 – George Orwell
38. We – Evgenii Zamiatin
39. Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
40. A Clockwork Orange – Anthony Burgess
41. The Iron Dream – Norman Spinrad
42. On the Road – Jack Kerouac
43. Solomon Gursky Was Here – Mordecai Richler
44. Survivor – Chuck Palahniuk
45. Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov
46. Moby-Dick – Herman Melville
47. Trainspotting – Irvine Welsh
48. The Day of the Triffids – John Wyndham
49. The Poisonwood Bible – Barbara Kingsolver
50. 40 Stories – Donald Barthelme
51. A History of the World in 10 1/2 Chapters
52. Darkness at Noon – Arthur Koestler
53. The Mosquito Coast – Paul Theroux
54. The Pornographer’s Poem – Michael Turner
55. The White Hotel – D.M. Thomas
56. Confessions of a Mask – Yukio Mishima
57. The Island of the Blue Dolphins – Scott O’Dell
58. The Basketball Diaries – Jim Carroll
59. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest – Ken Kesey
60. Franny and Zooey – J.D. Salinger
61. Cancer Ward – Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
62. War and Peace – Leo Tolstoi
63. The Abortion – Richard Brautigan
64. Exercises in Style – Raymond Queneau
65. Nazi Literature in the Americas – Roberto Bolano
66. Scott Pilgrim – Bryan Lee O’Malley
67. Important Artifacts and Personal Property… – Leanne Shapton
68. Harmony – Project Itoh
69. Three Men in a Boat – Jerome K. Jerome
70. The White Bone – Barbara Gowdy
71. Lady Chatterley’s Lover – D.H. Lawrence
72. You Know Me Al – Ring Lardner
73. Such a Long Journey – Rohinton Mistry
74. The Pussycat Transplant – Ted Mark
75. Uncle Shelby’s ABZ Book – Shel Silverstein
76. Harold and the Purple Crayon – Crockett Johnson
77. Birdland – Gilberto Hernandez
78. *
* You’ll notice that the list ends prematurely at 77 titles, when I had intended to get to 100. I don’t know if I can get back into the mindset of coming up with this list, without referring to notes.


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