Kate's Queen City Notes

Blundering through Cincinnati, laughing all the way

100 Books by 40: The Wind in the Willows and Wuthering Heights


I could have titled this My Dread of the Brontë Sisters. I read A Tale of Two Cities when I was a teenager. It scarred me against all British Literature. So, when I saw the over-representation of Brit Lit in the 100 best books list, I was dismayed. I just finished The Wind in the Willows and Wuthering Heights and am happy to report that my dislike of Brit Lit is unfounded. Really, I appreciate it much more as an adult.

Good writers have two distinct skills in varying degrees. Some writers are master artists with the English language, using it to paint a mental portrait so lush that a visual representation will simply fail to adequately convey it. Some writers are skilled storytellers. Stephen King is story teller. His sense for the sequence in which to reveal plot details is keen. I would not say that he is an artist with language though. Emily Brontë (Wuthering Heights) and Kenneth Grahame (The Wind in the Willows) are both, good storytellers and language artists. Grahame’s descriptions of the subtle changes that indicate summer giving way to fall are so precise as to take my five senses there. His descriptions resonate so deeply that I cannot do the experience justice in writing about it. Brontë has a gorgeous way of describing relationships and their propensity to destroy or create. The interactions she describes between her characters are micro stories that most of us have seen play out in small and large ways.

I loved both of these books. The Wind in the Willows is a wonderful, light-hearted read. Wuthering Heights is heavy, but gorgeous.

I started The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and Jane Eyre. I’m afraid The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy seems like Kool Aid against the fresh-squeezed orange juice of Jane Eyre. I’m telling myself to be less critical because they were written in different times. I’m telling myself that Douglas Adams need not be an artist with language to be an excellent storyteller. I confess that I don’t enjoy Sci-Fi as a genre. There are exceptions. I liked The Hunger Games and Star Wars; I have a soft spot for dystopian futuristic settings. The conclusion to this is to come in my next blog post. In the meantime here’s a quote from the foreword of Jane Eyre that speaks to me and a refreshed version of my reading list.

“Conventionality is not morality. Self-righteousness is not religion. To attack the first is not to assail the last. To pluck the mask from the face of the Pharisee, is not to lift an impious hand to the Crown of Thorns.” – Charlotte Bronte

I’m not underlining these titles. I think it’s pretty obvious they are books. Lazy, I know.

Reading now: 4. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams
10. Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë

Finished reading:
1. The Lord of the Rings, JRR Tolkien
2. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
3. His Dark Materials, Philip Pullman
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
12. Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontë
16. The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame
20. War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy
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
42. Watership Down, Richard Adams
43. The Great Gatsby, F Scott Fitzgerald
46. Animal Farm, George Orwell
53. The Stand, Stephen King
60. Crime And Punishment, Fyodor Dostoyevsky
63. A Tale Of Two Cities, Charles Dickens *I read this when I was too young to appreciate it; I would like to read it again as an adult. I will do so if I have time.
70. Lord Of The Flies, William Golding *I’ve read this twice. I will read it again if I have time.
87. Brave New World, Aldous Huxley
90. On The Road, Jack Kerouac *I’ve read this twice. I will read it again if I have time. I have the unabriged unedited version and will probably take on that if time allows.

Pending reading:
11. Catch-22, Joseph Heller
13. Birdsong, Sebastian Faulks
14. Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier – this will need to come from the library or second hand books
15. The Catcher in the Rye, JD Salinger – – this will need to come from the library or second hand books
17. Great Expectations, Charles Dickens
18. Little Women, Louisa May Alcott
19. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, Louis de Bernieres
21. Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell
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
44. The Count Of Monte Cristo, Alexandre Dumas
45. Brideshead Revisited, Evelyn Waugh
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
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
61. Noughts And Crosses, Malorie Blackman
62. Memoirs Of A Geisha, Arthur Golden
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
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
88. Cold Comfort Farm, Stella Gibbons
89. Magician, Raymond E Feist
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

2 thoughts on “100 Books by 40: The Wind in the Willows and Wuthering Heights

  1. Glad to hear you enjoyed Wuthering Heights! It’s one of my favourite books and the first classic I ever read. Before I read that I was very anti-classics, they seemed so stuffy and dull, it was only after reading Wuthering Heights that I realized they didn’t have to be that way, that they could be exciting, tense and twisted. Since then I have very slowly been trying to make my way through the classics. 🙂

    I must admit The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy has never really appealed to me either…

    Happy reading!

    • Yeah. I read a number of the classics in middle school and high school. I don’t think they left a favorable impression on me. I realize they have us read them because we might not get to it as adults, but I feel like a lot of literature is better consumed by fully formed adults.

      Thus far, I am loving this reading list.

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