The Barry book got rave comments from all quarters as one of the books of 2008. Must give it a go.
Pophead: nice account and keep it up! (I'm jealous!)
1) You always transcend the language barrier in great literature (OK, maybe not Chaucer or Beowulf), but I remember well the feeling of seeing a great Hamlet in Stratford and realising afterwards that there had been no barrier there at all, it all spoke to me, the mark of a great production;
2) If you love crazy names and also expansive literature in historical settings that depicts a vastly elaborate, darkly comic world of conspiracy and adversity in which 'realistic characters' are irrelevant compared to the narrator's tenderness for his often hapless protagonists and weirdness is often preferred to 'realism', in which astonishing levels of detail and research are on display, where brash vernacular and popular culture intertwine with high art and passages of the purest poetry, then Pynchon might be for you. I would do it chronologically. I got madly into him at the age of 19. He published V when 26, I was amazed at how he could have done it. I read it in about 2 days, doing almost nothing else. I'd love to go back to it. Then the shorter, lighter, sketchier, but great fun Crying of Lot 49. If you love them, then Gravity's Rainbow is for you, but might be too much to start off with. The closing months of the Second World War, the race to develop the ultimate weapons of destruction. A vast canvas of insanity and comedy, brilliantly written with a mad energy. Fabulous, and viewed by most as his masterpiece, though the more recent Mason & Dixon is loved by many. If Ulysses is the greatest work of the first half of the 20th C, then GR is for the second, say I. And so forth. There are some great Pynchon wikis out there to help with the refs, if you want that, and loads of web stuff (he probably had more sites dedicated to him than any other author in the early days of the web, maybe still does!).
3) If you're going to blog, or blag (like that one!), then you want people to see it! And if you've got a wonderfully original theme, so much the better. and you're in good company. Check out Pophead's book one above or, when you can find him. Bad Ambassador's music one, and so forth.
There's more to life than books, you know, but not much more