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Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Musing, and a meme

Both pinched from http://breathlessmind.blogspot.com/

Jennifer linked to this article in the UK Telegraph: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/arts/main.jhtml?xml=/arts/2008/04/06/nosplit/sv_classics06.xml

And it got me thinking (dangerous business):

The UK Telegraph has produced a list of what it believes is the 110 books that would make up the “perfect library.”

Like all lists of “bests” this is extremely subjective. And, like all lists of “bests” it has attracted its fair share of “but what about …” comments. And fair enough, a lot of books have been left out. If, that is, you believe there is any such thing as the “perfect” library.

Which, of course, there is not. For one thing, it introduces the idea of stasis: once you have these 110 books, then surely you will need no more. To which any self-respecting reader will reply: “bollocks!”


There are far too many books in the world already _ and too many to come _ to declare any list of books “perfect.” If that were true, all of us bibliophiles would need never pick up another book again. Can you imagine?

And, as many of the comments point out, it’s a very Eurocentric list. I’m sure I’m not the only non-Brit who thought “hey, where’s (insert favourite local /most famous author here)” as I scanned the list, while at the same time absently counting how many of those books I actually had read. Nineteen.



I’m sure all of these books would enhance anyone’s personal library. As for being the ultimate list … there’s no such thing.

On to the meme!

1. A book that made you cry: The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks.

2. A book that scared you: The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

3. A book that made you laugh: Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett

4. A book that disgusted you: The Informers by Bret Easton Ellis

5. A book you loved in elementary school: A Little Princess by Frances Hodgkins Burnett

6. A book you loved in middle school: The Hobbit by J R R Tolkien

7. A book you loved in high school: Lord of the Rings by J R R Tolkien

8. A book you hated in high school: The Great Gatsby maybe?

9. A book you loved in college: One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

10. A book that challenged your identity or your faith: I'm far to egocentric for that to happen.

11. A series that you love: It's a new love to me, but the Discworld novels.

12. Your favourite horror book: The Stand by Stephen King

13. Your favourite science-fiction book: I don't read a lot of sci-fi, but I love Peter F Hamilton, even though I've only read three of his books. So those three.

14. Your favourite fantasy book: Magician by Raymond E Feist

15. Your favourite mystery book: One of Dame Agatha Christie's. Doesn't matter which one.

16. Your favourite biography: Oscar Wilde, by Richard Ellman

17. Your favourite coming-of-age book: Not a big fan of coming-of-age stories really. Uhm ... The Dark is Rising?

18. Your favourite book not on this list: The Wind in the Willows

2 comments:

Jennifer said...

Yeah, I think you're absolutely right. Personal taste is too important for any kind of 'best books' list to work. Actually, I'd have trouble coming up with a 'perfect library' just for myself!

Ugh, The Great Gatsby... Mostly I keep textbooks (makes my shelves look more mature lol), but that one went to a book fair.

Paula Weston said...

Yes, those lists are far too subjective to be definitive.

I laughed out loud when I saw The Great Gatsby in the list. I truly despised that book in high school (and the experience was made even worse when we had to read Tender is the night as well!) I keep telling myself I should re-read F Scott Fitzgerald as an adult to see if my opinion has changed, but I've decided life's too short...