Monday, 22 September 2008

Top 100 Books

There are countless lists floating around the internet listing what the best 100 books ever written are. I usually dislike the lists for one of two reasons: the first being that the lists are decided by pretentious idiots who assume that anything that the hoi-palois read can’t have any literary merit, completely ignoring the fact that many of the works they consider literature were effectively The DaVinci Code of their time. The second kind of “top 100” lists that I am not a huge fan of are the ones that are voted by the general public and are effectively little more than a list of a few classics and loads of books that the voters have probably read in the last 12 months. These lists are still interesting and contain some great books, but are far too short sighted to be considered the “top” 100 books ever.

This list, though, I like. It’s from the Telegraph, and has a really good mix of newer books and classics. It also recognises that while some books might not be great, they have had so much popular appeal (and in the cases of The DaVinci Code and Bridget Jones’s Diary have spawned entire genres) they can’t really be ignored. I also like that the Harry Potter books are counted together.

Click here for the list.

I have read 50 of the books on the list. I don’t always agree with their placement on the list (I loved Wuthering Heights but found Jane Eyre self indulgent and boring so do not understand the latter being place 3), and some of the books on the list I thought were boring and/or overrated. These were good books in my opinion, but not top 100 material: in particular Lord of the Rings (don’t shoot me! I have read the first one and have no desire to continue as reading it felt like wading through mud), Brideshead Revisited (in the preface the author himself apologised for it!), The Little Prince, Five People you Meet in Heaven and Emma. Those aside, though, some of the best books I have ever read are also on the list. In particular: Pride and Prejudice, The Color Purple, the Harry Potter books, Catch 22, Life of Pi, The Secret Garden, Gone with the Wind, The Great Gatsby, Lolita, Watership Down, A Fine Balance and Of Mice and Men to name a few.

How many have you read? Do you like the list? Do you want to shoot me for confessing that I do not love LOTR?(I think Tane does. Incidentally, do any of you love LOTR and read it for the first time over the age of 16? Just curious ... )


Damyanti said...

I read LOTR when I was 29 for the first time, and loved it! I'm still in love, and it has opened the doors of the fantasy genre.

Maria said...

I've read 51 of the books on the list :) I've read some Shakespeare and some Sherlock Holmes, but not all, so I didn't think I could count those two.

It's a good list, and also the one most often quotes around on the 'net. I don't agree with the numbering either, though I far prefer "Jane Eyre" to "Whuthering Heights" ;)

No, I don't want to shoot you for not liking LOTR - I don't like it either. I first read it when I was 15-16 and forced myself to finish, but found it SO boring. Haven't been able to get through it since, to see if I've changed my mind.

Maria said...

Forgot to add that I found it slightly amusing that Harry Potter and Narnia is counted as one, but "Anne of Green Gables" is there all on its own lonesome without the rest of the series.

Oh, and that "Chronicles of Narnia" is #33 and "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" gets its own number at #36!!! Obviously it was good enough to be counted twice ;)

(So was Hamlet - #14 and #98)

Kimberley said...

I've read 40 of those books in their entirety - but a coupla dozen more of them I started but couldn't get through... I have started to read Midnight's Children numerous times, but I'm sorry world literary opinion, I just couldn't do it. There are a few books on this list that really niggle me - the Time Traveller's Wife, Birdsong - that were fabulous ideas but could have been so much better if written by Margaret Atwood or Louis de Bernieres. And Ian McEwan? Gack ....

Tane said...

I've chalked up 31 on that list - and would have about a lot more if I read Lauren's entire book collection!

A very good list, I think, though I do get irritated when I see both a series lumped together and the individual books (like Narnia and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe). And that the Bible and Shakespeare are on there - they don't really belong.

Oh, and suffice to say, Lord of the Rings is still my favourite book! For immersing yourself in another world, it's unbeatable.

For me the worst book on there would be The Da Vinci Code - cracking pace, lots of fascinating historical 'facts', but dialogue wooden as a wall and characters thinner than the paint on it.

Some books I've love to see on there: A Song of Ice and Fire, by George RR Martin (though the series is not finished yet), The Discworld series, by Terry Pratchett and Raymond Chandler's The Long Goodbye.