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.
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 ... )