Thursday, July 6, 2006

Thirty Books to Read before you Die, and my opinions on them.

Librarians around the UK have come up with a list of the Thirty books you Must read before kicking it.


A poll was conducted through the Museum, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA--not to be confused with the thousand's of other associations this acronym can stand for) and published in the Guardian.

Topping the list is Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird

Personally, I've read 9, and quite a number of them, I hadn't even heard of. My favorite book of all time 1984 by George Orwell made it into 4th place. It should have been third, in my opinion, kicking The Bible off the list all together. Nobody sits down and reads the bible like it's a real book unless you're a crazy-christian (non-crazy-christians are a completely different group of Christians all together). It's like a dictionary in that way. You dip into it when you need to know something in particular, or if you're studying it. Let's face it: The Bible is a reference book, not a reading book.

Another book I'd bump: The Lovely Bones. It's interesting, it's imaginative, in that, it's written from the point of view of a dead girl. But beyond that, it's nothing special. I certainly wouldn't go telling people they have to read it before they die.

A good number I noticed were young adult books. I love young adult books, but I don't think it applies to everyone that they must read them. The same goes for the Lord of the Ring trilogy. Not everyone is into fantasy novels (though admitedly, these ones do seem to capture the fancy of non-fantasy readers unlike many others in the genre. I chalk it up to it being a 'classic.') In the future I think that MLA should conduct a number of different surveys for different libraries. What do children's librarians think are the must read books? And what about academic, or special librarians?

I am starting my perusal of this list of must reads with The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. Glancing through the pages, I'm a little disturbed by the strange mathmatic- and geographic-looking illustrations. But the title was in-arguably the most intriguing on the whole list.

Did anyone notice that Charles Dickens made the list 3 times. And 2 of the Bronte sisters were also included. Jane Ausen is only represented by Pride and Prejudice. Which I think is a shame, it may be her most well known book, and it has been made into a number of charming movies, I don't think it's her best.


The List

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
The Bible
The Lord of the Rings Trilogy by JRR Tolkien
1984 by George Orwell
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
All Quite on the Western Front by E M Remarque
His Dark Materials Trilogy by Phillip Pullman
Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
The Lord of the Flies by William Golding
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon
Tess of the D'urbevilles by Thomas Hardy
Winnie the Pooh by AA Milne
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Graham
Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
The Time Traveller's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
The Prophet by Khalil Gibran
David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
Life of Pi by Yann Martel
Middlemarch by George Eliot
The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Alexander Solzenhitsyn

1 comment:

JB said...

I know no one who has read the Bible in its entirety, and concur it should not be on the list. I've read a good half of the list but have never heard of The Lovely Bones so can't comment. My secret arrogance suspects it shouldn't be there for that very reason, but their are hidden gems in this world. Is 'Cider with Rosie' by Laurie Lee not known in the States? I was surprised by its absence, but although we could argue for the inclusion of our personal favourites such debate is ultimately futile. Far more enjoyable is to bitch about what shouldn't be included. I though The Alchemist was the biggest load of new-age tosh I had ever read. Similarly I couldn't understand why The Life of Pi was included. I thought it was utter rubbish, unsure if it was bildungsroman and then occasionally slipping into meaningless magic realism (that fantastical island). With that said, why is there no magic realism included, Marquez surely rates a top 30 slot, but then there I am back at the start. Bulgakov is there and one might argue he was a magic realist. I've never blogged before, tis a wonderful way to procrastinate.