Google “100 books to read before you die” and you’ll find over 200 million results. Why are lists of great novels such a big deal these days?? It seems like everyone is anxious to get in on the act. Amazon, Goodreads, the BBC, Penguin, Time Magazine (just to name a few).
My biggest questions about these lists are these…
- Who is it that decides what books belong on these lists (and what criteria do they use)?
- Have the compilers of these lists actually read all of the books they’re recommending?
- If I disagree with a book that’s made one of these lists, does that say something about my taste, or the compiler’s?
I’ve read a lot of books…and a fair few of them have made one or more of these lists. Remember a while back when the BBC put out a list of 100 books and claimed most people will have only read 6 of them? I’ve read 41, and bits of several more. The ones I haven’t read generally fall into 2 categories:
- Books I just haven’t got around to reading yet
- Books that I’m just not interested in reading (usually because the subject matter doesn’t interest me, or I’ve heard that it contains graphic sex, horror or violence)
Here’s the point I had in my head when I started this
rant post. Am I a bad person if I refuse to read a work of ‘great literature’ simply because it is not to my taste? Am I really missing out on one of life’s ‘must-have’ experiences, or am I better off deciding that ‘life’s too short’ and instead doing something I’ll actually enjoy? What do you think?