Who decides?

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?

Categories: Books | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

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2 thoughts on “Who decides?

  1. Nope! I think you’re entirely free to decide which book to read!
    For instance,despite Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights constantly featuring in those lists,I am simply not attracted to them and won’t read them anytime soon.

    Luckily there are only very few books to which I’m not attracted.Most of the time,whenever I see a ranking list,I pay no attention to the ranks and instead look for books unheard before so as to add them to my to-read list.Also the more a book is featured in ranking lists,the likelier I am going to love it.Nonetheless I don’t solely rely on those lists to decide which book I should read,as I often visit goodreads to look for reviews.For example,’The Picture of Dorian Gray’ is seldom seen in those lists,yet I loved it,as did many people on goodreads,and the same can be said about ‘Of Human Bondage’.

    Well,I’ve digressed a bit.Sorry about that!

  2. I decided to only read books that speak to me. If I start reading and just cannot get into it, I abandon it. Sometimes I come back to it later, but usually not. Life’s too short 🙂

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