500 Must-Read Books…

500 Must-Read Books chosen by The Telegraph

Lists of books – doncha just love ’em! The Telegraph is the latest to dip a toe into the murky waters of Best of lists with their 500 Must-Read Books this weekend. Published in two supplements over the weekend, their full list doesn’t appear online yet.

*** Update – I keep checking the website, but no list for you yet. ***

Their list comprises the full world of literature, fiction and non-fiction, classic and contemporary. Their criteria is ‘Must-Read’ rather than say literary merit, so this allows a bit of fun to be had, with some enjoyable yet naff bestsellers. It’s split by subject, and in each part their top picks, plus a best of the rest list (BotR).

I just had to go through it checking off all those I’ve read.  If you’re not trainspotterish in your book habits, you can skip this bit …

War and History: Main – 3/20, BotR – 3/15 Including: Thucydides History of the Peloponnesian War and Longitude by Dava Sobel.

European & Russian Classics: Main – 1/15, BotR – 3/10 Including: Anna Karenina, and Embers by Sandor Marai (which I didn’t enjoy – soooo slow).

ridersBritish Classics: Main – 6/20, BotR – 0/15 Including: Tess of the d’Urbervilles, and Riders by Jilly Cooper

Latin American Classics: Main – 1/10, BotR – 0/5 Including: The Alchemist by Paolo Coelho – which I hated!

Classics from Antiquity: Main – 4/15, BotR – 1/10 Including: lots of Homer and Herodotus’ Histories – I went through a period in my 20s of devouring Greek and Roman classics.

Love In A Cold Climate by Nancy MitfordRomance: Main – 6/20, BotR – 2/15 Including: P&P of course, Love in a Cold Climate by Nancy Mitford, and The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro.

Money and Power: Main – 1/10, BotR – 1/5 Including: Machhiavelli’s The Prince.

Poetry: Main – 0/15, BotR – 0/10 Including: ZILCH! Oh dear…

Thrillers: Main – 11/15, BotR – 4/10 Including: Where Eagles Dare by Alastair MacLean, Jaws by Peter Benchley, and yes, The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown, and lots of really good stuff too.

Richard III - Dastardly murderer or totally misunderstood?Food and Drink: Main – 2/10, BotR – 1/5 Including: Nigella’s How to Eat, and Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain.

Crime: Main – 9/20, BotR – 4/15 Including: Fatherland by Robert Harris, The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey and The Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons.

Comedy: Main – 7/15, BotR – 4/10 Including: Molesworth by Geoffrey Willans and Ronald Searle, and The Commitments by Roddy Doyle.

half of a yellow sunSc-Fi and Fantasy: Main – 11/20, BotR – 5/15 Including: The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, and Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham. No space on their lists for Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes though…

Children’s Classics: Main – 10/15, BotR – 3/10 Including: Watership Down by Richard Adams and The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Graham.

African Classics: Main – 3/10, BotR – 0/5 Including: Disgrace by JM Coetzee and Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

Lives: Main – 5/20, BotR – 1/15 Including: Alan Clark Diaries Vol 1, The Double Helix by James Watson.

moby dickSports and Pastimes: Main – 0/10, BotR – 0/15 Including: Nothing!

Plays: Main – 3/15, BotR – 0/10 Including: Hamlet and Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus.

American Classics: Main – 7/15, BotR – 3/10 Including: Moby Dick, and Beloved by Toni Morrison (which I disliked at the time ages ago, but should read again now)

Asian Classics: Main – 1/10, BotR – 0/5 Including: Murakami’s The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle.

In total I notched up 126/500. It would have been a lot less if I didn’t have a predilction for thrillers in particular, backed up by SF&F and crime, although my Greek and Roman classics also stood me in good stead.  It does highlight (as expected) that I should read more in translation, and it would be nice to learn to enjoy poetry properly.

I can rest easy though, knowing that:

  1. It doesn’t matter! – it’s not MY list of 500 must-read books
  2. I probably have around 100 more from this list in my TBR piles.
  3. It’s sunny outside and I should have been gardening!

Enjoy the rest of your weekend. I hope it’s sunny for you too…


5 thoughts on “500 Must-Read Books…

  1. Sorry to be slow to respond but I did that slightly OCD thing as you did and went through the lists – and I found out a few things about me. First I’m a lover not a fighter (Romance – 13 Read, War – 3 Read!). Second I know why I’m always skint (Money – Zero Read!!!)

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