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).
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.
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.
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.
Sc-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.
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:
- It doesn’t matter! – it’s not MY list of 500 must-read books
- I probably have around 100 more from this list in my TBR piles.
- It’s sunny outside and I should have been gardening!
Enjoy the rest of your weekend. I hope it’s sunny for you too…