Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Another 'Should Read' List . . . and a Query

The Telegraph offers what it considers "the essential fiction library." We run into this type of list all over the internet, the end of the year being prime 'list season' for some reason. Although everyone and their grandmother has no trouble in telling us what we "should" read, they rarely give an explanation of why we should read each revered offering. 

That is my question, "Why."

I'm interested in what you think is important to read. But I want to know why you think it is important.

What has it done for mankind, society? More importantly, what did it do for you? And believe me, "It proved to me just how much pain I could bear," is just as valid a response as any other.

row of old leather bound books

100 novels everyone should read

100. The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkein - WH Auden thought this tale of fantastic creatures looking for lost jewellery was a “masterpiece”.

99. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee - A child’s-eye view of racial prejudice and freaky neighbours in Thirties Alabama.

98. The Home and the World by Rabindranath Tagore - A rich Bengali noble lives happily until a radical revolutionary appears.

97. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams - Earth is demolished to make way for a Hyperspatial Express Route. Don’t panic.

96. One Thousand and One Nights Anon - A Persian king’s new bride tells tales to stall post-coital execution.

95. The Sorrows of Young Werther by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe - Werther loves Charlotte, but she’s already engaged. Woe is he!

94. Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie - The children of poor Hindus and wealthy Muslims are switched at birth.

93. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy by John le Carré - Nursery rhyme provides the code names for British spies suspected of treason.

92. Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons - Hilarious satire on doom-laden rural romances. “Something nasty” has been observed in the woodshed.

91. The Tale of Genji by Lady Murasaki - The life and loves of an emperor’s son. And the world’s first novel?

There is Much More,


  1. Interesting question. I've read 25 on that list (including #1, thankyouverymuch). I'd say my reasons for having a "classics bucket list" include simply wanting to read the books that have lasted throughout time; to challenge myself (hurray, I finished War and Peace!); to learn of other places and other times; to explore the universality of humanity (which is Middlemarch in a nutshell). But overall, I have to be intrigued with the book, or I simply won't bother.

    1. I'm at 25 as well. From as far back as I can remember, books have been a way for me to escape to other places and times with intriguing new people. And after all these years, I'm afraid nothing has changed.

      Do you ever start a book and decide not to finish it?

    2. Often, actually. I don't review them on my blog when I do that, because who knows, if I'd stuck with it, maybe I would have liked it. But there are just too many books and not nearly enough time to stay with something that's not interesting me. I have gone back to a few books and tried again later, and sometimes it turns out I love them. Usually not.