in which we are pretentious and inspired

6 March 2009

There is a meme going around Facebook at the moment which contains a reading list of 100 books, as devised by the BBC.  The list contains many classics, some “new classics” and some best sellers and you go down the list and tick off which ones you’ve read.  Apparently they reckoned that most people will have only read six.  Those avid readers and/or English majors among us jumped at the prospect of showing off our “well-read-ness,” and having done so I was less than pleased to find that I’m not nearly as well read as I think I am.  In fact I wasn’t even going to publish my meagre list of 26.

Okay, there are many, many books out there, and the BBC list couldn’t have hoped to be comprehensive on a global level.  I had my own complaint that the wonderful world of Canadian literature, of which I’ve always had a strong interest, was not adequately represented by Margaret Atwood and Lucy Maud Montgomery – not that I don’t exceedingly admire them both.  And recent years have seen me reading lots of non-fiction and biography, genres I love just as well as fiction.  And there has been lots of terrific contemporary “Brit-lit” and “Chick-lit” to keep one knee deep in fun reading for years.

So anyway, I swallowed my pretentious pride and published the list.  And I printed it for the purpose of keeping in my bag and accompanying me to the library.  In fact, a good number of those books are already sitting among my own collection.  So my spring/summer reading will see me revisiting the world of literary fiction and beefing up my BBC list.  And it’s not entirely for the sake of my meme-fed ego.  I’m seeking inspiration through immersing myself in an art form I hadn’t immersed myself in for some time.  

I’m sure I’ll get hung up on authors here and there; I tend to get obsessive when I find one I love and read everything s/he has written.  But I’m thinking that’s not such a bad thing.  A few of the books on the BBC list I have absolutely no intention of reading, such as Heart of Darkness and Gone With the Wind.  Several of them are lifelong favourites – books that have had big impact on me.  So, statistics would suggest that among the 74 books I haven’t read, at least several more of those big impact stories will emerge.  That’s reason enough, wouldn’t you think?

BBC Book List


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