Should-Reads vs Good-Reads

Hi Everyone – hope you had a great Christmas and are still brimming with good will and jolliness (and not indigestion)

This week Sally emailed me with something literary to mull on –

Hi, I don’t know if this is useful for the blog.

http://www.informationisbeautiful.net/visualizations/novels-everyone-should-read/

It made me think about who is recommending these books. Some of the sources are the Pulitzer Prize and the New York Times. Would I like the same novels as them ? I don’t know that I would. I think that they are looking at novels from a high art angle, looking for technical excellence. Which doesn’t always result in what I look for, which is a good read.

Before I looked at the list I thought about what source I would use to guide my plebeian tastes. I decided that I would look to the local library lending figures and, happily, they are included in this survey.

My heart sank as I looked at the top 50 and realised how many of those I’d read. I blame A’ Level English Lit for most of them. Hours of my life that I’ll never get back. I admit that I am glad that I read these book. Glad to be aware of these styles of writing and approaches to writing. I can’t get away from that and there was no way to get that knowledge without losing those hours of my life. 

Then I thought about which of these I have no regrets over. Which ones am I very glad to have used up part of my life in reading them. And I saw a theme emerging in terms of novels and authors. (I like using ‘And’ at the start of a sentence. It was forbidden in A’ Level English Lit.) Sometimes, strangely, I valued an author but not, particularly, their novels. I’ll have to ponder on what that’s about.

I’ve recently started writing fiction. This has helped me to see, clearly, who I am as a writer and the arena  I would like to sit in.

These are the novels I happily gave some of my life to (in the order they appear in the list);

Lolita

Brave New World (although, ‘After Many a Summer’ was the most stunning when I read it)

Fahrenheit 451

Slaughterhouse-Five

The Handmaid’s Tale

The Good Earth

Cold Comfort Farm

The Remains of the Day

Breakfast of Champions

Bridget Jones’s Diary (though more as the newspaper pieces)

Far From the Madding Crowd

Flowers for Algernon

The Lovely Bones

The Poisonwood Bible

Thanks to Sally for that – took me a little time to work out that if you clicked the title it took you to the Amazon page where you could peek inside and sample whether it was something you want to read (Doh!) Have fun. I managed about 14, but sadly way back when. I’m determined to read a spot of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, though doesn’t look like he’s appearing on the shelves in Tesco any time soon. Must pluck up courage and use that Kindle Santa bought me this year (yes, I have finally succumbed to evil temptation, if only to halt the build-up of old paperbacks on all the surfaces in our home).

Like Sally and myself wondered, there may be others you could suggest as more suitable for should-reads, please feel free to comment.

What are you reading at the moment? I’m reading Jo Nesbo’s ‘The Snowman’, a frosty bit of Nordic Noir, and not a hint of Aled Jones in sight.

What are you writing? I’m working on a Hebridean ghost story, loving the research too.

The Maccwriters will be re-convening at the library in the New Year.

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