Danae, an old friend from school days, posted a link from Goodreads on Facebook. They claim:
BBC Believes You Only Read 6 of These Books…The BBC believes that most people will have read only 6 of the 100 books below. How many have you read?
(Tip: The average Goodreads member has read 23 out of 100 books on this list)p.s: BBC didn’t make a declaration. The list is probably based on the average.
I went through the list and found I had read eighteen of the first twenty. In total, seventy seven of the hundred. I admit I cannot remember the plot of many of them. That is one of the good things about being old. One can re-read a book one knows one liked a lot, and rediscover why. Sometimes perhaps one ends up wondering why one liked it so much. People change.
Danae thinks I am erudite. Not sure of that at all. There is so much I have NOT read. I have serious doubts that this list, or any, list should be used as a measure of anyone’s erudition, reading history, or indeed of the literary merit of the publications themselves. I suspect it was compiled in some entirely subjective fashion as an exercise that probably has no statistical significance. I was interested in to see what was on the list, and what was not.
I have written before that in my opinion;
there are two books – or rather two sets of books, that contain everything one needs to know in order to be a good human being. Books that acknowledge Evil, and encourage Good. Books that show the importance of honesty, integrity, loyalty, trust, devotion, love and duty, courage, humour, humility, family, friendship, humanitarianism, racial tolerance and religious freedom. Without any self-contradiction. Not the Bible, which is far too inconsistent to have any value on the whole as source of role model material. Nor the Torah, Koran, Tao or any other religious tract.
There are many other books that have helped me in some way to define my own character, clarify my aspirations as a person, and to set my moral compass. A great many of the books on the BBC list mentioned above contributed to my education by being great entertainment and thought-provoking forays into the many ramifications of the human condition. It is impossible for me to record here all the works of fiction that I believe should be on a must-read list.
Other than the two mentioned above, I can recall just off the top of my head only some of the books which had an influence on my youthful development and intellectual growth. There have been many other books that have left me pondering for days or weeks after completing them, but I am getting old, I guess. They are not springing as instantly to mind as those listed below. I believe I may compile a second list of non-fiction works some time.
In no particular order, just as they come to mind, these are the fiction works I found most memorable, as evidenced by the very fact I remember them. Interesting, isn’t it, that many are science fiction. Classification as such is a terrible shame because being of this genre almost automatically excludes the work from being considered as great literature, which in my opinion, the examples chosen most definitely are.
- Slaughterhouse Five: Kurt Vonnegut
- Catch 22: Joseph Heller
- Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: RM Pirsig
- Trout Fishing in America: Richard Brautigan
- Starship Troopers: Robert Heinlein
- The Forever War: Joe Haldeman
- 2001 A Space Odyssey: Arthur C Clarke/ Stanley Kubrick
- A Clockwork Orange: Anthony Burgess
- The Demolished Man; Alfred Bester
- Great Expectations: Charles Dickens
- The Three Musketeers: Alexandre Dumas
- Stardust: Neil Gaiman
- Gateway: Frederick Pohl
- The Shipping News: E. Annie Proulx
- Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the looking Glass: Lewis Carroll
- The Wind in The Willows: Kenneth Graham
- Winnie the Pooh: AA Milne
- Schindler’s Ark: Thomas Keneally
- The Einstein Intersection: Samuel R. Delany
- Something Wicked This Way Comes: Ray Bradbury
- The Epic of Gilgamesh
- The Mabinogion
- Macroscope: Piers Anthony
- I, Claudius and Claudius the God: Robert Graves
- Sir Gawain and the Green Knight: Translated by JRR Tolkien
- Green Eggs and Ham: Dr Seuss
- Waystation: Clifford Simak
- The Day of the Triffids: John Wyndham