I’m a bibliophile. I think it’s because books were my refuge when I was young. Escapism. I remember, as an early teenager, closing the door to my room, and in the dim light presented by a single, cheap lamp, reading my favorite fantasy novels–The Elric Saga, by Michael Moorcock. To this day I consider those books to be the exemplary way to present an anti-hero. And the hero dies at the end– groundbreaking in the day of Tolkien’esque fantasy.
I managed to bring with me to Germany, about 45 of the books from my library and there will be more on the way. The library here on the base is very good, and I’ll make pleanty of use of it.
Reading through Random House’s top 100 books of all time (English language), it was interesting how many of those books I’ve actually read.
Here’s what I remember reading from the list:
The Lion, the witch and the wardrobe
The Catcher in the Rye
The Secret Agent
I’m embarassed of course at how many books on the list I have not read. I’m sure I wouldn’t like most of them, as I feel that while many of the older writers that make up this list were great artists, most of their techniques and language doesn’t apply now. There are exceptions of course. Leo Tolstoy comes to mind. This list is only of books originally composed in the English language, so the great Russian writers aren’t listed. You can never have a complete list of great novels without Tolstoy’s War and Peace or Anna Karenina.
I own several other books on the list that I’ve not gotten to, but will eventually. I, Claudius (the Public Broadcasting mini-series was awesome, though), Catch-22, A Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man, Nostromo. Also, take note that the lsit was the board’s list. There was also a reader’s list which included more science-fiction, a genre always undercut by “experts”. To me an expert on books is anyone who reads them. I find most literary critics to be pompus, pipe-smoking libs who think a great book is one they can’t understand. Of course, I’m suspicious of the reader’s list too, because it contains far to many novels from Ayn Rand and L. Ron Hubbard, lending more of a cult-following and notoriety factor than you’d want if you were seeking objective critique ( I almost said Objectivism). And the board loses some credibility by forgetting, To Kill a Mockingbird and Middlemarch. Laughable…
There are many great books that will never make any lists. Feel free to list some in your comments. Like I said, great books don’t have to be on literary lists.