Monday, June 30, 2008
The Fun of Lists, The Joy of Books
by Julia Buckley
This week Entertainment Weekly Magazine released several lists of what they called "The New Classics" in books, movies, music, etc. They were drawing their material from works produced in the last twenty-five years. I've already heard some complaints about what was left off of the list (which can be read here)
both because of things that were put on or things that were left off. Still, I like reading lists, because they give me a gauge for my own reading. I check how many of the books I've read, and I get a sense of how many of them I'd like to read.
To compare, here's a similar list of great books since 1923 that TIME Magazine compiled in 2005.
There are some books that the two lists have in common. In any case, I didn't fare so well on either list. On the first list, I've read 17 of the 100 books. On the second, I've read 12. Naturally, this makes me wonder which of those other 171 books I should read if I don't want to miss something really amazing. I will say that all of the books I read from the lists WERE most excellent books, so I'm assuming that some care was taken in the choosing of these novels.
The enjoyment of books is a subjective thing, though, and no one will ever agree entirely with anyone else's list.
But here's my question: where are all the mysteries? This seems to be such an ignored genre when people are composing their "great" lists--although I was pleased when Mayor Daley chose THE LONG GOODBYE for this year's One Book, One Chicago program.
But in general, mysteries seem to be overlooked as great fiction. In the EW list there are only two that are sort of mysteries--THE LOVELY BONES, which is about a murder, and narrated by the victim from heaven, and THE MYSTERIOUS CASE OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHTTIME, which is about an autistic boy who tries to solve the murder of a dog. Did I miss any? Did you see any other mysteries on those lists? And how many of the books have you read?
I realize I'm probably being most prosaic in counting my accomplishments (especially when they're not that impressive) but I find it fun, anyway. Share yours with us, as well!