Either it’s been lists of books read, or lists of movies watched, or lists of To Be Read, or To Be Watched. It’s not that I need someone else to make the decision of what to read for me; I can make that decision quite easily by myself. Rather I like lists. Quite a lot. I like how neat the appear, and how organised, and how simple and yet so very accomplished they are. To be able to cross off even a tenth of 1001 books to read before you die, sounds and looks like a major achievement.

But for the most parts, the lists fall short. 1001 Books before you die, while a great list, has so many novels I don’t plan on even looking at. Yes I realise there are a lot of very good novels on that list, a lot of classics that are perhaps missing from my education. I have never read Tess of the D’Urbervilles. I don’t feel the need to read Lolita. Not because I’ve heard anything bad about them. But rather the opposite, I think.

These novels have so much built up around them, that I get the impression if I don’t care for them, I’m missing the point of them. Similar to English class when everyone is throwing out possible reasons behind the phrasing in a particular passage; I end up with my own conclusions and sometimes – not often – I really don’t see what everyone else sees. It’s not even that I’m not looking deep enough, I just honestly don’t think that the author was that was conscious of including this particular meaning at that particular time, in that particular passage.

Anyone who’s written anything, either a blog, or short story, or a full novel, have an idea in mind, something they are passionate about, or speaks to them. But I don’t think they set out to write a book about feminism. I think themes are more organic than that. For example in one of my favourite novels, Tigana by Guy Gavriel Kay, has a prevailing theme of the importance of identity. This is one of the most obvious themes, but I don’t think Kay honestly set down to write a novel about identity, he set out to write a story. The themes picked themselves, so to speak.

Yes, I have been surprised in the past by certain novels. Jane Eyre is one of my all time favourite novels. I loved Count of Monte Cristo but was left disappointed in the ending, though it fit the story perfectly; it was just rather depressing for the Count. But this surprise is turning out to be the exception rather than the rule. I’ve tried to read Pride and Prejudice several times and just can’t seem to get through it.

I guess, what I’m babbling about is, while I like lists, I don’t want to be judged by them. I want to use them as a guide to what might be interesting, but I don’t want those same lists to be used against me when I don’t finish them. The 1001 books to read before you die. Yes, they are probably all very good, but I don’t think they are for everyone. Lord of the Rings is not to everyone’s taste. Neither is Middlemarch.

A lot of the novels I read are sci-fi/fantasy based, and I still get weird looks from people who don’t read those genres. Also because I found fantasy through a different source (Kay, not MacCaffrey, or Bradbury) I haven’t read a lot of the classics. Yes, I’ve heard it before, if you read the classics first you’ll see what influenced what in successive generations. But really, is that compulsory? Is it necessary to read all of Asimov’s works in order to understand those he influenced?

Besides, since I haven’t read them I get the opportunity to discover them for myself. I get to uncover their secrets for myself. I get to figure out, although in a backward sort of way, what novels were influenced by whom. And if I don’t care for it, I don’t feel the need to explain why. There are too many books in the world to be bogged down with stuff I don’t like.

All that being said, I do plan on using some of those lists out there to create a bit of a TBR pile. Still, I don’t feel beholden to said lists. Rather, I feel empowered by them.

What you guys think? Should lists be the ‘be all, end all’ so to speak? How do you use them? Or do you even bother? I’d love to here about it.

 

Currently-Reading: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows J.K Rowling (pg 420) Should finish it today
Currently Knitting: The never ending sweater of DOOM!
Currently Listening: Alexandre Desplat – Harry Potter – The Deathly Hallows Part II – The resurrection stone

Advertisements