Wednesday, 13 April 2011

My final list of forty books.

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Stuff and Nonsense by Amy Cockram is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 UK: England & Wales License.

Hmm, it is proving to be a lot trickier that I expected to chose my final 6.

Just to recap, the list so far is:

1. Tennessee Williams "A Streetcar Named Desire"

2. Edward Albee "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf"

3. Terry Johnson "Dead Funny"

4. Shakepeare "Twelfth Night"

5. Shakespeare again "The Tempest"

6. Yet again "Much Ado About Nothing"

7. The Everyman Library John Donne

8. Steven Pinker "How the Mind Works"

9. Sigmund Freud "The Interpretation of Dreams"

10. Sir James Frazer "The Golden Bough"

11. Germaine Greer "The Female Eunuch"

12. Giacomo Casanova "The Story of my Life"

13. Daphne Du Maurier "Rebecca"

14. Donna Tartt "The Secret History"

15. Elizabeth Kostova "The Historian"

16. Michael Ondaatje "The English Patient"

17. James Joyce "Ulysses"

18. Charlotte Bronte "Jane Eyre"

19. Howard Jacobson "Peeping Tom"

20. Howard Jacobson "Who's Sorry Now"

21. Charles Dickens "Bleak House"

22. Douglas Adams "The Long Dark Tea-time of the Soul"

23. Sir Arthur Conan-Doyle "The Case-book of Sherlock Holmes"

24. Stephen Fry "The Liar"

25. Tim O'Brien "The Things they Carried"

26. Paul Auster "New York Trilogy"

27. Nicola Barker "Darkmans"

28. Cervantes "Don Quixote"

29. Herman Melville "Moby Dick"

30. A.S. Byatt "Possession"

31. Steve Toltz "The Fraction of the Whole"

32. Thomas Pynchon "Gravity's Rainbow"

33. Don DeLillo "Underworld"

34. Michael Chabon "The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay"

And my final 6?

I decided that I need a couple more plays to reflect my love of theatre - and also a couple with a good part for a woman to give me some fantasy casting room. So my next couple of choices are:

35. John Osborne "Look Back in Anger"

36. Terrence McNally "Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune" (a bit of an outsider, this one - if you had placed a bet on this making my list, you would have got pretty good odds).

And I need some more gothic fiction and melodrama, so:

37. Bram Stoker "Dracula"

And my final few:

38. Iain Pears "Stone's Fall" partly because my husband bought it for me. I have read and enjoyed another Iain Pears, and this is partly set in Venice so, like Casanova's memoir, can bring back honeymoon memories. Although I have just realised that saying Casanova's memoir reminds me of my honeymoon could totally be taken in a different way.

39. Because I couldn't decide between Sherlock Holmes short stories, I decided to pick a 2nd short story collection, "His Last Bow."

And my final book? I'm taking a risk on another unread outsider from my shelves, as a friend whose taste I trust thought that I would like it: Steven Hall "The Raw Shark Texts"

So my choices are made. I hope it might be interesting to other book fans, and it might help anyone reading my blog who doesn't know me to judge if I have similar tastes to them. I think I chose more modern fiction, and probably more American fiction, than Susan Hill. I think her list was all books she had read and loved - whereas mine takes more of a risk in its unread good intentions.

I am finding that, now I have chosen, I am starting to think that maybe I should have picked "Frankenstein" as one of my final 6; or maybe I should have gone with Michael Chabon's "The Yiddish Policemen's Union" from the fringes of my list; or maybe a newly discovered (by me) Graham Greene like "Our Man in Havana."

I know that this is an intellectual exercise, but there is no point in creating this list if you don't actually take it seriously that these are the only 40 books that you can ever read. Which is a frightening idea.

In fact I'm starting to come over a little bit panicky in case I have made some bad choices that someone - like my husband - might try to make me stick to. No more books - only the ones you already have. Excuse me. I'm going to lie down in a darkened room and hyperventilate for a bit....

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