Thursday, January 22, 2009

1,000 books?

You've got to be kidding me. 1,000 books? You MUST read?

OK. Confession time. Way back when I was a struggling English major at the University of Minnesota, I stumbled upon a book called something like "Books for the college bound" and I decided I had to collect them all. I haunted used bookstores and many of the local ones, most notably Biermaiers Books, made quite a lot of money off my efforts to collect all of the listed books. I read and I read and I tried to become a self-taught literature snob. I wrote long hand-written reviews in the college-ruled notebooks I favored at the time.

Rather than savoring the reading, I racked up the reading like points on a basketball scoreboard. So I missed quite a lot, of course.

And still, the lure of the "XXX best books" list still has its appeal. I want to be one of those cultured people who has read the books and understands the cultural references. Also, I want the pleasure of a damn good book.

But these lists, they are so arbitrary. This latest one by the Guardian newspaper in the UK is beyond ridiculous. How many of us have the time to read 1,000 books? Isn't that cheating? Shouldn't we demand the list be chopped down to 10 or thereabouts?

Because, seriously, just read Beloved a few hundred times and you will have learned more than you could possibly know about life and the power of words.


Macon D said...

Yes. Yes times 1000.

And to Beloved too--it does get richer with more than one reading.

When I was a teenager, I made lists like that too. It was almost like making deposits to a bank account. Seems silly now, since I don't remember a lot of those books, and reading them quickly is probably the main reason.

Ravenmn said...

Welcome, Macom!

Yeah, I have a hard time remembering a lot of books I read because I was "supposed to" read them! How silly we are sometimes!