"Oh Lord, preserve us from the list-makers. And then preserve us from those who comment on the lists" says Judith Flanders. This didn't deter me from having a look at the results of a Waterstones survey in which the bookseller asked its staff to name their favourite five books written since 1982 — the date Waterstones opened its first branch. I liked a lot of the books on the list: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nightime, The Shipping News, The Poisonwood Bible, The God of Small Things, The Crow Road, Snow Falling on Cedars, Love in the Time of Cholera. Some I thought were tripe: Chocolat, Birdsong, Notes on a Scandal, The Da Vinci Code.
I'm not sure how I would have answered. Perhaps I would have included five of these:
The Songlines by Bruce Chatwin
Footsteps by Richard Holmes
Whereabouts by Alastair Reid
Findings by Kathleen JamieNight Falls on Ardnamurchan by Alasdair Maclean
Morvern Callar by Alan Warner
La Route Bleue by Kenneth White
No Great Mischief Alistair Macleod
The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver
It would seem that I have a penchant for travel books with one-word titles by Scots, preferably called Ala/isd/tair. What about you?