Saturday, April 21, 2007

Preserve us not from the list-makers

"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?


Mikeachim said...

Someone should whittle a very, very pointy stick and poke Dan Brown with it until he falls over. I can't understand how the world has been fooled with his.....I'm struggling for a's use apostrophes.....his 'books'.

Kathleen Jamie's "Findings", however, is a magical read and one of my favourite books of the last 10 years. Good choice.
(I can attest that she's exactly right about the quality of the darkness in Orkney).

deborah said...

A country year by Sue Hubbell and then all her other books

The year of the hare by Arto Paasilinna which somenone lent me in French (Le lièvre de Vatanen)

Anything and everything by Anne Tyler

Ms Mac said...

I couldn't agree more about Birdsong and I don't think my feelings on The da Vinci Code are any secret.

However, I started The Poisonwood Bible today. I'm having trouble putting it down.

SusieJ said...

I have not had the pleasure of a novel for awhile -- since I started my blog. But the Posionwood Bible sounds intriguing -- maybe I'll start there. Thanks for your list.

Lesley said...

Mike: Yes, let's all get whittling those pointy sticks. I've never been to Orkney but everything Kathleen Jamie writes about Scotland strikes me as authentic.

Deborah: Yes, Anne Tyler I forgot about her. And I must read something by Sue Hubbel.

Ms Mac: And you must read everything else by Barbara Kingsolver as soon as you've finished Poisonwood.

SusieJ: This blogging lark certainly eats into reading time.

Mikeachim said...

By pointy sticks I think I mean javelins. Heated. Fired from a cannon. With warheads on them. (Yes, I'm not a Dan fan. Academic James Bonds.....purleez).
Orcadian darkness: here's something I wrote about it, also referencing 'Findings'.....

Jonathan said...

Some of the books I have enjoyed reading most are biographies, such as Tom Hiney's biography of Raymond Chandler, and Graham Robb's biography of Rimbaud. The timeframe also allows me to mention one of my favourite poetry books, Paul Muldoon's Quoof from 1983.

deborah said...

But biographies, Jonathan, are somehow so presumptuous

Will search for Muldoon