Today I recieved an email from Borders, which proudly announced to me that they had finally decided on this year’s “Favourite Books of All Time”.
These lists always excite me, beyond all reason. I love going through them and seeing how many I’ve read, printing them out and trying to tick off the whole list.
However, I found Borders’ list endlessly disappointing (though Dymocks didn’t fare much better this year). Favourite books of all time, you say?
I’m not sure how I feel about Jodi Picoult being a new addition to the canon, or Dan Brown for that matter. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not a literature snob. I’m all for the idea of trashing the idea of “a canon of literature” all together and reclaiming the word for the people, because it’s all we’ve got. But if you’re going to publish something and claim that it represents all time, please, oh please, don’t include Bryce-I-got-famous-and-stopped-listening-to-editors-Courtney.
For the record, I have only read 27 of the books listed. Usually I hit about 50. This isn’t why I’m upset though – WHY is Confereracy of Dunces way down at #93?! American Psycho #86?! The Princess Bride at #99?!?!?!
What I’m upset about is that Jodi Picoult makes it to #4, while way down on the other end of the list withers HST, William Goldman, and John Kennedy Toole.
What this seems to be to me is a “Favourite Books of Housewife-Times”, listing those books stay-at-home-mum’s read in their spare ten minutes. And that’s not to berate stay-at-home-mum’s or writers like Stephanie Myer and Jodi Picoult. But, the majority of books on this list are books that I read and forget. Not that they aren’t enjoyable to read, or that they don’t take me somewhere quite lovely for a little while. But what I hope for in these lists is something that sticks with me for longer than a week, and has some potential to teach me something about the world.
Please, Borders, Dymocks, all major book-sellers. Don’t paint yourself as the place for cheap books for housewives. I lean on the side of indepentant book-sellers 99% of the time anyway, you’re not doing yourself any favours.