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The Big Read
October 19, 2003 2:29 AM   Subscribe

The Big Read. Here is the 100 top books as chosen by BBC Viewers, and here are the top 21 finalists you can vote for. It goes without saying that Rowling is going to win, but what books would you like to have seen in the list, and who do you think should win?
posted by seanyboy (24 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
For myself, I'm pleased to see Philip Pullman in the list, but I'm completely disappointed that "A Prayer for Owen Meany" didn't make the top 21.
posted by seanyboy at 2:34 AM on October 19, 2003


seanyboy, I'd just like to point out that it's not really the top 100 (and 21) books, but the "best-loved", which seems to cast the list in a slightly different light. That said, it seems odd to me that "Captain Corelli's Mandolin" is on the 21. I doubt it would make the short list for best-loved ten years hence, whereas most of the others probably would. But maybe there's something I'm not aware of in terms of British readers and Louis de Bernieres, or this book in particular.
posted by taz at 2:56 AM on October 19, 2003


Oh, and to answer your question "who do you think should win", I would love to vote for War and Peace, but I only read it once. Most of the other other books I've read more than once, but I read Jane Eyre for the first time when I was about twelve, and the last time a couple of years ago - with many, many readings in between, so, from the list, that one would have to be my honest answer for personal "best-loved".

(Also, I'm compelled to say that I thoroughly detest "Gone With the Wind", and will never, ever understand the attraction it exerts.)
posted by taz at 3:09 AM on October 19, 2003


Interesting list...

My vote would go to the Divine Comedy... I've only read it all the way through once, but it had a big impact on me, and despite long since losing any religious faith I once had, I still dip into it regularly.
posted by plep at 3:45 AM on October 19, 2003


That said, it seems odd to me that "Captain Corelli's Mandolin" is on the 21. I doubt it would make the short list for best-loved ten years hence, whereas most of the others probably would.

I can't understand it either. It's not a terrible book, but by the same token it's not a particularly good one. My vote is for Catcher In The Rye, but (at the risk of sounding pretentious) I'd have liked some Joyce in the top 20, maybe Portrait Of The Artist As A Young Man. Ulysses seems an odd choice for the top 100 of a "best-loved" list, wonderful as it is.

That said, at least there was no Terry Pratchett in the top 20. It's a victory, of sorts.
posted by zygoticmynci at 4:48 AM on October 19, 2003


My choice of winner would be a Peter S Beagle book, but I'd be hard pressed to choose between The Last Unicorn, The Folk of the Air and A Fine and Private Place.
The books that had the most influence on me - i.e. scarred me from an early age - were the Illuminatus! trilogy by Wilson and Shea, and The Finger and the Moon by Geoffrey Ashe.
As for the Potter books by that bl**dy woman, I think they'll be forgotten in ten years, just like other over-hyped populist stuff like Jonathan Livingston Seagull and the Never-ending Story.
posted by tabbycat at 4:50 AM on October 19, 2003


it's cool that his dark materials and i capture the castle ranked. of the shortlist, i'd want to see hdm win; of the long list, i capture the castle, and of the many books that weren't nominated, probably either wise blood or a room of one's own.
posted by pxe2000 at 4:53 AM on October 19, 2003


zygoticmycni: oh, something against Pratchett, eh? :) Well, at least he had FIVE books in the top 100. That's still quite an achievement. And considering that one of them was the colour of magic, 20 years old, I'd say that it's an indication of lasting popularity as well as just an indication of the popularity of his recent books.

Personally, I'm rooting for 1984 to come out at number 1, and for Lord Of The Rings to at least do much better than Harry flamin' Potter. :)
posted by kaemaril at 5:23 AM on October 19, 2003


"Personally, I'm rooting for 1984 to come out at number 1..."

As does John Ashcroft. George Bush wants to know if they're going to publish a 1984 coloring book.
posted by MAYORBOB at 6:12 AM on October 19, 2003


who do you think should win?

Anything but Crapper in the Rye.
posted by rushmc at 6:59 AM on October 19, 2003


God, if Harry Potter gets voted as Britain's best-loved book, I'm emigrating. What have we come to?
posted by influx at 7:16 AM on October 19, 2003


My choice of winner would be a Peter S Beagle book, but I'd be hard pressed to choose between The Last Unicorn, The Folk of the Air and A Fine and Private Place.

The Last Unicorn was the first book I read, at 10 or 11, which showed me what it was possible to do with descriptive language. An absolute gem (thanks for the reminder).
posted by jokeefe at 8:27 AM on October 19, 2003


for "best-loved" it's an interesting list.

I would have added Baltasar and Blimunda by Saramago, or Independent People by Laxness (but I can only read them in translation), and maybe Charlotte's Web, but most definitely Harold and the Purple Crayon
posted by amberglow at 8:57 AM on October 19, 2003


I wouldn't take Rowling as a given for the winner - remember a few years ago when Lord of the Rings surprised everyone by winning two "best of the century" polls, (much to the consternation of snobbish literary critics). It's quite possible it could sweep this one too.
posted by dnash at 9:29 AM on October 19, 2003


Here is, in fact, the candidates for "the nation's best-loved novel"—under which rubric this list is slightly more palatable...
posted by Zurishaddai at 11:23 AM on October 19, 2003


it seemed like there was an awful lot of american work on that list for it to be considered "the nation's best-loved novel"...assuming the nation is, of course, old blighty...
posted by pxe2000 at 11:36 AM on October 19, 2003


Think Neil Gaiman's American Gods would make it? The American setting and Gaiman's somewhat obscure fame don't work for him, but he is a Brit I believe... wonder if others have enjoyed this one as much as I have.
posted by weston at 1:59 PM on October 19, 2003


I love that a novelisation is listed. I love the novelisation that is listed.
posted by feelinglistless at 3:34 PM on October 19, 2003


God, if Harry Potter gets voted as Britain's best-loved book, I'm emigrating. What have we come to?

You don't get it. It's for kids, but ADULTS CAN READ IT TOO!!!!! Even those whose brains have long-since atrophied due to Eastenders addiction, one supposes.
posted by walrus at 2:45 AM on October 20, 2003


wonder if others have enjoyed this one as much as I have.

Well I didn't, I like Gaiman's comic stuff but American Gods was completely average.
posted by biffa at 3:14 AM on October 20, 2003


weston, how does gaiman's novel-writing stack up? i love his writing style (the way he puts words together), but i find his ability to write good endings is completely lacking. he's a good writer who could be a great writer if he was capable of writing a good ending.
posted by pxe2000 at 5:40 AM on October 20, 2003


pxe2000, I personally don't have a problem with Gaiman's endings - but I vastly prefer his comics to his novels. I've read American Gods, Coraline and the book he wrote with Terry Pratchett (Good Omens), and I wasn't impressed with any of them. His comics, on the other hand, are consistently amazing. The whole Sandman series is superb, including most of Endless Nights, the latest installment. The 15 Portraits of Despair is especially haunting. I loved his Miracleman and Books of Magic and Stardust as well. Wasn't quite so excited about Mr. Punch, but I don't like Dave McKean's illustrations that much, so that's probably why (sacrilege, I know). Neverwhere had the potential to be excellent - too bad the BBC botched it so horribly. I think his writing lends itself exceptionally well to a visual setting, but without that, it falls flat IMO.
posted by widdershins at 9:46 AM on October 21, 2003


is anyone even still reading this thread?

widdershins: while the stories and the characters in the sandman were utterly amazing (particularly a doll's house), it seemed like he ended his comics stories with an ellipsis instead of a period (i'm not even asking for an exclamation point, just a nice period). the curse of writing in a serialized format might have something to do with that -- in order to keep things going, sometimes you might have to leave some threads dangling. on the other hand, one thing that annoyed me about the last installments of the sandman was that the fate of a few key characters throughout the series (most notably rose) were tantalizingly hinted at, only to not get pursued. which is annoying.

is the endless nights series the same one that features the death manga, or is that something different? the art in that is gorgeous.
posted by pxe2000 at 7:41 PM on October 21, 2003


pxe2000 - no, Endless Nights just came out last month, and it's a collection of 7 comics - one for each of the Endless. Neil had promised several years ago to revisit the Endless at some point - promise kept and fans happy.

The endings in Sandman didn't bother me because (as you said) they were part of a serial. It felt fitting that the ends be a little loose and not neatly wrapped and parceled. In a sense, I like that we're not quite sure what happens to some of the key characters, like Rose Walker, because it makes me feel like they're still out there, living on. There are tons of 'unresolved' characters and many stories I'd love to hear him tell (not that I think he will) about them. I'd love to see how Foxglove and Hazel and their child fare, for example - there seemed to be so much simmering under the surface there. Hob Gadling was one of my favorites. And I'd love more of the stories of when Death takes human form.

*sigh* Well, some other time, maybe...

ellipsis intentional ; )
posted by widdershins at 12:45 PM on October 22, 2003


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