Lists and Critics

A couple of links until I can write something thoughtful about re-reading, a post which has been brewing all week… threat or promise? You’ll see in a day or two.

1. A list on goodreads, a place where I’m not a member because I’m trying to limit the places I have an account. It just gets complicated. This list is pretty interesting. It is fully a democratic list, anyone can join in the party, and it is entitled “Books Everyone Should Read Once.” I went through the first page of this list, the top 100 vote-getters, and I’m doing ok, at I’ve read 42/100. Mind, some of the books are picture books. There is a funny thing with the Chronicles of Narnia as a set and The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe listed as a book, both in the top 100. I counted both since I’ve read the set and thus read LWW. Some of the top 100 are books-of-the-moment, but many are not. Thoughts on the selections of a variety of readers?

2. An article on what being a book critic is all about from the L.A. Times. This reinforces my view that a good book review is a piece of literary criticism, not primarily a way to say nice things about a book you liked, but a way of understanding what it is about the book that is really good, or, conversely, what makes a book really terrible.

3. On the flip side of the list of books everyone should read once, which seems to be a popularity contest for books, Publishers Weekly asked readers to tweet about underrated books. They collected some results. I’ve never heard of these books. Perhaps I should correct this.

What about you, what makes a book a classic that everyone should read? What are the underrated books you’ve run across, books you think are great but no one else has heard of?

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