September 5, 2008

Books, prescribed

I've been reading this list, found here - and it's stirring the dragon of obsession in me.

Book lists provoke, in equal measures, ire and the irrational desire to go out and read every single book on the list, in the order they're listed, just because someone said you should. And how exactly would that make you a more intelligent reader, I wonder....

I think a book list ought to be taken as an interesting way to find new authors and interesting books. Isn't that what most compulsive readers want? As Pullman says himself, it's an exercise in itself;
"One interesting thing was the growing realisation that my list was less about literature than about story, or about something else that wasn't fine writing, but was more important. Some of these books are badly written, but unforgettable: Lovecraft's stories, or David Lindsay's extraordinary A Voyage to Arcturus. Some are here because their subject matter is inexhaustibly intriguing...."
You can read his "How I chose my top 40" here.

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