Creation of the List

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Creation of the List

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Bearbeitet: Feb. 24, 2016, 9:11am

All we know about the list's origins is what the book's introduction provides: an esteemed author/lover of books made the selections, which were then parcelled out to various literati who were asked to write the blurbs/descriptions.

This explains the variation in approach to blurbs (some summarize the plot (including a few with terrific spoilers), others dwell on theme, others on the author).

The great unsolved mystery is who the key selector was, but I admire the breadth of his or her tastes.

Mrz. 9, 2012, 8:10am

Whoever made the selections was careful not to duplicate the same author within the same category - with one exception. Charles Dickens was cited twice under "Classics" for the Christmas Books and for Our Mutual Friend. I think one of two things happened: an oversight, or else the Christmas Books were originally listed as Children's Fiction and then were moved in editing to the Classics section.

Jun. 21, 2012, 2:58pm

Someone's drawn the obvious conclusion that it must have been the editor herself, Ms. Beare. This is an interesting critique of the list (if not one I agree with), and the comments were worth reading too:

Bearbeitet: Feb. 24, 2016, 9:12am

I've lately been observing there's a strange imbalance; some listed books are along the lines of "collected works of", while others are nothing more than short stories. Seems odd to be giving those thing equal weighting. I guess we're supposed to look at it from the perspective of exposure to various significant authors and their work, which, if I was playing this more loosely, would permit me to select a different work by the author mentioned rather than the one chosen to represent them. Why Sense and Sensibility for example, above Pride and Prejudice?

Another thing, this list seems very heavy on the topic of the Holocaust. It happens to be a topic that interests me greatly and I never object to reading more about, but hints again at an imbalance in the selections.

Bearbeitet: Aug. 28, 2015, 10:19am

Although it's listed as "History", it turns out that The Accursed Kings by Maurice Druon is actually a multi-volume fictional epic and not actual history at all, which I'd say makes it the most curious categorization in the whole list. It's been getting an increased level of attention recently as inspiration for George R. R. Martin's A Game of Thrones and consequently it is again easily found on bookstore shelves.

Edit: another contender for "most curious categorization": The Towers of Trebizond is fiction listed as memoir.

Nov. 5, 2015, 7:49am

I've posted parts of the list to other groups for opinions and gotten some interesting discussion out of it.

The history group has shed some light on which History entries are especially worth chasing:

The science fiction group had a lot of good insights about the SF portion:

Feb. 24, 2016, 9:11am

It's occurred to me that whoever composed the list was lending focus not just to good subject matter, and not even just to good technique, but also to history. Works like Madame Bovary and The Road to Oxiana are not only classics in their field, but turning points in how writing is done that had significant influence on what came after.

I keep googling now and then to see if the originator of the list has revealed themselves, but no luck so far.

Mrz. 9, 2016, 7:18am

Reading Boy: Tales of Childhood, it's difficult to imagine anyone who would select this who did not relate to it personally. British? Male? Born early half 20th century?

Bearbeitet: Aug. 15, 2016, 1:35pm

Shared the SF portion again here (see #19), with some feedback: