Amazon’s 100 Books to Read in a Lifetime

Essential reading?  I don't think so
Essential reading? I don’t think so

The Amazon editors have produced a list of 100 Books to Read in a Lifetime, with an associated Goodreads’ 100 Books to Read in a Lifetime: Readers’ Picks (Amazon, of course, own Goodreads). (Note that this list is on US Amazon; it does not appear to be on the other Amazons.) I enjoy a good list but I must say this one had me bemused. I have read forty-two and may read another three-four on the list. In other words, I shall never read just over half of them. These include a lot of children’s books, memoirs with a US bias and popular fiction (can you really not get through life without reading Gone Girl, The Hunger Games, The Valley of the Dolls and The Shining? Well, I have managed and have no plans to read any of these four. Nor Have I read Peyton Place, which is missing from their trashy novels.) But you have to wonder about many others. Are A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, Breath, Eyes, Memory, Dune, Interpreter of Maladies, Life After Life, Of Human Bondage, The Giver and The World According to Garp that worthy? No. I would argue that The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, Love in the Time of Cholera and The Age of Innocence are not even their author’s best book. And, as far as I can see, Great Expectations and Pride and Prejudice are the only pre-20th century books (Homer, Aristotle, Plato, Dante, Brontës, George Eliot, Flaubert, Balzac, Trollope, Thackeray, Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Twain, Hardy, James, Melville, Hawthorne, Stendhal, etc. all missing.) There are only four books originally written in a language other than English – Love in the Time of Cholera, The Little Prince, The Stranger and The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. No Homer, Aristotle, Plato, Dante, Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Kafka, Cervantes, Vargas Llosa, Chinese classics, Mann, Proust, Pasternak, Sartre, etc. As for the other books omitted, I could write pages, as could any of you. I could go on for hours but I won’t. This is a terribly sloppy list and Amazon should be ashamed of themselves.

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