Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Tough decisions

I just got an email to say that Whitcoulls are updating their Whitcoulls Top 100 list of New Zealand's favourite books and voting is now open.

I am always a little wary of these lists the book sellers bring out. (Dymocks [oh how I love thee, a book store that sells books and nothing else, not stationery, not greeting cards, just books!] jumped on the bandwagon and recently produced The Top 101 Dymocks Booklovers Best). Often they are full of what is "hot" in the literary world at the time they are compiled and are destined to fade by the following year, not books that have stood the test of time and will feature on such lists for many years to come.

And call me cynical but offering people a $5 voucher as reward for voting seems like a blatant marketing ploy to drag people to their (terrible, hard to navigate, often falling over) website to buy more books.

That said, these "Top Lists" do make fascinating browsing and provides great material for book clubs to work from. They also provide endless opportunities for me and my bookie friends to debate and debunk the various titles, their merits and their rankings.

It also acts as my fall back - should I ever run out of books to read, I know where to turn to for inspiration. Maybe one day I will even reach my goal of being able to proudly say I have read all the titles that make up the list.

But my greatest grumble of all is trying to decide which books will earn my vote. Forcing a bibliophile such as myself to select just three to vote for is akin to torture. And at the risk of coming off sounding like a nutbar, I often think of books as my friends (comforting, always there for me when I need them, etc) and I don't want to offend any of them by choosing some over others. Yes, I do realise that books don't actually have feelings and I do not know personally any of their authors so don't risk offending them either, but how would you feel if you had a group of say, ten best friends, but were being forced to say you loved three best of all?

So...I've trawled through my books and come up with a top 12 (below and in no particular order) and tomorrow morning will do the unthinkable; elevate a selected three to a mantel above my other books.

I feel so guilty :P

"Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil" - John Berendt
"A Thousand Splendid Suns" - Khaled Hosseini
"The Historian" - Elizabeth Kostova
"We Need to Talk About Kevin" - Lionel Shriver
"The Lovely Bones" - Alice Sebold
"Dreamhunter"- Elizabeth Knox
"The Thirteenth Tale" - Diane Setterfield
"To Kill A Mockingbird" - Harper Lee
"Memoirs of a Geisha" - Arthur Golden
"Water for Elephants" - Sara Gruen
"My Sister's Keeper" - Jodi Picoult
"See Ya Simon" - David Hill


her said...

I'm pretty sure "Water for Elephants" is going to make your list, right? ;)

My top 3 out of this list would be "We Need To Talk....", "The Lovely Bones" and "To Kill a Mockingbird"....i think.

Karla said...

Ohhhh you have some real pearlers in your top 12 and I would have some trouble picking a top three. But I know that both "To kill a mockingbird " and "Lovely bones" would have to be top 2.

Nice post!