When the Sunday New York Times “By the Book” section asks someone, usually a writer, to identify books they are reading or one with a powerful impact on their lives, I feel so connected to the person when a book I know is named. If it’s a book new to me, I usually look for it in the library. Like many of you, I love finding book lists and recommendations.
So, when the BBC decided to ask a panel of leading writers, curators and critics to choose “100 genre-busting novels that have had an impact on their lives,” I could not wait to review the list. “These English language novels, written over the last 300 years, range from children’s classics to popular page turners. Organized into themes, they reflect the ways books help shape and influence our thinking.”
I was equally surprised by the books on the list I had read, the books I had not read, and those I had never heard of. Some were predictable, like Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Huxley’s Brave New World, and Alice Walker’s The Color Purple. Some seemed fun to read but below the mark, like Helen Fielding’s Bridget Jones Diary. Others were tempting to find, just by the title and author’s reputation, like Ali Smith’s How to Be Both.
I’ve read only about a third on the list, some as required reading in my past life, but I was pleased to see a newer book – Homegoing.
My top ten from the list include these I’ve read – and still remember:
- Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
- Eye of the Needle by Ken Follett
- A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
- The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark
- Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys
- The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling
- Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfield
- I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
- The Witches by Roald Dahl
- Rebecca by Dapne du Maurier
If you are interested in checking out the complete list, you can find it at https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/articles/494P41NCbVYHlY319VwGbxp/explore-the-list-of-100-novels-that-shaped-our-world
My next read should be fun – discovered from the list:
Psmith, Journalist – P. G. Wodehouse
Free from Gutenberg Press but I want the pictures, so I’ve ordered it from my library.