Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday: Books that should run and run.

I haven’t done a Top Ten Tuesday (as ever hosted by the wonderful Broke and the Bookish) as, to be honest, I’ve been absolutely hopeless at getting more than a very occasional post done in recent months. I suspect it’s a combination of work, a busy family life and, if I’m totally honest, a loss of blogging mojo that has led to this sad (at least for me) state of affairs.  I’m not even too sure how to break out of the slump but I’m going to try an oft-cited trick for getting rid of writer’s block – just write.  Write anything.  Don’t worry about what it is you’re writing, just do it.  The theory is that the simple act of writing will get you back in the rhythm.  We shall see.  So, apologies in advance, just in case what follows is no more than a big, steaming pile of pachyderm ordure.

This week’s challenge is to list ten books written in the past decade (approximately, in my case!) which I hope will still be read in thirty years time.  The flip answer would be, “most of them” as, being a reasonably generous soul, I would only ever really wish literary death on the occasional dreadfully-written effort or anything that espouses extreme and unpleasant political or social views.  But, in the spirit of Top Tennery, here are ten books that fit the criteria of having their survival wished for:

1.                  The Harry Potter series.  I know they weren’t all written in the last decade but it’s easier this way than picking them out individually.  I’ve listed them here not because I am a massive fan……..I enjoyed them, yes, but no more than I’ve enjoyed many other novels, but because they inspired a generation of kids to leave their DVDs and Playstations for a while and pick up a book instead.  And, although not all of those kids will have progressed to being keen general readers, sufficient will have done to give me the confidence to say that if these are still being read in 30 years time, there will still be hope for the written word in a digital universe.

2.                  Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich.  The author spent two years living and working “undercover” in low paid jobs to see how America’s “working poor” managed to live.  In many cases, her answer was that they didn’t, in any meaningful sense of the word.  It’s a kind of modern, American updating of Orwell’s Down and Out in Paris and London and, being a tale of our times, even more shocking.  I hope that we are reading it in 30 years time as a historical artefact and with incredulity at the selfishness and lack of care of 21st Century Western society.

3.                  The Plot against America by Philip Roth.  I simply loved Roth’s alternative history of a 1940s America, in which Lindbergh became President and led America down a very different historical path than it actually took.  This is one that I just hope people are still reading 30 years from now because it’s a damn fine book.

4.                  Humanity: A Moral History of the 20th Century by Jonathan Glover.  Breathtaking in scope, restrained and humane in execution and deeply depressing in its subject matter, I hope this is read and re-read until we finally learn its lessons.

5.                  The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller.  Although when I reviewed it, I had some reservations, this is a fantastic retelling of the story of Achilles and Patroclus that gives the events of the Iliad fresh life.  Definitely deserves to be read in 30 years.

6.                  The Metatemporal Detective by Michael Moorcock.  A collection of Moorcock’s short fiction, featuring a Holmesian detective, Sir Seaton Begg, and set in Moorcock’s fictional “multiverse”, these are playful parodies of traditional detective fiction, with elements of the fantastic and steampunk.  Moorcock is a wonderful writer whom I believe to be underrated as he is most closely associated with genre fiction.  I really do hope he is still widely read in 30 years.

7.                  Berlin by Anthony Beevor.  I love the way Beevor can weave a detailed narrative out of significant events in history, using contemporary accounts and witnesses.  Berlin, like Stalingrad, is military history as it should be written and deserves to be read long into the future as a classic of its kind.

8.                  Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susannah Clarke.  It’s a little bit, dare I say it, strange but it’s also a little bit wonderful.  A dream-like alternate 19th Century England where magic is treated as a serious topic for study, this surely deserves to keep a readership a long way into the future.

9.                  My Name is Red by Orhan Pamuk.  Nominally a murder mystery set in 16th Century Istanbul, it’s a dazzling piece of writing and a wonderful introduction to the work of the Nobel Prize winning Pamuk.  I’d also heartily recommend his paean to his home city, Istanbul.

And, at number ten……..

10.       The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown.  Now don’t click away from here in disgust and no, I haven’t had a funny turn and come to believe that this is great literature but it grabbed the imagination of millions of people around the world, kept non-readers turning the pages and, frankly, I hope it’s still read in 30 years, if only to stick two fingers up at the po-faced critics who expended so much venom in denigrating it and, by extension, its readers.  So there.


Anonymous said...

I didn't participate in this TTT, but when I was considering it, Harry Potter was also on my list for the EXACT SAME reason.

I like that you included the Da Vinci code for a similar reason too.

Red said...

I hope Strange & Norrell is still read in 30 years. It is absolutely strange and wonderful.

I think you're right to include The Da Vinci Code on this list. It's not great literature but it captured the attention of non-readers to such a degree I think it will still be kicking around in the future. If only so new readers can see what the big fuss was.

Kimberly @ Turning the Pages said...

I loved The DaVinci Code! It may not be great literature but for me it's one of my favourites.
Great list and Now following your blog via GFC :)
Here's my TopTenTuesday Post :)

-Kimberly @ Turning The Pages

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

I'm adding The Song of Achilles to my TBR list right now. That sounds so good!

Just a Lil Lost said...

It's interesting to think that Da Vinci Code would make people turn away in disgust.. with some of the surprise/pleased comments on my blog of having added it to the list, people can't dispute that it DID make an impact!

Great list! :) I heard Jonathan Strange is really good!

Thanks for stopping by!

Michele | TTT

Alex (The Sleepless Reader) said...

I hope you find your blogging-mojo soon!

I agree with you on both HP and Da Vinci Code. Any book that gets the masses to read is a good book imho. Feel the same way about Twilight, The Hunger Games and ever the (over-rated) Stig Larsson series.

Elizabeth said...

Great list....nice blog. First-time visitor.


Found you on the Literary Blog Hop List and decided to stop over.

Stop by my blog if you like. I also have a giveaway going on.



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