As a rule I don’t participate in memes but this one, which I first saw on Simon T’s Stuck-in-A-Book, is so brilliant that I began reasoning that every rule requires an exception. However, my books are scattered all over the house, although a couple of rooms have been declared non-book zones by the non-reader. (He needs some space of his own, apparently.) The question was how on earth to make this a random selection. Then gaskella had another brilliant idea of using random.org to generate numbers relating to her librarything bookshelves. Perfect. The deal was clinched and I then started worrying about the secrets that were about to emerge from the closet (because I decided not to cheat with the selection of 10 books) or that with over 700 unread books on my library shelves, random.org would pick 10 of the great unread. Nil desperandum as Willy Wonka would have said, it’s only a meme – and I am among friends, right? Deep breathe. Here we go.
1. Book 23 – The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Good start. I can’t stand Sherlock Holmes. He’s an arrogant, know-it-all. I don’t like that there are no clues in the stories prior to Holmes explaining his deductions. And that breaks a cardinal rule of modern crime writing – that the detective should know no more than the reader. And while I’m at it, I can’t stand sycophantic Watson either! So why, you may ask is this book (and for that matter another 3 volumes of Sherlock Holmes stories) in my collection at all.
They’re part of a collection. From 1982 – 2008 , the Reader’s Digest published a 123-volume series of the World’s Best Reading – sturdy hardbacks with specially commissioned illustrations, which for the past 3 or 4 years I have been collecting, primarily from car boot sales and charity shops. They cost buttons. I now have 35 or so. Only another 90 to go – although some titles don’t appear to have been released on this side of the Atlantic.
2. Book 158 – Blacklist – Sara Paretsky
We stay with crime for book 2. It’s no secret that I really enjoy a good crime novel and I’m sure this is one of those. It won the CWA Gold Dagger in 2004. I will read it because I’m working my way slowly through the dagger winners. I’m pretty sure that Sara Paretsky came recommended via the now defunct BBC Bigreaders discussion forum – my first online forum. Can you / can I believe that that was 7 years ago? I wasn’t Lizzy then – I was lifelong bookworm. I then mutated into Lancastrian Nomad before transforming into the preraphaelite supermodel, LizzySiddal. Why I ask myself, for it is entirely subconscious, do all my online IDs begin with L?
3. Book 307 – Bridget Jones’s Diary – Helen Fielding
The book that launched a new, now done-to-death, genre, so maybe it has much to apologise for. As do I. If you were in Los Christianos, Tenerife, Xmas 1996, and witnessed a great white whale on the beach, rolling around and roaring with laughter, I apologise for ruining your holiday. But I was having a great time reading this!
4. Book 390 – A Darkling Plain – Philip Reeve
Why, since I loved the first three books in Reeve’s Hungry City Chronicles , have I not yet read this? Probably because I can’t bear the idea of such a good thing coming to an end. Yet since Reeve published a prequel last year, which landed on my doorstep on the day of publication, I no longer have that excuse. OK, the book has been promoted to my immediate TBR. I also hear rumours that Peter Jackson is going to direct a 3D-film. Please let that be true, then I can get really excited!
5. Book 473 – Dorling Kindersley – Geography of the World
I’ve written before about my admiration for Dorling Kindersley. This volume is one of a set I bought when my son began secondary school and, now that he has flown the nest, still retains its place in my reference box – because it you’ve been reading the blog for a while, you’ll know that I also love to travel!
6. Book 547 – Esio Trot – Roald Dahl
Oh, the irony. Lifelong bookworm that I am, it was a blow to discover that my only child is dyslexic. The novels of fellow dyslexic Roald Dahl were a source of great entertainment and encouragement through some very troubled school years. He certainly kept us laughing! Some of my warmest memories are of reading his stories to my boy. We built up quite a collection.
7. Book 1000 – The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne – Brian Moore
John Self of Asylum was instrumental in my first discovering Brian Moore. Then I got hooked and started a second blog, TheMooreTheMerrier, to chart my progress, and those joining me, on the journey through Brian Moore’s novels. I’m horrified to realise that it’s almost a year since I last one. Doesn’t time fly when you’re blogging?
8. Book 1020 – The Loudest Sound of Nothing – Clare Wigfall
This book of award winning short stories was a gift and I’ve heard great things about it. It was only last year that I hooked into short stories so its chances of being read have increased hundredfold. Onto the immediate TBR it goes. By the way, I love the simplicity and class of the cover design.
9. Book 1435 – The Road – Cormac McCarthy
A book I avoided for long and weary and then picked up as a result of a conversation at the Edinburgh Book Festival – my home from home during the month of August. I was there when Cormac McCarthy was awarded the James Tait Black Prize for Fiction (even if he wasn’t). For all its bleakness, it is an uplifting read and one of my books of the Noughties. I hope the film does it justice.
10) Book 1780 – War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy
How delighted am I that random.org chose this number! For it gives me another opportunity to eulogise about the best novel ever written! And a chance to show you my many editions. I own a) a black Penguin, b) a three-volume Collector’s Library edition and c) a beautiful illustrated Folio Society edition (which is shelved along with its Folio Society brothers and sisters – well, they are the crown in my collection)
So why am I craving a copy of this recently published new translation?