Ah, books...

Categories: uncategorized

Date: 09 April 2003 18:44:00

The other day, I touched on my slight obsession with children's books, but today it is books in general that have inspired my entry. I was looking at the latest BBC 'best [insert noun here] ever' survey, (you can see the form here). Well, it's all about books. I'm having major problems filling in the form.

Firstly, I want to fill it in. I love books, and want my opinion to count, no matter that this opinion will be a drop in the ocean, or at least a large pond. They are asking something about a subject which is important to me, so I want to have my say. That caveat being given, These are my problems...

(1) I don't have a favourite book, or even a favourite author. I have favourites of things that you're not supposed to have favourites of, (children, ministers, lampshades...) but books seem to transcend all of this. To pick, let's say for the sake of argument, Mr Tickle, would indeed be giving Mr Hargreaves the recognition he deserves, but would be heartlessly letting other similarly magnificent authors fall by the wayside. To pick Hardy would be dismissing Pratchett, Margaret Atwood can't be seen as better or worse than Roald Dahl. They are writing to different audiences.

It's only fiction that counts, so that at least counts out the Bible, although it would have made it easier to vote if this were not the case. But what else does it count out - what about fiction based on fact? Margaret Atwood's 'Alias Grace' was strongly in touch with actual historical events. Orwell's 'Animal Farm' was political comment, Laurie Lee's 'Cider with Rosie' reads like fiction, but is fact.

(2) When I finally pick a book, possibly by drawing names out of a hat, it will probably be a children's book. This poses a problem of recording on the entry form when I first read it. A strong contender, for example is 'The Silver Chair' by CS Lewis, I know I had it on my bookshelf as a kid since before I was old enough to read it, but at what age I finally picked it up, I have no idea, it could have been anywhere between the ages of 7 and 14, which covers all of the first 3 age categories. Maybe I'll wind up picking a Harry Potter book, because I know how old I was when I read them, but somehow I think Ms Rowling will get enough votes without my ha'pence worth.

(3) In no more than 250 words, please complete the following "You should read this book because..." I have to fill in this bit without sounding like a primary school book review that I'm trying to finish early so I can be first in the lunch queue, because it's sausages today...

(4) Choose an adjective to describe your book: Sad/Happy/Scary/Funny/Imaginative/Violent/Inspirational/Ground breaking/Thrilling. A good book should be all of these, no question.

(5) Not a major problem, but this question amused me, it asks where you like to read, and the choices read, in this order...toilet...bath...other public places! (I know, I'm easily amused)

(6)'How many novels have you read in the past 12 months?' OK, what counts as a novel? Jude the Obscure definitely does, Mr Bump probably doesn't. So where do I draw the line? (I'm looking for help from you English students here...) Does Harry Potter count? What about the Famous 5? Does it have to have chapters (in which case Pratchett is out of the running)? The ranges the've given go up to 50+, does this mean my opinion counts for less if I've read less? In this case I may have to lie.

This brings me on to my final point, confident in the knowledge that if you are still reading this, you are probably as bored and/or scewed up as I am, so I can let my paranoia out. What if I haven't read my favourite book yet? It might be sitting on the shelf waiting for me to discover it, I might not have purchased it. It might not be written yet. What if I die not having read the book that would have been my favourite, had I only picked it up and read it? Are there books in heaven? I suppose that given that I don't currently have a favourite book, I might never have one, so that'll be OK... but I do have a favourite film - unless there's a better one out there... how good do you have to be to be rewarded in heaven with a bookshelf and a dvd player?