That bogus BBC book list
A friend on Facebook invited her acquaintances to take the “BBC Booklist Challenge,” which claims that most people will have read no more than half a dozen of the hundred books on the list.
I, of course, would have none of it. English majors, of which herd I was long a part, never do anything as vulgar as identify specific books that they have read. Their vast understanding extends to all literature that counts and is not to be pinned down to specific texts. We all bluff, you know. Do the Stephen Potter gamesmanship thing, you know. “Oh, you think Trollope is significant, do you?” “Fanny Burney, you say? Well, she’s no Aphra Behn.”
Besides, the “BBC Booklist Challenge” is bogus on its face. Run your eye down the list and it won’t take long for dubious items to crop up. The Da Vinci Code? Really? Mitch Albom. Mitch Albom! You want to give Harold Bloom an apoplexy?
That meme has been bouncing around the Internet for months, and someone went to the trouble of exposing its questionable origins. No gold star for you if you’ve read all one hundred.
Many years ago Esquire published a list of the ten or however many books you should have read if you have any pretension to being a civilized, educated adult. That was a list with some meat on it. I don’t recall the entire list, but I remember that it included The Canterbury Tales. In Middle English. And Boswell’s Life of Johnson (BOO-YAH!).
So come back to me when you’ve met your quota of dead white guys.