My Big Read

Every so often I come across a list of 100 books - the result of a BBC project called The Big Read in which the British public was asked about their favourite books. The list is being circulated as part of an ongoing internet meme asking people how many of these books they have read. You know, as though this list is an authoritative and complete list of the best and most important books. It is not. It is filled with recent best-sellers, pop culture phenomena and books people vaguely remember from school. If you are searching for a good reading guide, please consider looking at these lists instead. Warning: these lists are purely aspirational and are filled with dead white men.

However, here is my personal list. It consists of 25 books not on the BBC list.  I consider these books the cornerstones of my reading life and I recommend all of them. One book per author. Feel free to share your own recommendations in the comments section.

  1. Tom Kristensen: Havoc
  2. T.S. Eliot: The Waste Land
  3. Walt Whitman: Leaves of Grass
  4. Virginia Woolf: A Room of One's Own
  5. Sir Philip Sidney: Astrophel & Stella
  6. Gertrude Stein: Tender Buttons
  7. Hart Crane: The Bridge
  8. Mikhail Bulgakov: The Master & Margarita
  9. Jorge Luis Borges: Ficciones
  10. Vladimir Nabokov: Pale Fire
  11. Allen Curnow: Early Days Yet (esp. Landfall in Unknown Seas)
  12. John Cheever: Falconer
  13. Alexander Trocchi: Young Adam
  14. Primo Levi: The Periodic Table
  15. Alasdair Gray: Lanark
  16. Jeanette Winterson: Sexing the Cherry
  17. Margaret Atwood: The Handmaid's Tale
  18. Keri Hulme: the bone people
  19. Iain Banks: The Bridge
  20. Michel Faber: Under the Skin
  21. Andrew Crumey: Mobius Dick
  22. Jonathan Coe: The House of Sleep
  23. Jan Kjærstad: The Seducer
  24. Cormac McCarthy: The Road
  25. Erna Brodber: Myal

PS. If anybody looking at my list can figure out what to call or how define my taste in books, please let me know. I've tried to come up with a succinct description for years but the closest I have come is "I like small, nasty books".