Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Best Books of the Millenium?

I occasionally pride myself on being a well-read individual, but whenever I feel the urge to pat myself on the back, things pop up to remind me that I don't know shit.  For example, The Millions recently posted the "Best of the Millenium, Pros vs Readers."  Rather than oohing and ahing on the similarities and differences between the two lists, hoever, I was struck by the very noticeable fact that I've only read one of the books mentioned.

Of course, I think it is also important to mention something one of the commenters pointed out: Lydia Kiesling writes,
"I think something to take away from the whole exercise is that it is silly to ascribe merit umerically. Number one, number three, number thirteen—these are basically meaningless distinctions (unless, I suppose, you are running a race). Consider the Modern Library 100, which creates a fairly arbitrary, often ridiculous, hierarchy between books, using basically the same process used for this list (which is, to reiterate, *not* a round-table consensus-type situation, but one based on tallies). Folks seem a little grumpy about The Corrections' number one spot. Of course it feels a odd to call The Corrections 'the best novel of the millennium.' But I don’t see how any of the novels we talked about this week would be less troublesome in that lauded position (unless, naturally, they happen to be your particular favorite)."
Hear, hear!  I hate lists, as so much of what we get from literature is subjective and so any attempt to put them in some kind of objective order is kind of a waste of time... in my own subjective opinion. (Of course, some people would argue that this subjectivity is what gives English as a field of study a bad name, but the fact remains that there is no way to objectively list the "best" book ever.)

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