While I’m unashamed of my love of lists, I’m always skeptical of lists that attempt to assign the status of “best of . . .” in any genre, whether it’s a vacation destination, restaurant, or the artistic value of a movie or book. For example, take a look at this Unified List of the Best 100 Novels (via), which merges the “top” lists from the UK, US, Australia and Canada. In a personal sense, I’m happy to see that personal favorites Possession (#59), A Passage to India (#55), Anne of Green Gables (#38), and The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe (#14) made it on to the list . . . but find myself slightly irritated that, for example, my favorite Austen novel (Persuasion) only squeaked on at #94). “Why did they pick X over Y?” I find myself thinking impatiently. I would argue that in the end such lists are intimately subjective, and I wish they would acknowledge that (“favorite” rather than “best” anyone?). Yet at the same time they’re compulsively readable, and the bookworm in me can’t help noticing how many I can or cannot check off as already read . . .
And I would add I’m glad to see Life of Pi, Corelli’s Mandolin, The Handmaid’s Tale and A Fine Balance – but The da Vinci Code?