In my short career to date as a blogger, I’ve noticed there are a lot of book-related lists that regularly pop up on posts.
The titles differ, but generally they relate to people providing some form of recommended reading list.
Given that reading tastes and responses to stories are so subjective, I’m wondering how much stock book lovers put into lists created by others.
Bob Carr (former New South Wales Premier), has written a book called My Reading Life, in which he discusses his list of recommended books, and how he came to compile it.
In an article in (yes, you guessed it) The Australian Literary Review, he talks about how his reading choices have changed over the years. In particular, how he found himself more interested in classics at the height of his political career.
“In my 20s and 30s, I was restless about my reading choices – too heavy on current affairs, political biography and contemporary fiction. I needed lists, recommendations, guidance. The barrier to reading the classics, certainly for me, was a fear of being bored.”
He talks about changing literary tastes as we age. “…as infants, we read to identify with characters, as adolescents we read to learn about life. But as adults we read books for the sake of their form, their visions, their art”.
Carr says a list of books – assumedly created by another – disciplines our choices and provokes us.
Personally, I’ve never actually taken a list and systematically read everything on it (except the seven required plays in Stuart Spencer’s The Playwright’s Guidebook - a worthwhile exercise).
Probably the only time I would do so, is if the experience promised to deliver a result greater than the sum of its parts; if by reading a certain list I would gain a better understanding of a theme, a writing technique, a particular topic, etc.
So I’m wondering what everyone thinks of book lists. Do you use them? Have you ever read every book a list created by someone else?