Progress Update: #34 Read all the BBC Top 100 books
This is not one of the ‘big bang’ challenges! Instead reading my way through these books is an endurance challenge, going on in the background all the time. For the last few months I haven’t read ANYTHING unless it was on the Top 100 list. To be frank however, progress has not exactly been lightning. In fact, unless I step it up a bit, this is the challenge that’s at risk of beating me!
When I last posted (back in June) I had just finished wading my way through Anna Karenina. No word of a lie, when I took that back to the library the self-service computer returns desk actually said “one book at a time please”…
Since June I have managed four more books. After the strain of Tolstoy I thought I’d cross off a couple of the ‘childrens books’ on the list hoping they’d be an easier read. Or, at least, slimmer. First up was Lord of the Flies. One word: DISTURBING. I can see why it’s a classic, once read you’re never going to forget it. What I can’t believe is that they let children read this. Nightmares anyone? Thoroughly scary because it’s threateningly believable. Just how thin is the veneer of civilisation?
Hoping for something a little more palatable I tried to look for some childrens classics like Black Beauty, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory or a bit of Roald Dahl, only to discover that the library appears not to bother with these wholesome staples anymore. Instead there’s row upon row of wizards, vampires and materialistic American rubbish. I’ve subsequently been combing charity shop shelves for the classics I remember from my childhood and sadly I’m struggling to find them.
Back in the library, I found myself instead in the Young Adult section looking at the Jacqueline Wilson’s. Four have made the Top 100: Girls In Love, Double Act, The Story of Tracy Beaker and Vicky Angel. I made a start with Girls in Love. I’ll admit I’m not the target audience for these books but I was a bit shocked. Judy Blume it is not! Never mind “I must, I must, I must, increase my bust”, these ‘Girls’ were more preoccupied with underage sex. In a book targeted at the 12+ age group, I’m guessing this must be enough of an issue for pre teens for it to be written about. I find that quite scary. I’m a) obviously out of touch, b) very pleased I don’t have daughters and c) not looking forward to meeting Tracy Beaker.
Next up was Mario Puzo’s The Godfather. A totally different proposition, I couldn’t put this one down. A gripping thriller to start with at least, even if it did peter out a bit towards the end. I’ve never seen the film so although I’m familiar with the references to horse’s heads and beds in connection with the Mafia, I still didn’t see it coming. Just brilliant. I recommend the read.
The fourth was, improbably, even more tedious than Anna Karenina. The Raggered Trousered Philanthropists: a political polemic based on painting and decorating. Frankly, watching the paint dry would have been more interesting. Another one requiring multiple library renewals. It took so long to read because it kept sending me to sleep but after what felt like months the best thing about it was returning it to the shelf.
These four take me to 68 of the list read. Next up is Of Mice and Men. It’s thin. Watch this space…