Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Whining about BBC's "great book list"

Aaaahhh. Several people have tagged me in that "great book list" where you can tell everyone about what great literature you've read and feel good or guilty about it, depending. I don't think it's a good list! It doesn't seem to be well-categorized. The chronicles of narnia are on there along with The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. The books on the facebook note don't even match the original, which was just a list of British people's favorite books in 2003. War and Peace counts as one book as does Harry Potter. This is a terrible way to measure reading passion or general well-read-ness. If that's the goal, make a poem referencing all that stuff and see how many people get it (oh wait, we did that, thank you modernist poets).

I think a more interesting viral note campaign would be to list one underrated book you think other people should read with reasons why. Then you would get to learn about a book you might not have already read and skip the gloating/guilty feeling of knowing what classic books other people have put themselves through. It would look something like this:

Name one under-read book and tell us why we should read it.

Or, if I were going for the whimsical prose style of chain letters, I suppose it would read more like this:

Think of one book that not everyone you know has read. It can be happy or sad or fun, as long as it's a book you like and you think others might like it too. List this book and give 5 reasons why you think more people should read it in the following categories: 
1.  How cool you'll be once you can join the subgroup of people who have read this book.
2. What handsome guys are in it.
3. What books it's similar to, or just mention the last popular book you read, to pique the interest of lesser readers.
4. How quick it is to read (include # of hours it took you to read if under 10, esp. if it was in the same day).
5. How you don't have to know anything about obscure history or cultures to understand the book.

BONUS: Include the word "thrilling."

I will demonstrate with Snow Country by Yasunari Kawabata.

Snow Country is a lovely, delicate read by the Japanese master author Kawabata. While Snow Country isn't as bizarre as Murakami's Wind-Up Bird Chronicles, it will make any fan of Japanese literature smile with its small details and wandering pace. The unnamed, mysterious male protagonist enjoys the company of his favorite geisha in the snow-ridden area of the Gunma prefecture in Japan. Even if you don't know a shamisen from a sanshin, you can enjoy the small intimacies of tatami mats and silk worms in just a few hours.

* * *

I really do like Snow Country! I just think book blurbs are hilarious/ridiculous.


krebscout said...

Remember when Roger used to read the blurbs for movie night?

Ah blurbs.

Andrea said...

Ha ha ha, yeah the list isn't very useful, is it? I like your viral email -- you got the tone just right!