Tuesday, June 21, 2011


Five years ago, on my Sibley Blog, I had a rant about the then recently announced Penguin’s list of 100 Greatest Books, following which one of my regular readers, Cafrine, commented:
I'd be interested to hear, Brian, what, say, your top ten greatest books of all time would be. We'll even let you pick books from every publisher and not limit you to simply Penguin Books!
As I remarked in reply, any attempt by me to list what I considered 'The Ten Greatest Books of All Time' would be totally meaningless, since I was (and still am) painfully aware that there are thousands of great books that I've still not read - and which, looking at the up-coming (ever shortening) schedule of life, I will probably never get around to reading...

Notwithstanding which, I decided, to submit my personal 'Top Ten Tomes': books that have seized and held my imagination and - in some cases - changed my life or, at least, the way I look at it…

So here they are again (in alphabetical order):

A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll

Animal Farm - George Orwell

Moby-Dick - Herman Melville

Something Wicked This Way Comes - Ray Bradbury

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe - C S Lewis

The Lord of the Rings - J R R Tolkien

The Sword in the Stone - T H White

The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame

Titus Groan - Mervyn Peake

Guess what? They were all fantasies, fables or fairy-tales!

How revealing is that?!

Of course the moment, I'd posted the list, I had a pang of conscience about some of the books I'd left off the list and immediately had to add the following top-up post...

One of my readers has just posted her Top Ten Reads --- and has included Mary Poppins, which immediately made me ask why she isn't on MY list! She certainly SHOULD be!

True, I didn't read Miss Poppins' exploits until I was in my twenties (some time after seeing the Disney film), but it resulted in a long friendship with the author and took me to Hollywood to write a sequel - albeit never filmed - to that famous movie. Why, I even wrote the 'Afterword' to an edition of the book (above) that is now sitting on a pile of books near the desk, looking accusingly at me and saying - with a Mary Poppins-type sniff - "Ha, Moby-Dick, indeed!"

And now a copy of Winnie-the-Pooh wants to know how come someone who's written one book (and edited two others), a radio play and two documentaries about the Bear of Very Little Brain and his creator chose Animal Farm instead!

Eeyore observes that there is a donkey in Orwell's book, and Piglet adds that it has quite a few pigs, as well; but Pooh maintains that is "Not the point!" And he's probably right...

So, maybe, what I really need is a Top Twenty list...

Or, maybe it just goes to show the true value of all lists!

I've read a lot of books since those posts, but, you know, for me, those 12 titles are still at the top of the heap!

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