Be Best

download.pngI spent the morning thinking about the listing of my top 40 recommendations. I don’t see any reason to make any major changes at this time but I realize that there are so many texts that I have yet to read, many of which might be contenders for the top 40.

Several years back I had yet to read George Eliot’s Middlemarch and suggested that I would probably place it in the top forty based on the comments and suggestions of others. I have since then read Middlemarch and, although I did not revere the novel to the extent of its praise, Middlemarch did in fact push its way into the list.

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I’ll see your 30 and raise you 40

I started out long ago with a Top Ten list and even then barely limited myself to eleven titles. I have always thought my Top Ten (or Twenty or Thirty) list was a mixture of novels and plays I recognized as the best of literature through the years and around the world, and a few works I personally considered finest-kind but which the world hadn’t yet recognized as being in the top tier of literature.

Now I’m not so sure. I think there is a strong reason why those Top 100 lists tend to include the same books—they are the best examples from literature.

Of course there are major biases at work in making up these lists which tend to skew a portion of the selections:  is a publisher showing favoritism to its own published authors; is a newspaper tossing in a few national favorites; are the results based on sales or surveys or even blind voting; are there limits on the list such as publication date or country or gender? In a very scientific guess, I will suggest that 80% of a Top 100 list is actually taken from the pool of likely contenders leaving 20% for splashing around in the biases of the list creators. That seems reasonable, whether considering a major literary establishment’s list or my own silly little list.

My list now sits at the 40 level—A Top Forty List.

Here it is as of 21 October 2012 (check back tomorrow for possible changes):

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