Sunday, 6 August 2006


Following my recent rant about Penguin’s list of 100 Greatest Books, Cafrine of the wonky comma 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 listing by me of 'The Ten Greatest Books of All Time' would be totally meaningless, since I know that there are a very many (very probably GREAT) books that I've still not read - and which, looking at the up-coming schedule of life, I will probably never will get around to reading...

But, yes, I decided, I would submit my personal 'Top Ten Tomes', on the strict understanding that Somebody Out There joins in and puts forward their Top Ten -- and that includes you, Cafrine!

The criteria (for me): 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 (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

And what do you know? They’re all fantasies, fables or fairy-tales!

How revealing is that?!


Diva of Deception said...

I was interested to learn that I had read 7 out of your top 10 books and the ones I hadn't tended to be very 'male' designated so not my cup of tea at all...

Cafrine said...

Oh dear. It seems I'm yet again behind the ball. Way behind. I'm off field, in fact. Lost somewhere in the crowd. The drunk crowd. The drunk crowd who've read only two of your top ten. I feel so...behind.

However, all of your books have now been added to me 'must read' list, so there might be some hope of redemption in the future! Which is nice.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to compile my very own top ten top tomes list. Where do I even start?!

For the record, I've read:
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe - C S Lewis
The Lord of the Rings - J R R Tolkien
(Both worthy inclusions, I must say)

Brian Sibley said...

One good thing about MY list, Cafrine, is that at least half of them are slim, short volumes - which is a real plus as far as I'm concerned, as I'm the slowest reader in the world!

You've already read the fattest one ('The Lord of the Rings') and the other whale-sized volume ('Moby-Dick') can wait a bit...

Brian Sibley said...

You can now view Cafrine's top-ten-totally-trippy-uh-books and, if you're anything like me, you'll be adding more potential purchases to your Amazon 'Wish List'.

Personal recommendation is EVERYTHING, although it carries with it many potential dangers. As A A Milne wrote of his passion for 'the Wind in the Willows':

"One does not argue about 'The Wind in the Willows'. The young man gives it to the girl with whom he is in love, and, if she does not like it, asks her to return his letters.

"The older man tries it on his nephew, and alters his will accordingly. The book is a test of character. We can't criticize it, because it is criticizing us.

"But I must give you one word of warning. When you sit down to it, don't be so ridiculous as to suppose that you are sitting in judgment on my taste, or on the art of Kenneth Grahame. You are merely sitting in judgment on yourself. You may be worthy: I don't know, but it is you who are on trial."

David Weeks said...

'A Series of Unfortunate Events' must be in that top twenty! It is so much more imaginative and better crafted than that highly derivative, Potter stuff!

Scrooge said...

LW&W over 'The Last Battle' and even 'Dawn Treader' ? Surely not.The greatest gift one can give with a book, aside from actually writing it, is sharing it with others. I am indebted to Mr Sibley not only for making Tolkien literally talk to me but reminding me that Bradbury, like Dickens, understands the human situation like few others.

Brian Sibley said...

Mr Scrooge writes: "LW&W over 'The Last Battle' and even 'Dawn Treader' ? Surely not."

Ah... Yes, well, Mr S, that IS a dilemma...

You see, I chose 'The Lion' because it was the first of Lewis' books that I read and because it introduced me to Narnia - otherwise it would have been (for me) 'The Magician's Nephew' or 'The Last Battle'...

Similarly, I OUGHT to have chosen 'Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There' because it is, I think, a better read than 'Alice's Adventures in Wonderland'...

But the fact is, there's no denying that LTTW&TW and AAIW have the immediacy and URGENCY of an original creation which is why I accorded them a special place...

As for the rest of your comment: what can I say?

You are very kind --- and the position of Publicity Officer is currently vacant! ;-)