|My old Unwin Books paperback copy of The Hobbit. The drawing is by JRR Tolkein|
Why make a list of your favourite books?
Think of it as a snapshot. In part it sums up who you are, what you like reading, what you have read.
In another sense it highlights what you might be missing out on. If your personal Top Ten are all sci-fi, or thrillers, maybe you should stretch yourself a bit and read out of those genres?
Similarly, if your list reads like an English Lit syllabus ask yourself the question: have you moved on since University?
Personally I would say that your Top 10 in 2011 should be completely different to your Top 10 from 2001, say, or 1991. as we grow older, our tastes change and our reading experience widens.
That said, there will be titles on every person's list which will have been with them since childhood. Reading is like that: a book is such a personal experience it can stay with you far longer than a film or a play can. It's like the narrative is hardwired into your brain. I heard a line the other day fromm The Hobbit - the audio book started playing unexpectedly in the car. The amazing thing is although I'd not read that book in years, I knew the line, could almost see it on the page.
What makes a book one of your best loved, though?
When I first mooted the idea of a list, I asked for the books you would recommend people read which didn't necessarily seem obvious. I wanted to uncover some hidden gems.
I still think the 'best loved' moniker can help do this.
When you send in your lists to Top100books@bigissue.com list the books you care about the most, not the ones that you feel will make you sound the smartest.
That way, the finished list will be an honest snapshot of what Britain is reading. And that will be a fascinating read in itself.