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Jackie Little: Whitcoull’s Top 100 Books Review

Whitcoull’s Top 100 Books Review: From Genesis To Exodus

By Jackie Little

Oh dear, I am an ill read clod indeed a total illiterate!. I have not read what is apparently the best book in the world.

The updated Whitcoulls Best 100 Books list is out, and I suppose I shouldn’t be too surprised that Dan Brown’s holy pot boiler, “The Da Vinci Code”, emerged at the top of the heap.

What the people in these polls don’t seem to realize is that they are supposed to be voting for their favourite books of ALL time, not the latest to catch their eye in the last ten minutes or so.

Yes, the Da Vinci code is immensely popular (though widely observed to be a load of claptrap) but I strongly suspect it will be nowhere near the top of the list in five year’s time.

Now, to completely turn that argument on its head, a genuine timeless classic, The Lord of the Rings, is at the number two spot – pushed off the top of the list by the upstart but it will be back, mark my words. Devotees of Tolkien will remain devotees long after more fickle readers are scratching their heads and wondering who Dan Brown is, even if he does also sneak in at number four with something called Angels and Demons.

I was much cheered to find Pride and Prejudice in at number seven (Yipee! for BBC Costume dramas, nothing like them for reviving interest in sublime works.) Good to see To Kill A Mocking Bird, the modern classic looking at racial discrimination at number ten as well.

A relative newcomer I was delighted to see climb to number 12 is Audrey Niffeneggar’s the Time Traveler’s wife’. The romantics among you will be hard pressed to find a more tender and heart wrenching love story which is also rich in humour and characterization. Health warning though, be prepared to spend at least the first 30 pages with furrowed brow and spinning head – it becomes self explanatory at some point.

Harry Potter makes his first appearance at 16 with The Half Blood Prince. As his audience is traditionally the younger reader (though what a gift the series is for bedtime story reading parents) they can be forgiven for merely voting for the latest in the series and the other books follow in more or less descending order.

The ebullient Marian Keyes makes the first of EIGHT entries at number seventeen with Sushi For Beginners. This book was my introduction to the chick lit queen and I loved every word of it so I am far from begrudging of her prominence

But at what expense???

What of the other master of savage social observation and over the top nookie? The mighty Jilly Cooper seems to have been toppled off her perch. I know she’s written a couple of stinkers lately, but surely the sublime Riders and Rivals deserve their place in trashy but wonderfully observed fun reading category????

Nice to see that Gone With The Wind is still in there (47)

Captain Corelli’s Mandarin in at 39. Fantastico (Or what ever the Greek is)!

But the worst. THE WORST and most wounding thing to any reader: serious or otherwise is that wretched Jeffrey Archer scored number 54. Not so bad in itself, the old lag does have his fans after all. But immediately behind him are (respectively) Orwell’s 1984!!!!! And (even behind that) WUTHERING HEIGHTS. What can you say?

I’m scarcely above half way through but don’t know how much more I can stand.

Other picks: The Vintner’s Luck (78) and London (87). There were three non fictions that I noticed: Bill Bryson’s A short History of Everything _ loved every single other thing he wrote, except Mother Tongue, so clearly I like his easy rolling travelogues rather than his clever clogs, The Bible obviously (you should look it up some time) and something else – you spot it.

By the way, Number 100 ends on a similar fictional “biblical” note. Full circle I suppose. Watch this space and see how fast this genre disappears.

Good reading everyone J


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