Sunday, February 26, 2006

Top 10

Yesterday's blogging about The Origin of Species got me thinking about important books and texts. I started trying to compile my own "top 10" and found it extremely difficult. If the top 10 must encompass both fiction and non-fiction, it's virtually impossible; however, trying to limit myself, here's my preliminary top 10 must-read books for an understanding of modern western/European culture:
1. The Bible. I still like the Revised Standard Version: reasonably modern English with some of the poetry of the King James retained.
2. On the Origin of Species by Charles Darwin
3. The Complete Works of William Shakespeare. Plays and sonnets.
4. The Metamorphoses by Ovid/The Iliad by Homer (still deciding, but there's only room on this list for one classical epic, I think)
5. A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking
6. The Mabinogion (Celtic mythology)
7. Metamorphosis by Kafka. I might change my mind about this one and include In Camera by Jean-Paul Sartre instead.
8. The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx and Frederick Engels
9. Collected Poems of Judith Wright. Cheating a little. I wanted to include an Australian writer, a poet, and a woman in the list.
10. The Second Sex by Betty Freidan. I had to have a feminist manifesto on the list, but as I haven't read this book yet (although I've read Freidan's Fountain of Age) I would almost like to replace it with Fear of Flying by Erica Jong, A Room of One's Own by Virginia Woolf, or even The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf, all of which were of more influence on me personally with regard to feminist thinking.
Of this list, I have yet to read the Communist Manifesto and the Second Sex. And now for the challenge: agree, disagree or write your own top 10. Leave suggestions in comments or by email. Next entry: Top 10 novels/poetry/children's books (in English, or in translation).

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