Friday, June 18, 2010

1001 Books - 2010 edition

It seems that the publishers of the 1,001 books series have an agenda: if they come out with a new edition every two years, some of us gullable OCD-bibliophiles will continue to shell out $25 ( price) to see what's new on the list.

I am going to save you a lot of trouble, and money. I have previously posted the 2006 edition list in its entirety, as well as the 2008 edition - what was added as well as what was removed from the '06 edition. Click on the book list label to find them. While I complained at length about what books were removed from the '06 edition to make way for much more obscure, international authors, the '08 edition did have an upside; namely, it opened up more doors to obscure international authors to people like me. The 2010 edition, however, really is a sham.

The only difference between the new edition and the '08 edition is 11 novels. That's right. 11.

Here's what was added:
  1. Elegance of the Hedgehog - Muriel Barbery
  2. The Children's Book - A.S. Byatt
  3. Invisible - Paul Auster
  4. An American Rust - Philipp Meyer
  5. Cost - Roxana Robinson
  6. The White Tiger - Aravind Adiga
  7. Home - Marilynne Robinson
  8. Kieron Smith, Boy - James Kelman
  9. The Gathering - Anne Enright
  10. The Blind Side of the Heart - Julia Franck
  11. The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao - Junot Diaz

Here's what they removed:

  1. The Reluctant Fundamentalist - Mohsin Hamid (#7 on '08 list)
  2. Animal's People - Indra Sinha (#3 on '08 list)
  3. The Kindly Ones - Jonathan Littell (#5 on '08 list)
  4. A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian - Marina Lewycka (#13 on '08 list)
  5. Small Island - Andrea Levy (#7 on '08 list)
  6. The Plot Against America - Philip Roth (#8 on '06 list; #18 on '08 list)
  7. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay - Michael Chabon (#21 on '08 list)
  8. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time - Mark Haddon (#19 on '06; #27 on '08)
  9. Islands - Dan Sleigh (#20 on '06; #31 on '08)
  10. The Heart of Redness - Zakes Mda (#55 on '06; #52 on '08)
  11. Small Remedies - Shashi Deshpande #65 on '06; #53 on '08)
So, here are my 11 thoughts on 2010 list.
  1. I'm glad they didn't remove any I already read
  2. I'm not surprised they didn't add any I've already read
  3. What's up with removing the ONLY Michael Chabon novel on these lists?
  4. Why have these editors either (a) not removed the books on these lists that are not - and have never been - available in English, despite the fact that they were published in their native language more than 20 years ago; or (b) sponsored a translation?
  5. I'm glad they added Oscar Wao to the list
  6. I'm glad they removed The Kindly Ones. I'm sure some day I will pick it up, but I'm not expecting to like it, or necessarily get through it all. I get frustrated with the idea that Nazis had to have these strange fetishes to give reason for how they able to do what they did. Then we can conceive of them as "other" and therefore give ourselves a free pass - "I'm not like these sick-os, so I could never do that stuff." No - you are like those sickos because they were just like you. Enough pontificating on a book I've never read.
  7. I wonder why they didn't add Out Stealing Horses, or The Road, or even The Kite Runner.
  8. Has anyone ever looked at the publishing company who puts out these 1,001 books and see if they have any financial stake in the publication of some of the books on the lists?
  9. Sorry to see Curious Incident go. It's been slowly moving to the top of my TBR pile.
  10. I spend most of my time with the '06 list. So I just noticed that there was an addition to the 2008 list called A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian. I want to read that just for the title. Anyone read this?
  11. I kind of feel abused by these list makers. They give me a list in 2006 and say, Here are books you should read. Two years later they give me another list, and say, 282 of those books on the previous list aren't worth it anymore - so here are 282 novels to replace them. So I finally get used to the idea...I finally sort of make peace with the lists, commit to attempt to read 1283 over the next 45-50 years. And then, they come back and say - scratch that. Those 11 that we told you to read - six of which we removed Austen and Dickens and Faulkner to make room for - ignore those and read these 11 instead. Now the list is 1295 books long. Is this going to go on in perpetuity? Every two years, adding and removing? Seems to me like they editors are purposely trying to prevent anyone from actually reading all they recommend. Which is impossible anyway, unless you know Korean (see #4 above)


Arukiyomi - the spreadsheet guy said...

well let's see. They really haven't released one every two years... really. The first one was very anglo-centric and quickly drew fire for that. So, two years in they decided to revise the edition extensively. Good call. Now, up to this point, the revised book had been published in the UK only. It was expensive to get the second edition in the US. So, in 2010, a US publisher basically reissues the 2008 edition for the US market and, while they're at it, adds in a few books which are relevant from the last few years.

I don't see a conspiracy here. I guess 2012 will show us if it is!

Mari said...

Great post! It's important to remember this is just a list - I keep hearing from people that the Dragon tattoo books are poorly written yet everyone is reading them. I can think of a few books that I would add but I have read just one of the books added to this edition so I can't trump this list... yet.

Read the Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night when you have time, it's good... worth reading. A little odd but good.

Kristin said...

Mari - No list is just a list for people with OCD tendancies! :-)

Dan Villines said...

I am sorry for once suggesting that the Top 100 Books of the 20th Century list was not worthwhile. Congratulations on getting it down to just 13 books left to go until its completion! Good Reading.

Amanda said...

I totally agree with what you say about this not just being a list for people with OCD tendencies. These books are totally becoming my guides. I have a blog tracking these books too. It is if you want to check it out. Happy reading!

Sharon said...

I read A Short History of Tractors in Ukranian and it should never have been on the list in the first place.