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I did a quiz on the BBCs top 100 books to see how many I’ve read. I got 37. Apparently that’s higher than the average of 30, but to me it’s not particularly high. I read the classics between the age of sixteen and nineteen, that is, in the early years after leaving school*, while I was eating barbiturates and finding it difficult to hold down job, and devouring whatever they had on the shelves at East Herrington library. I stopped reading ‘literature’ before I was twenty. I mostly read junk now, and enjoy it.

The BBC list didn’t include Chandler or Woolf or a lot of other good writers, so I guess it tells you as much about the people who wrote the list as it does about what is supposed to be a comprehensive and nutritious reading list.

It’s a strange thing to do, evaluating a reading habit numerically. I guess it’s aspirational, giving people a list of 100 books. It’s doable.



* school being the last place I’d have gone to read books, quality or otherwise.


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