Dog Bite Degustation: The May Challenge

on Sunday, May 2, 2010
A friend of mine who reads this blog made a rather telling comment a couple of weeks ago.

"Your blog is just an excuse for you to read terrible books," he said. "Either that or you are some totally f*#%ed masochist."

Looking back over my challenges to date, I can't help but feel he has a point. Even though I tried to steer away from rubbish during March's "Books I've Always Meant To Read" (most of which turned out to be vastly overrated anyway), there is no question that every other challenge has been directly geared towards me suffering for your entertainment. This month, however, I'm turning all that around and setting myself up for thirty-one days of unadulterated reading bliss. As the lyrics to one of the most saccharine-sweet songs in musical theatre go, May will be my month of revisiting 'a few of my favourite things'. Hence, the May challenge's title "Dog Bite Degustation".

Lists, as last month's Mile High Book Club amply proved, are arbitrary, artificial and, for the most part, plain crap. That didn't stop me sitting down some time last year and writing a list of my top fifty books of all time. It was quite the task. Given that I read somewhere between one and two hundred books a year (with the ridiculous outlier that was 2008 when I read two hundred and fifty one books), and have been doing so for the better part of twenty years, I figure I must have somewhere in the vicinity of three thousand novels to choose from. I was pretty happy with the list when I finished it and developed the annoying habit of handing out copies to anyone I knew who liked reading whenever the opportunity arose. At parties. At work. At weddings. At funerals. I really had no shame.

Almost a year after compiling the list I think it's time I revisited the top few. Most of them I haven't read for around ten or so years. I remember loving them, but perhaps they merely represented a time and a place. I've decided to hit the top twelve, a number that is not quite as random as it seems. I had intended to just do the top ten, but I love the books at numbers eleven and twelve so much that I'd hate to miss out on rereading them.

So here, sitting in an unruly stack on my bedside table, ready for the May challenge, are my top twelve books of all time:

For The Good of The Cause by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
The Trial by Franz Kafka
The Moment of Freedom by Jens Bjorneboe
The Assault by Harry Mulisch
The Maimed by Hermann Ungar
Too Loud a Solitude by Bohumil Hrabal
Waiting for The Barbarians by J. M. Coetzee
The Book of Daniel by E. L. Doctorow
The Postman by Antonio Skarmeta
A Dry White Season by Andre Brink
I Am The Cheese by Robert Cormier
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon


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