I’m not going to make a big fuss about completing my read through the 100 best novels written in English as chosen by the Guardian, but I did want to mark the moment with a few thoughts:
- It was harder than I expected. 100 novels in two years, or one a week, sounds straightforward. But of course life gets in the way, and for every 150 pager than can be read in an afternoon, there was a Victorian three volume 800 pager to be navigated.
- The quality of the novels on the list was varied, to say the least. But I was pushed firmly out of my comfort zone, particularly in tackling some American authors I was aware of but had not read before, and of course having to go back to the 18th Century and the beginning of the novel as a narrative form.
- Was the list a fair roundup of the best 100 novels written in English? The definition of novel was stretched to breaking – I don’t think Pilgrim’s Progress belonged there, for example – and there were other choices such as Hadrian 7th which were tosh. My main concern was the strange constraint of only allowing one novel per author, which meant having to make the impossible choice between Emma and Pride and Prejudice.
So what next? I have decided to avoid any major reading challenges for the time being. They place a lot of constraints on one’s choices. I am looking forward to being able to choose anything I fancy to read. I have a dozen or so books from previous holidays and birthdays that I am planning to read, but after that….?