A list!

It’s been a while since I’ve done a listy, meme-type thing, and maybe the depths of July when I’m lazy and tired are good for that. I found this at Musings from the Sofa and My Porch (the sofa and the porch — perfect!). It’s the Sunday Times list of “The 50 Greatest British Writers Since 1945.” Let’s see how I do.

1. Philip Larkin – read him in college, not since.
2. George Orwell – his most famous novels, plus some essays. The essays are best and I want to get back to them.
3. William Golding – in high school, I’m pretty sure.
4. Ted Hughes – yes, he’s awesome.
5. Doris Lessing – no. Need to get to my copy of The Golden Notebook.
6. J. R. R. Tolkien  – read The Hobbit as a kid, but never got farther. This is probably a shame.
7. V. S. Naipaul – not yet.
8. Muriel Spark – three novels so far.
9. Kingsley Amis – yes, Lucky Jim.
10. Angela Carter – read in grad school. Don’t remember much.
11. C. S. Lewis – Narnia, plus some of his nonfiction.  Have probably had enough for one lifetime. Used to like him, don’t anymore.
12. Iris Murdoch – read in college and read another novel later. Don’t think I’ll go back, though.
13. Salman Rushdie – Haroun and the Sea of Stories in college and Midnight’s Children in grad school. Plus I’ve seen him give talks at least twice now.
14. Ian Fleming – no, not really my thing.
15. Jan Morris – who?
16. Roald Dahl – read as a kid.
17. Anthony Burgess – nope.
18. Mervyn Peake – who?
19. Martin Amis – read London Fields in grad school, Time’s Arrow later, probably enough for me.
20. Anthony Powell – not yet, not terribly high on the list.
21. Alan Sillitoe – who?
22. John Le Carré – read recently for book group and liked it, although it’s not quite my thing.
23. Penelope Fitzgerald – read The Bookshop and didn’t take to it, but will try again at some point.
24. Philippa Pearce – who?
25. Barbara Pym – read and like very much. I have several of her books on hand I haven’t read yet.
26. Beryl Bainbridge – read one book and didn’t really take to it.
27. J. G. Ballard – nope.
28. Alan Garner – read one book for The Slaves of Golconda book group; pretty good.
29. Alasdair Gray – who?
30. John Fowles – read The French Lieutenant’s Woman in grad school.
31. Derek Walcott – don’t think so, except maybe a random poem here or there.
32. Kazuo Ishiguro – he’s awesome.
33. Anita Brookner – she’s awesome.
34. A. S. Byatt – she’s occasionally awesome.
35. Ian McEwan – he’s occasionally awesome.
36. Geoffrey Hill – nope.
37. Hanif Kureishi – read a screenplay in grad school.
38. Iain Banks – nope.
39. George Mackay Brown – who?
40. A. J. P. Taylor – who?
41. Isaiah Berlin – nope.
42. J. K. Rowling – she’s on this list really? Read only the first Harry Potter, and it was okay.
43. Philip Pullman – love him.
44. Julian Barnes – love him.
45. Colin Thubron – who?
46. Bruce Chatwin – the one book I’ve read, In Patagonia, bored me.
47. Alice Oswald – who?
48. Benjamin Zephaniah – who?
49. Rosemary Sutcliff – who?
50. Michael Moorcock – who?

I’m fading by the end of this, I see. Well, there are some names to explore here, if I decide I want to.


Filed under Books, Memes

13 responses to “A list!

  1. Lists are so fun.

    But ugh, Doris Lessing. I have to admit that after a horrendous experience with The Golden Notebook, I don’t intend to read any more of her stuff. I know it’s supposed to be a feminist classic and all that, but oh man I COULD NOT STAND IT.

    Also, isn’t Derek Walcott from St. Lucia?


  2. I rarely read poetry, but Alice Oswald is one to read. I rarely read sci-fi, but am very fond of J. G. Ballard’s: “The Crystal World”. I came to know this book after first having seen an amazing video installation by Ann Lislegaard, called: ‘Crystal World (after J.G. Ballard)’, (The art video was first shown at the Sao Paulo Biennial in 2006). Its an interesting example on how art can inspire more art – .


  3. Yay, lists!

    If you like travel writing and/or Italy, Jan Morris’s “Venice” is supposed to be great – though I haven’t yet gotten around to actually reading it. The only thing I’ve read by her was “Trieste and the Meaning of Nowhere,” which I liked, although I read it pre-book-blogging days for me and remember it pretty dimly. I’ve got “Conundrum” sitting on my shelves, somewhere, purchased in college for a really interesting-sounding seminar on memoir that I ended up dropping because it didn’t actually fit in my schedule, but I kept most of the books because I wanted to read them all.


  4. An interesting list. I loved your side commentary especially when I got to “she’s occasionally awesome.” For some reason that cracked me up. Rosemary Sutcliff is pretty awesome especially if you like Arthurian retellings. And I think I have read a Moorcock and liked it pretty well but I can’t be sure he is the author of the book I am thinking of. You know how that goes! 🙂


  5. I would have thought you might like travel writing – by which I mean Jan Morris and Colin Thubron. But if you didn’t like Bruce Chatwin then maybe not. It’s hard to guess for another person! I’ve seen this list going around but haven’t done it myself. Do try Penelope Fitzgerald if you can bear it. I recommend The Beginning of Spring, or maybe The Blue Flower. The Bookshop isn’t her best.


  6. I loved reading through this list and your comments. I, too, used to really love C.S. Lewis — I guess I still do — but I’m not nearly as much of a devotee as I once was. Have you read his novel Till We Have Faces, I am a huge fan of that one.
    Plus, just to mention — you said “Who?” to Mervyn Peake. I must drop an endorsement here for his Gormenghast Trilogy of books. Take a chilly late-autumn month and curl up with these books — they are so eerie and wonderful.


  7. Great tips from your list. Now I must get hold of Anita Brookner, albeit I’ve always wanted to read her. If I’m going to read just one of her books, which one would you recommend? I’ve A.S.Byatt’s Possession on the TBR shelf for years. Is that one of the awesome moments? And recently I’m lining up at our public library to get a hold of Le Carré’s Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, which has already been adapted into film and will be shown later this year with an all star British cast. I want to read it before seeing the movie. And for the list, I’m just going to bookmark it. Thanks for the post!


  8. Pingback: BooksPlease » Blog Archive » B is for British Writers Since 1945

  9. Wow, I’m a bit surprised/ashamed (more surprised) I have only read 16 of these authors, considering I’m not all that short on Brit lit overall. Guess it’s the time period, but still. There are also a surprising/shameful number I too have not heard of!


  10. Emily — you’re surely right about Walcott. Ah, colonialism…. Interesting about The Golden Notebook. I’m a little anxious to start it because it’s long and I know of people who hate it. But still, I have to try, right?

    Sigrun — very interesting! I didn’t know Oswald was a poet. Thanks for filling me in and recommending her. Interesting about Ballard. It’s great when your path to particular books is so wonderful.

    Heather — interesting about Morris! I’m very glad to get some recommendations about these writers I’m not familiar with. I do read travel writing now and then, so I’m glad to have her name in mind.

    Stefanie — I DO know how that goes! I’m not terribly into Arthurian retellings, so I may not get to Sutcliff, although one never knows, of course. And, well, we’ll see about Moorcock!

    Litlove — I have The Blue Flower on hand, so that will be next. I do read and like travel writing, now and then, but I wanted more of a personal, reflective element than I got with Chatwin. I should definitely give Morris and Thubron a try!

    Cipriano — thank you for the Mervyn Peake recommendation — it sounds great for October reading. I don’t think I’ve read Till We Have Faces, although I’ve read his trilogy for adults. That was pretty good. I get annoyed by the nonfiction non, though — which I’m guessing you will understand!

    Arti — yes, Possession is definitely awesome, and I think that’s the place to start. I said Le Carre wasn’t exactly my thing, and it’s kind of not, but I did like Call for the Dead and I’m sure I would enjoy Tinker, Tailor… as well. Nice idea to read the book before the movie. Oh, and yay for Anita Brookner!

    Nicole — well, I guess a list that didn’t have anything new to offer would be boring. As you can see from my notes, grad school helped, particularly that class in contemporary British fiction, plus my college course in Modern British Literature …


  11. Great meme, Dorothy. I’ve been very lazy when it comes to my blog this summer (year?!) so I may have to steal this meme too 🙂


  12. I’ve only read thirteen–not so many out of 50 but as they are all British authors maybe not so bad. I recognize most but there are some that I’ve never heard of either-will have to look them up.


  13. Iliana — please do steal it! It’s great as a blogging jumpstart.

    Danielle — It’s a very good source of new authors, isn’t it? I’m glad to have some new names to explore.


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