What books should you have read by now that you haven’t? This guy got a list of 100 from what is obviously Amazon, and feels a bit like a loser that he’d only read 11 books on the list. First of all, I can only imagine what claptrap is on that list; and second, you’re only a loser if you’ve only ever read 11 books, not 11 of someone else’s list. There are plenty of books I’d read if given the gift/curse of immortality, but frankly, I’d rather have a good time while I’m here. Plus, I can fake it most of the time at a party. When someone goes, “Ah, Hillary Mantel…” I just nod, tip my glass as if in a Gatsby-toast, and murmur, “Right: Cromwell.” Then I cock my head appreciatively and bring up Tolkien or something I CAN talk (at staggering, obsessive length) about. Voila: I don’t have to read three books about some old dude who ISN’T a wizard. A friend of mine once was on a pundit book panel on TV and faked his way through a discussion of Ulysses. Another friend did a PhD in American lit and teaches Moby Dick every year without having ever read it. It’s much more common than you’d expect.
What I hadn’t expected was the encroaching fog of loserdom that seeped into my brain. There were more than 100 books on the list. I had only read 11. Loser McFadyen. What had you been doing all your life? What’s more, I hadn’t heard of some of the titles. Not just one or two, but many. What world did I inhabit, or more to the point what world did others inhabit who might have known about all these books?