The British bookseller Waterstone's recently asked its 5,000 employees to name their five favorite books written since 1982, when the chain was founded. I've posted the list behind the cut; I bolded the books that I've read, and underlined those I started but never finished. The books, for some reason, are listed in reverse order of publication.
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A couple of quick comments about the list above. First of all, the original list named Alan Moore as the sole author of Watchmen; I added Dave Gibbons, the artist. Second, I'm not entirely convinced that the book listed at no. 83 is the right book. Knots and Crosses is a real book; it's the first novel in Ian Rankin's popular Inspector Rebus series, and it's not entirely out of the question that it would make the list, especially since the list appears to list the first book in popular series to represent all the books in said series. (I mean, how many people really think Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone is the best of the Harry Potter books, or The Color of Magic the best Discworld novel?) But I wonder if they meant to list Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman. Back in 2003, the BBC published a list of Britain's 100 best loved novels. None of Ian Rankin's books appear on that list, but Noughts and Crosses shows up at no. 61. Makes me wonder.
I'm sort of glad I didn't have to participate in this survey, because when I read the list I tried to think of what five books I would have listed, and I found that it was very hard to narrow it down to a mere five books. But I did try, and here's what I came up with, in reverse order of publication:
- Bill Bryson, Walk About (2002)
- J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2000)
- Nick Hornby, About a Boy (1998)
- Robert Crais, Indigo Slam (1997)
- Wilton Barnhardt, Gospel (1993)
The first book on the list might be considered a cheat, since it's an omnibus edition of two different books by Bryson, A Walk in the Woods and In a Sunburned Country (a.k.a. Down Under). I decided it was OK to list it because both books were written during the eligibility period.