Oh the guardian, shut up!
January 17, 2009
Yesterday the guardian advertised a series they would be starting today; 1000 novels everyone must read. I buy the guardian daily and so I thought that when I got it today there might, at least, be a little bit of humour in the introduction to this series. Something along the lines of “just kidding.”
A while back the same paper did a 1000 films to see before you die. Ok, if the trend has to be to list eveything, and then to apply some random number to that list, a 1,000 films is possibly doable. And at least in this instance the guardian didn’t have the cheek to tell me I must see them. You’re my daily paper, not some Dickensian frightmaster (whatever that is or whoever he may be… Piddlewitch Poddlewitch… I don’t know. Like I’ve read his books!)
One thousand films, at let’s say an average of two hours a film. That’s… (quick bit of maths) 2000 hours. Hmm, just realised that the “two hours times 1,000” thing doesn’t really help; it’s unrealistic! Let’s go for this approach. I do my best to watch all the films this daft paper recommends. So, given that I have a vague sort of a life, and also I want to find time for all the new films coming out, I try and watch two of them a week. I think that shows a fair dedication to a list a few people have cobbled together to try and sell more papers. This means I will be watching the guardian’s list of films for the next TEN YEARS! (Sorry about those capitals. I rarely would resort to this sort of visual emphasis, but come on now… TEN YEARS!!!)
Right, that’s the films dealt with. Now onto the books. You may be able to see where this is going.
Ok, I don’t get a choice with the books. There’s no should, there’s no you might like. There’s just must. And not just me. Everyone! the guardian (oh, how much I’m starting to hate them right now) says these are the 1,000 novels EVERYONE MUST READ!!! (There I go again, but I’m feeling a little Hulkish at the moment).
Ok, here we go. I don’t know how long it takes you to read a novel, but it can take me quite a while. The Secret History by Donna Tartt took me ten years to read. Ok, I took some time off, and I read some books inbetween, but I started it when it first came out in paperback in the early 90’s and I finished it in 2003. This book crossed centuries with me. Now I don’t feel too bad about this. I really enjoyed the book, and it took Donna Tartt another ten years to get around to a second book, The Little Friend. So, what’s good for the goose is good for the gander, or something like that.
If I read a book quickly it might take me about a month or so. Depending on the number of pages of course. I recently read Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami. This is a long book, 650 pages or so. I loved it and have since been tracking down other Murakami books. It took me about six weeks to read.
Now the maths here is a bit difficult for me to work out. Kafka on the Shore and The Secret History are both long books. One took me six weeks and another, ten years. So, I guess, to get an average, we need to go “ten years add six weeks is ten years and six weeks, divided by two is… five years and three weeks.”
Now on to the 1000 books I must read. They won’t all be long, so let’s assume 500 of them are half the size of The Secret History/Kafka on the Shore. Those ones will take me just over two and a half years. So… two and a half years times 500 equals 1250 years. Five years and three weeks times 500 equals (approximately) 2530 years. At my rate, to read all thes books the guardian insists I read, it would take me 3780 years.
And, for those quick readers who read a book a week, it will take you 20 years. That gives you two weeks off a year. It’s a bit like work isn’t it.
Finally, let’s take an average sort of reader. You get by with books, but you also have plays and music and cinema and friends and kids and parents and relatives and sports and work in your life. Maybe more things. But you do your best and you manage a book a month. So, that’s the next 80+ years sorted then.
Oh, fuck off guardian.