Librarians have last word on millennial reads

LIKE MANY lists, it is an arbitrary selection. But the books chosen by Britain's chief librarians to take into the next millennium reveal a more eclectic choice than one might expect.

It ranges from Marx's Communist Manifesto to Tara Road by Maeve Binchy and, although it includes a smattering of Dickens and George Eliot, some of the books, such as Happy As Dead Cat by Jan Miller and Wendy Perriam's Born of Woman are certainly unexpected. The list was compiled at the recent Public Library Authorities Conference in Torquay when librarians were asked for their choice of book.

Pat Beech, acting chief librarian in Shropshire, who helped compile the list, said she was surprised by some of the books but it showed the choices of widely read people. "It's not like a Waterstone's list, which might include more classics or bestsellers. This is people who read very widely and also they were asked to make a quick decision. Many of the choices were simple gut instinct, which can be more revealing that weighing up the literary merit of one book versus another for ages."

She chose The Reader, by Bernard Schlink, because "it is about illiteracy and, as a librarian, I couldn't imagine not being able to read every day. This book made a huge emotional impact on me and it is also beautifully written. Everyone should read it."

Sherry Jespersen, of the Libraries Association, said the list was compiled informally.

"Only a handful of the delegates took part but because they are all bookish people their choices are interesting. There is a current mania for lists and everybody loves to read them but the breadth of this list, however informal, shows the depth to which librarians are involved with books and literature."

Peter Pan was a charming choice, as was the unsurprising appearance of Captain Corelli's Mandolin but there were also such classics as Middlemarch, Bleak House and David Copperfield.

FROM BINCHEY TO WOLFE, TEN OF THE FAVOURITE BOOKS

`The Reader'

Author Bernard Schlink

Outline:Hanna Schmitz, a Berlin tram conductor, takes on the sexual education of schoolboy Michael Berg, later abandoning him. They next meet at a war-crimes trial where she is a defendant.

`Bonfire of the Vanities'

Author: Tom Wolfe

Outline: Wolfe's fictional debut cast a satirical stare over Eighties New York and the greed of the yuppies, sweeping from Manhattan to the Bronx to show the high and low side of city life.

`Peter Pan'

Author: J M Barrie

Outline: Peter Pan, a motherless magical boy, flies through the nursery window of Wendy, Michael and John and takes them to Never Never Land, peopled by fairies and Captain Hook.

`The Secret History'

Author: Donna Tartt

Outline: A group of students at an elite American college, who are cerebral, obsessive and finally murderous. This first, and so far only book by Tartt, was hailed as compelling and brilliant.

`Neuromancer'

Author: William Gibson

Outline: A pessimisitic vision of life in the 21st century ruled by global corporations. Awarded all three big science prizes - the Hugo, the Nebula and the Philip K Dick.

`Tara Road'

Author: Maeve Binchey

Outline: Two women lead very different lives until they decide to swap houses for the summer. Ria goes to elegant, empty New England and Marilyn experiences the richness of life in Dublin.

`Communist Manifesto'

Author: Karl Marx

Outline: This slender polemical work gave us some of the best-known quotes and misquotes over the years, such as "the proletariats have nothing to lose but their chains".

`Bleak House'

Author: Charles Dickens

Outline: Deals with a long drawn-out battle between Jarndyce and Jarndyce over an estate's division. It ends when they realise the costs have absorbed most of the estate's worth.

`Quarantine'

Author: Jim Crace

Outline: Recreation of Jesus's 40 days and nights in the wilderness, accompanied by other fasters: a barren woman, a Greek-influenced philosopher, a nomad and a dying man.

`Satanic Verses'

Author: Salman Rushdie

Outline: Interlocking sequences dealing with identity, migration, religious revelation. Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa against Rushdie and the publishers - since dropped.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
Lou Reed distorted the truth about his upbringing, and since his death in 2013, biographers and memoirists have added to the myths
musicThe truth about Lou Reed's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths
News
people
News
Ed Miliband received a warm welcome in Chester
election 2015
Life and Style
Apple CEO Tim Cook announces the Apple Watch during an Apple special even
fashionIs the Apple Watch for you? Well, it depends if you want it for the fitness tech, or for the style
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Project Implementation Executive

£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Chiropractic Assistant

£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive - Midlands

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own