Letter: Books vs Eng Lit snobbery

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The Independent Online
Sir: Colin Hughes's assertion that the Waterstone's top 100 books list was what he would expect to find on an "averagely middle-class shelf in a not-very-bookish home" pushes literary snobbery to its limits. The list includes some of the most original, thought-provoking and important books of our century such as To Kill a Mockingbird and Animal Farm.

We should be praising the new accessibility of the GCSE syllabuses he deplores. Being in my mid-twenties, I am of the generation which studied those novels and I remember the shocked appreciation of 16-year-olds who would not normally have delved into anything more taxing than NME or the back pages of the tabloids.

Most members of the literary community seem prone to decry the failure of the populace to read and appreciate great literature, but then turn their backs on a piece of work if it manages to achieve popular acclaim.

Do we want people to read? If we can encourage 16-year-olds to read Animal Farm - and even like it - that should be praised, not scorned.

PAUL SMITH

Manchester

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