As the library is exploring the BBC’s 100 Novels That Shaped Our World we thought it would be interesting to see how that list compares with our literary special collections. Would the BBC judges have similar taste to the Booker Prize judging panels or the LOGOS journal board who decided on the titles in our Books That Shaped the Century collection?
Perhaps surprisingly the list of Books That Shaped the Century (BTSC) has only six books which also appear on the BBC list.
BTSC was compiled by a group of publishers, librarians and booksellers and they included non-fiction in their list which explains some of the divergence. However, the BBC panel were asked to make choices based on their personal experiences of reading the books which means that their list is perhaps more individualistic and a different panel could have arrived at a totally different list.
The BBC list has also been written twenty years after BTSC and many of the titles are books which were published during that time.
When the BBC list is compared with the Booker Prize winners, as well as titles which made it into the shortlist or longlist, there is only marginally more crossover with 10 titles common between the two. The two Booker winners on the BBC list are The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy and The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro which won in 1997 and 1989 respectively.
Neither Booker nor BTSC saw fit to honor any of the titles from the Love, Sex and Romance; Life, Death and Other Worlds; or Family and Friendship categories – although The Lord of The Rings trilogy has themes of friendship and other worlds running through it and Margaret Atwood herself describes Oryx and Crake, shortlisted for the Booker in 2003, as an adventure romance.
I’d hedge a bet that our, as yet uncatalogued, Steve Hare Penguin Collection contains a fair few of the novels but I’ll have to wait until I can go back on campus to see if I’m right.
Here’s the full list of items on the BBC’s list that also occurred on one of our lists:
Days Without End – Sebastian Barry – longlisted 2017
The God of Small Things – Arundhati Roy – winner 1997
Politics, Power & Protest
Home Fire – Kamila Shamsie – longlisted 2017
Unless – Carol Shields – shortlisted 2002
Class & Society
Disgrace – J.M. Coetzee – winner 1999
The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro – winner 1989
Coming of Age
Oryx and Crake – Margaret Atwood – shortlisted 2003
Crime & Conflict
The Reluctant Fundamentalist – Mohsin Hamid – shortlisted 2007
How to be Both – Ali Smith – shortlisted 2014
The Moor’s Last Sigh – Salman Rushdie – shortlisted 1995
Books That Shaped the Century
Things Fall Apart – Chinua Achene
For Whom the Bell Tolls – Ernest Hemmingway
The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien
Politics, Power & Protest
Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
Lord of the Flies – William Golding
Nineteen Eighty-Four – George Orwell
— Annabel Valentine – Archivist.