Reading. Books worth the Effort.

Easter came and went. Dani spent a week in the village in Andalucia where his grandfather (abuelo) comes from – Benadalid. Meanwhile I worked and stayed in the UK. I did manage to acquire a few books to help Dani’s reading. We can work through them together this weekend. Which brings me nicely on to a subject that should be close to any parent’s heart…


Reading is such a great skill that we can easily take it for granted. I know that I am guilty of not reading enough. So recently – probably spurred on by my son’s rapidly increasing reading ability – I have tried to make a start on some well known ‘classics’.

I am currently reading ‘Homage to Catalonia’ by George Orwell (review to follow in a future post) which is more than interesting given the number of posts I have mentioned that region in Spain. Even more so when you consider that there are general elections in Spain at the end of this week. Maybe I will include that in the same post.

A True Classic, Finished

I finished a book I have been meaning to read for some time. That book is The Adventures of Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe. I think I read somewhere that this was one of those books you should read before you die. Maybe I am confusing it with several others? Who knows?

That said it was quite an interesting read. We all know the basic story right? Man gets shipwrecked as the only survivor. Lives on the island for several years then rescues a local native man from cannibals. That man – he names ‘Friday’ – remains his companion on the island until they are rescued by a passing ship.

Well. Not quite. There is a lot more to it than that: And not all of the adventures are on that island. I will not spoil it if you intend to read this classic, but I can certainly recommend the book. First published in 1719 it is a little difficult, even odd to read in places, still being in the original old English style. But it is worth the extra effort (in as much as there is any).

What I will say however is that he spent over twenty-eight years on the island. Far more than I had thought. I will probably read an abridged version to Dani some time soon.

Crusoe or Moby?

On reflection I may have been confusing Daniel Defoe’s classic with ‘Moby Dick’. There are ships and lots of sea in both. Moby Dick generally does appear in those ‘top 100 books you should read before you die’ lists.

So, I decided to do some quick research. Defoe’s book does appear in many lists – as you might expect. Here is a light-hearted look at just a few of them… with my comments. Some with links to the list.

  • Must read Classics : Defoe’s tale came in at 157.
  • Books That Everyone Should Read At Least Once : 187th out of 20,242 books — Clearly a long list but it had 92,525 voters
  • Best Books of the 18th Century :3rd out of 217 books — Was there that much competition?
  • 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die: 77th out of 1,325 books — In the top 100 in this list
  • Best Survival Stories: 16th out of 1,018 books — In a list with this title I would have expected it to be in the top 3 at least. Untill that is, I saw the list. Modern books such as the ‘Hunger Games’ series doing very well.
  • Books Set on Islands: 7th out of 656 books — Again a top 3 spot should have been expected in this one eh? Beaten by a few I had heard of including, incredibly; ‘Anne of Green Gables’! Really? Was that set on an island?
  • Stories Set On Remote Islands: 1st out of 59 books – now that’s more like it eh?
  • The Worst Books of All Time: 265th out of 6,969 books — Odd one, if not amazing.
  • Adventure, Fantasy, and Sci Fi Before 1923: 5th out of 158 books — About right.
  • The Guardian’s “1000 Novels Everyone Must Read”: 73rd out of 1,019 books — in the top 100 for this British newspaper
  • Desert Islands: 3rd out of 118 books — An obvious one
  • Best Wilderness Survival Books: 4th out of 156 books — obviously should be highly rated in this list
  • 100 Must-Read Books: The Essential Man’s Library: 18th out of 100 books – Would this list be considered sexist in this day and age? Who cares?

And then…. I found this one!

The Greatest Fiction of all Time  :  This list is generated scientifically from 107 “best of” book lists from a variety of sources. An algorithm is used to create a master list based on how many lists a particular book appears on. Some lists count more than others. Or so they say…

The Adventures of Robinson Crusoe comes in at 39th  place in this super-list; so I was not mistaken. And what do you know? Moby Dick appears in 37th place in the same list. Yet this tale of a whale does not appear on my imaginary (and ever changing) ‘must read’ list.

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