Your Canon, Not Mine

BBC Book List Challenge_peoplewhowrite

It’s okay if you haven’t read these books. Or don’t like them.

There’s a post from going around that’s positioned as a lighthearted best man’s bet. The set-up goes like this: “The BBC believes that most people will have read only 6 of the 100 books below. How many have you read? (Tip: The average Goodreads member has read 23 out of 100 books on this list)” Implicit in the BBC and Goodreads name drop and the scoring function is the notion that the person who’s read all or most of these books is a literary savant or culturally approved.

The thing is, after patting myself on the back for having finished several of these titles (or their film adaptations), I was missing several works that are classics to me: Buchi Emecheta’s The Joys of Motherhood, Bebe Moore Campbell’s Your Blues Ain’t Like Mine, Gloria Naylor’s The Women of Brewster Place, Toni Morrison’s Tar Baby

In college, a list like this would have had me fuming about the absence of Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart or Isabel Allende’s The House of the Spirits or Dorothy West’s The Wedding. And to be clear it still irritates me that there are too few works by writers who aren’t white and male on this list, but now I’m comfortable saying this is your canon, not mine.

What books make your list?