There are only two purposes to most ‘Must Read’ book lists to make people either feel smug  or inadequate – dependent on how many you have read (or have pretended to read). At the weekend my twitter feed was full of re-tweets of the Guardian’s ‘The 100 Greatest Non-Fiction List’. I figured that I’d fair badly but this was a really mean list, and the comments seem to back it up. Samuel Pepys, Gertrude Stein, Herodotus, Samuel Johnson, Freud, Plato, Sun Tzu, and Stephen Hawking are not for the lay reader. Hell I’ve just finish a Classics degree and I’ve only read extracts of Herodotus (and as many of the commentators pointed out it was generous of the list builders to include him since he mixes a fair amount of fiction in his historiography) and Alex got through ‘A Brief History of Time’ because he majored in Physics. Out of 100 books only three books from the last decade. It’s not really an accessible or even a gateway list to promote reading more non-fiction which makes me sad. My thoughts on how to lift the list:

And what about the recent trend of histories of cities or objects? I think the Guardian Book dept. could have done better.

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