First things first – today marks my fourth blog anniversary! Can’t believe it’s been going for four years – then again, sometimes I can’t believe there was a time when I wasn’t blogging. All these milestones seem like opportunities to say how much I appreciate you all, so… I’ll do it again! Thanks for reading – I love getting your comments, emails, and book recommendations so much. Balloons!
Now onto the topic of the day… My book group (or, rather, one of my book groups) is incredibly democratic. We have a theme, and suggest titles for it – these go into hat, and six or seven are pulled out. These then go onto the website to get votes. All very slick, and does manage to come up with interesting and varied titles. I was a bit worried that it would result in endless ‘issue’-driven book group books, which I find quite dull. You know the sort – The Kite Runner, We Have To Talk About Kevin, The Lovely Bones. The type of books that every book group reads. But our polls have resulted in much more interesting choices (and also two of the above titles – thankfully not Kevin). Examples include Travels With My Aunt, Wuthering Heights, Jude the Obscure, and, ahem, Miss Hargreaves.
ANYWAY (how often I do use that word…) this month’s theme was ‘cult books’. Which is a great theme, I think, but when I started thinking about it… what on earth *is* a cult book? We had a link to what the Telegraph think are the 50 Best Cult Books, to help us out, and a lot of them were titles I’d have expected to see there – The Catcher in the Rye, The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, On The Road… but then there were books like To Kill A Mockingbird and Testament of Youth that didn’t seem to me to fit at all. (I’m only posting titles here, because I assume you’ll know most of the authors… and because I’m lazy.)
So, what criteria made me think the former would be cult books, and the latter wouldn’t? I suppose, in my head, a cult book is one that a lot of people don’t like, and a small group of people love. There are a lot of books that a small group of people love (Miss Hargreaves, anyone?) but I think the wider-group-of-people-dislike-it is also an important factor. Cult books seem, in my mind, associated with geeks… Now, of course, I’m a geek too. But there are different types of geeks. I’m the type that also wears bright colours and laughs too much in company; not the type that stares at his feet and knows what all the computer acronyms stand for.
So – first things first – I’d like to know what definition you’d give to the term ‘cult book’. And secondly, what do you think of the shortlist that was eventually drawn up?
If on a Winter’s Night a Traveller – Italo CalvinoGeneration X – Douglas CouplandHitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas AdamsCatcher in the Rye – J.D. SalingerThe Bell Jar – Sylvia PlathCatch 22 – Joseph HellerI Capture the Castle – Dodie Smith
I did want to read If on a Winter’s Night a Traveller, as I was intrigued by reviews from Sakura, Simon, Polly, Stu, Kim, and doubtless others. But I thought it might be a book I’d want to read slowly, when I was definitely in the right mood for it – and I tend to end up speed reading book group choices on the night before the meeting. So I voted for a novel I love and want to re-read: I Capture the Castle. Although I can’t see how it could possibly be considered a cult book…