The Anti-Booklist

This book stemmed from a British radio programme called The Titanic Book List (in the days before Leonardo di Caprio), where participants were invited to nominate three books they would have liked to go down with the Titanic and why. This led to this book, edited by Brian Redhead and Kenneth McLeish and published in 1981. The following is a selection, with emphasis on novels since the end of the 19th Century. The name in bracket is the person doing the selection. Incidentally, other works to make the list include the Oxford English Dictionary, War and Peace, the New English Bible, the Scarsdale Medical Diet, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Roget’s Thesaurus, Baden-Powell’s Scouting for Boys and the writings of Freud, Balzac and various feminists.

Henry Miller: Plexus (Beryl Bainbridge)
James Joyce: Finnegan’s Wake (Russell Davies)
D H Lawrence: Lady Chatterley’s Lover (Frank Delaney)
John Updike: Couples (Frank Delaney)
Erica Jong: Fear of Flying (Frank Delaney)
Mario Puzo: The Godfather (Robert Heller)
George and Weedon Grossmith: Diary of a Nobody (Bevis Hiller)
H R F Keating: The Perfect Murder (H R F Keating – not the only one to nominate one of his own books)
Ernest Hemingway: Fiesta (The Sun Also Rises); A Farewell to Arms; The Old Man and the Sea; To Have and Have Not (Kenneth McLeish)
Vladimir Nabokov: Pale Fire (John Osborne)
Kenneth Grahame: The Wind in the Willows (Steve Race)
A A Milne: The House at Pooh Corner (Steve Race)
Ernest Hemingway: Fiesta (The Sun Also Rises); For Whom the Bell Tolls; A Farewell to Arms; Across the River and into the Trees (Brian Redhead)
André Gide: L’Immoraliste (Michael Schmidt)
J T Farrell: Studs Lonigan (Anne Smith)
D H Lawrence: The Trespasser (Anne Smith)
Evelyn Waugh Vile Bodies (Charles Wood)
The following were in the top ten list selected by all contributors as well as readers of a British Sunday newspaper:
William Faulkner: Requiem for a Nun
John Fowles: The Magus
James Joyce: Finnegan’s Wake
D H Lawrence: Women in Love
J R R Tolkien: The Lord of the Rings

This list is given in alphabetical order of person selecting but, apparently, the”winners” were the Fowles, the Tolkien and former British Prime Minister Harold Wilson’s memoirs.