I am very bad at making lists, and this is nothing new. Ask me what my favorite of anything is and you’ll probably get a vague, non-committal answer. A list is just another form of an absolute for me – it’s either part of the list, or not – it’s absolute, it’s certain. I don’t deal well with things that way (ironically, some of the more keen observers may be able to make a connection between opposition to absolutes in an inclusion in one of the lists at the end of this post). I’m even worse when I’m asked to rank things in lists.
Lists just don’t allow for the expression of different moods, different times, different audiences, different circumstances, what I haven’t read, what I don’t know about, etc. I almost want to list all the reasons I hate lists, but I know I’ll leave something out – do you feel my pain here people.
I’m a bit better at making lists when it’s from some finite group of a reasonable size. For example – I was able to make this best of list for books I read in 2006. But even that was a struggle.
Several years ago as part of a detailed personality test that I got to do as part of pre-marital counseling I found out that my dislike of lists goes strait to my personality (INTP for those who are curious). This came up fairly often since several of the exercises were making and ranking various lists – basically I would find ways to eliminate things by making them irrelevant. In the end this would make that particular exercise almost useless since my ranking method was totally incompatible with the scoring system.
So, I was asked for a top 10 list for books and a top 5 list for series over at Fantasybookspot. As an associate review for them, I can see why, but it just chafes – in a really uncomfortable place. If I were asked to make this list in a week, it’d probably be different. If were for a different audience – it’d be different. I’ll look at the list a year from now and wonder what the hell I was thinking. I hate these lists. Anyway, below are those lists – I at least got them changed from Top 10 to Recommended Books or Series (and notice the lack of numbers - they are in no particular order or rank).
Be assured that there are reasons for the books and series making these lists and they are of course personal to me – they are my lists, however much I hate them. Comment, criticize, ignore…whatever. I’ll back up why it’s on my list if you want, but I just can’t bring myself to do a more detailed explanation of each item at this time.
- City of Saints and Madmen – Jeff VanderMeer (review)
- Vellum – Hal Duncan
- Tigana – Guy Gavríel Kay
- Perdido Street Station – China Miéville
- The Years of Rice and Salt – Kim Stanley Robinson
- The Forever War – Joe Haldeman (review)
- Good Omens – Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
- Infoquake – David Louis Edelman (review)
- Snow Crash – Neil Stephenson (review)
- Kafka on the Shore – Haruki Murakami (review)