On World Book Day in the UK (March 1, 2007), over 2000 Britons voted for the books they couldn’t live without.
I don’t remember any such research done for our own counterpart in America, Read Across America (March 2).
While this blog doesn’t generate enough traffic to consider the question resolved scientifically, I thought it would be interesting to find out what books America Can’t Live Without.
In the comments, leave your list (try to do at least five or ten books). Once I have a fair number of suggestions, I’ll put together a poll, and we’ll vote. I will post the results here. What do you say?
Update: Thanks to everyone who has commented so far. I wasn’t clear on several points. First, the books don’t have to be American; however, I was hoping that respondents would be. I don’t mean to discriminate, but what prompted me to wonder about this was a list of the top 100 Books the Nation [UK] Can’t Live Without that was published in conjunction with World Book Day. Also, I don’t mean the books “America” can’t live without — I mean the ones you can’t live without — you are America, all added up together, aren’t you? Think of it like this. Which book would you have to have, no matter what? Read this passage from Diane Setterfield’s The Thirteenth Tale. Is there a book you’d shoot someone over if it meant saving that book from destruction? Maybe don’t answer that… just tell me what books you can’t live without:
“Picture a conveyor belt, a huge conveyor belt, and at the end of it a massive furnace. And on the conveyor belt are books. Every copy in the world of every book you’ve ever loved. All lined up. Jane Eyre, Villette, The Woman in White.”
“Middlemarch,” I supplied.
“Thank you. Middlemarch. And imagine a lever with two labels, On and Off. At the moment the lever is off. And next to it is a human being, with his hand on the lever. About to turn it on. And you can stop it. You have a gun to your hand. All you have to do is pull the trigger. What do you do?”
“No, that’s silly.”
“He turns the lever to On. The conveyor belt has started.”
“But it’s too extreme, it’s hypothetical.”
“First of all, Shirley goes over the edge.”
“I don’t like games like this.”
“Now George Sand starts to go up in flames.”
I sighed and closed my eyes.
“Wuthering Heights coming up. Going to let that burn, are you?”
I couldn’t help myself. I saw the books, saw their steady process to the mouth of the furnace, and flinched.
“Suit yourself. In it goes. Same for Jane Eyre?”
Jane Eyre. I was suddenly dry-mouthed.
“All you have to do is shoot. I won’t tell. No one ever need know.” She waited. “They’ve started to fall. Just the first few. But there are a lot of copies. You have a moment to make up your mind.”
I rubbed my thumb nervously against a rough edge of nail on my middle finger.
“They’re falling faster now.”
She did not remove her gaze from me.
“Half of them gone. Think, Margaret. All of Jane Eyre will soon have disappeared forever. Think.”
Miss Winter blinked.
“Two thirds gone. Just one person, Margaret. Just one tiny, insignificant little person.”
“Still time, but only just. Remember, this person burns books. Does he really deserve to live?”
Blink. Blink. Blink.
Jane Eyre was no more.
“Margaret!” Miss Winter’s face twisted in vexation as she spoke. (240-241)