Reader’s Digest released a list of what it considers to be 100 of the best books of all time yesterday. The list, which it describes as consisting of books that “open our minds to new characters, points of view, and worlds,” is a mix of nonfiction and fiction.
There are bestsellers on the list, as well as award-winners, and some that have had some other kind of impact on Western literature and society. It’s not said whether the books are ranked, but it does take more than 10 titles to get to the first nonwhite author on the list. Additionally, blatantly racist books like Out of Africa by Isak Dinesen are affixed with the disclaimer that they are “not free of the racial bias and colonial attitudes of the time,” and then described as giving “a glimpse into an area of the world that’s largely overlooked when telling the coming-of-age narrative of modern countries.” As far as coming-of-age tales set in similar areas, I’m sure there were better books to choose from that didn’t center racist white Danish women’s experiences. Like Nobel Prize-winning East African writer Abdulrazak Gurnah’s coming-of-age tale Paradise, for instance.