When I decided to post a list of my favorite books I first had to come up with the actual list. As I began to think about the list I needed to ask myself if I thought that my favorite books were best books ever written. It turns out that the answer is no, my favorite books are not necessarily the greatest books. I have different criteria between what I consider my favorites and what I consider the best.
My all time favorite books touch me in a particular way. They have had an impact upon me because I have unique experiences, opinions and feelings that others may or may not share. Thus, my favorite books have had a profound effect upon me but may or may not have such an effect upon others.
Furthermore, some of my favorite books also have flaws that are so significant that they are disqualified from being among the greatest ever written. Because of who I am these flaws do not prevent me from loving these books. Hermann Hesse’s works are a good example of this. Several of Hesse’s books are among my all time favorites. However, I recognize certain flaws in his novels that prevent me from considering among the all time best books ever written. I believe that all the books that I will list among my favorites are great literature and/or philosophy. However, many just do not meet the criteria of all time greats. With all that, if I were to put together a list of all time best books, a few of my favorites would also be on that list.
There are also some books that seem monumentally important and universal to me, but that do not touch me in such a way that I can call them favorites. These works would be included on my list of best books however. For instance, some of the Shakespeare tragedies fall into this category.
I should note that I am talking about lists that are the crème of the crop; lists that would include something like the ten best books ever written, or my ten favorite books. If I were to make a list of the 100 greatest books ever written, many of my favorites would make that list. An expanded list of best 500 or best 1000 greatest books ever, would probably cover most of my favorites.
I was originally planning a separate post dedicated to what I think are the greatest books of all time. However, at least for now, I have abandoned this idea for several reasons. First, I have not come close to reading all the books that a reasonable person might consider to be good candidates for this list. Secondly, a lot people who are a lot more knowledgeable and qualified then me have produced a large number of such lists. These lists are all over the Internet.
I wanted to differentiate between these two concepts before actually posting my list. I think that such a discussion is interesting enough in its own right that I decided to post a separate entry on this topic. I will shortly be posting my actual list.