I love lists. 25 best restaurants in New York City. Top 10 movies of the year. Best morning cereal cartoon characters (and, yes, the answer is Sonny the Cuckoo Bird, don’t ask why). The problem I have with lists, and probably the problem that most people who have a tinge of OCD have with lists, is that a list isn’t a helpful suggestion or guide as to the author’s insights. Rather, a list is a challenge, one that must be conquered by eating, watching, listening, or read methodically through until each point is ticked off.
Which is why it’s almost better to come across one like World Hum’s “The 100 Most Celebrated Travel Books of All Time,” a list so daunting and time-consuming that you can feel comfortable checking out with nary a thought in sight of tackling in any reasonable amount of time (it’s kind of like if Usain Bolt knocked on my door here in Brooklyn and challenged me to a friendly race around the block: it’s not happening).
What’s nice is that this list is actually culled from 15 other compendiums, giving you an idea as to the strongest selections (Paul Theroux’s The Great Railway Bazaar made it to all but 15 of the lists; Eric Newby’s A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush made it on 8). Any thoughts, concerns, outrages? Any problem with Eat, Pray, Love being on any list that includes Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, A Moveable Feast, or The Motorcycle Diaries? Is Three Cups of Tea too new to be on a list like this? Remind you how Seven Years in Tibet may have been Brad Pitt’s best movie?
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