Top Ten Lists: An Invariable Failure

It’s  a challenge to list favorites. Or, more specifically, to name a number one favorite on a Top Ten list. There are countless reasons why this is so, as I’m sure many of you can attest to.

My list needs to include a specific and defined meaning of the term “favorite.”

To start, I need to discover the variables that come together to form my own, unique and subjective version of favorite. For example, do I take into consideration the initial impact of the book or its readability, or both?

Invariably, I fail. Encompassing lists like “favorites” tend to be too versatile and eventually serve to broaden and/or dilute the emphasis- which is, in my estimation, a failed list.

There needs to be a focus, an emphasis. A Top Ten Science Fiction Books list is a good example of something that has added emphasis. More so than a general top ten list. But is it focused enough?

I always come back to my initial thought: that these damn lists are near impossible. Regardless of the emphases I make, there is room for more. Within the aforementioned Science Fiction Favorites list, do I include fantasy novels as well? Only books that involve space travel? Books that I’ve read more than once? Books in whose characters I’ve re-inserted into my own dreams, thoughts and fantasies?

Or perhaps I’m just over-thinking it all.

As an exercise, try to list, let’s say, your Five Favorite Breakfast Cereals, in no particular order. What do you take into consideration for establishing such a list? Do you consider health, taste, texture, the satiating effect of the cereal? Do you consider how the milk interacts with the cereal- does the cereal become soggy after a few minutes, does the milk change color? Do you like the cereals that include prizes? If so, what types of prizes? Temporary tattoos? Decoder rings? Lousy coupons?

When you do establish the parameters of your Five Favorite Breakfast Cereals list, are there enough, then, to fill out your top five?

Really, at the end of the day, you like certain things for different reasons. I like Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables for its redemptive qualities. I like Kim Stanley Robinson’s Mars Trilogy because of its emphasis on a seemingly factual, or “hard,” science. But these two books could never be on the same “favorites” list.

Or could they?

I suppose that’s all up to you.

For me, I tried anyhow. What about you? Give me your favorites!

This first one is a list of my general favorites in no- oh heavens no! – particular order:

More lists to come. Stay tuned!

Project Update: Coming along slowly this week. I’ve managed to get the flu and my energy is at an all-time low.

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