The book critics at the Telegraph have produced a list of The 50 Best Cult Books.
What is a cult book? We tried and failed to arrive at a definition: books often found in the pockets of murderers; books that you take very seriously when you are 17; books whose readers can be identified to all with the formula ” whacko”; books our children just won’t get…
Some things crop up often: drugs, travel, philosophy, an implied two fingers to conventional wisdom, titanic self-absorption, a tendency to date fast and a paperback jacket everyone recognises with a faint wince. But these don’t begin to cover it.
Cult books include some of the most cringemaking collections of bilge ever collected between hard covers. But they also include many of the key texts of modern feminism; some of the best journalism and memoirs; some of the most entrancing and original novels in the canon.
I find I have read 32 of the 50. Does that make me a cultist? And have I really missed out on the other 18 books? Most of all, I am astonishingly pleased to see “A Confederacy of Dunces” on the list. Years after we both read it, my wife and I still throw Ignatius-isms at each other on a regular basis.
First published in May 2008