Being in the month of December, everyone is writing ‘lists’. Some lists go to Santa, others are published in newspapers, magazines, or on the web. And it is all kinds of different lists, this year’s best movies, cars, books, bikes, toys, and so on. I happened to come across one of these lists yesterday, in The Guardian, where Robert McCrum is blogging about books. Under the head-line “Which is the perfect comic novel” he has listed the ten funniest English novels. McCrum got the idea after reading an article by Marcus Berkmann, who in the magazine The Spectator is writing about an entertaining novel. Berkmann mentions that most of P.G. Wodehouse’s books are tremendously funny, while McCrum can agree that “some of his novels […] are indeed close to perfection.” This makes McCrum write a 10-top-list of the perfect comic novel, which (side-stepping Wodehouse and American funny novels) I am happy to report includes Jerome K. Jerome’s Three Men in a Boat (1889). Jerome’s novel is indeed a very funny book (some of the people leaving comments on McCrum’s article do not agree). Including this novel, I have almost read half of the books on McCrum’s list. I write ‘almost’ as I never really finished Charles Dickens’s The Pickwick Papers.
One of these days I am going to sit down to write my favourite 10-top-list of rowing books. I guess Three Men in a Boat will be on top when it comes to the most comic rowing book.