I don't know if you have heard of the BBC's The Big Read?
http://www.bbc.co.uk/arts/bigread/ Here is some information, if somebody is curious about it.
Anyway, this year the Bulgarian National Television organized the same 'contest' we had to choose our favorite book of all time. Last night we 'choose' our favorite book - Под игото by Ivan Vazov (the so-called patriarch of the Bulgarian literature) and a book I really can't stand. And I can't stand it for a good reason - because it's no literature, it's no art for me. It was one of the novels we had to read in school and it's one of the novels I as a Bulgarian am expected to love. Anyway, I can't love a novel, which doesn't make me care about its characters the least. Some of the other finalists were The Lord of the Rings, One Hundred Years of Solitude, Master and Margarita and East of Eden.
And I don't believe the statistics that most of the people who voted to select the 'winner' were in their 20's. It's kind of absurd to vote for a novel simply because it's supposed to be something you cherish because of being a Bulgarian. And nobody, nobody really can say it's a novel he/she loves. At least not people in their 20's. As an old relative said: It's a book you HAVE TO RESPECT AND APPRECIATE! Why? For what? Maybe I'm still immature enough to understand why I have to RESPECT a book I had no pleasure reading, but I doubt I'll ever understand that. There were four other Bulgarian novels on that list and one of these novels - Тютюн - is an amazing novel on its own and a more deserving 'winner' for me. I don't get how Под игото wins only because it SHOULD (as people say) because it represents the Bulgarian national identity, but NOBODY (and I mean NOBODY!!!) really would like to grab the book and actually READ it! None of my professors would ever read it! None of the folks I study with would grab it and READ it! Then WHY IS IT OUR FAVORITE BOOK?! Because it represents the Bulgarian identity?! Because some professors in literature think that it represents the Bulgarian identity?! I think it's a shame, because I believe that 99% of the people who voted for this book have not even read it. Or left it at page 5, because it's that boring! And the book - OUR FAVORITE BOOK - SHOULD be a book people read for pleasure and love because of that! And not a book we should read, but nobody (!) really likes. Sorry, but not even my grandmother would pick it as her favorite book!!!
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11 months ago