The Lists

There are two types of lists on this website: (1) lists of my personal favorites and (2) meta-lists, that is, compilations of multiple lists compiled by others, usually critics, academics or other experts. For the second category, I have collected lists of movies, music, works of literature, scientific discoveries, etc. and combined them into larger, inclusive lists. In each case, I give each item one point for being on a list – I don’t weigh the scores based on the position of the item on the list. So, for example, every book on the “1001 Books to Read before You Die” list gets one point for being on that list. I then organize the lists in various ways, usually based on the number of lists that the item is on. So, for example, I found over 25 “Best Literature” lists, and Don Quixote is on 21 of them. No other book was on as many lists, so Don Quixote sits at the top of the combined list. In some cases, I have taken a list and rearranged it. Right now, for example, I have three versions of the ‘Best Literature’ list: the first is organized by the number of lists the item is on (this is the one with Don Quixote at the time, the second is chronological, with The Epic of Gilgamesh, the oldest piece of literature on the list (c. 2000 BCE) at the top, and the third is organized by author’s name.

As for the personal favorites lists, those are just what they sound like. Occasionally, I will make lists of my favorite works of literature, films, TV shows, music, etc., or some sub-genre of the above.

13 thoughts on “The Lists

  1. keithgme

    This is a great blog! I am an avid consumer and producer of lists related to literature, music, films, art, etc., and this blog is the best organized, most comprehensive, and highest quality site I’ve found. Thank you for all of your work.

  2. mp

    I have been enjoying your meta-lists very much as this is also kind of a hobby of mine.
    However, I miss not being able to consult the sources for them (i.e. the lists from which you compiled your own). Are they somewhere where I can access them or have you purposefully kept them?
    Thank you very much

    1. beckchris

      mp: I am embarrassed to say that I am not very good at keeping track of where I get my lists – I do a lot of cutting and pasting from websites and often don’t remember to write down the source of the list. Sometimes I can recreate the sources from files in my computer, so if there is a specific list that you want to know the sources for, let me know and I can try to dig them up for you.

  3. mp

    Thanks for your reply!
    Well, when I wrote the comment I was specifically working through the Blues list, as I can’t seem to find myself many sources that I find convincing. So if you can remember a few of them that would be great.
    But seeing as we have pretty similar taste, I would have loved to check every other list as well. Maybe in the future you can put some links at the end. You know, it just looks better.

    1. beckchris

      I went to the original documents when I compiled the lists and tried to reverse engineer to find where I got the lists from. A lot of the sources are no longer available online – too old. Here is what I was able to find:
      Blues: 100 Essential CDs – The Rough Guide
      MusicHound Blues: The Essential Album Guide
      Downbeat Magazine: The 50 Top Blues Albums of the Past 50 Years
      AMG Web Site
      Harry’s Blues On Line
      Kalmbach and Shuna
      Jeff Stevens
      Steve Sharp
      Blues Road

      Usually when I’m looking for lists, I just type “Best _________ of All Time” (fill in the topic) into Google and collect whatever comes up. I will also look through my local library’s collection and Amazon to find any books on the topic. I try not to impose my subjective views on the lists – I just collect what’s available. I do prefer lists from critics, academics, magazines and published authors over individual listers’ opinions, but I’m not that picky when there aren’t that many lists out there. Blues is a good example of a topic where there aren’t dozens and dozens of lists out there, so I tend to just collect whatever I can find, no matter what the source. I don’t pretend to be in a position to be able to distinguish between a “good” list and a “bad” list. I always try to emphasize on the website that these are not my personal opinions – I haven’t heard all this music, read all these books, seen all these paintings, etc. I’m just providing a service of compiling what other people have said are the best in each category.

      The underlying philosophy is that if multiple sources say something is among the best in its category, then it’s worth checking out, even if you don’t ultimately agree. That’s why I always try to include the number of lists an item is on. If it’s only on 2 lists (as with many of the blues albums), there is going to be a lot of room for disagreement among those “in the know.” If it’s on 20+ lists, there seems to be a critical consensus that it belongs in the canon.

      1. mp

        At the risk of sounding bland, I agree with everything you just said. That is pretty much my exact procedure, as well as my same philosophical approach. With one difference, however: I do (or at least try to) listen to every album on the list at least once. It’s hard work and sometimes even feels like a chore, but the love of music brought us where we are.

        Thanks so much for the sources!

  4. george

    One day someone who uses this website will go on to achieve in one of those fields: art, music, film e.c.t. And using this website’s list will be at the start and root of their future success. And when that day comes, I hope the person gives this website a shoutout

    1. beckchris

      Wow – thanks for the kind words, George. I would be thrilled if the website provided inspiration for the artists of tomorrow.

  5. wolsten

    I just came across your impressive website whilst doing some research for a potential hobby project now that I am retired. I wonder whether you would be interested in discussing some thoughts I have about how this information could be presented graphically in flexible ways? I am at the early stages in my thinking but it would be interesting to see if my idea has any merit – plus you may already know that it has been done before. This isn’t a commercial project and I wouldn’t expect it to take up a lot of your time. There might be ways to monetise the idea in future but that’s not my priority, I just love building things, seeing them used and keeping my brain active. If you are interested in discussing, please do contact me via my email.

  6. Paul McDaid

    Hi, The history timeline is a great list. But can I check one thing. It lists “c. 5,500 BCE: Oldest known field systems, including stone walls (Ireland)”. I am aware of the Ceide Fields, but they date to c. 3200BCE (i.e. 5200). Is there another field systems you are referring to? or just a type? (no probs BTW, and again a great set of lists).

    1. beckchris Post author

      Paul: Thanks for pointing this out. It looks like I was reading BCE when the text was saying “years ago.” I found online sources giving the Ceide Fields dates from 3700 BCE-3200 BCE. I chose the oldest date and revised the website. – John


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