For the Guardian, he named a top ten list of books that best express the absurdity of the human condition. One title on the list:
Bouvard and Pécuchet by Gustave FlaubertRead about the other books on the list.
Bouvard and Pécuchet are humble copy clerks until Bouvard unexpectedly inherits money and the two friends decide to give up work and devote themselves to acquiring knowledge. They attempt to master in turn farming, chemistry, medicine, astronomy, geology, gymnastics, spiritualism, philosophy, religion and phrenology, in each case following the best contemporary expertise, but always ending in disaster and disillusionment. In their education phase they take in the children of a convict and subject them to the latest pedagogic techniques. Resolutely resisting improvement, the children wreck the garden, smash dishes in the kitchen, steal food and money, attack their philanthropic teachers and finally boil a pet cat alive in a cooking pot.
Bouvard and Pécuchet also appears on John Mullan's list of ten of the best unfinished literary works and John Sutherland's list of the best books about listing.