Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The All-Time Greatest Books

You may remember a few weeks ago when I went through the top 100 movies compiled by Entertainment Weekly. Today, I'm going through the top 100 books as listed by EW. I've highlighted the books that I've read from start to finish in bold below. I apologize for any misspellings since there was a lot of typing here.

1. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
2. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
3. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austin
4. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
5. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
6. My Antonia by Willa Cather - I read some Cather in high school, but I don't think it was this book.
7. The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling - I read all seven, so I feel like this should could as seven.
8. The Rabbit quartet by John Updike
9. Beloved by Toni Morison
10. Charlotte's Web by E.B. White

11. Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
12. The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
13. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee - In my mind, this could be #1.
14. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky
15. Ragtime by E.L. Doctorow
16. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
17. The Road by Cormac McCarthy - I'm sure folks will disagree, but I feel like this book is overrated.
18. Moby-Dick by Herman Melville
19. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
20. Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry

21. An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser
22. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
23. The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky
24. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce
25. Bleak House by Charles Dickens
26. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
27. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
28. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy - Did you know that the original title of this book was "War, What Is It Good For?"
29. The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
30. Native Son by Richard Wright

31. Blindness by Jose Saramago
32. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Sallinger
33. Maus by Art Spiegelman - I've had this book for nearly 20 years and never read it. I'm not even sure where it is right now.
34. The World According to Garp by John Irving
35. A Personal Matter by Kenzaburo Oe
36. Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
37. The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
38. The Regeneration trilogy by Pat Barker
39. Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
40. A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth

41. Go Tell It on The Mountain by James Baldwin
42. The Stand by Stephen King
43. The Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
44. His Dark Materials by Phil Pullman
45. The Color Purple by Alice Walker
46. The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton
47. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Harold Murakami
48. The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith
49. Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
50. Snow by Orhan Pamuk - This should not be confused with Informer by Snow

51. The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen
52. Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
53. Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
54. Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain - This book came out in 2012 yet I've never heard of it.
55. A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry
56. Sophie's Choice by William Styron
57. The Children of Men by R.D. James
58. Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie
59. Dracula by Bram Stoker
60. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

61. Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez - Best book of all time with cholera in the title.
62. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain - I don't think I actually finished this book.
63. Portnoy's Complaint by Philip Roth - Mr. Brame is not going to be happy about this. While I've read some Roth, I don't know if I completed this book or not.
64. Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace
65. Herzog by Saul Bellow - I'm still waiting for the sequel, Leyland.
66. Howards End by E.M. Forster
67. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon
68. Middlemarch by George Eliot
69. Money by Martin Amis
70. Neuromancer by William Gibson

71. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
72. The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro
73. The Spy Who Came in From the Cold by John le Carre
74. Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier
75. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
76. The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing
77. Tom Jones by Henry Fielding
78. A House for Mr. Biswas by V.S. Naipaul
79. Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel
80. Swann's Way by Marcel Proust

81. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
82. Disgrace by J.M. Coetzee
83. The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields
84. Clockers by Richard Price
85. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
86. A Home at the End of the World by Michael Cunningham
87. White Teeth by Zadie Smith
88. The Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe
89. Tristram Shandy by Laurence Sterne
90. The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers

91. The Leopard by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa
92. The Glass Bead Game by Hermann Hesse
93. Bastard Out of Carolina by Dorothy Allison
94. The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins
95. The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
96. If on a Winter's Night a Traveler by Italo Calvino
97. The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler
98. Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret. by Judy Blume - If only Superfudge made this list.
99. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
100. The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan

How does Brave New World not make this list? Where is Homer?

Anyway, since we're only counting the Harry Potter books as one, sadly, I've only read 8 of these 100 books. Pathetic. It looks like I have some reading to do.

So how many of these books did you read? Please leave your answer and any other thoughts in the comments section below. In addition, please let me know what books I need to read immediately.


Unknown said...

I have read ten. and you should definitely count harry potter as seven.

Unknown said...

Ah, I like this challenge.

I have read 28, though if you claim that the Harry Potter series counts as 7, then I should get four for the Rabbit tetralogy.

Of course, these lists are by their nature arbitrary and incomplete. Homer probably didn't make it because it's an epic, not a "book" (I'd like to see EW's definition for what a "book" is), and "Brave New World" probably didn't make it because it's not as good as your 10th grade teacher made it out to be.

If I had to recommend one for you to read right now!, it would be The Great Gatsby. It's the most fun you are allowed to have while reading a book. I'd also direct you to Lonesome Dove, which is long, and The Handmaid's Tale, which is frightening.

Not on the list? A Farewell To Arms, and all the rest of the Philip Roth canon, including American Pastoral and The Plot Against America, to name a few.

(Also, a tip of the hat to you for reading Catch-22. In three tries, the farthest I got was page 36.)

BrassyLibrarian said...

I've read 26 of the titles. But honestly think this list is a joke. I swear EW had a summer intern pull it together and they just did a Google search for "Books People Should Read."

Sean said...

Thanks Josh, Aaron & Brassy!

Aaron - I'm pretty sure that the Roth book I read was Goodbye Columbus. Plus, I'm surprised you didn't make it through Catch-22. I enjoyed it.

Brassy - What books do you recommend me (and anyone else here) reading?

Christian said...

I read, I think, 22 of these.

You should definitely read Kavalier and Clay and Confederacy of Dunces. Both are both really clever. I also strongly recommend Moby Dick with the caveat that a lot of the the book involves technical crap about whaling which can be skipped. But the rest of the book is amazing.

Having said that, this list is complete crap. Any best of book lists that puts His dark Materials on it should be automatically disqualified. And whatever your opinions of on Harry Potter, there is no justifiable reason that it should be that high on this list. I would argue it shouldn't be on it at all, but at number 7? Really? If they are going to put on popular crap for kids where is Alice in Wonderland or Wizard of Oz? How is it above the Hobbit? and how is that on here and not Lord of the Rings? On a more serious note where is Tale of Two Cities or Don Quixote? Seriously, not a particularly well thought out list.

Captain Easychord said...

two, although it seems like the custom would be to give me credit for all five of the books in the Hitchhiker's Guide series... so six? ... maybe with partial credit for books I "had to" read for school, back in the days when I ignored things like "homework assignments" (ie: high school)... oh, and the one book that I may or may not have read when I was really young and just don't remember...

Sean said...

Thanks Christian & Captain. Christian - I'm going to take you up on the book suggestions.
Captain - I'm surprised you haven't seen more movies or read more books.