Archive for the ‘lists’ Category

Now that the ridiculous “25 things about me” meme (which I refused to participate in, on principle) finally seems to have died on Facebook, an old booklist meme, which I did on Livejournal sometime during the Christmas season, appears to have resurfaced.  I thought it was a sloppy list the first time I did it (there’s redundancies, as well as a deplorable absence of several extremely important American prose-ists), but now that I’ve seen it show up again, I think it’s time to make a change.  Please, let’s use a better list – one that represents a more accurate cross-section of great English literature.  The more specific the time period, the better (so that you don’t end up with funny imbalances and gaps).  And it would be nice if there could be more poetry on the list, as well.  I actually went out and looked for a list that I thought was more fair and balanced, and came up with this one, developed in 1998 at the request of the Modern Library Editorial Board.  It doesn’t have poetry, but at least it doesn’t claim to cover “all” literary greats from every genre; and it also confines itself to the 20th century.  Which i think is more feasible than trying to cover all of Western literature in a list that tops out at less than 100.

With that said, let’s see how I do . . .

Bold titles = Read
Bold, Italicized titles = Begun, but never finished
Italicized titles = Read or seen in an adapted form (film, stage, abridged version, etc.)

(+) = I liked the book
(-) = I wasn’t a fan
(!) = I’ve been meaning to read this for a while, and should have been locked up a long time ago for claiming to have a B.A. in English without having done so

The Radcliffe Publishing Course’s Top 100 Novels & Nonfiction Books of the 20th Century:

On July 21, 1998, the Radcliffe Publishing Course compiled and released its own list of the century’s top 100 novels, at the request of the Modern Library editorial board.

1. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (+)
2. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger (+)
3. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck (!)
4. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (+)
5. The Color Purple by Alice Walker (-)
6. Ulysses by James Joyce (I should’ve read it, of course, but don’t intend to; I can’t sit through Joyce)
7. Beloved by Toni Morrison (+)
8. The Lord of the Flies by William Golding (-)
9. 1984 by George Orwell (-)
10. The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner (-)
11. Lolita by Vladmir Nabokov (!)
12. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck (+)
13. Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White (+)
14. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce (-)
15. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller (+)
16. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley (+)
17. Animal Farm by George Orwell (-)
18. The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway (!)
19. As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner (- I don’t like Faulkner)
20. A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway (+)
21. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad (-)
22. Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne (+)
23. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston (+ One of my all-time favorites)
24. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison (+)
25. Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison (!)
26. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
27. Native Son by Richard Wright (!)
28. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey
29. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut (!)
30. For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway (+)
31. On the Road by Jack Kerouac
32. The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway (+)
33. The Call of the Wild by Jack London (+)
34. To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf (!)
35. Portrait of a Lady by Henry James (!)
36. Go Tell it on the Mountain by James Baldwin (!)
37. The World According to Garp by John Irving
38. All the King’s Men by Robert Penn Warren
39. A Room with a View by E.M. Forster (+)
40. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien (!)
41. Schindler’s List by Thomas Keneally (Film)
42. The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton
43. The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand (- I can’t stand Howard Roarke).
44. Finnegans Wake by James Joyce
45. The Jungle by Upton Sinclair (-)
46. Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf (+)
47. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum (-)
48. Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D.H. Lawrence (!)
49. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
50. The Awakening by Kate Chopin (+ Another all-time favorite)
51. My Antonia by Willa Cather (+ Yet another favorite; maybe that’s why I like this list…)
52. Howards End by E.M. Forster
53. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
54. Franny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger (+)
55. The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie (+)
56. Jazz by Toni Morrison
57. Sophie’s Choice by William Styron
58. Absalom, Absalom! by William Faulkner
59. A Passage to India by E.M. Forster (+)
60. Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton (- Hopelessly depressing; the movie is even worse . . .)
61. A Good Man Is Hard to Find by Flannery O’Connor (+ I’ve only read the title story in this collection)
62. Tender Is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald (!)
63. Orlando by Virginia Woolf
64. Sons and Lovers by D.H. Lawrence
65. Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe
66. Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut (+)
67. A Separate Peace by John Knowles (- Ugh; I hated this book)
68. Light in August by William Faulkner (-)
69. The Wings of the Dove by Henry James
70. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe (+ He’s coming to ND to speak this semester)
71. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier (+)
72. A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams (+)
73. Naked Lunch by William S. Burroughs
74. Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh
75. Women in Love by D.H. Lawrence
76. Look Homeward, Angel by Thomas Wolfe
77. In Our Time by Ernest Hemingway
78. The Autobiography of Alice B. Tokias by Gertrude Stein
79. The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett
80. The Naked and the Dead by Norman Mailer
81. Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys (!)
82. White Noise by Don DeLillo
83. O Pioneers! by Willa Cather (+)
84. Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller (!)
85. The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells
86. Lord Jim by Joseph Conrad (! Even though I hate Conrad)
87. The Bostonians by Henry James
88. An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser (!)
89. Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather (!)
90. The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame (+)
91. This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald (- I was bitterly disappointed; I loved Gatsby)
92. Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
93. The French Lieutenant’s Woman by John Fowles
94. Babbitt by Sinclair Lewis (!)
95. Kim by Rudyard Kipling (- My mom made me read this when I was small and I remember being bored with it)
96. The Beautiful and the Damned by F. Scott Fitzgerald (!)
97. Rabbit, Run by John Updike (!)
98. Where Angels Fear to Tread by E.M. Forster
99. Main Street by Sinclair Lewis (!)
100. Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie (+ I read the stage adaptation)

My score:

Read: 38
Read or watched in an alternate form or adaptation: 2
Begun, but not finished: 8
Yet to read: . . . sheesh.  I’ve got a lot of reading to do!

38/100. Could be a lot worse.  But I like lists that motivate me to read.


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