Tuesday, August 03, 2010

100 Best Novels


I got a call from an old friend the other day. I mean an old, old friend; someone I had not spoken to in over 20 years. Strange what parts of that conversation became bloggable. She mentioned during a long rambling conversation that her daughter, about to be a senior in high school, was on her third summer of reading the 100 best novels of all time. Having read thru freshman, sophomore and junior summers, she now expected to reach her goal (all 100) by her first summer in grad school. A total of 100 books in ten summers, a laudable feat in my estimation.

Later that night I wondered how one finds the 100 Best Novels? I tried the internet and then sent off an email: "What list is your daughter using?"

The next day I got this response: "She is using the Modern Library list of best novels."

I give you the Modern Library's own bio.

The Modern Library has played a significant role in American cultural life for the better part of a century. For decades, young Americans cut their intellectual teeth on Modern Library books. The series shaped their tastes, educated them, provided them with a window on the world. Many of the country's celebrated writers are quick to attest that they "grew up with the Modern Library."

Damn, it was the ML list that scared me when I googled the 100 Best Novels. Shortly and happily, I got a follow-up email: "She is reading from the ML Board's list, not the readers list." 

I leave you without comment the top ten from those two lists. If you want to see the full 100 of each, here is the link.

  1. ULYSSES by James Joyce
  2. THE GREAT GATSBY by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  3. A PORTRAIT OF THE ARTIST AS A YOUNG MAN by James Joyce
  4. LOLITA by Vladimir Nabokov
  5. BRAVE NEW WORLD by Aldous Huxley
  6. THE SOUND AND THE FURY by William Faulkner
  7. CATCH-22 by Joseph Heller
  8. DARKNESS AT NOON by Arthur Koestler 
  9. SONS AND LOVERS by D.H. Lawrence
  10. THE GRAPES OF WRATH by John Steinbeck


  1. ATLAS SHRUGGED by Ayn Rand
  2. THE FOUNTAINHEAD by Ayn Rand
  3. BATTLEFIELD EARTH by L. Ron Hubbard
  4. THE LORD OF THE RINGS by J.R.R. Tolkien
  5. TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD by Harper Lee
  6. 1984 by George Orwell
  7. ANTHEM by Ayn Rand
  8. WE THE LIVING by Ayn Rand
  9. MISSION EARTH by L. Ron Hubbard
  10. FEAR by L. Ron Hubbard


OK, one comment. Who the hell are these readers?

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Well, the Readers List Top 10 is a bit deceiving. If one looks over the 100 titles in the Readers List one will notice that a good number of the titles are found on the Boards List as well. Certainly the Readers Top 10 itself is interesting , with 3 Hubbard titles. The Readers 100 also includes 7 Heinlein titles and at least one Lovecraft - so the answer to who the Readers are? -Sounds like a fair amount of Sci-Fi fans along with a number of folk who think like the board.

matt

Werner said...

Seeing Ron Hubbard represented three times in the top ten of the Readers List reminded me of the time when scientologists catapulted "Dianetics" onto the New York Times bestseller list by purchasing large quantities of the book themselves. I also want to add that "Battlefield Earth" is one of the few books which, half read, literally ended up in my garbage can. So, I agree, who in the world are these readers?