Friday, November 10, 2006


Just saw this on KT Buffy's blog, and thought I'd go through the exercise as well.

In 2005, Time magazine picked the 100 best English-language novels (1923-present). Mark the selections you have read in bold. If you liked it, add a star (*) in front of the title, if you didn't, give it a minus (-). Then, put the total number of books you've read in the subject line.

(I'm also adding a question mark (?) to indicate indifference or mixed feelings.)

The Adventures of Augie March - Saul Bellow
?All the King's Men - Robert Penn Warren (HS)
American Pastoral - Philip Roth
An American Tragedy - Theodore Dreiser
*Animal Farm - George Orwell (listened to audiobook)
Appointment in Samarra - John O'Hara
*Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret - Judy Blume
The Assistant - Bernard Malamud
At Swim-Two-Birds - Flann O'Brien
-Atonement - Ian McEwan (didn't HATE it, but didn't really enjoy it, and struggled to finish it)
?Beloved - Toni Morrison (HS)
The Berlin Stories - Christopher Isherwood
The Big Sleep - Raymond Chandler
The Blind Assassin - Margaret Atwood (I started this, but never got past the first chapter)
Blood Meridian - Cormac McCarthy
Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
The Bridge of San Luis Rey - Thornton Wilder
Call It Sleep - Henry Roth
*Catch-22 - Joseph Heller
*The Catcher in the Rye - J.D. Salinger (HS)
A Clockwork Orange - Anthony Burgess
The Confessions of Nat Turner - William Styron
The Corrections - Jonathan Franzen
The Crying of Lot 49 - Thomas Pynchon
A Dance to the Music of Time - Anthony Powell
The Day of the Locust - Nathanael West
Death Comes for the Archbishop - Willa Cather
A Death in the Family - James Agee
The Death of the Heart - Elizabeth Bowen
Deliverance - James Dickey
Dog Soldiers - Robert Stone
Falconer - John Cheever
The French Lieutenant's Woman - John Fowles
The Golden Notebook - Doris Lessing
Go Tell it on the Mountain - James Baldwin
*Gone With the Wind - Margaret Mitchell
*The Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
Gravity's Rainbow - Thomas Pynchon
*The Great Gatsby - F. Scott Fitzgerald (HS)
A Handful of Dust - Evelyn Waugh
The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter - Carson McCullers
The Heart of the Matter - Graham Greene
Herzog - Saul Bellow
Housekeeping - Marilynne Robinson
A House for Mr. Biswas - V.S. Naipaul
?I, Claudius - Robert Graves (HS)
Infinite Jest - David Foster Wallace
Invisible Man - Ralph Ellison
Light in August - William Faulkner
*The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe - C.S. Lewis
*Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
*Lord of the Flies - William Golding (HS)
*The Lord of the Rings - J.R.R. Tolkien
Loving - Henry Green
Lucky Jim - Kingsley Amis
The Man Who Loved Children - Christina Stead
Midnight's Children - Salman Rushdie
Money - Martin Amis
The Moviegoer - Walker Percy
*Mrs. Dalloway - Virginia Woolf
Naked Lunch - William Burroughs
Native Son - Richard Wright
Neuromancer - William Gibson
Never Let Me Go - Kazuo Ishiguro
1984 - George Orwell
On the Road - Jack Kerouac
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest - Ken Kesey
The Painted Bird - Jerzy Kosinski
Pale Fire - Vladimir Nabokov
*A Passage to India - E.M. Forster
*Play It As It Lays - Joan Didion (college)
Portnoy's Complaint - Philip Roth
Possession - A.S. Byatt
The Power and the Glory - Graham Greene
The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie - Muriel Spark
Rabbit, Run - John Updike
Ragtime - E.L. Doctorow
The Recognitions - William Gaddis
Red Harvest - Dashiell Hammett
Revolutionary Road - Richard Yates
The Sheltering Sky - Paul Bowles
Slaughterhouse-Five - Kurt Vonnegut
Snow Crash - Neal Stephenson
The Sot-Weed Factor - John Barth
The Sound and the Fury - William Faulkner
The Sportswriter - Richard Ford
The Spy Who Came in From the Cold - John Le Carre
*The Sun Also Rises - Ernest Hemingway (HS)
*Their Eyes Were Watching God - Zora Neale Hurston
Things Fall Apart - Chinua Achebe
*To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee (one of my all-time favorite books)
To the Lighthouse - Virginia Woolf
Tropic of Cancer - Henry Miller
Ubik - Philip K. Dick
Under the Net - Iris Murdoch
Under the Volcano - Malcolm Lowry
Watchmen - Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons
*White Noise - Don DeLillo (college class)
*White Teeth - Zadie Smith
Wide Sargasso Sea - Jean Rhys

I don't think I did too badly--almost 25%. Give me the 100 best children's books, and I'll bet I'd get over 80%. What scared me, though, is that there are a lot on this list that I've never even heard of.

If any of you absolutely loved a book on this list that I haven't read, let me know and I'll add it to my extremely large "to read" list.


Jane said...

You MUST read Possession by A. S. Byatt, a blew-me-away book.

Jane Yolen

saramoohead said...

Wow! I'm suprised/impressed that Watchmen is on the list. I wonder if The Times is trying to stip up debate about the term novel. It's a thick, gorgeous comic book that really is spectactular. And what with the new Yen Press... you should be definitely add it to your read list.

Anonymous said...

I reposted this in my blog under a friends lock if you want to see how badly I sucked. :-P

alvinaling said...

Jane, I KNEW someone would say POSSESSION. I'll move it up on my to read list. And WATCHMEN, too!

And T.S.--get reading, man!

Anonymous said...

Alvina: I have to say I didn't like Possession. The "victorian poetry" was unreadable, I thought.

I'd suggest anything by Evelyn Waugh!

Anonymous said...

I didn't like POSESSION either. Bump MIDNIGHT'S CHILDREN to the top, stat!

Libby Koponen said...

I couldn't get beyond the first few pages of POSSESSION....I loved A HANDFUL OF DUST, in fact at one time Evelyn Waugh was one of my favorite writers. I still reread this from time to time -- I have to admit that John Gielgud as the father in BRIDESHEAD REVISITED eclipsed TAHT novel for me! The book I feel the most passionately about is A DANCE TO THE MUSIC OF TIME by Anthony Powell. It's one of my very favorite books in the world -- iup there with Jane Austen, though in a very different way. I am in awe of this novel (well, 12 novels), partly because it grows up with you...reading it, you experience both time passing and the different preoccupations of the different stages of life, just as you do in real life. One very odd thing about the book is that (so far, anyway) with each stage of my life I have liked different books best. When I was young I really only liked the first one! Now I like all of the first nine and find only the last three inferior -- I wonder if they really are or if when I get to that stage I will realize how true to life those are too? Anyway very very good, beautifully written, and very English! Maybe that's why it's not as well-known in this country as it deserves to be?