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Thursday, June 19, 2008

Top 50 Novels Ever

The Telegraph reported on the results of a survey to determine the top best 50 books of all time.  It's interesting how many of them are books with children as narrators.  Also, how the hell did the Da Vinci Code get in there? Also, Jodi Picoult!  (We're talking "of all time," here, people!)  Also, while I enjoyed the Time Traveler's Wife, I'm not sure the book itself will last through the ages.  And it's a little heart-wrenching to see Zadie's White Teeth smiling at me.  

Here's the list.  What do you think? 


1. To Kill A Mockingbird - Harper Lee

2. Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien

3. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe - C.S Lewis

4. Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen

5. The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown

6. Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte

7. Animal Farm - George Orwell

8. Great Expectations - Charles Dickens

9. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban - JK Rowling

10. Lord of the Flies - William Golding

11. The Time Travellers Wife - Audrey Niffenegger

12. Catch 22 - Joseph Heller

13. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest - Ken Kasey

14. Gone With the Wind - Margaret Mitchell

15. The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold

16. War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy

17. Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden

18. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night -time - Mark Haddon

19. The Great Gatsby - F. Scott Fitzgerald

20. The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini

21. Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte

22. Sons and Lovers - DH Lawrence

23. Anna Kareninia - Leo Tolstoy

24. Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert

25. Emma - Jane Austen

26. Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks

27. The Catcher in the Rye, JD Salinger

28. My Sister's Keeper - Jodi Picoult

29. A Clockwork Orange - Anthony Burgess

30. A Passage to India - E.M Forster

31. Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier

32. Captain Corelli's Mandolin, Louis de Bernieres

33. Atonement - Ian McEwan

34. Midnight's Children - Salman Rushdie

35. In Search of Lost Time - Marcel Proust

36. Middlemarch - George Eliot

37. White Teeth - Zadie Smith

38. To the Lighthouse - Virginia Woolf

39. It - Stephen King

40. Little Women - Louisa M. Alcott

41. Vanity Fair - William Thackeray

42. David Copperfield - Charles Dickens

43. The Horse Whisperer - Nicholas Evans

44. Robinson Crusoe - Daniel Defoe

45. Moby Dick - Herman Melville

46. Gulliver's Travels - Jonathan Swift

47. Frankenstein - Mary Shelley

48. Huckleberry Finn - Mark Twin

49. Three Men in a Boat - Jerome K. Jerome

50. The Island - Victoria Hislop

Oh, and, just for fun, let's compare this list to President Bush's reading list from 2006, as published in U.S. News & World Report.  I think someone on his press team probably added the book about Islamic women and Camus' The Stranger, don't you?

Here's the Bushy list:

1. American Prometheus by Kai Bird and Martin Sherwin (a biography of Robert Oppenheimer, an inventor of the atomic bomb)

2. Clemente: The Passion and Grace of Baseball's Last Hero by David Maraniss (about the late all-star Pittsburgh Pirates right fielder)

3. Lincoln: A Life of Purpose and Power by Richard Carwardine

4. Lincoln's Greatest Speech: The Second Inaugural by Ronald C. White Jr.

5. Mao: The Unknown Story by Jung Chang and Jon Halliday

6. Nine Parts of Desire: The Hidden World of Islamic Women by Geraldine Brooks

7. Polio: An American Story by David Oshinsky (discussing how polio affected the United States in the mid-20th century)

8. The Big Bam: The Life and Times of Babe Ruth by Leigh Montville

9. The Great Influenza: The Epic Story of the Deadliest Plague in History by John M. Barry

10. Salt: A World History by Mark Kurlansky

11. The Stranger by Albert Camus

Maybe instead of reading about baseball and powerful figures, Dude should be figuring out how to stop our children from dying in his war.


rmellis said...

Lists like these make me hate lists. Feh!

Bush did not read those books!

Anonymous said...

There's a lot of damn fluff on this top-50 list.

The Horse Whisperer!?! Shoot me in the face. Please.

And seriously, Middlemarch? It should be called Death March. Did anyone ever enjoy this joyless book?

The Lovely Bones? It's like one of these one-hit wonder songs you hear in the summer. It's on every station, every hour. Then after its summer of fame, whenever you hear it on the radio you feel slightly ashamed of yourself for ever casually liking it.

To Kill a Mockingbird? Here's another name for it: Faulkner-Lite.

Anonymous said...

To be fair to The Telegraph, the paper did not commission the survey, it merely reported it.

If you read the piece, the poll was "conducted by online retailer" - in other words, it's one of those joke bits of research that commercial companies do in order to get a bit of free advertising, and which lazy journalists (eager to fill space) fall for every time.

Anonymous said...

Good to see famous writers like "Mark Twin" and "Ken Kasey", as well as books like "Anna Kareninia", on this list. Obviously compiled by highly literate intellectuals.

Anonymous said...

How can you diss Middlemarch? I mean, I will admit, there are some slow and difficult sections, but there are some beautiful and wise passages in that book that make all that worth it. Even these line alone:

"If we had keen vision and feeling of all ordinary human life, it would be like hearing grass grow and the squirrel's heart beat, and we should die of that roar which lies on the other side of silence. As it is, the quickest of us walk about well wadded in stupidity."


Kate Evans said...

This list doesn't do much for me.

My problem with Bush's list is that the dude doesn't read.

Elliot Cowan said...

The Da Vinci code?

Anonymous said...

It's all either classics or trash.

Plus one or two sensible choices.

Double Zoinks!

Anonymous said...

The Time Traveler's Wife was fun, but it had more plot holes than a galaxy-sized slice of Swiss cheese.

Anonymous said...

Where's Dirty Harry? Any list of top novels that doesn't include Dirty Harry can't be considered legitimate.
"I gots to know." Great line.

Anonymous said...

The list seems pretty standard for its type, but I'm surprised perennial hipster/lit snob faves Gravity's Rainbow and Atlas Shrugged didn't make the cut.