Skip to comments.The Greatest Books of All Time, as Voted by 125 Famous Authors
Posted on 01/31/2012 8:21:59 AM PST by C19fan
"Reading is the nourishment that lets you do interesting work," Jennifer Egan once said. This intersection of reading and writing is both a necessary bi-directional life skill for us mere mortals and a secret of iconic writers' success, as bespoken by their personal libraries. The Top Ten: Writers Pick Their Favorite Books asks 125 of modernity's greatest British and American writersincluding Norman Mailer, Ann Patchett, Jonathan Franzen, Claire Messud, and Joyce Carol Oates"to provide a list, ranked, in order, of what [they] consider the ten greatest works of fiction of all time- novels, story collections, plays, or poems." Of the 544 separate titles selected, each is assigned a reverse-order point value based on the number position at which it appears on any listso, a book that tops a list at number one receives 10 points, and a book that graces the bottom, at number ten, receives 1 point
(Excerpt) Read more at theatlantic.com ...
I was pulling for at least one Bronte on the list.
Were 100 of the top 125 writers polled Russian??? hee hee
I’m inserting a “Nay” for William Faulkner before scanning the list.
Moby Dick is a good story but a bad book.
The way you feel about Bovery, I feel about Gatsby.
Perhaps some learned Freeper can explain the supposed greatness of this virtually unreadable author to me. I don’t get it and I have tried. The stream of consciousness business just makes for labored reading for me. Apparently not for others. In fact I have an Irish acquaintance who claims to read Joyce every night. But to me the Joyce mystique remains a mystery.
Now Jane Austin is a different story. She should top the list. Readable over and over.
No John Grisham. I call BS.
No Tolkein? No LOTR?
One Hundred Years of Solitude is just awful beyond description. I will never get those hours back. That said, I’m not surprised it made their list. Madame Bovary over Brothers Karamazov? I guess there were already too many Russians. The Brontes got robbed.
Re: “virtually unreadable author”
That’s exactly how I perceived, “Sanctuary,” and “Requiem for a Nun.”
I with you on that one. I received nothing from the effort I put into Joyce (admittedly, not very much).
The consensus is that the intellectuals can take a long walk off a short pier.
English class turned me off of literature, and i was never impressed by any novel, until I read “The Brothers Karamazov.” Everything else pales in comparison.
I actually appreciated One Hundred Years of Solitude. I was going to say “enjoyed”, but it wasn’t really enjoyable as it was interesting, memorable, whatever.
No Sidney Sheldon??
Authors chosen by The Atlantic have a bit of narrow-mindedness.
Greatest books of all time? And they eliminate
The Divine Comedy
Not to speak of The Bible.
Or, in modern times:
The Lord of the Rings
I just couldn’t get into it. Parts were interesting, certain themes were intriguing, but it was an overall drag for me.
I really don’t care for Joyce’s later stuff (as in, completely incomprehensible to me!) but “The Dead,” one of his earlier works, is excellent. Well worth a read.
Monkeys at their keyboards: eventually they’ll type everything LOL~!
Well, at least Shakespeare, though none of his works, got a mention...
Good call on those last two for the 20th Century list. The intellectuals loathe LOTR.
Fools Die - Mario Puzo
My List (and I am a lit. teacher)
1. The Bible (no other work is so often alluded to)
2. The Iliad/Odyssey
4. Sound and the Fury (narrative experimentation)
6. Scarlet Letter
7. Huck Finn
8. Nichomachean Ethics
9. Mere Christianity
10. Walden/Civil Disobedience
I’ll take THE ILLIAD, ODESSEY, THE AENEID any day along with the works of Kipling and the short stories of John Russell(THE LOST GOD), Don Quixote, and some of the works of Ernest Hemingway.
Most of the so-called “great novels” are extremely boring, and in my youth I read hundreds of good novels.
Although it's been quite a long time, this is pretty much my recollection of the hours that I wasted on perhaps 100 pages of this book.
The intellectuals - - the same people who declare 'The English Patient' and 'Shakespeare in Love' to be "Best Picture" of the year.
They always leave off “Homer Price and his donut machine”.
What were they thinking?
The list is of best fiction, that is why the Bible is excluded.
The Atlantic? No.....come on.....The Atlantic? Their idea of great literature is “Any Curious George book”.
“Brave New World”
People forget it was written in the early part of the last century, long before socialistic governments had become the norm.
“1984” presents a vision of the future where citizens are kept in line by governmental brute force. “Brave New World” though, presents a vision where citizens are controlled by government paternalism, which results in a voluntary self-enslavement to the government.
Every modern story of a dystopian future has its roots in “Brave New World.”
And, it’s easy to see “Brave New World’s” vision of the future slowly coming to pass.
Except for “Scarlet Letter.” Terrible, terrible book.
I wasn’t too keen on Hamlet. I saw the Branagh movie in high school and it was much more enjoyable than reading it. MacBeth seemed to be just as good either way to me.
I’m just glad it wasn’t ‘The Audacity of Hope” or something by Alynski.
There’s a book by Anthony Burgess (of Clockwork Orange fame) called “1985” in which Islam and unions take over Britain.
It is almost IMPOSSIBLE to find, but VERY ACCURATE.
This list is CRAP!
No Tolkien, Lewis, Hawthorne, or Steinbeck.
No Dumas, Dante, or Heinlein.
But the Marxists just LOOOOOVE the Russians...
>>Except for Scarlet Letter. Terrible, terrible book.
People hate “Scarlet Letter,” but like “Sound and the Fury” it has so many layers to peel back. I teach it to a bunch of bored regular ed kids in public school and a lot of them love it.
There is no greater explanation other than it is a very convoluted diorama of many different aspects of the “human heart in conflict with itself”.
No Atlas Shrugged? No Fountainhead? The list is a big joke.
What would we catogorize the plot and “action” of the ‘feely’ that Leena and John Savage went to?
From “Brave New World”....
The house lights went down; fiery letters stood out solid and as though self-supported in the darkness. THREE WEEKS IN A HELICOPTER . AN ALL-SUPER-SINGING, SYNTHETIC-TALK1NG, COLOURED, STEREOSCOPIC FEELY. WITH SYNCHRONIZED SCENT-ORGAN ACCOMPANIMENT.
“Take hold of those metal knobs on the arms of your chair,” whispered Lenina. “Otherwise you won’t get any of the feely effects.”
The Savage did as he was told.
Those fiery letters, meanwhile, had disappeared; there were ten seconds of complete darkness; then suddenly, dazzling and incomparably more solid-looking than they would have seemed in actual flesh and blood, far more real than reality, there stood the stereoscopic images, locked in one another’s arms, of a gigantic negro and a golden-haired young brachycephalic Beta-Plus female.
The Savage started. That sensation on his lips! He lifted a hand to his mouth; the titillation ceased; let his hand fall back on the metal knob; it began again. The scent organ, meanwhile, breathed pure musk. Expiringly, a sound-track super-dove cooed “Oo-ooh”; and vibrating only thirty-two times a second, a deeper than African bass made answer: “Aa-aah.” “Ooh-ah! Ooh-ah!” the stereoscopic lips came together again, and once more the facial erogenous zones of the six thousand spectators in the Alhambra tingled with almost intolerable galvanic pleasure. “Ooh ”
The plot of the film was extremely simple. A few minutes after the first Oohs and Aahs (a duet having been sung and a little love made on that famous bearskin, every hair of whichthe Assistant Predestinator was perfectly rightcould be separately and distinctly felt), the negro had a helicopter accident, fell on his head. Thump! what a twinge through the forehead! A chorus of ow’s and aie’s went up from the audience.
The concussion knocked all the negro’s conditioning into a cocked hat. He developed for the Beta blonde an exclusive and maniacal passion. She protested. He persisted. There were struggles, pursuits, an assault on a rival, finally a sensational kidnapping. The Beta blond was ravished away into the sky and kept there, hovering, for three weeks in a wildly anti-social tête-à-tête with the black madman. Finally, after a whole series of adventures and much aerial acrobacy three handsome young Alphas succeeded in rescuing her. The negro was packed off to an Adult Re-conditioning Centre and the film ended happily and decorously, with the Beta blonde becoming the mistress of all her three rescuers. They interrupted themselves for a moment to sing a synthetic quartet, with full super-orchestral accompaniment and gardenias on the scent organ. Then the bearskin made a final appearance and, amid a blare of saxophones, the last stereoscopic kiss faded into darkness, the last electric titillation died on the lips like a dying moth that quivers, quivers, ever more feebly, ever more faintly, and at last is quiet, quite still.
I love The Brothers Karamozov.
My 13 y/o son and I read it together.
He thought some parts of the story were hilarious.
>>No Atlas Shrugged? No Fountainhead? The list is a big joke.
Almost all the concepts of Rand’s books are covered in Nicomachean Ethics.
I'm very surprised - but delighted - that this made the list.
She was a very devout Christian, and all her stories reflect this -- in a shocking, sometimes visceral way.
My favorite is "A Good Man is Hard to Find."
It is truly one of the most shocking short stories I have ever read in my life. She was a brilliant, original artist, and a true Southern lady.
George R.R. Martin’s epic tomes starting with Songs of Ice and Fire (Game of Thrones). Pure fiction with a nod toward ancient Celts.
>>It is truly one of the most shocking short stories I have ever read in my life. She was a brilliant, original artist, and a true Southern lady.
And she loved her peacocks.
I loved “Good Country People” but all of her stories show the contradictory nature of human beings.
Eudora Welty was a great author as well. I loved “Ponder Heart,” “Delta Wedding,” and “The Optimist’s Daughter.”
Not just because he was a good writer, but because he was a devout socialist (something I blocked from my mind while enjoying his work).
Moby Dick is sublime. He wasn’t just out to “tell a story”.
I read it in AP English, my junior year in HS. I found it to be almost impenetrable, dull, and lazy (the pastor "looked into his heart"? The big scarlet A in the sky? A girl named Hester?).
I haven't read "Sound and the Fury." We did read "Light in August" and it was pretty good. We read some of Faulkner's short stories, and I loved "Young Goodman Brown."
"The Great Gatsby" was one I almost gave up on until it started really picking up after a few chapters.
Hands down the best book I read in high school was "Grendel." We read that in my honor's English class in 12th grade after we read "Beowulf" (meh). Fantastic book that took all of your preconceived notions made in "Beowulf" and turned them on their heads. Even though I knew how it was going to end, I had no idea what was going to happen next!
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