Thursday, March 4, 2010

March 2010 | Chapitre Neuf

I have a good friend who is making it her quest to blog her way through reading the Guardian’s list of the 1000 best novels that everyone should read. Time Magazine also created the lazy American’s version of this list with their 100 best novels that everyone should read. I surveyed the two lists and saw that I have read almost exactly 20% of each list. Not great, but probably better than the average person. The thing that intrigued me is which books fell into both lists. And the following lists emerged:

The first is the list of all the books I have read that appear on both the 1000 and the 100.
1) 1984 by George Orwell
2) A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
3) Animal Farm by George Orwell
4) Atonement by Ian McEwan
5) Beloved by Toni Morrison
6) Breakfast at Tiffany's by Truman Capote
7) Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
8) Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
9) One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey
10) Slaughter-House Five by Kurt Vonnegut
11) The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger
12) The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
13) The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald
14) Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
15) To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

The second, more important, list is the one that both the 1000 and the 100 recommend I read.
1) A Dance to the Music of Time by Anthony Powell
2) A Handful of Dust by Evelyn Waugh
3) A House for Mr Biswas by VS Naipaul
4) American Pastoral by Philip Roth
5) An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser
6) Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy
7) Call It Sleep by Henry Roth
8) Deliverance by James Dickey
9) Go Tell it on the Mountain by James Baldwin
10) Gravity's Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon
11) Herzog by Saul Bellow
12) Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace
13) Lolita, or the Confessions of a White Widowed Male by Vladimir Nabokov
14) Lord of the Flies by William Golding
15) Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis
16) Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie
17) Money by Martin Amis
18) Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
19) Naked Lunch by William Burroughs
20) Native Son by Richard Wright
21) Neuromancer by William Gibson
22) Nineteen Seventy Four by David Peace
23) On the Road by Jack Kerouac
24) Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov
25) Play It As It Lays by Joan Didion
26) Portnoy's Complaint by Philip Roth
27) Possession by AS Byatt
28) Red Harvest by Dashiell Hammett
29) Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates
30) Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson
31) The Adventures of Augie March by Saul Bellow
32) The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler
33) The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood
34) The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen
35) The Crying of Lot 49 by Thomas Pynchon
36) The Day of the Locust by Nathanael West
37) The Death of the Heart by Elizabeth Bowen
38) The French Lieutenant's Woman by John Fowles
39) The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing
40) The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers
41) The Man Who Loved Children by Christina Stead
42) The Moviegoer by Walker Percy
43) The Painted Bird by Jerzy Kosinski
44) The Power and the Glory by Graham Greene
45) The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark
46) The Recognitions by William Gaddis
47) The Sheltering Sky by Paul Bowles
48) The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
49) The Sportswriter by Richard Ford
50) The Spy Who Came in from the Cold by John le Carre
51) Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
52) To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf
53) Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller
54) Under the Net by Iris Murdoch
55) Under the Volcano by Malcolm Lowry
56) White Teeth by Zadie Smith
57) Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys

I imagine it’s an honor to get one’s novel listed on any list of this sort. But to get two must mean something about the author is quite extraordinary. Imitation is the finest flattery, and so, inspired by my literary fellow, I shall begin my own quest with reading the following extraordinary writers who have been so honored.

Saul Bellow:
The Adventures of Augie March

Lolita, or the Confessions of a White Widowed Male
Pale Fire

Thomas Pynchon:
Gravity's Rainbow
The Crying of Lot 49

Philip Roth:
American Pastoral
Portnoy's Complaint

Virginia Woolf:
Mrs. Dalloway
To the Lighthouse

If interested in doing some reading, please visit the original lists:
Time 100 novels:
Guardian 1000 novels:

1 comment:

  1. I just have to comment, that I read Native Son, a long time ago and it is still a book that I think about often. It is probably one of the books that amde me think about choice, race, and free will. I never have agreed strongly with a lot of common opinions, but it is definitely a great read.