Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Why Read Books...

...when you can blog about them?

The 47 books both the Modern Library and Time Magazine think you should read from the 20th Century (written in the English language):

1. The Adventures of Augie March by Saul Bellow
2. All the King’s Men by Robert Penn Warren
3. An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser
4. Animal Farm by George Orwell
5. Appointment in Samarra by John O’Hara
6. Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh
7. The Bridge of San Luis Rey by Thornton Wilder
8. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
9. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
10. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
11. A Dance to the Music of Time by Anthony Powell
12. The Day of the Locust by Nathanael West
13. Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather
14. The Death of the Heart by Elizabeth Bowen
15. Deliverance by James Dickey
16. Go Tell It on the Mountain by James Baldwin
17. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
18. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
19. A Handful of Dust by Evelyn Waugh
20. The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers
21. The Heart of the Matter by Graham Greene
22. A House for Mr. Biswas by V.S. Naipaul
23. I, Claudius by Robert Graves
24. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
25. Light in August by William Faulkner
26. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
27. Lord of the Flies by William Golding
28. Loving by Henry Green
29. The Moviegoer by Walker Percy
30. Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie
31. Native Son by Richard Wright
32. 1984 by George Orwell
33. On the Road by Jack Kerouac
34. Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov
35. A Passage to India by E.M. Forster
36. Portnoy’s Complaint by Philip Roth
37. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark
38. Ragtime by E.L. Doctorow
39. The Sheltering Sky by Paul Bowles
40. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
41. The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
42. The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemmingway
43. To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf
44. Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller
45. Under the Net by Iris Murdoch
46. Under the Volcano by Malcolm Lowry
47. Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys

Note that George Orwell gets two (1984 and Animal Farm) as does Nabokov (Lolita and Pale Fire). William Faulkner and Evelyn Waugh get two (Brideshead Revisited and A Handful of Dust; The Sound and the Fury and Light in August), as well as a third from the respective Modern and Time lists (As I Lay Dying for Faulkner – ML and Scoop for Waugh – TM).

Other authors who got three mentions are Saul Bellow (The Adventures of Augie March – both, Henderson the Rain King – ML, and Herzog – TM), E.M. Forster (A Passage to India – both, Howard’s End, and A Room With a View – ML), James Joyce (Ulysses, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, and Finnegan’s Wake – ML), Henry James (The Golden Bowl, The Wings of the Dove, and The Ambassadors – ML), and D.H. Lawrence (Sons and Lovers, The Rainbow, Women in Love – ML). Joseph Conrad has four (Heart of Darkness, Nostromo, The Secret Agent, and Lord Jim – ML). The Time Magazine list only includes publications after 1923, which explains the lack of Joyce, James, Lawrence and Conrad.

Other authors who got two mentions are

F. Scott Fitzgerald (The Great Gatsby – both, Tender Is the Night – ML),
Theodore Dreiser (An American Tragedy – both, Sister Carrie – ML),
V.S. Naipaul (A House for Mr. Biswas – both, A Bend in the River – ML),
Ernest Hemmingway (The Sun Also Rises – both, A Farewell to Arms – ML),
Philip Roth (Portnoy’s Complaint – both, An American Pastoral – TM),
Virginia Woolf (To the Lighthouse – both, Mrs. Dalloway – TM),
Graham Greene (The Heart of the Matter – both, The Power and the Glory – TM),
William Styron (Sophie’s Choice – ML, The Confessions of Nat Turner – TM),
John Cheever (The Wapshot Chronicle – ML, Falconer –TM),
John Fowles (The Magus – ML, The French Lieutenant’s Woman – TM),
Dashiell Hammett (The Maltese Falcon – ML, Red Harvest – TM),
Aldous Huxley (Brave New World, Point Counter Point – ML),
Ford Maddox Ford (The Good Soldier, Parade’s End – ML),
Edith Wharton (House of Mirth, The Age of Innocence – ML), and
Thomas Pynchon (The Crying of Lot 49, Gravity’s Rainbow – TM)

Out of 153 unique books, I’ve read 27. (1984, Animal Farm, The Sound and the Fury, Light in August, As I Lay Dying, The Great Gatsby, The Bridge of San Luis Rey, On the Road, I Claudius, The Grapes of Wrath, Lord of the Flies, Catcher in the Rye, Ulysses, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Brave New World, The Ambassadors, Heart of Darkness, The Maltese Falcon, Sons and Lovers, Mrs. Dalloway, The Call of the Wild by Jack London – ML, The Painted Bird by Jerzy Kosinski – TM, The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien – TM, Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons – TM, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee – TM, Ubik by Philip K. Dick – TM, The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis – TM). 126 to go:

From the ML, not already mentioned:

Darkness at Noon by Arthur Koestler
The Way of All Flesh by Samuel Butler
The USA Trilogy by John Dos Passos
Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson
The Studs Lonigan Trilogy by James T. Farrell
The Naked and the Dead by Norman Mailer
Zuleika Dobson by Max Beerbohm
From Here to Eternity by James Jones
Of Human Bondage by W. Somerset Maugham
Main Street by Sinclair Lewis
The Alexandria Quartet by Lawrence Durrell
A High Wind in Jamaica by Richard Hughes
Kim by Rudyard Kipling
Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner
The Old Wives’ Tale by Arnold Bennett
Tobacco Road by Erskine Caldwell
Ironweed by William Kennedy
The Postman Always Rings Twice by James M. Cain
The Ginger Man by J.P. Donleavy
The Magnificent Ambersons by Booth Tarkington

From the TL, not already mentioned:

Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume
The Assistant by Bernard Malamud
At Swim-Two-Birds by Flann O’Brien
Beloved by Toni Morrison
The Berlin Stories by Christopher Isherwood
The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler
Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy
Call It Sleep by Henry Roth
A Death in the Family by James Agee
Dog Soldiers by Robert Stone
The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing
Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson
Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace
Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis
The Man Who Loved Children by Christina Stead
Money by Martin Amis
Naked Lunch by William Burroughs
Neuromancer by William Gibson
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey
Play It As It Lays by Joan Didion
Possession by A.S. Byatt
Rabbit, Run by John Updike
The Recognitions by William Gaddis
Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates
Snow Crash by Neal Stevenson
The Sot-Weed Factor by John Barth
The Sportswriter by Richard Ford
The Spy Who Came in From the Cold by John le Carre
Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
White Noise by Don DeLillo

The Time list, technically, has five entries from the 21st Century:

Atonement by Ian McEwan (2003)
The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood (2000)
The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen (2001)
Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro (2005)
White Teeth by Zadie Smith (2000)

As such, really, there are only 148 unique novels for consideration for the 20th century.

Interesting omissions:

The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemmingway
The Gormenghast Trilogy by Mervyn Peake
The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien
City of Glass by Paul Auster
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
Anything by Agatha Christie, PG Wodehouse or Julian Barnes

1 comment:

John Wiswell said...

I wonder if Douglas Adams fell off because they assumed so many people had already read him, with his Hitchhiker series showing up so high in so many readership polls. Easier answer is that he carries the double-whammy of Humor and Genre. One hopes that isn't it, but when Saul Bellow shows up three times...