Friday, July 24, 2009

100 Great Books

I've come across several 100-great-books lists on various blogs, and I think it's a great idea: read 100 books (fiction or nonfiction) that you feel you ought to have read already, setting an end-date of five or seven (or ten?) years from now. They don't all have to be classics per se, but reading them can fill in the gaps where your literary education is concerned.

I decided that at least 20% of the books on my list should be translated works (which are starred on my list below). I intend to consume several of these books on CD/podcast, because let's face it—if I don't "read" while I knit, it's probably going to take me well over 10 years to get through this list. I also don’t think I’m going to get around to reading any doorstoppers like Ulysses, Herodotus’ Histories, de Toqueville's Democracy in America, or War and Peace; I’ll read them eventually, but in the meantime I’d rather read the Joyce and Tolstoy I already have on hand (Portrait of the Artist and a collection of the shorter novels and stories, respectively). I’m also thinking about making somewhat shorter lists for plays and poetry.

If you’re thinking about making a list yourself, check out the 'best' lists at the Modern Library, Waterstones, The Guardian, and San José State University (that one's aptly titled 'The Guilt List').

1. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
2. Foundation by Isaac Asimov
3. Go Tell it on the Mountain by James Baldwin
4. The Adventures of Augie March by Saul Bellow
5. Beowulf
6. The Decameron by Giovanni Boccaccio *
7. Labyrinths by Jorge Luis Borges *
8. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
9. Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë (Librivox)
10. The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov *
11. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
12. Possession by A.S. Byatt
13. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
14. Silent Spring by Rachel Carson
15. Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather (read August-September '09)
16. Cathedral by Raymond Carver
17. Don Quixote by Miguel Cervantes *
18. The Wapshot Chronicle by John Cheever
19. The Vagabond by Colette *
20. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
21. The Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper (Librivox)
22. The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
23. The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane
24. The Divine Comedy by Dante *
25. The Origin of Species by Charles Darwin (Librivox)
26. Eugénie Grandet by Honoré de Balzac *
27. The Little Prince by Antoine de Sainte-Exupéry * (read August 2009)
28. Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe (Librivox)
29. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick
30. Hard Times by Charles Dickens (Librivox)
31. An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser
32. The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky * (coming soon on Librivox)
33. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky * (Librivox)
34. The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco *
35. Middlemarch by George Eliot (Librivox)
36. The Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
37. The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
38. Tom Jones by Henry Fielding
39. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert *
40. A Room with a View by E.M. Forster (Librivox)
41. The Magus by John Fowles
42. Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl * (read July/August 2009)
43. Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons
44. Neuromancer by William Gibson
45. Lord of the Flies by William Golding (audiobook, listened February 2010)
46. The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame (Librivox; listened May 2010)
47. The Power and the Glory by Graham Greene
48. Hunger by Knut Hamsun *
49. Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy (Librivox)
50. A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway
51. Steppenwolf by Hermann Hesse *
52. Riddley Walker by Russell Hoban
53. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
54. Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce
55. The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka *
56. The Woman Warrior by Maxine Hong Kingston
57. The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling
58. On the Road by Jack Kerouac
59. Lady Chatterley's Lover by D. H. Lawrence
60. The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing
61. If Not Now, When? by Primo Levi *
62. It Can’t Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis
63. The Call of the Wild by Jack London (Librivox)
64. The Naked and the Dead by Norman Mailer
65. Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez *
66. Of Human Bondage by Somerset Maugham
67. Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller
68. The Wind-up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami *
69. Under the Net by Iris Murdoch
70. Suite Française by Irène Némirovsky * (audiobook—listened September-December '09)
71. The Third Policeman by Flann O'Brien (read June-July '09)
72. A Good Man Is Hard To Find by Flannery O'Connor
73. One Thousand and One Nights (a.k.a. Arabian Nights) *
74. Gravity's Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon
75. All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque*
76. Portnoy’s Complaint by Philip Roth
77. Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie
78. Blindness by José Saramago *
79. Rob Roy by Walter Scott (coming soon on Librivox)
80. The Jungle by Upton Sinclair
81. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
82. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
83. One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Alexander Solzhenitsyn *
84. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
85. Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe (audio version, Forgotten Classics)
86. Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift (Librivox)
87. Vanity Fair by William Makepace Thackeray (Librivox)
88. Walden and Civil Disobedience by Henry David Thoreau
89. The Great Short Works of Leo Tolstoy *
90. Rabbit, Run by John Updike
91. Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne * (Librivox)
92. The Ice Palace by Tarjei Vesaas *
93. Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut
94. The Time Machine by H.G. Wells (read August 2010)
95. The Collected Stories of Eudora Welty
96. Look Homeward, Angel by Thomas Wolfe
97. A Vindication of the Rights of Woman by Mary Wollstonecraft
98. A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf
99. Native Son by Richard Wright
100. We by Yevgeny Zamyatin *

The plan is to annotate this list periodically, blogging brief(ish) 'book appreciations' as I go. Feel free to leave me more recommendations —the master list is actually much longer!

First up: The Third Policeman by Flann O'Brien (I just finished it this week).


Susan said...

I really love the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon and am looking forward to her newest book coming out in September. I like it for the historical backdrop and for the romance (I have to admit). I think it's the only book I've read three times!
Keep up the blog Camille. I am reading and enjoying!

Kate said...

Recommendation: My Land and My People by HHDL

Pare said...

As an immediate sequel to Suite Francaise, you should read One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Alexander Solzhenitsyn.

It's good, of course, but they seem like they would fit well together.