Thursday, March 12, 2009

Greatest Novels of the 20th Century

I have seen recently a few lists roaming around facebook and different people's blogs of books people "should" read. For example, one was a BBC list that claimed most had never read 6 or more titles off the list. I wasn't very impressed with the compilation--I love Harry Potter as well as the next person, but I wouldn't put it up in a league with Faulkner or Morrisson. Anyway--here is a list that I like to go by compiled by The Modern Library--as far as it goes (the whole idea of a single "canon" is itself a little repugnant to me: but as far as trying new things, here is a good reference). Just for fun, I've added a star next to the ones I've read. Now, if the anthology was of women's lit or of African American lit, I'd fare a little better!

  1. ULYSSES by James Joyce * This is a novel you really should have a reading guide for
  2. THE GREAT GATSBY by F. Scott Fitzgerald *
  4. LOLITA by Vladimir Nabokov * see my review here
  5. BRAVE NEW WORLD by Aldous Huxley
  6. THE SOUND AND THE FURY by William Faulkner * Point of trivia-- Toni Morrisson is a Faulkner expert, and wrote her dissertation on him.
  7. CATCH-22
  8. DARKNESS AT NOON by Arthur Koestler
  9. SONS AND LOVERS by D.H. Lawrence
  10. THE GRAPES OF WRATH by John Steinbeck * read exerpts, need to finish it
  11. UNDER THE VOLCANO by Malcolm Lowry
  12. THE WAY OF ALL FLESH by Samuel Butler
  13. 1984 by George Orwell
  14. I, CLAUDIUS by Robert Graves
  15. TO THE LIGHTHOUSE by Virginia Woolf * Honestly not my favorite Woolf--I'm a Mrs. Dalloway fan, but still a gorgeous novel.
  16. AN AMERICAN TRAGEDY by Theodore Dreiser
  17. THE HEART IS A LONELY HUNTER by Carson McCullers * (one of my favorites-- tragic and moving)
  18. SLAUGHTERHOUSE-FIVE by Kurt Vonnegut
  19. INVISIBLE MAN by Ralph Ellison *
  20. NATIVE SON by Richard Wright *
  21. HENDERSON THE RAIN KING by Saul Bellow
  23. U.S.A. (trilogy) by John Dos Passos
  24. WINESBURG, OHIO by Sherwood Anderson
  25. A PASSAGE TO INDIA by E.M. Forster * (great for post-colonial theory)
  26. THE WINGS OF THE DOVE by Henry James
  27. THE AMBASSADORS by Henry James
  28. TENDER IS THE NIGHT by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  29. THE STUDS LONIGAN TRILOGY by James T. Farrell
  30. THE GOOD SOLDIER by Ford Madox Ford
  31. ANIMAL FARM by George Orwell
  32. THE GOLDEN BOWL by Henry James
  33. SISTER CARRIE by Theodore Dreiser
  34. A HANDFUL OF DUST by Evelyn Waugh
  35. AS I LAY DYING by William Faulkner
  36. ALL THE KING'S MEN by Robert Penn Warren
  37. THE BRIDGE OF SAN LUIS REY by Thornton Wilder
  38. HOWARDS END by E.M. Forster
  39. GO TELL IT ON THE MOUNTAIN by James Baldwin *
  40. THE HEART OF THE MATTER by Graham Greene
  41. LORD OF THE FLIES by William Golding
  42. DELIVERANCE by James Dickey
  43. A DANCE TO THE MUSIC OF TIME (series) by Anthony Powell
  44. POINT COUNTER POINT by Aldous Huxley
  45. THE SUN ALSO RISES by Ernest Hemingway
  46. THE SECRET AGENT by Joseph Conrad
  47. NOSTROMO by Joseph Conrad
  48. THE RAINBOW by D.H. Lawrence
  49. WOMEN IN LOVE by D.H. Lawrence
  50. TROPIC OF CANCER by Henry Miller
  51. THE NAKED AND THE DEAD by Norman Mailer (I really dislike Mailer, so I choose not to read this one)
  52. PORTNOY'S COMPLAINT by Philip Roth (just bought this used--I'll let you know how I like it)
  53. PALE FIRE by Vladimir Nabokov
  54. LIGHT IN AUGUST by William Faulkner
  55. ON THE ROAD by Jack Kerouac
  56. THE MALTESE FALCON by Dashiell Hammett *
  57. PARADE'S END by Ford Madox Ford
  58. THE AGE OF INNOCENCE by Edith Wharton *
  59. ZULEIKA DOBSON by Max Beerbohm
  60. THE MOVIEGOER by Walker Percy
  61. DEATH COMES FOR THE ARCHBISHOP by Willa Cather * (I love Cather, and this one is a great read. Her landscapes are characters in and of themselves.)
  62. FROM HERE TO ETERNITY by James Jones
  63. THE WAPSHOT CHRONICLES by John Cheever
  64. THE CATCHER IN THE RYE by J.D. Salinger
  65. A CLOCKWORK ORANGE by Anthony Burgess
  66. OF HUMAN BONDAGE by W. Somerset Maugham
  67. HEART OF DARKNESS by Joseph Conrad * (I ended up reading this I think a total of 3 times during my time as an English major . . . the horror!)
  68. MAIN STREET by Sinclair Lewis
  69. THE HOUSE OF MIRTH by Edith Wharton
  70. THE ALEXANDRIA QUARTET by Lawrence Durell
  71. A HIGH WIND IN JAMAICA by Richard Hughes
  72. A HOUSE FOR MR BISWAS by V.S. Naipaul
  73. THE DAY OF THE LOCUST by Nathanael West
  74. A FAREWELL TO ARMS by Ernest Hemingway * (if you can get over his complete misogynist take on all his female characters, his terse language is breathtaking. I like Hemingway in spite of myself)
  75. SCOOP by Evelyn Waugh
  77. FINNEGANS WAKE by James Joyce (ok--I take exception with this one. Completely unreadable--even for experts!)
  78. KIM by Rudyard Kipling
  79. A ROOM WITH A VIEW by E.M. Forster
  80. BRIDESHEAD REVISITED by Evelyn Waugh
  81. THE ADVENTURES OF AUGIE MARCH by Saul Bellow (love Saul Bellow, still need to read this particular novel of his)
  82. ANGLE OF REPOSE by Wallace Stegner
  83. A BEND IN THE RIVER by V.S. Naipaul
  84. THE DEATH OF THE HEART by Elizabeth Bowen
  85. LORD JIM by Joseph Conrad * (a staple for all you post-colonial theorists)
  86. RAGTIME by E.L. Doctorow
  87. THE OLD WIVES' TALE by Arnold Bennett
  88. THE CALL OF THE WILD by Jack London *
  89. LOVING by Henry Green
  90. MIDNIGHT'S CHILDREN by Salman Rushdie (This is near the top of books I want to read--still need to buy a copy)
  91. TOBACCO ROAD by Erskine Caldwell
  92. IRONWEED by William Kennedy
  93. THE MAGUS by John Fowles
  94. WIDE SARGASSO SEA by Jean Rhys
  95. UNDER THE NET by Iris Murdoch
  96. SOPHIE'S CHOICE by William Styron
  97. THE SHELTERING SKY by Paul Bowles
  99. THE GINGER MAN by J.P. Donleavy
  100. THE MAGNIFICENT AMBERSONS by Booth Tarkington
This was the list that their board picked. On their site there is also a list of readers favorites--and I agree with many of them, but not with all of them. As a disclaimer: lists like this are completely subjective, and to that end I think them completely ridiculous. But, I really love suggestions on good books to read. Leave a comment and let me know your picks that were left off the list! Mine were:

Beloved, by Toni Morrisson
Mama Day, by Gloria Naylor
All the Pretty Horses, by Cormac McCarthy
The English Patient, by Michael Ondaatje
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