The Best of the Best Books.

I love book lists, and it’s been a couple of weeks since the last one was listed here, so… it’s TIME for another book list.

Way back in 2005, TIME Magazine authors Lev Grossman and Richard Lacayo chose their “100 best English-language novels from 1923 to the present.”  You can access their complete list at: http://www.time.com/time/2005/100books/the_complete_list.html

Readers were then asked to rate the books (the actual question was “Would you recommend reading this title?”).  Rather than a typical top-ten list, the following are the novels that garnered the highest rating (5 out of 5): http://www.time.com/time/2005/100books/0,24459,ratethis,00.html

The choices include some novels you might expect in a “best of” list, but also include a teen read, a children’s book, and a graphic novel – very eclectic.  Only four have been written since 1980 – but none after 1987.

You can also access a short review of each book, each written by one of the people who voted at the above site (alas, A Prayer for Owen Meany didn’t even make the top 100).  The most interesting review (to me) was of At Swim-Two-Birds.  The reviewer quoted Dylan Thomas saying, “This is just the book to give your sister if she’s a loud, dirty, boozy girl.”

On to the best of TIME’s best:

Are You There God?  It’s Me, Margaret [1970] by Judy Blume

The Adventures of Augie March [1953] by Saul Bellow

Invisible Man [1952] by Ralph Ellison

A Death in the Family [1958] by James Agee

Lolita [1955] by Vladimir Nabokov

Blood Meridian [1986] by Cormac McCarthy

A Passage to India [1924] by E.M. Forster

The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe [1950] by C.S. Lewis

A Clockwork Orange [1963] by Anthony Burgess

Beloved [1987] by Toni Morrison

At Swim-Two-Birds [1938] by Flann O’Brien

Ubik [1969] by Philip K. Dick

Watchmen [1986] by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons

Appointment in Samarra [1934] by John O’Hara

Money [1984] by Martin Amis

Gone With the Wind [1936] by Margaret Mitchell

Under the Volcano [1947] by Malcolm Lowry

Gravity’s Rainbow [1973] by Thomas Pynchon

Close, but no cigar – The Catcher in the Rye [1951] by J.D. Salinger at 4.57; 1984 [1948] by George Orwell at 4.17; and To Kill a Mockingbird [1960] by Harper Lee at 4.  These three books are often listed on other top ten lists, so I find it interesting that they fell short in TIME’s poll.

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6 responses to “The Best of the Best Books.

  1. A Passage to India and Appointment in Samarra — yes! Thanks for visiting my blog – hope you’ll come again!

    I was just there. We must have crossed paths while making comments.

  2. This list is great. I’m with you about To Kill A Mockingbird though. How could that possibly get left out??

    Sometimes there’s just no accounting for taste.

  3. Really? “Are You There God..”? Haha! That’s funny. I didn’t think any boy/man anywhere would read that!

    This wasn’t my list, but from what I have read about it I should probably preview it and then give it to my daughter in a year or so.

  4. Yes, every girl I know has read that book. I think at the time it terrified me…but now it’s a bit of nostalgia for me.

  5. I knew Augee Mugee.

    True I only met him briefly, but he lived in front of the Gulf of Mexico on the Texas coast.

    It is always disappointing to see a mother of children mock God. The children are raised improperly to their harm.

    The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom.

  6. youcouldbelievethis

    I loved “Are You There God, it’s me Margaret” loved it. I found Ralph Ellison’s “invisible Man” a difficult read though I read it twice. But I never missed the point…and “Lolita” surprised me. I was prepared to hate it outright, but the writing was brilliant!

    Never having been a pre-teen girl, I haven’t read Are You There…, but since my daughter is nearing the appropriate age, I should probably at least preview it.

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