Tag Archives: War and Peace

The Greatest Books – 21 for 2011

I love books and like lists.  As we roll into a new year, I thought I’d mention a list I came across recently and the top 21 books that are placed there.

The list may be located on a website entitled The Greatest Books.  Shane Sherman took 43 “best of” lists (such as Boston Public Library, New York Public Library, Great Books Foundation, Harvard Bookstore, National Book Foundation… you get the idea) and generated a website to track the lists and keep track of those read.  Shane was kind enough to share the list with the rest of us.  You can see the entire list and links to the “best of” lists at The Greatest Books.

I’ll list the top 21 to read as we enter 2011, but please go the The Greatest Books site to check it out for yourself.  I won’t include brief descriptions or links, since the site is such a wonderful resource.  Please check it out for yourself here: The Greatest Books.

It really is a remarkable work and runs 21 pages with 1005 books listed.  I’m sure many people would argue with the placement of many novels on the list, but that is exactly what makes “best of” book lists fun (at least for me).  There is also a  search function on the site, but I was disappointed to discover that it simply displays the novel, not its placement on the list – just about my only disappointment with the site – it didn’t even bother me (too much… for too long) that my favorite novel, A Prayer for Owen Meany is only #616 on this list (not even in the top half… really?).

Here are the top 21:

#21 – Moby Dick by Herman Melville

#20 – The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

#19 – Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift

#18 – On the Road by Jack Kerouac

#17 – To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolfe

#16 – The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

#15 – Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison

#14 – The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner

#13 – One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

#12 – Middlemarch by George Eliot

#11 – The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

#10 – Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert

#9 – Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

#8 – In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust

#7 – War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

#6 – 1984 by George Orwell

#5 – The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

#4 – The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

#3 – Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

#2 – Ulysses by James Joyce

#1 – Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes

Enjoy!

The Ten Greatest Books: A List

Like I’ve said before, I’m a sucker for book lists.  Although the book, The Top Ten: Writers pick their Favorite Books, edited by J. Peder Zane, has been out for some time, I just discovered it (I know, I’m a bit slow).  This book does just what the title says it will, compiling the favorite books of 125 authors from around the world.  The book includes summaries of 544 books – each thought to be a top ten by at least one of the authors.

What do you think are the ten greatest books of all time?  What would the list look like if it was compiled from the top ten choices of over one hundred of the top authors in the world?

Lev Grossman, in Time (Jan. 15, 2007), states, “…literary lists are basically an obscenity… Take it from me, a critic who has committed this particular sin many times over.”  It’s a fun read: http://www.time.com/time/arts/article/0,8599,1578073,00.html

I say, let’s see their top ten (compiled from their individual lists): 

  1. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
  2. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
  3. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
  4. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
  5. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
  6. Hamlet by William Shakespeare
  7. The Great Gatsby F. Scott Fitzgerald
  8. In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust
  9. The Stories of Anton Chekhov by Anton Chekhov
  10. Middlemarch by George Eliot

So, there you go.  What’s your top ten (or is it obscene to ask?)?