Newsweek recently published this list of Top 100 Books of All Time, using some number-crunching method based on other book lists. Browsing through it, I was dismayed to find I’ve read only 13! (It’s even more disconcerting considering I was in Advanced Placement English.)
This does not include the ones I’ve only seen a movie version of, or those I didn’t manage to finish. C’mon, Theodore Dreiser’s An American Tragedy went on forehhhhhver. I attacked that massive tome (900+ pages) twice, in high school and college, like Jason on his quest for golden fleece, determined to break through walls of dense prose and get past monster run-on sentences. Alas, I had to admit defeat both times due to induced narcolepsy.
So the books I can claim to have read (and their ranking on the list) are:
2) 1984—George Orwell
15) The Catcher in the Rye—J.D. Salinger
18) The Great Gatsby—F. Scott Fitzgerald
21) The Grapes of Wrath—John Steinbeck
36) Winnie-the-Pooh—A.A. Milne (one of the best books ever written)
49) Hamlet—William Shakespeare
54) The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn—Mark Twain
58) One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest—Ken Kesey (even more amazing than the film, if that’s possible)
61) Animal Farm—George Orwell
62) Lord of the Flies—William Golding (freaked me out but blew me away)
66) The Big Sleep—Raymond Chandler
83) The Maltese Falcon—Dashiell Hammett (required reading for noir fans)
99) The Color Purple—Alice Walker (cried like a baby through most of it)
I know this list is far from definitive because there’s nothing on there from the 21st century and only two from the last 25 years. Loads are from at least 50 years ago, many are from several centuries back and a few are from the time Before Christ. I’m surprised stories told via cavemen drawings didn’t make the cut.
But it’s fun to play along. So, which ones have you read? What books do you think should’ve been on there? And if you’ve truly managed to finish War and Peace (#1 on list), please send in a photo and/or book report so I can see you’re not an urban legend.