Friday, January 16, 2009

100 Novels Everyone Should Read ... But Sez Who??

The Telegraph has a list of 100 novels 'everyone should read'. Who chose the titles and how the list was compiled is anyone's guess. I think it's supposed to be ranked so the No 1 title is the most important.

But anyway, when I see a list of books I have to play the game :

100 The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkein

99 To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

98 The Home and the World by Rabindranath Tagore

97 The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

96 One Thousand and One Nights Anon

95 The Sorrows of Young Werther by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

94 Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie

93 Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy by John le Carré

92 Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons

91 The Tale of Genji by Lady Murasaki

90 Under the Net by Iris Murdoch

89 The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing

88 Eugene Onegin by Alexander Pushkin

87 On the Road by Jack Kerouac

86 Old Goriot by Honoré de Balzac

85 The Red and the Black by Stendhal

84 The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas

83 Germinal by Emile Zola

82 The Stranger by Albert Camus

81The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco

80 Oscar and Lucinda by Peter Carey

79 Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys

78 Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

77 Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

76 The Trial by Franz Kafka

75 Cider with Rosie by Laurie Lee

74 Waiting for the Mahatma by RK Narayan

73 All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Remarque

72 Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant by Anne Tyler

71 The Dream of the Red Chamber by Cao Xueqin

70 The Leopard by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa

69 If On a Winter’s Night a Traveller by Italo Calvino

68 Crash by JG Ballard

67 A Bend in the River by VS Naipaul

66 Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

65 Dr Zhivago by Boris Pasternak

64 The Cairo Trilogy by Naguib Mahfouz

63 The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson

62 Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift

61 My Name Is Red by Orhan Pamuk

60 One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez

59 London Fields by Martin Amis

58 The Savage Detectives by Roberto Bolaño

57 The Glass Bead Game by Herman Hesse

56 The Tin Drum by Günter Grass

55 Austerlitz by WG Sebald

54 Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

53 The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

52 The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger

51 Underworld by Don DeLillo

50 Beloved by Toni Morrison

49 The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

48 Go Tell It On the Mountain by James Baldwin

47 The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera

46 The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark

45 The Voyeur by Alain Robbe-Grillet

44 Nausea by Jean-Paul Sartre

43 The Rabbit books by John Updike

42 The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

41 The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle

40 The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton

39 Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

38 The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald

37 The Warden by Anthony Trollope

36 Les Misérables by Victor Hugo

35 Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis

34 The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler

33 Clarissa by Samuel Richardson

32 A Dance to the Music of Time by Anthony Powell

31 Suite Francaise by Irène Némirovsky

30 Atonement by Ian McEwan

29 Life: a User’s Manual by Georges Perec

28 Tom Jones by Henry Fielding

27 Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

26 Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell

25 The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins

24 Ulysses by James Joyce

23 Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert

22 A Passage to India by EM Forster

21 1984 by George Orwell

20 Tristram Shandy by Laurence Sterne

19 The War of the Worlds by HG Wells

18 Scoop by Evelyn Waugh

17 Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy

16 Brighton Rock by Graham Greene

15 The Code of the Woosters by PG Wodehouse

14 Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

13 David Copperfield by Charles Dickens

12 Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe

11 Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

10 Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes

9 Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf

8 Disgrace by JM Coetzee

7 Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

6 In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust

5 Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

4 The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James

3 Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

2 Moby-Dick by Herman Melville

1 Middlemarch by George Eliot

Total 47%

Those I've read are in bold. Many of these I've read more than once, some several times.

Some of the ones I haven't read I don't feel guilty about because I've read others by the same author, some I've started but not finished, some I know from films or TV versions. Others I feel terribly guilty about ... especially the ones nagging at me from my bookshelves.

30 comments:

bibliobibuli said...

i deleted your idiotic comment about shooting people and will forward a report to telekom since i have your full IP number

Anonymous said...

Who on earth was that? he shouldn't spoil the good name of anonymous (he WAS anonymous wasn't he?)

Anyway LOTR was boring. Sorry but how do you read a book in which the entire first page was about how the leaves fell.. and how.. OMG the language, the language.. it was so dry :P

Glenda Larke said...

Oddly enough, I also had 47% read from cover to cover. And a number of others that I tried - very hard - to read, and gave up.

Laura Essendine said...

This list is slightly different from the one currently doing the rounds - yours has a more European bias and is therefore more interesting.

The problem with books you "should" read is that, if you don't like them, you somehow feel inferior. I couldn't stand Of Mice and Men either when I read it at school or subsequently studied it with each of my three children. Does that make me unintelligent. because it's on all the best lists?

Plus these lists miss off the rattling good reads you daren't admit to enjoying for fear of sounding down-market.

Yes the classics are brilliant but sometimes you just need to wallow. As long as you're reading, who's to say what's good and what's not?

Great blog. Keep posting

Laura Essendine
Author – The Accidental Guru
The Accidental Guru Blog
The Books Limited Blog

bibliobibuli said...

anon - yes, we can't let him tarnish the good name of anon, can we? the post was written in v colloquial malay and talked about how sanctions (against whom i'm not sure) were not enough and we should shoot people - anyone want a job as a sniper? i think he has been leaving the message on other blogs.

we're all seriously hurting over palestine, and we all feel powerless ... but violence does nothing more than promote more violence

to leave comments like that on blogs is plain cowardice - you must own your views.

glenda - i guess 47% is good enough!

laura - many thanks and what you say is entirely true. there isn't a whole lot of recent stuff on it, and three-quarters of the authors are male.

still there are titles there i must read soon or keep kicking myself

Awang Goneng said...

What hope is there for a person like me who reads only Tin Tin and the occasional Thurber and Wodehouse? I once made an appointment to meet Herge, but alas, before I arrived, the poor man died. Shocked to death, c'est possible?

I must, I must one day sit down and read all those books that I claimed to have read.

bibliobibuli said...

LOL! well i was certainly fooled!

how lovely to hear from you!

Anonymous said...

AWANG GONENG! So lovely to see you here, yes yes yes. But you lie, you lie shamelessly and you know it :-) . You read way more than Tin Tin and Thurber and Wodehouse (though those are fine choices). Come on, stop being modest!

-- Preeta

Anonymous said...

Where's The Thorn Birds on the list? And Scruples, and Lace...

:-)

- Poppadumdum

Anonymous said...

Sharon, by the way, I came across that frightening comment on another blog. I'm glad you reported the IP address and I really, really hope Telekom takes your report seriously. Do you think they will, or do you know what should be done next if they don't? It gave me a real scare to read the comment, and I have to think that if there's one person saying these things, there must be others, and it's not something we should take lightly.

-- Preeta

bibliobibuli said...

agree preeta. and yes telekom did investigate the last time i made a complaint. although they did not contact me directly, i could see from my site meter that they had visited the posts on my blog. more than anything bloggers have to be aware that this can happen - and in malaysia YOU are responsible for the comments on your blog.

enar arshad said...

i love lace..scruples....wish there are more of those kind of books nowdays,or have i miss them?
i have read some books on the list..and i love the great gatsby/catcher in the rye the best!

k0k s3n w4i said...

@anonymous: I enjoyed LotR's style of prose a lot actually, and have read the book cover to cover at least 5 times. Well, as with all works of literature - your mileage may vary.

I only covered 10%. Then again, I'm only 22 yrs old.

bibliobibuli said...

kOk - plenty of time, you spring chicken you!

ena - want to reread "the great gatsby" - read it so long ago ...

shalyzad said...

hi sharon, what is need to be avid reader? Just wonder how u find and manage time to read, how long u took to read a book ?

bibliobibuli said...

shalyzad - i'm not a fast reader and seem to be slower than ever. one good (by my tastes!) book a week is the pace i aim for. i've slowed down now i think because i tend to do a lot of rereading, making notes for review and comments on the blog (i've a lot of notes to add here, in case anyone was wondering why i haven't talked about books read for a while). i also find now that i am reading several books at the same time because i get sent so many things, so some don't get finished ...

*sigh* i'm putting my own pleasure first and not apologising for my slowness

but i can read fast if that's what i set out to do - some books i've skim read in an hour or two, but that was to get the gist, not to enjoy them

i think many readers who struggle have problems with their basic reading skills and this is something one hopes schools would help them over ... but it doesn't always seem to happen (here or elsewhere)

so what kind of reader are you?

and as for finding the time to read - i always carry a book with me and find space in the day. a couple of days back i was at immigration and managed a lot of reading in the time it took my number to be called. (i looked round and although there were hundreds of people there, no-one else had a book!) i read on the lrt, on buses, on flights. i read during coffee breaks and if i'm eating alone. i squeeze that time in. (can't read in bed though - a few lines then ZZZZZ)

Christopher Willard said...

such lists are always fun to read but really what do they show? My hundred would include quite a few not listed here.

http://christopherwillardnovelist.blogspot.com/

shalyzad said...

Hi sharon, thanks a million for your respond and appreciate it very much . I admire your consistency and steadfastness for the love of books. Your blog is one of my favourite, like it so much bcoz there are so many links.

Actually I'm fan of malay literature, my idol are Pak Samad Said and Pak Arena Wati. Sure you had read any of their english translation version. Im still an infant in reading and writing
in english, it started when i got awed to some of local english writer's work namely Salleh Ben Joned and Karim Raslam.

Books i read always ended half way, mostly quarter way. But i love book very much and sumtimes solely bought it just for collections. Just like marathon runner, reading book also demand you some stamina, rite? Hope i can read and write more, even until now, i still need dictionary besides me(bcoz of poor english vocab).

Again, thanks sharon for ur guide, feel honoured by that.

GeneGirl said...

I think I may have compiled a list of lists at some point...sadly am just attempting to complete what sits on my to be read bookshelf. And Sharon, everytime I pop by, I turn greedy and find an insane need to borrow MORE books.....it's an addictive habit.
Am reading house of sleep by Johnathan Coe at the moment....no zzzzzzzzz s at all!!

BorneoExpatWriter said...

40% not too bad! Was glad to see a few old friends made it, like David Copperfield, To Kill a Mockingbird and The Great Gatsby, books that made me want to be a writer. I have quite a few others on my bookshelves patiently waiting to be read, but my reading fiction took a serious nosedive since moving to Sarawak.

I'm a slow reader, too (they say most of us read at the 7th grade level (age 13); but what I have done consistently since moving here is read one hour a day, often in 20-30 minute snatches, and it's that day in day out consistency that has translated into 100 books in two years. Imagine what you can read in two hours a day with the occasional marathon 3-5 hour session (hadn't had one of those since my my last two boys were born). But like Sharon, I take a book with me when I know I have to stand in line or wait, even when I take a child to the clinic.

To curl up to a good book on a raining/snowy evening - ah, did a lot of that during my bachelor days, when I read many of those books on that list! And also while traveling, backpacking!

Thanks, Sharon

bibliobibuli said...

shalyzad - agree entirely about reading needing stamina. i think you may need to build that stamina up by readings shorter, but still satisfying reads. why not take a list of the titles suggested for america's "big read" programme? it would be good to get hold of some of the books in the quick reads series and of course short stories are also great. good luck with your reading in english and i'd love to know how you get on.

sham - my bookshelves are my tbr list and shouting at me!

robert - i miss those winter evenings with the rain or wind howling outside while you sit cosily by the fireside with a nice thick book to enjoy.

Chet said...

My favourite childhood reading memory is a book, a green apple, a dish of salt and the rain outside.

Anonymous said...

Cameron Highlands, Bib? the last time I was therem they wind was howling, you could see your breath condense, and there was a fire.

And Pratchett should be there. And Herriot. Europen bias is right, where are all the American classics ? :)

Anonymous said...

Green apples? That's very Anne of Green Gables, Chet :-) . In my case it was ALWAYS jeruk/assam (you can still find the empty packets/wrappers from these contraband items stashed between the pages of certain books at our house. Every now and then one of the wrappers falls out and my mother says once again, "So you mean you all were eating this rubbish all the time ah?!?").

Now the Guardian is doing a list of the ONE THOUSAND books everyone should read. Choose your list according to your projected lifespan, I guess :-) . But the interesting thing about the Guardian list is that it's organised by category -- the first category, in 3 parts, was love stories, and I was glad to note several of my favourite novels of all time on there (Waterland, Oscar and Lucinda, Atonement, The Go-Between....).

-- Preeta

Anonymous said...

Bib -

See that's the whole problem. Reading _shouldn't_ involve stamina. People should not be aware of book length at all (except to think "that was too short.."). If you have to pick up a book and force yourself to read it, what's the point? just to say you've read it?

bibliobibuli said...

oh yes preeta - am going to blog the guardian lists too :-D

Yusuf Martin said...

You are right who says we ought to have read them? There are many more I could add to this list.

These I've read.

100 The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkein

98 The Home and the World by Rabindranath Tagore

97 The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

96 One Thousand and One Nights Anon

94 Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie

93 Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy by John le Carré

87 On the Road by Jack Kerouac

86 Old Goriot by Honoré de Balzac

85 The Red and the Black by Stendhal

84 The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas

83 Germinal by Emile Zola

82 The Stranger by Albert Camus

81The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco

78 Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

77 Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

76 The Trial by Franz Kafka

75 Cider with Rosie by Laurie Lee

74 Waiting for the Mahatma by RK Narayan

68 Crash by JG Ballard

66 Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

63 The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson

62 Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift

60 One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez

57 The Glass Bead Game by Herman Hesse

56 The Tin Drum by Günter Grass

54 Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

52 The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger

49 The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

47 The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera

44 Nausea by Jean-Paul Sartre

43 The Rabbit books by John Updike

42 The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

41 The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle

38 The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald

36 Les Misérables by Victor Hugo

35 Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis

34 The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler

28 Tom Jones by Henry Fielding

27 Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

25 The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins

24 Ulysses by James Joyce

23 Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert

22 A Passage to India by EM Forster

21 1984 by George Orwell

19 The War of the Worlds by HG Wells

18 Scoop by Evelyn Waugh

16 Brighton Rock by Graham Greene

15 The Code of the Woosters by PG Wodehouse


13 David Copperfield by Charles Dickens

12 Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe



10 Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes




6 In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust

5 Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad


3 Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

2 Moby-Dick by Herman Melville

Josette said...

1984 is definitely a must read. Hopefully no country would ever need to resort to that kind of torture.

Awang Goneng said...

Hi Preeta,

My copy of yours awaits your signature, with my misspelt name and all (private joke). Yes, I've been poring through the Grauniad list too; quelle formidable! An education in itself.

Thanks Sharon for this space. Power to your elbow! Hi Yo Silver...

Awang Goneng said...

And another thing Sharon...

I am happy that Monsoon is publishing Frederick Lee's Trilogy. Freddie is cock-a-hoop about that and I am cock-a-hooping about that too. "Fool's Gold" deserves to be published 'wholeheartedly' this time as I think its place is up there alongside Burgess' Trilogy ;¬)