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Saturday meme: 100 best books

June 26, 2010

Roger Ebert posted a link to this list of “the top 100 books of all time” on twitter this week. That’s quite a tall claim, and naturally I find much to disagree with: Much as I love Dostoevsky, I think he may be overrepresented. And while Ulysses is the obvious choice for Joyce, I was surprised by Nostromo for Conrad rather than Lord Jim. But it’s an interesting list in that it’s not just novels — it includes short stories, plays, poems, essays — and the writers represent many different countries. And it’s appealingly quirky (Astrid Lindgren’s Pippi Longstocking follows close on the heels of Doris Lessing’s The Golden Notebook!) and includes many books I’ve never read and a quite a few I’ve never heard of. I think I’ll be looking into some of them.

Let’s turn this into a book meme: Bold if you’ve read it (or a substantial portion of it — I know I haven’t read the entire Ramayana, but I have put in some significant time).

1. Chinua Achebe, Nigeria, (b. 1930), Things Fall Apart
2. Hans Christian Andersen, Denmark, (1805-1875), Fairy Tales and Stories
3. Jane Austen, England, (1775-1817), Pride and Prejudice

4. Honore de Balzac, France, (1799-1850), Old Goriot
5. Samuel Beckett, Ireland, (1906-1989), Trilogy: Molloy, Malone Dies, The Unnamable
6. Giovanni Boccaccio, Italy, (1313-1375), Decameron
7. Jorge Luis Borges, Argentina, (1899-1986), Collected Fictions
8. Emily Bronte, England, (1818-1848), Wuthering Heights
9. Albert Camus, France, (1913-1960), The Stranger

10. Paul Celan, Romania/France, (1920-1970), Poems.
11. Louis-Ferdinand Celine, France, (1894-1961), Journey to the End of the Night
12. Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Spain, (1547-1616), Don Quixote
13. Geoffrey Chaucer, England, (1340-1400), Canterbury Tales
14. Anton P Chekhov, Russia, (1860-1904), Selected Stories

15. Joseph Conrad, England,(1857-1924), Nostromo
16. Dante Alighieri, Italy, (1265-1321), The Divine Comedy
17. Charles Dickens, England, (1812-1870), Great Expectations

18. Denis Diderot, France, (1713-1784), Jacques the Fatalist and His Master
19. Alfred Doblin, Germany, (1878-1957), Berlin Alexanderplatz
20-23. Fyodor M Dostoyevsky, Russia, (1821-1881), Crime and Punishment; The Idiot; The Possessed; The Brothers Karamazov
24. George Eliot, England, (1819-1880), Middlemarch
25. Ralph Ellison, United States, (1914-1994), Invisible Man
26.Euripides, Greece, (c 480-406 BC), Medea
27-28. William Faulkner, United States, (1897-1962), Absalom, Absalom; The Sound and the Fury
29-30. Gustave Flaubert, France, (1821-1880), Madame Bovary; A Sentimental Education

31. Federico Garcia Lorca, Spain, (1898-1936), Gypsy Ballads
32-33. Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Colombia, (b. 1928), One Hundred Years of Solitude; Love in the Time of Cholera
34. Gilgamesh, Mesopotamia (c 1800 BC).
35. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Germany, (1749-1832), Faust
36. Nikolai Gogol, Russia, (1809-1852), Dead Souls

37. Gunter Grass, Germany, (b.1927), The Tin Drum
38. Joao Guimaraes Rosa, Brazil, (1880-1967), The Devil to Pay in the Backlands
39. Knut Hamsun, Norway, (1859-1952), Hunger.
40. Ernest Hemingway, United States, (1899-1961), The Old Man and the Sea
41-42. Homer, Greece, (c 700 BC), The Iliad and The Odyssey
43. Henrik Ibsen, Norway (1828-1906), A Doll’s House
44. The Book of Job, Israel. (600-400 BC).
45. James Joyce, Ireland, (1882-1941), Ulysses
46-48. Franz Kafka, Bohemia, (1883-1924), The Complete Stories; The Trial; The Castle Bohemia

49. Kalidasa, India, (c. 400), The Recognition of Sakuntala
50. Yasunari Kawabata, Japan, (1899-1972), The Sound of the Mountain
51. Nikos Kazantzakis, Greece, (1883-1957), Zorba the Greek
52. DH Lawrence, England, (1885-1930), Sons and Lovers

53. Halldor K Laxness, Iceland, (1902-1998), Independent People
54. Giacomo Leopardi, Italy, (1798-1837), Complete Poems
55. Doris Lessing, England, (b.1919), The Golden Notebook
56. Astrid Lindgren, Sweden, (1907-2002), Pippi Longstocking
57. Lu Xun, China, (1881-1936), Diary of a Madman and Other Stories
58. Mahabharata, India, (c 500 BC).
59. Naguib Mahfouz, Egypt, (b. 1911), Children of Gebelawi
60-61. Thomas Mann, Germany, (1875-1955), Buddenbrook; The Magic Mountain
62. Herman Melville, United States, (1819-1891), Moby Dick
63. Michel de Montaigne, France, (1533-1592), Essays.

64. Elsa Morante, Italy, (1918-1985), History
65. Toni Morrison, United States, (b. 1931), Beloved
66. Shikibu Murasaki, Japan, (N/A), The Tale of Genji Genji
67. Robert Musil, Austria, (1880-1942), The Man Without Qualities
68. Vladimir Nabokov, Russia/United States, (1899-1977), Lolita
69. Njaals Saga, Iceland, (c 1300).
70. George Orwell, England, (1903-1950), 1984
71. Ovid, Italy, (c 43 BC), Metamorphoses

72. Fernando Pessoa, Portugal, (1888-1935), The Book of Disquiet
73. Edgar Allan Poe, United States, (1809-1849), The Complete Tales
74. Marcel Proust, France, (1871-1922), Remembrance of Things Past
75. Francois Rabelais, France, (1495-1553), Gargantua and Pantagruel

76. Juan Rulfo, Mexico, (1918-1986), Pedro Paramo
77. Jalal ad-din Rumi, Afghanistan, (1207-1273), Mathnawi
78. Salman Rushdie, India/Britain, (b. 1947), Midnight’s Children
79. Sheikh Musharrif ud-din Sadi, Iran, (c 1200-1292), The Orchard
80. Tayeb Salih, Sudan, (b. 1929), Season of Migration to the North
81. Jose Saramago, Portugal, (b. 1922), Blindness
82-84. William Shakespeare, England, (1564-1616), Hamlet; King Lear; Othello
85. Sophocles, Greece, (496-406 BC), Oedipus the King
86. Stendhal, France, (1783-1842), The Red and the Black
87. Laurence Sterne, Ireland, (1713-1768), The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy
88. Italo Svevo, Italy, (1861-1928), Confessions of Zeno
89. Jonathan Swift, Ireland, (1667-1745), Gulliver’s Travels
90-92. Leo Tolstoy, Russia, (1828-1910), War and Peace; Anna Karenina; The Death of Ivan Ilyich and Other Stories
93. Thousand and One Nights, India/Iran/Iraq/Egypt, (700-1500).
94. Mark Twain, United States, (1835-1910), The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
95. Valmiki, India, (c 300 BC), Ramayana
96. Virgil, Italy, (70-19 BC), The Aeneid
97. Walt Whitman, United States, (1819-1892), Leaves of Grass
98-99. Virginia Woolf, England, (1882-1941), Mrs. Dalloway; To the Lighthouse

100. Marguerite Yourcenar, France, (1903-1987), Memoirs of Hadrian

4 Comments leave one →
  1. freshhell permalink
    June 26, 2010 3:03 pm

    I’m afraid my list would be very un-bold. I didn’t read much non-American 0r English literature in college.

  2. June 26, 2010 6:34 pm

    Thanks for this. I posted my list here: Not too impressive, I don’t think!

  3. June 28, 2010 7:46 am

    Of the few you haven’t read, I recommend Gunter Grass’ The Tin Drum. It’s funny and has some very memorable scenes; I think of it anytime I see an eel.

  4. June 28, 2010 9:55 am

    Thanks for the link, Heide! Jeanne, it’s on my list. I’ve picked it up at the library many times, but I’ve always put it back on the shelf. It seems a little daunting to me. But maybe I’ll try it this week when I’m looking for another book for my my library summer reading challenge.

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