"There's only one hard and fast rule in running: sometimes you have to run one hard and fast."

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

OCD Book Club

In 1999, The Modern Library released its list of the 100 best novels written in the English language in the 1900's. There were 7 on the list I hadn't read, so I polished them off (Max Beerbohm's "Zuleika Dobson" is dreadful. The others were passable). Then, I printed out the complete catalog of The Modern Library and added it to my ever-growing book list; there were about 250 titles. Since then, I've whittled the unread list to fewer than 50 (it was not a goal to read them all, it just happened) and was thinking I'd polish off the lot by the end of the year, though some titles were getting hard to find, as they went out of print.

Today, I looked at the current Modern Library catalog (http://www.randomhouse.com/modernlibrary/library/index)
there's 948 titles, by my count. I've read about half. Some I've never heard of - "The Tao of Emerson" is laugh out loud funny just as a title - and political correctness seems to run rampant in the list. The books no longer on the list are as enlightening as the new ones; I assume that, as Gore Vidal's historical novels were removed, he's no longer on the editorial board (I should check: did he die?)

At this rate, I'll never finish. But then again, they can't stay in business forever.


SteveQ said...

Just checked. Wikipedia says Vidal's still alive, for what that's worth.

Glaven Q. Heisenberg said...

Did you just enter a death pact of some sort with a publishing house? A corporation?

Nothing personal, but my money's on the corporation, especially if it's deemed "too big to fail" - because then, even if it does go all AIG, it'll get bailed out by the Feds (the old governmental/editorial "STET") and just get a slightly new name, like Soddern Crybrary or something.

But then again, the Modern Library has never, to my knowledge, run an Ultra.

So ... SteveQ The Corporation Slayer?

It could happen.

Beth said...

I will have to look into The Modern Library list. I love that you read everything on the list and moved on to the catalog. Are you going to give us your top ten?