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

Monday, March 5, 2012

The Novel Is a Cool Dark Place

Time to update my reading obsession. Unlike January, when I managed to read 12 short books, February had only two (neither terribly interesting), but this led to a landmark: I'd reached half-way through the "1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die" list. I don't know of anyone else who's done that. That's a lot of books! And, of course, since I started it, the list has been revised and now I'm below the half-way mark again.


There are more manageable lists, however. There's the Modern Library's 100 Best Novels Written in English since 1900. I've read all of them.


There was a lot of argument over that list, so there's a Radcliffe Rival List, also at the same site - I've read all of those, too.

Then, there's Time Magazine's 100 Best English Language Novels Since 1923. I've read 82.


And there's the London Observer's 100 Greatest Novels of All Time. I've read 81.


We're far enough into the century that it's possible to make a good list of the novels of the last century. While I enjoy a wide variety of books (I'm still the only person I know who regularly reads poetry), and my all-time best list would look like "Anthony Trollope: The List," what I'm really interested in from the 20th century is the dark-themed cooler-than-thou novels. I'm thinking of making a list.

First nominees:

Blood Meridian
The Killer Inside Me
The Watchmen
Wise Blood
Riddley Walker

That's the start of one scary bookshelf.


Xenia said...

I have a shit memory, because I have very little recollection of what I read while in school. I also can't remember what I started but didn't finish reading. Then there's all the films based on novels which have muddied the waters of my sad little mind. From what I can remember, I don't do well on any of the lists.

Tracizzle said...
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sea legs girl said...

First you write and say Alicia is coming to Denmark, then you say none of your friends reads poetry!! When will the lies stop?! :)

Those are fun lists, you know. Thanks. I had to check - I've only read 20 of the Modern Library's top 100. Would love to read them all. Which one should I start with?

SteveQ said...

@SLG: Mea culpa on the first one, but do you really "regularly" read poetry?

sea legs girl said...

Mea culpa. You are silly.

I come here hoping for a personalized book recommendation and instead I get accused of not reading poetry. Well, I do. "Regularly", well. I guess it comes in waves. But I find myself remembering lines of poems all of the time- must be part of having majored in English and French lit - that I just HAVE to find again. Plus, it is hard not to wander into the poetry section at the library. Always been a fun diversion for me.

SteveQ said...

@SLG: I know your taste in music, but I don't think I can make recommendations on books for you. Without looking at the list again, the first book that comes to mind is "Winesburg, Ohio" by Sherwood Anderson; I need to reread that one.

Carilyn said...

Hmmmm....Love book lists. Right now I seem to be on a nonfiction, foodie tear. Seems like you might be a candidate for "The Imperfectionists," by Tom Rachman. I've recommended to a few people, and everyone hated it. I'm hoping to find a kindred spirit :)