Saturday, March 3, 2007

Your selections, please?

Well, it's happened yet again...I was just reading the Guardian and discovered another of those books in which a writer polls his fellows, asking for the best books of all time. Here is J. Peder Zane's consensus top 10:

1. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

2. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert

3. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

4. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

5. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

6. Hamlet by William Shakespeare

7. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

8. In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust

9. The Stories of Anton Chekhov

10. Middlemarch by George Eliot

I absolutely agree with "War and Peace," and certainly Chekhov is great and instructive reading about l9th century Russia, but I'm a little bit underwhelmed by the others.

So what are YOUR favorite books? You don't have to have l0 on your list, just share some titles.

6 comments:

german said...

well i haven't read that many books to make a great top ten list even fewer before i returned. i do better with movies. i am at wonder who is the guy and book listed in the 10th spot. i can replace that one with william l shirer and the the rise and fall of adolf hitler
that was the first book i remember of substance i read from cover to cover for fun. maybe thats why i germany so much

jodmeister said...

The Great Gatsby? Wretch, wretch, cough, cough! One of the WORST books ever! Oh I hated this book in high school. I don't understand why this is a classic?!!

I'm like German, I haven't read enough books to compile a top 10 list. I do like The Quiet American by Graham Greene.

LaPopessa said...

I can see a pretty easy debate for War & Peace as #1. But I wouldn't give Tolstoy props for Anna K. above it. I agree with Great Gatsby and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. I differ on the rest of the list - my other 7 would be:

1. 1984
2. Invisible Man
3. Slaughterhouse Five
4. Heart of Darkness
5. Don Quixote
6. Moby Dick (I know, as many people hate it as loved it - but I'm in the loved it category, I believe it's worth sticking it out through pages of tangents on whaling methodology)
7. Remembrance of Things Past (the other book few can actually make it through. I got about 1/3 of the way and am still putting it on the list. I will finish it someday ;))

[Ulysses was a close call vs. Remembrance -- two very difficult books to read, both worth the effort. But in the end, I gave the bow to the one I haven't yet finished.]

LaPopessa said...

Jodemeister, there are so many ways I love Gatsby that it's hard to pick just one. But given current national & international issues, I'd go with this passage "Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter—tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther."

In two sentences, Fitzgerald shows a fascinating aspect of American character. We strive with enthusiasm to better and better futures, noting that we have learned from the past. And yet, not only have we not learned from the past, we subconsciously seem driven to repeat it (just as Gatsby wants to recreate his affair with Daisy, our leaders seem blind to learning from the past as they try and recreate the "good war" of WWII with their mis-begotten adventures in Iraq). The analysis of the American Dream has rarely (IMHO) been better displayed than in Gatsby.

moville said...

Wow, Popessa, THAT is a first-class tribute to a book. I've read that book a couple of times, but that angle is new and fresh to me. I can't add anything at all on Gatsby, but how about "Tender is the Night." That's where we get that immortal line, written of one of the western front battlefields, "'All my beautiful lovely safe world blew itself up here with a great gust of high explosive love."

Quiet American is a worthy addition. I would add as a good fiction read on Vietnam, James Webb's "Fields of Fire." That one won't make it on a list like the one in the Guardian, but it's great anyway.

Shirer was probably the first to write systematically about Hitler and Nazi Germany. How about Joachim Fest's bio? or Alan Bullock's? Two personal non-fiction classics of mine are Orlando Figes on the Russian Revolution, "A People's Tragedy," and Rick Atkinson, "The Long Grey LIne," a portrait of the West Point class of l966, which was more transformed by the Vietnam war than perhaps any other military group.

Also, anything by Richard Hofstader, especially "The Paranoid Style in American Politics," and Arthur Schlesinger's bio of Robert Kennedy.

mishdiaz said...

Just took a quick look at my library and some of my favs are To Kill a Mockingbird, Anna and the King of Siam, I did love Anna Karinina, and horror of all horrors, I have every Harry Potter book and have read them all twice with my sons. I love them... does all reading have to have redeeming value? Hope not! And history, my all time fave is Black Dog of Fate. That book is dogeared even if it is a bit depressing. The author is soooo human. And I am reading All Quiet on the Western Front right now (again), about half way through.... I think that really deserves a place on the greats list. And Martin Short's Holocaust was quite a read too... awful, but compelling. Anyway, I can not think of any more right now, but there really are too many to list... I am an awful bookworm...