November 24, 2021

The NYT reveals its shortlist of 25 books, one of which will be named "the best book of the past 125 years," and "Gone With The Wind" is on the list.

Isn't that weird?

I read that book when I was about 16, and I thought: This is the best book I have ever read, and I don't think I will ever read a better book, because how can any book be better than this? 

There's a lot in the book that's not in the movie, as I was disappointed to see when I finally got a chance to see the famous flick. I was 16 in 1965, and back then, you could only see an old movie if it showed on TV or played in a theater. "Gone with the Wind" never played on TV, not until 1976, but it did have a theatrical rerelease in 1967, which I missed, and another in 1971, which is when I did finally see it.

What I remember loving in the book and missing in the movie was all the detail in Scarlett O'Hara's experience of other women — her mother, Melanie, (the prostitute) Belle Watling, etc. Scarlett was always on the lookout to see what made a woman great, wanted to see herself as a great woman, and she kept needing to recognize that other women were great.

Anyway, that made a big impression on me, more than half a century ago, but I'm surprised to see something so out of step with the times making the NYT shortlist. I haven't delved into what the NYT is saying it means to be "the best book of the past 125 years," but I wonder if what is "best" is to be judged by the standards of our point in time or whether we are somehow counting what the book meant to people at the time it was published and what it has meant to people over the course of time.

Here's the whole shortlist:

All the Light We Cannot See By ANTHONY DOERR
The Catcher in the Rye By J.D. SALINGER
Charlotte’s Web By E.B. WHITE
A Confederacy of Dunces By JOHN KENNEDY TOOLE
The Fellowship of the Ring By J.R.R. TOLKIEN
A Gentleman in Moscow By AMOR TOWLES
The Grapes of Wrath By JOHN STEINBECK
The Handmaid’s Tale By MARGARET ATWOOD
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone By J.K. ROWLING
To Kill a Mockingbird By HARPER LEE
One Hundred Years of Solitude By GABRIEL GARCÍA MÁRQUEZ
A Prayer for Owen Meany By JOHN IRVING
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn By BETTY SMITH

ADDED: It was only last year that HBO took the movie "Gone with the Wind" off its streaming platform.

And then there was Trump, in February 2020, singing the praises of "Gone with the Wind":


Robert Cook said...

I've read only four of the books listed, and, of those, I'd pick CATCH-22 the best, followed closely by 1984. (The other two are CATCHER IN THE and A CONFEDERACY OF DUNCES.) I've read both 1984 and DUNCES twice, and I'm thinking it's coming time to read CATCH-22 again.

Eric the Fruit Bat said...

Naming 25 essential books is helpful.

Naming one of those as best is a gimmick.

Delaying to build suspense is pathetic.

CWJ said...

No Pynchon.

rhhardin said...

Catch-22 was good. Nobody official understood it though. They thought it was anti-war. It was about the failure modes of every organization.

"Lacks character development" was one reported review, I think in the NYT.

Heartless Aztec said...

I just found a first edition first printing in a dusty old book store in Washington, Georgia - $1. Score! Washington, Georgia is beyond lovely with many, many pre war mansions like Tara along the main drag just south of the town proper. Up country Georgia where the rich if Georgia escaped to during yellow fever season in the summer. They escaped the fate of being razed by General Sherman's northern coloum by being just south of it. Everything substantial - for the most part - between Swainsboro and Washington was burnt and razed. Go in mid April when the azaleas and dogwood are in bloom. There is no other place in America like it.

Amadeus 48 said...

There are a lot of fake-outs here.
Lolita?? No chance. Are you kidding me?
A Tree grows in Brooklyn? Riiiight.
Lonesome Dove? Something for everyone.
To Kill a Mockingbird? Those were the days...
The Grapes of Wrath? The movie was better.

Look, the winner should be "The Great Gatsby".

But the NYT will probably have a tussle between "Beloved" and "The Handmaid's Tale."

Lyssa said...

I recall a Tom Robbins book I read many years ago that included a list of famous redheads and their roles (concluding that redheads are all either funny or dangerous). It included Scarlett O’Hara, and simply described her role as “bitch.” I always thought that was funny, and yet really tapped into what made her character (in the book) so interesting.

My pick from the list would be 1984, which I found a very compelling read even without the extremely relevant political implications. But I really have no idea how to judge what makes one great work of literature “better” then another. I just don’t think you can compare them. Funny to me to see Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone on the list -I just finished reading the series to my kids (and it really is great and deserves a place as classic literature), and I definitely wouldn’t say that was the best one, but I guess it feels wrong to put a book from the middle of such an involved story on such a broad list.

Robert Marshall said...

Would someone with access to the NYT reveal what they say about how this list was chosen? Who were the judges/contributors/whatever, and what was the term "best book" supposed to mean, or was that up to the persons making the choices?

And how will the one "best of the best" be chosen?

I've read a number of these and liked most of them, so I will copy-and-paste this into a to-be-looked-at list for further reading.

Rory said...

Animal Farm is better than 1984.

tim in vermont said...

This is the best book I have ever read, and I don't think I will ever read a better book, because how can any book be better than this?

I think that literary critics call that the "affective fallacy," when a reader judges a book by how it moves them. I don't think of it as a fallacy at all, I think that the writers of the Romantic Era were onto something. I think that critics use sneering terms like "affective fallacy" to assert control.

That's quite an eclectic list. From the list, I go with Catch-22, though Infinite Jest has its moments, but we all know who is going to win already, and the winner's pronouns will not be "he" and "him," and as for skin color, that goes without saying. If I were betting on a winner, solely for the purpose of winning money, I would go with Beloved.

BTW, You know that you only use a persons pronouns when you are talking about them, not to them, usually behind that person's back.

gilbar said...

in my opinion
(as someone that LOVES The Lord of the Rings and has reread it every fall since 1992)
The Fellowship of the Ring (at least book1) is close to Terrible; Bilbo was a Terrible writer
The Two Towers, is So Much better; and the Return of the King is what i return for
Frodo wrote so much better than his uncle did

But since all 6 books (3 volumes) were written the Ancient Past,
why are any of them on a list of best book in the past 125 years? or do they mean best Translation?

Jersey Fled said...

I vote for 1984. It checks both blocks for being relevant when published and maybe even more relevant today.

Catch 22 was the most fun to read.

Mike Sylwester said...

All those books are fiction.

I read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, and I watched the 1945 movie, which was superb. However, saying that this book might be one of the best in the past 125 years is just weird.

In regard to Charlotte's Web, read my blog article The Meaning of Charlotte's Web.

Nancy said...

The Handmaid's Tale? Bleah.
Not "In Search of Lost Time"?
No nonfiction?

Sebastian said...

I've read 5 1/2. Plus enough of Marquez to toss it aside. One page of Beloved. Deplorable philistine?

gspencer said...

Wolfe's Bonfire of the Vanities s/h made the list.

Tommy Duncan said...

"I was 16 in 1965..."

I thought you were born in 1951.

Mike Sylwester said...

Does anybody not understand that the NYT will choose Toni Morrison's Beloved as the best book of the past 125 years?

That is the whole purpose of this exercise.

M Jordan said...

Rory said...Animal Farm is better than 1984

Copy that. Animal Farm is the perfect book. Reads beautifully at all levels including 4th grade when I first encountered it.

M Jordan said...

Beloved? Lol.

M Jordan said...

“Lord of the Flies” should be on this list.

Molly said...

If my opinions about the tastes and prejudices of the "literary elite" (including NYT book reviewers and anyone employed by the publishing industry, then the winner will come from the following list of 5:

The Handmaid’s Tale By MARGARET ATWOOD
One Hundred Years of Solitude By GABRIEL GARCÍA MÁRQUEZ

If the winner is not one of those 5, I will need to revise my opinion.

Kevin said...

Surprised by a few things. Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter should probably be considered single works. Singling out Fellowship and Stone focuses on the weaker introductory parts. Sorcerer Stone in particular, you would think the series was going to be about prep school and Quidditch and such, when that is far from the case. In addition, Stone was written very simply, as the goal seemed to be a series of books that children grew and advanced with. That certainly doesn't make it best, if anything it is the contrary.

And A Prayer for Owen Meany had a huge impact on me, but I'm always shocked to see it on any other people's lists, much less a list of the greatest

tim in vermont said...

"I recall a Tom Robbins book I read many years ago that included a list of famous redheads and their roles "

Without Google, I am going with "Still Life with Woodpecker," given that most of them have red crests, at least.

Chris of Rights said...

The decision to split Lord of the Rings into three parts was made by the publisher. It is not a trilogy. So, the whole book should be on the list, not just the first part.

As to the commenter who thought Fellowship was terrible, how can you say that? It has two of the best chapters in the entire book, Specter of the Past and The Council of Elrond.

Also, A Knife in the Dark and Flight to the Ford are terrific. A Journey in the Dark is very good, and The Bridge of Khazad-Dum is fantastic.

I admit that it suffers in The Old Forest and At The House of Tom Bombadil, but there are weak chapters in all three parts. Much of the first half of the second part is a great sleep aid.

As for the list, it includes Catcher in the Rye, which is probably still the worst book I have ever read. So, no thanks. God, I hated Holden Caufield, and I didn't care at all about his stupid baseball mitt.

Michael said...

No Hemingway, of course, but Toni Morrison (predicted winner) also of course. Amor Towles? Right. Page turner. Possibly best book in 125 years. But no Henry James. No Ford Maddox Ford. No Edith Wharton. No Mark Twain.

Whoever put this list together is semi literate.

M Jordan said...

Okay, last comment:

I’ve read 9 of these. I’m going to read at least two more: Confederacy of Dunces and Infinite Jest.

To Kill a Mockingbird, which I’ve literally completely read over twenty times (because I taught it), is a masterpiece. Just this morning I was thinking about the black church scene where the pastor squeezes dimes out of the congregation yelling “Shut the doors!” The gentle, kind humor in that book is reason enough to include it on any list.

Btw, this list seems a tad based.

tds said...

I haven't delved into what the NYT is saying it means to be "the best book of the past 125 years,"

Being written originally in English seems to be a hard requirement

NorthOfTheOneOhOne said...

Never understood why people think A Confederacy of Dunces is such a funny book. I've read it twice, the second time several years after the first to make sure I didn't miss something, and spent the entirety of the book feeling pity for Ignatius' mother. I kept hoping she'd shoot him, stab him or poison him and then go find a little bit of happiness.

Most everyone in the book is living some sort of sad, desperate, doomed existence. I guess that says something about the people who find it funny.

Also surprised that it made the list as it paints a very unflattering and stereotyped view of New Orleans Gay/Lesbian culture in the 1960's.

tim in vermont said...

Not sure about your analysis of Charlotte's Web, Mike, but The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin struck me as a great book when I read it, 40 odd years ago. But in any lit class, if a character had the initials, J.C. it was assumed unless proven otherwise, that that character was a Christ figure. For example, you have a criminal named Joe Christmas in one Faulkner story, for a painfully obvious example.

Leslie Graves said...

I'd vote for either The Great Gatsby or Lolita.

Pete said...

I agree with you, Althouse, about Gone With The Wind. (And I find the movie to be immensely entertaining. A realistic view of slavery? No. But that's not what the movie is about.) If your commenters haven't read the book, they ought to treat themselves. They won't be disappointed.

Peter Spieker said...

125 years is an odd cut-off. A century seems more typical for this kind of thing. Ulysses was published in 1922, so they would have been able to include it with the last 100 years. I don’t get the rational.

Marcus Bressler said...

I've read eleven of those. Not interested in most of the ones remaining. I TRIED to read Ulysses but failed.

Fernandinande said...

The Grapes of the Ringbird By MARGARET MITCHELL
A Fine With the Catcher in the Fellowship of the Rye By JOSEPH HELL
A Gentleman in the Light Web By E.B. WHITE
One Hundred Years of Solita By AMOR TOWLING
The Handmaid’s Stone With the Fellowship of the Light We Cannot See By JOHN STEINBECK
Harry Potte’s Stone By JOHN KENNEDY TOOLE
The Catcher in Brooklyn By ANTHONY DOERR
Gonesome Dove By E.B. WHITE
One Hundred Years of Wrath By J.D. SALING

Koot Katmandu said...

Interesting choice by the NYT. I thought they would avoid it over race. Of the books I have read I would rate them in this order.

Lonesome Dove
Catch 22
The Fellowship of the Ring (Why is Tom Bombadil always left out of the movies version)
Harry Potter
The Great Gatsby (I did not really like this book at all) over rated?

I will get Gone with wind and read it. I have never finished the movie. I have always fallen asleep very early on when I tried.

Lolita is always on the Lists? I have never read this. I do not really want to read about a pedophile. I guess there must be more too it.

Rollo said...

I see Fitzgerald on the list. Maybe one of the requirements was that the author not be named "Hemingway" or "Faulkner."

This looks like a list of the books that made a memorable impression on someone, either from reading it or from all the publicity.

I can put in a good word for Rohinton Mistry and "A Fine Balance." Very moving. A modern Dickens.

Roger Sweeny said...

So all good books are fiction?

I was surprised that I'd read 7 of them--and only one (The Great Gastby) for school.

Mike of Snoqualmie said...

My favorite history book is "The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors" by James D Hornfischer. About the defense of the Luzon landing beaches from the last gasp attack by the Japanese.

Best Biography is "Grant" by Ron Chernow; best memoir "The Complete Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant" by Ulysses Simpson Grant.

Eleanor said...

I've read most of them. A couple of them I'd like my time back, please. How many of them are there because they satisfy some need other than being a really good book? If one could only read 25 books in one's life, would the list be the same?

Eric said...

Just as far as "What is literature?" and "What genre's are 'respectable' to an outlet like the New York Times?" I find it interesting that there are two unabashed Fantasy books, and the only two arguably Science Fiction books are both dystopias.

There's also a notable lack of what might be called "mid-century Realism." No Updike, which would have been almost unthinkable for such a list 20 years ago. (Not my favorite genre/style, so I'm not complaining, just noting the change in tastes.)

Kai Akker said...

The Catcher in the Rye, but not a Faulkner, Wharton or Updike on the list at all. I might not vote for Updike, but Rabbit, Run is a lot better than Catcher, from the same period.

Some recent mediocrities. Oh yeah, then get Ulysses on there.

Seems awfully stage-managed as a group.

Fashion has clearly moved on. Kafka, Mann, drop dead. We prefer Anthony Doerr??

PS Loved Gone With the Wind in the movies. Needs that big screen for all the luscious color and the huge dramas, like the burning of Atlanta.

Darrell Harris said...

Invisible Man, by Ralph Ellison, is a better book than Beloved. It's a better book than many of those on the list, in fact.

robother said...

I love Ann's description of her 16 year old reaction to Gone With The Wind. Remembering my own openness to books from that age through maybe 35, I would rank the books on this list that changed me, my attitude toward life and the world, as:
1. Catch 22
2. Lord of the Rings.

Faulkner's entire oeuvre had a pretty profound effect on me in college, but I find it hard to capture what it meant when I've tried to re-read. Same with Joyce's Ulysses. On the other hand, I've shared LOTR with my son and my grandson and it continues to reward, so I'd argue that Tolkien is the only author on this list for the ages.

Charlie said...

The Crying Of Lot 49 is the best book.

Charlie said...

Lotta white people on this list.

rcocean said...

IRC, Scarlett always wanted to emulate her Mother, aka be classy, strong, and cool. But that could be the movie.

I think the TV showing in 1976, was one reason you ended up with so many baby "Ashleys" in the 1980s.

MadisonMan said...

Meh. Beloved? A Handmaid's Tale? Were these included just because the list is overwhelmingly male?

Ice Nine said...

Is there anyone here who didn't know before seeing the list that the overrated (for obvious reasons) 'Beloved' and 'The Handmaid’s Tale' would be on NYT's list?

Other overrated books on it: 'A Confederacy of Dunces' and 'Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone'.

My vote (and I've only read 16 of them) goes to 'Catch-22'. I read it as a teenager and remember laughing myself sick over it. Read it again in Vietnam and didn't laugh as much but, of course, appreciated it even more.

JK Brown said...

I may have to watch 'Gone with the Wind' again now that the fact that Atlanta was a new city even in 1864. Only founded in 1836 as a railroad junction, and only had 6 buildings and 30 people in 1842. Less than 10,000 people in 1860. Even growing up in the South and steeped in the Civil War centennial left overs of the late 1960s, I never knew just how recent the South not on the Atlantic coast was when the war broke out. The cotton gin and the insatiable hunger for cotton in the Northeastern and British textile mills from 1795 on, spurred the spread. In 1800, the slave culture with a few elite in fancy carriages returning to pretentious mansions with broken windows who lived poorer than the more prosperous Pennsylvania farmer except for show.

policraticus said...

You read the GWTW in 1965, at the age of 16 and pronounced it the very best book ever written?

Funny, that must be a right of passage for bookish Delaware girls. My very best friend in high school read it 1980, when she was 15 and proceeded to obsessively read it again, and again. No doubt you two could have had quite the fan-girl book club. How many teen girls have had that reaction since 1936? How many since 1980? My guess is that my friend represented the twilight of that teen girl rite of passage.

For myself, I dutifully read GWTW at her insistence. It did not have a similar effect. As a friend, and as a 16 year old boy who forlornly hoped for more, I pronounced it… very good. A real page turner! Truth? I never finished it. She would try to engage me and I would dance around the text in a way you’d probably recognize from your first year students. Had I had any real guile (wisdom?) I would have taken notes on the book, done my homework and perhaps gotten the “more” I was forlornly hoping for.

As for the list? Pure drivel. Troll bait for middlebrow tastes. Consider me trolled. No Hemingway? No Dreiser? No Cather? Also published in 1936: Faulkner’s Absolom, Absolom!, another tale of the Civil War South. No hunky Rhett Butler, though.

Dave Begley said...

1984 should win, but won't.

No Tom Wolfe. No Mark Twain. No Hemingway. Was it 125 years in order to cut out Twain? Probably.

rcocean said...

Just the sort of list you'd expect from the SJW New York Times. Lets see: 1 Black author, 1 Hispanic, 1 Asian, 2 Jews, Several Englishmen, A couple Irishmen, 1 Russian, 7 women.

How you can have a list like this and not have Hemingway, Faulkner, or Waugh on it is beyond me. At least we were spared Pearl S. Buck or Mailer.

Howard said...

The more anti-war a movie is, the more it glorifies and romanticizes it. It's the pro-war movies that's a turnoff.

rcocean said...

Top 5 from the list:

Lord of the Rings

Howard said...

Sexist... no Hemingway.

traditionalguy said...

John Steinbeck wrote many a better book than Grapes of Wrath, such as East of Eden.

Lonesome Dove on the list and is a surprise, outside of Texas.

Gone With the Wind is based in local historical truth, but so is Driving Miss Daisy, which is better.

mccullough said...

Invisible Man, The Crying of Lot 49, and Blood Meridian have held up well as far as books by American authors.

Moondawggie said...

Harry Potter makes the list, but no Hemingway?

Yeah, right...

tim maguire said...

The Lord of the Rings is the most ambitious.

Lolita probably the most tightly written.

1984 is one of the most important, but it is not great literature. Orwell is famous for his fiction, but his non-fiction was much better written.

Harry Potter? No, the series may be the greatest YA story ever written, but as literature, it's not even good, let alone great.

Catch-22 would have been a much better book if it was 100 pages shorter. By the end, he was just repeating jokes he'd already made in earlier chapters.

The Handmaid's Tale? Are they joking? Or just trying to capitalize on late-stage Orange Man Bad hysteria?

And so on...

I suppose before we pick the best example of literature, we need to settle on what great literature is.

Skeptical Voter said...

I've read eleven of the twentyfive books on the list. I read Gone With The Wind (for the first time) a few years back when I was in late 60's. Scarlett is an interesting person --she's a strong woman with an eye for the main chance. I think that the book goes into details of Scarlett's life and character that the movie simply left on the cutting room floor.

Andrew said...

Not one novel from or about Africa? Like Cry, the Beloved Country? Or Things Fall Apart?

And where is Invisible Man?

Racist NYT. Bunch of white people made this selection.

The actual list is too much of a hodgepodge to take seriously. How do you compare Charlotte's Web to The Great Gatsby to 1984 to A Confederacy of Dunces?

There are also too many great authors missing. Faulkner, for example. Wodehouse. Etc.

And Morrison is overrated, but you're not allowed to say so.

My own choice is 1984. Orwell's only mistake was that Big Brother should be a trans.

Big Mike said...

Donald Trump praised Gone With the Wind? That dooms it.

If I were betting, I’d put money on Beloved, as a slap at those Virginia housewives who supported a businessman over a Clinton crony three weeks ago.

I’ve only read ten of the twenty-five, but my favorite (over 1984 and GWTW) is Lonesome Dove. Probably a guy thing, because I also liked books by Louis L’Amour.

hawkeyedjb said...

CWJ said...
"No Pynchon."

After reading (or trying to read) Gravity's Rainbow, I changed my major from English to Business.

wildswan said...

Maybe we should debate first whether the best novel (Great Gatsby) is better than the best political novel (1984) is better than the best children's story (Charlotte's Web) is better than the best fantasy (Lord of the Rings.) Are they the same just because they are all book-shaped? Is 1984 or The Lord of the Rings the better political novel. Is Charlotte's Web or Lord of the Rings the better children's story?

Then we get into: Are we talking about influence world-wide or in the US? Are we talking about most-virtue-signally on the East Coast of the US in 2021? Hmm, which would that be? Are we talking about best book explaining the Southern (not the black) point of view on slavery, the Civil War, and Reconstruction which if it was a historical interpretation by an analytic historian reconstructing the past from documents would win every prize for showing how a society worked and failed (Gone With the Wind) but since it is a page-turner by a woman recalling what she learned from older women about a society dependent on slavery whose slaves were freed it is considered to be, at best, a shallow, extremely popular novel no one reads along with the movie of the same name which was really shallow and just as popular and has to be banned to keep people from watching it.

Yancey Ward said...

Wow, I have read 13 of the books on that short list, but not Gone With the Wind.

Of the books on that list that I have read, the best-highest quality, in my opinion, was The Great Gatsby, the worst was "Beloved". My favorite was Fellowship of the Ring, my least favorite was Ulysses.

I wish Tom Wolfe's Bonfire of the Vanities was on there.

Yancey Ward said...

I agree with Gilbar- I found it odd that Fellowship of the Ring was chosen above The Two Towers when picking a Tolkien. I don't think I have ever met a Tolkien fan who didn't think The Two Towers was the best of the three.

Ficta said...

Not that anyone cares, but I thought it would be fun to comment:
1984 By GEORGE ORWELL - Politically almost immeasurably important. As a novel, it's okay.
All the Light We Cannot See By ANTHONY DOERR - On my vast "to be read" pile.
Beloved By TONI MORRISON - One of these days I've got to force myself to read this, hell, I might even like it.
Catch-22 By JOSEPH HELLER - Read it in high school. Loved it. Always figured it wouldn't hold up. Maybe I should reread.
The Catcher in the Rye By J.D. SALINGER - Great book. If you only read it as a teenager, you may have missed the point.
Charlotte’s Web By E.B. WHITE - Um. Sure. I guess. They wanted at least one book everyone has read?
A Confederacy of Dunces By JOHN KENNEDY TOOLE - So much fun. Need to reread.
The Fellowship of the Ring By J.R.R. TOLKIEN - When I read this book at 14, I thought: This is the best book I have ever read, and I don't think I will ever read a better book, because how can any book be better than this?
A Fine Balance By ROHINTON MISTRY - Never heard of it.
A Gentleman in Moscow By AMOR TOWLES - On my vast "to be read" pile.
Gone With the Wind By MARGARET MITCHELL - I should read this someday.
The Grapes of Wrath By JOHN STEINBECK - I should read this someday. A book of his early stories is somewhere in my "I'm theoretically reading this book now" pile.
The Great Gatsby By F. SCOTT FITZGERALD - Maybe the best on this list.
The Handmaid’s Tale By MARGARET ATWOOD - No thanks. Although I quite liked The Blind Assasin
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone By J.K. ROWLING - Rowling is the modern Conan Doyle. Creating a world spanning icon is way harder than writing a great novel.
Infinite Jest By DAVID FOSTER WALLACE - Maybe the best on this list.
To Kill a Mockingbird By HARPER LEE - Eh. It was okay.
A Little Life By HANYA YANAGIHARA - Never heard of it.
Lolita By VLADIMIR NABOKOV - Maybe the best on this list.
Lonesome Dove By LARRY MCMURTRY - So underrated because ordinary people liked it. A triumph.
One Hundred Years of Solitude By GABRIEL GARCÍA MÁRQUEZ - Maybe the best on this list.
The Overstory By RICHARD POWERS - Pretty good. Inventive. Sneakily postmodern in a way you could totally miss if you weren't paying attention.
A Prayer for Owen Meany By JOHN IRVING - Haven't read it. Loved Irving in high school.
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn By BETTY SMITH - No thanks.
Ulysses By JAMES JOYCE - Okay, this one is the best book on the list. But Lolita is a close second.

Conspicuous by their absence:
FAULKNER - I mean, come on, he's easily better than Steinbeck
Invisible Man by RALPH ELLISON - How is this not on this list?
Gravity's Rainbow by THOMAS PYNCHON - When I read this book at 25, I thought: This is the best book I have ever read, and I don't think I will ever read a better book, because how can any book be better than this? I still feel that way.

EAB said...

First time I saw GWTW was on the big screen in The Netherlands, of all places. My parents took us - must have been 1968 or 69. Years later I read the book. The main difference I noted between the two was I was happy at the end of the book that Rhett left. Scarlett was far more horrible in the book and, to me, completely unsympathetic.

Richard Aubrey said...

Catcher in The Rye was sold, so to speak, to me as a coming-of-age book. Never met any of my friends who wanted to end up there.

Ornithophobe said...

GWTW is the quintessential Great American Novel. Perfectly, structured, addictively readable, and peopled with the most memorable characters in fiction.

Bill Peschel said...

Would someone with access to the NYT reveal what they say about how this list was chosen? Who were the judges/contributors/whatever, and what was the term "best book" supposed to mean, or was that up to the persons making the choices?

I looked it up, and can't tell you anything. They used the Times' editorial we, and there's no criteria.

A list of best books without Hemingway (particularly "The Sun Also Rises") is not a valid list.

I've read a number of books on the list. Lolita was brilliant, especially considering the content. "Gatsby" was beautifully written, but limited in range.

And why "Fellowship" and not "The Lord of the Rings"? Are they ignorant of the fact that the book was split into three because the publisher wanted it that way?

And why is Rowling on the final list at all? Best-selling series, sure, but far and away not the best novel of the past 125 years.

The Times' critical judgment is on a part with their news judgment.

Saint Croix said...

No Hemingway?

rcocean said...

One more comment, GWTW was my Mother's favorite movie and she saw it everytime it was released in the theater. I like it too, although I wish Randolph Scott had played Ashely instead of wimpy Leslie Howard. Its hard to see why Scarlett would perfer Howard to Clark Gable but maybe women can see it.

Maynard said...

Of course they would not cite The Fountainhead or Atlas Shrugged.

The only reason they cited 1984 is because they continue to believe that it is about right wing fascism. LOL!

mikee said...

So the list makers took every assigned book from HS and college English, and threw in some top best sellers from the NYT fiction list, and left off all other older books that aren't still taught in schools now. As good as any other list of "bests" that arbitrarily excludes almost everything.

chuck said...

I've read 10.4 of the books (never finished One Hundred Years of Solitude). I wouldn't call any of them the best ever, but do recall that Gone With the Wind was a book I couldn't put down. IIRC, I was about 14/15 when I read it.

Joe Smith said...

And how many aren't taught in prog colleges anymore?

Morrison (black) and Steinbeck (a white lefty) are probably safe.

But the horde will find a way to cancel both soon enough...

Narr said...

I'm very well read but have only read Orwell, Tolkien, Heller, Marquez, and Nabokov from that list.

Of the five, Nabokov towers as an artist. The other three are great in their own rights and will stand the test of time IMO (maybe not Marquez).

I've started Dunces several times w/o finding the thread. Someone else noted no Pynchon; I'd like to see Burgess too.

By the "Would I Read This Book Again?" test, except for LOTR and OHYS, I'd answer yes, probably.

mesquito said...

I’ve read 13, which makes me an egghead. That was years ago. Now I mostly read tweets.

FullMoon said...

Gone With the Wind.
Setup and electrotyped 1936

High tech back in the day.

Ice Nine said...

Is there anyone here who didn't know before seeing it that the overrated (for obvious reasons) 'Beloved' and 'The Handmaid’s Tale' would be on NYT's list?

Other overrated books on it: 'A Confederacy of Dunces' and 'Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone'.

My vote (and I've only read 16 of them) goes to 'Catch-22'. I read it as a teenager and remember laughing myself sick over it. Read it again in Vietnam and didn't laugh quite as much but, of course, appreciated it even more.

Narr said...

I haven't read GWTW. The movie was over-exposed in my childhood, and put me off the Old South more than anything could have. The Prof recalls one theatrical release, but I have pretty distinct memories of more than one reluctant trip to see that fraud.

The silly women who loved the movie and thought it grand--daughters and grand-daughters of proud rebels--told me it was about the Civil Woah, which I was interested in. But there was a lot more dancing and yakking and smooching and lady-stuff than there was of cool battles.

Total rip-off.

But a friend of mine, a bit older retired history prof, says the book's subtext is subversive of any surface Confederacy-nostalgia. Maybe I'll read it yet.

Temujin said...

Interesting list, with some expected, and some books I'm pleasantly surprised to see on there (Amor Towles, A Gentleman in Moscow; Larry McMurtry's Lonesome Dove, Joseph Heller's 'Catch 22' which people loved, but I've often wondered if Heller is recognized as he should be for this and other books he wrote.)

Some that I scratch my head at showing up on this list (A Confederacy of Dunces, which remains the most overrated book I've ever read, and 'A Prayer for Owen Meany', by John Irving.) I went through a period of reading a number of Irving's books and while I liked his writing, I thought this was one of his lesser works. Another that I have not been able to 'appreciate' is "Infinite Jest", which borders on the "Confederacy" level of overrated to me- if I could only get through it.

Ulysses is, of course, on every list ever created about Great Books and I wonder how many have even read it, or understand it? I had a course entirely devoted to this book once. Never had any book given that much attention before. And now that I'm almost 50 years since that class, its probably time I read it again and see if it means anything at all to me.

Never read 'Beloved' by Toni Morrison. I just wonder- and I'm almost afraid to think- that she's on every list with this book because....

For those of you who have read 'Beloved' please let me know if this is truly a great book I need to read.

Lloyd W. Robertson said...

I don't know enough about many of the titles to suggest one to drop, but I would like to suggest one: Dune. Call me crazy, I don't like very much sci fi, but this book is special. The West seems to have another chance at conquering the world, but doing it (perhaps) right this time. The evil people want to exploit the desert and its people (who of course are somewhat Muslim and Arab) purely for cash. The good people want to not only spread civilization, but learn from the desert civilization. Yes, if the desert is transformed into an oasis, this might mean the end of the big worms and the little mice, except for some kind of weird zoo.

Frank Herbert seemed to have some idea of how the West has "synthesized" various cultures and ethics, and might continue to do so. His heroic types somehow go back to the "Atreides" heroes at Troy. Religion is by no means left behind; it is essential both for keeping the masses in line, and for some kind of deep drug-infused journeys by the priests and other leaders. There are two genders, and relations between them are essential. Women are not just baby-makers; like the Brahmins in India, they are adept at controlling events from behind the scenes. The Emperor Paul loves one woman, who is a wild Fremen, lacking any official status, and then agrees to marry a princess and "rule in her name," i.e. there might be a legitimate female heir. Some of this is childish hero-worship at best (I was obsessed with this book in high school), and at least in the first Dune book, Herbert seems naive to the idea that the West took a fork in the road with technology. We are actually opposed to many or most human civilizations, so we are not likely to "synthesize" them except in the sense of making them disappear.

I haven't read Handmaid's Tale, or seen any of the series, and I probably never will. But I suspect Dune is better.

Indigo Red said...

The best book written in the last 125 years is not on the list. It's never on the list. The Oxford English Dictionary. It has all the words. The nominated books have only some of the words.

AZ Bob said...

Looks like a left-wing reading list. I'm not surprised.

James K said...

A few of those books I've never heard of, but to my mind a major omission is E.M. Forster. I'd put Howards End or Passage to India above most of those books on the list. Surprising, as he was gay, so wouldn't have been downgraded for being a dead white (straight) male.

AlbertAnonymous said...

Is Orwell’s “1984” on the list?

Doubleplusungood if it’s not…

Readering said...

I will probably vote for the 2 books I studied in my frosh world literature class, Ulysses and 100 Years of Solitude. And maybe the one other book I read for school, Catcher in the Rye. Would like to have something by Waugh to vote for.

CJinPA said...

Like most children of the ‘70s, my first exposure to Gone With The Wind was this.

who-knew said...

I've read 14. I haven't (and won't) read A Handmaids Tale but based on reputation, it must have gotten on for political reasons. Beloved is terrible, so also likely political. 1984 should be a real contender for best. A Confederacy of Dunces stands no chance just like a comedy has no chance of winning the Best Picture Oscar. I would pick The Great Gatsby. I never read Gone With The Wind but I saw it when they closed the Bay Theater in Green Bay around 1975. Gone With The Wind was the first movie shown at the Bay, so they arranged for it to be the last as well. We smuggled in some beer and watched and drank from the balcony.

Norpois said...

Interesting that this list is not limited to American authors, yet -- what? -- 80% of the authors are American and I think there is only one book not originally written in English (two if you're not sure Ulysses is in fact written in English). Sounds like cultural bias to me.
But it's not a terrible list, allowing for today's cultural priorities, and for changes in perception of what the novel is expected to do.
But, really, why go back 125 years if you have nothing published before 1920? You're gratuitously adding 25 years in which conventionally-considered-major works by Thomas Mann, Henry James, Virginia Woolf, and Joseph Conrad were published.
Even putting aside HOW Proust could be omitted. But it all came good for me when I got to the end and saw there is no book by David Mitchell. OGTG.

William said...

I read or,at least, heard of most of the books on the list. I never heard of some of these books though. Rohinton Mistry? Anthony Doerr? Am I missing out on somethng?.....A few kind words about GWTW: Scarlet was a bit of a proto-feminist. As a proto-feminist she was wise to be attracted to Ashley rather than Rhett. Ashley would given her entrepreneurial talents more freedom to develop.... She starts her own business. Iirc, she used white convicts for her start up sawmill. So I guess that's okay. It's permissible to exploit deplorables. ....Mamie was the primal Oprah. In fact, all the Black characters in GWTW have speaking roles and are part of the drama. Compare that to Lillian Hellmann whose black characters are mostly dignified coat holders.....Scarlet was the daughter of an Irish-Catholic immigrant. Her father gained entry into the planter class and Scarlet, herself, was accepted as a member of that class. So you could say that the novel was inclusive of some outsiders. Irish-Catholics were pretty far down on pecking order, but no one makes a fuss. For her part,Scarlet never voices any resentment of the Anglo-ascendancy. She's got her own thing for the Great House where the Anglo ascendancy typically reside. .....You know who banned GWTW? Hitler and Hirohito. They thought that all that talk of Gotterdammerung and life going on after conquest by the Yankees was defeatist. After the war, GWTW was a big best seller in Germany and Japan so maybe it helped to reconcile those populations with America.

~ Gordon Pasha said...

Mittie Bullloch Roosevelt, TR's mother, was apparently the inspiration for Scarlett O'Hara.

Margaret Mitchell, the author of Gone With The Wind, lived her entire life in Atlanta, absorbing local stories told by those who had lived through the Civil War and Reconstruction. Mitchell had, in fact, interviewed Mittie's closest childhood friend and bridesmaid, Evelyn King, for a story in the Atlanta Journal. In that interview, Mittie's beauty, charm, and fun-loving nature were described in detail, making her the perfect prototype for the character of Scarlett O’Hara."

Sebastian said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Paul G said...

This isn't a best book list, it's a notorious book list. The giveaways are "Grapes of Wrath" and "Lolita." Neither is remotely the best work of each author. "East of Eden" is Steinbeck's masterpiece, and Nabakov wrote probably 15 things better than "Lolita"--"Pale Fire," "Speak, Memory," shoot, even his essay on The Metamorphosis is better than "Lolita."

Terry di Tufo said...

What a truly terrible list. And the Nobel Prize people must have gotten it really wrong!

mtp said...


Fellowship is the 4th best book in the series.
Nice to see The Big Man getting on the list, though.

London Girl said...

Like Ann I read GWTW at a similar age and loved it. What stuck with me was that it was a story about what war and occupation is like for women. It doesn't rely on turning women into faux men. The central section when Sherman is at the gates of Atlanta has always stuck with new. Melanie goes into labour but there is no Dr available because Atlanta is flooded with casualties from the battle so Scarlett and Prissy have to deliver the baby. Melanie has a very bad time (probably a third degree tear or a prolapsed uterus) and nearly diet But then Atlanta falls and Scarlett had to load her, the baby and Scarlett's own small son onto a wagon and flee through enemy lines. They arrive back at Tara and Sherman's army has destroyed everything. A unionist soldier arrives and not knowing what he wants - to rape them, steak their good, murder them - Scarlett and Melanie kill him.

All of these things are a specifically female experience of war. I've never read another novel written in English that dealt with this.

Of course, in the Anglosphere only the Confederacy has experienced this kind of defeat and occupation in several hundred years.

friscoda said...

Mike Sylwester, thanks for the links. Very interesting.

as if.... said...

New respect for 1984 given how prescient it was for today's speech codes, conformity, and tyranny of the "safety" crowd.

Catcher and the Rye was a disappointment when I read it many years ago in high school. I was expecting more given the "hip" teacher's opinion hyping it at the time...

Achilles said...

Midnight at the garden of good and evil
Lord of Chaos

These books are better than many on that list.

J Scott said...

It's a very American centric list. Even the ones that aren't American are pretty close to the American gestalt.

Tim said...

I have read literally thousands of books. I can easily pick a top 100. I can narrow it to my top 25. But there is no way I can even shake it down to top 10. Just too many good books over the past 55 years. And I agree with some of the books they listed, and consider some of them to be pretentious crap.

Richard Dolan said...

Pretty unimpressive list. But are you sure about this: "I was 16 in 1965 ..." I thought you made your debut in 1951.

rcocean said...

"Plus enough of Marquez to toss it aside. "

People I respect LOVE This "hundred years of solitude novel. I've tried to get into it, and lost interest. Maybe, I just need to be in the right mood.

Patrick Henry was right! said...

My favorite, We, the Living. Ayn Rsnd's semi-autobiographical novel.
Comrade Sonya, the original and evil, Karen.

Ann Althouse said...

I’ve read 10 of them. Out of those, I’d pick Gatsby.

rcocean said...

Mittie Bullloch Roosevelt, TR's mother.

Yep. TR was in many ways the All-American Kid. Southern Mother, uncles who fought for the Confederacy and his father strongly suppored the Northern side, although he hired a substitute and worked for the Sanitary Commission. He probably would've joined the Union army but he was 31 in 1862, with two small Children and a Southern wife.

There was a famous Irish-Catholic slaveowning family in SC, and I've read Mitchell used some of their history too in GWTW.

Greg The Class Traitor said...

The Grapes of Wrath By JOHN STEINBECK: Puke

The Handmaid’s Tale By MARGARET ATWOOD; You've got to be joking

The fact that they have Ulysses, but not "The Sound and the Fury", is quite interesting.

rcocean said...

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn By BETTY SMITH - No thanks.

Actually this is pretty good, and the movie is great. But, I think it got on the list because....wait for it... New York City

Greg The Class Traitor said...

I thin 1984 is the best of the lot.

Animal Farm is in many ways better, but Animal Farm is directly anti-commie, and the commies at teh NYT just can't stand that

khematite said...

Nothing by Faulkner or Hemingway?

The Vault Dweller said...

I'm surprised by The Lord of the Rings, and by Beloved. I'm not surprised by Catcher in the Rye, but feel like that book probably shouldn't have been included. It was incredibly popular for a generation or a generation and a half but has only kept on being read by cultural momentum I think.

who-knew said...

Another thought, A Handmaids Tale would never have made the list if not for the TV series. So maybe it's a list of best books (and one TV show). As others have commented, their are some huge omissions, besides the obvious I was happy to see someone mention Willa Cather (I loved My Antonia). Also nice to see some love for Tom Wolfe who I think is the most consistently readable author of the the last half century. The Bonfire of the Vanities may be his best but I liked almost of all his novels.

LuAnn Zieman said...

I first read "All the Light We Cannot See" two years ago. I loved it. I've read a dozen of the listed books. I, too, like Animal Farm better than 1984. I used Animal Farm in my 7th grade English classes for years. My students were assigned research on the people or systems symbolized by the animals (and the human) characters. I prefer the Odyssey of Homer to Ulysses by Joyce!

Maynard said...

I have read 12 of the books on that list, probably half from HS English assignments.

Of those I read, the most memorable was GGM's One Hundred Years of Solitude.

The most disappointing were Great Gatsby and A Catcher in the Rye.

Baceseras said...

Why do they say "best book" when it's all novels? Joy of Cooking or Webster's 3rd or A Pattern Language have as much right to be judged best book. More.

Mrs. Bear said...

I nominate "Monster Hunter International" by Larry Correia.

Dagwood said...

"All the Light" really impressed me. But I'd probably pick "Mockingbird" from the list.

Lurker21 said...

A Confederacy of Dunces overrated?

Oh, my God!

I tried to listen to the audiobook, but couldn't get past the 400th "Oh, my God!"

John Irving?

I loathed that Garp movie and nothing I've heard about Irving since then has ever motivated me to read anything by him.

I could make a better case for putting Clifford Irving on the list.

Leora said...

I have read 17 of the books and started but not finished 3 ("Ulysses", "Infinite Jest" and "A Prayer for Owen Meaney") and the list seems eccentric. "A Gentleman in Moscow" was a fine book, but I'm not sure it would bear a second reading. "The Handmaid's Tale" is laughable. "Lonesome Dove" is not even the best book written by McMurtry. My personal nominations for English language novels of the 20th century to present would include "At Play in the Fields of the Lord", "Native Son" , "All the Kings Men" "The Maltese Falcon", "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest", "Under the Volcano", "V", "The Golden Notebook" "I Claudius" and something by PG Wodehouse, Agatha Christie, Willa Cather, Truman Capote, Gore Vidal, Updike, Chandler, Muriel Spark and Marquand. It is tough to come up with anything for the last 22 years.

tim in vermont said...

"Nothing by Faulkner or Hemingway?"

Well, Flem Snopes and his clan is just a little bit too close for comfort to Joe Biden and his clan, and Hemingway was a bit too steeped in testosterone.

Although The Garden of Eden, released posthumously, was pretty gender bending.

tim in vermont said...

You know, I have actually read Infinite Jest all the way through, I feel like I should have earned a merit badge, but I tried three or four times to read A Catcher in the Rye and just could not get into it.

I also feel like you need to be a Catholic to read Ulysses, to me, it seemed like there was a lot of stuff in there a Catholic would understand that went right over my head to the point that I gave up.

Lolita was stylistically brilliant, not sure that was enough to make it a generational novel, even, much less covering six generations of writers, at least, over 125 years.

Lonesome Dove? Yes, it was quality fiction, it will be readable for a long time, I recommend it, but could it be ranked over For Whom the Bell Tolls? The latter too critical of communism probably. Maybe that's why Hemingway was left off of the list. During his life the commies threatened him with bad reviews if he continued to portray them negatively, per some letters in a biography of him that I read.

A coffee shop I frequent has a book exchange, I was thinking of leaving my copy of Infinite Jest there with the inscription "Abandon all hope, ye who enter here."

Yancey Ward said...

I have never read the John Irving on this list, but I have read The World According to Garp and The Hotel New Hampshire, both of which I like a great deal- both enough that I have read them twice. Should I read A Prayer for Owen Meany? What makes it better than the two novels by Irving that I have read?

Josephbleau said...

The only line of Morrison that struck me was when the lady asked the kid "who made you?", Nobody as I recall, I guess I just growed. A true black nationalist statement.

Narr said...

No Updike either--should have seen that earlier.

Hai Di Nguyen said...

I saw your blog post several hours ago and have only just realised now that the books were voted for by readers.
It's such a terrible, embarrassing list.

Big Mike said...

Truthfully, the best book I’ve ever read was The Art of Computer Programming, by Donald Knuth, Volume 1, “Fundamental Algorithms.”

gilbar said...

It's the 1st book of the Fellowship, that drives me mad. How long does the party take? 3 years?? Sure seems like
The whole tone is so obviously Bilbo.
Everything after the Ford is pretty much all Frodo
As Sam said "I
He doesn't seem to have gotten very far on his book"
EVERYTHING after they leave Rivendell is ALL frodo

Moondawggie said...

So far I have read 12.5 (had to put Ulysses down as an undergrad; too tough for me. Maybe retry 51 years later in 2022?)

Omitting Faulkner, Alan Paton (Cry the Beloved Country), Pynchon, Hemingway, Bellow, Conrad, or even Stephen Crane simply shows how politically correct NYT "literary experts" behave.

It's all about the present politically correct narrative, baby!

Makes me glad I stayed a STEM instead of Humanities major, and developed a useful skill as an Oncologist (emulating the great Beatles line, "So I quit the Police Department, and got myself a steady job...")

guitar joe said...

I was surprised by some of these titles and, sure enough, the two I didn't recognize are recent. Most of these books belong on the list, but I wonder if anyone has actually read Catcher in the Rye recently. I got into a heated discussion with someone about it, and I was defending it. Went home and read the first 20 pages and realized that if you read it past the age of 20 or so, it kind of falls apart. Salinger's novellas about the Glass family are just plain unreadable, and I'd be tempted to say he was just massively overrated but he wrote one of the great short stories of all time, "Laughing Man." Still, I just don't think Catcher holds up. Also, no Bellow, no Roth?

Maynard said...

Should I read A Prayer for Owen Meany? What makes it better than the two novels by Irving that I have read?

No. It was a disappointment. Garp is one of my all time favorites and Hotel NH is pretty good. Owen Meany was strongly recommended by a colleague who has a terrible record for book recommendations. The book was pretentiously mediocre.

chuck said...

I have actually read Infinite Jest all the way through

Impressive indeed. I managed a few chapters and was not amused.

Narr said...

In the case of the five books I have read from that list--which deserves the respect all such efforts garner--my score goes way up if I can count other titles by those authors. It goes up a little more if I can count other titles by others listed.

No Vonnegut, in what amounts to a simple popularity/awareness poll?

Mark said...

Pretty obvious white people made this list. Pretty obvious white elite liberal people made this list.

Valentine Smith said...

The NYT is so full of shit. It's a very safe list for their women readers. Why else omit the great male writers of the last century? The list reads like a sixties iconography of the politically correct, which omits any work with a whiff of masculinity. Why else omit all the great male writers. We know why. Those included give a hint: Humbert of course was a degenerate, then there's the sublime madness of Catch 22, Yossarian and company cogs in the machinery of "patriarchal" mayhem. The author of Garp gets in with the rendition of the tranny tight end but to avoid being obvious they pick the lesser novel Owen Meany.

Omission also explains a lot. Where's Sebastian Dangerfield? The Ginger Man displays all the hallmarks of the arrested adult male. He should be included as an object lesson for women in what kind of man to avoid at all costs. Only he's too much the lovable prick, an elegant seducer and hilarious drunk. They would love him!

Of course as many commenters observed it's all a setup for Toni Morrison, a pedestrian writer at best, or perhaps the Canadian Atwood. I was surprised to see I have read about a third of the books and enjoyed them. That alone perhaps automatically disqualifies them in my eyes as my taste runs to sci-fi and old detective classics. I honestly think almost any one of Elmore Leonard's books belongs on this list.

tim in vermont said...

Yeah, reader poll. Still it was fun to talk about.

tim in vermont said...

It does show the NYT readership for what it is, a vast collection of mid-wits who desperately want to be thought of as smart, "just once."

NotWhoIUsedtoBe said...

"Beloved" is a horror novel. "Kindred" by Octavia Butler is a much better book about the same subject. "Kindred" is somehow classified as SF but "Beloved" isn't horror, even though it has ghosts, possessions and other supernatural nonsense.

Does anyone think "Beloved" won't win? Has anyone actually read it?

Left Bank of the Charles said...

Larry McMurtry:

"It's hard to go wrong if one writes at length about the Old West, still the phantom leg of the American psyche. I thought I had written about a harsh time and some pretty harsh people, but, to the public at large, I had produced something nearer to an idealization; instead of a poor man's Inferno, filled with violence, faithlessness and betrayal, I had actually delivered a kind of Gone With The Wind of the West, a turnabout I'll be mulling over for a long, long time."

Leora said...

As a reader poll the list makes more sense. I don't believe that anyone actually read "A Little Life" or "The Overstory." Those are books that people wish people to think they have read. I suspect Ulysses falls on this list too. It also explains the absence of European literature. I could probably come up with 25 books for each decade 1900 to 1969 but I'd have a hard time after the writers workshop infection got well started. My husband was disappointed that I left out "Mrs. Dalloway" and "The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch" an on reflection, he's correct.

Ex-PFC Wintergreen said...

Obviously the NYT is going to name Toni Morrison’s Beloved the “best”, and put some good stuff on the list to make it look like they actually had a real list. But everything else besides Beloved is just window dressing. Of the books on the list, Catch-22 is probably what I’d pick :-) but…no Faulkner, no Hemingway, no Chandler, no Pynchon…no thanks.