July 07, 2009

Newsweek's Top 100 Books

Newsweek just published its Top 100 Books list. Here's how they say they came up with it:
"We crunched the numbers from 10 top books lists (Modern Library, the New York Public Library, St. John's College reading list, Oprah's, and more) to come up with The Top 100 Books of All Time."

Here is Newsweek's Top 100 Books: the meta-list. (I've highlighted the books I've read.)

1. War and Peace
2. 1984
3. Ulysses
4. Lolita
5. The Sound and the Fury
6. Invisible Man
7. To the Lighthouse
8. The Iliad and The Odyssey
9. Pride and Prejudice
10. Divine Comedy
11. Canterbury Tales
12. Gulliver's Travels
13. Middlemarch
14. Things Fall Apart
15. The Catcher in the Rye
16. Gone with the Wind
17. One Hundred Years of Solitude
18. The Great Gatsby
19. Catch 22
20. Beloved
21. The Grapes of Wrath
22. Midnight's Children
23. Brave New World
24. Mrs. Dalloway
25. Native Son
26. Democracy in America
27. On the Origin of Species
28. The Histories
29. The Social Contract
30. Das Kapital
31. The Prince
32. Confessions
33. Leviathan
34. The History of the Peloponnecian War
35. The Lord of the Rings
36. Winnie the Pooh
37. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
38. A Passage to India
39. On the Road
40. To Kill a Mockingbird
41. Holy Bible
42. A Clockwork Orange
43. Light in August
44. The Souls of Black Folk
45. Wide Sargasso Sea
46. Madame Bovary
47. Paradise Lost
48. Anna Karenina
49. Hamlet
50. King Lear
51. Othello
52. Sonnets
53. Leaves of Grass
54. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
55. Kim
56. Frankenstein
57. Song of Solomon
58. One Flew Over the Kuckoos Nest
59. For Whom the Bell Tolls
60. Slaughterhouse Five
61. Animal Farm
62. Lord of the Flies
63. In Cold Blood
64. The Golden Notebook
65. Remembrance of Things Past
66. The Big Sleep
67. As I Lay Dying
68. The Sun Also Rises
69. I, Claudius
70. The Heart is a Lonely Hunter
71. Sons and Lovers
72. All the Kings Men
73. Go Tell it on the Mountain
74. Charlotte's Web
75. Heart of Darkness
76. Night
77. Rabbit, Run
78. The Age of Innocence
79. Portnoy's Complaint
80. An American Tragedy
81. The Day of the Locust
82. Tropic of Cancer
83. The Maltese Falcon
84. His Dark Material
85. Death Comes to the Archbishop
86. The Interpretation of Dreams
87. The Education of Henry Adams
88. Quotations from Chairman Mao
89. The Varieties of Religious Experience: A Study in Human Nature
90. Brideshead Revisited
91. Silent Spring
92. The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money
93. Lord Jim
94. Goodbye to All That
95. The Affluent Society
96. The Wind in the Willows
97. The Autobiography of Malcolm X
98. Eminent Victorians
99. The Color Purple
100. The Second World War

So that makes 22 that I've read but if I count the authors that I've read(not the listed book but another of the author's works) then my number goes up to 32. As some authors have multiple works listed(4 from Shakespeare but none of the ones I've read) I think I have done alright.

But what I'm interested in is why these books are listed in the original lists. Is it based on importance of subject matter? Is it popularity? Is it longevity? I can see books that fall into all three categories but all of the books don't fit into one category. These are not necessarily classics, but important works. But I have to ask: why was Winnie the Pooh important? There are several books that I wonder about.

Any opinions out there?
How many books have you read?


bermudaonion said...

You've done better than I have- I've read 20 of the books listed.

pussreboots said...

I've read 49 of the books on the list.

Leah said...

21 for me, although like you say I have read others by the same authors. There are another 2 sitting on my TBR pile. Interesting list!

Jenny said...

I've read 40 - sheesh, what a boys' club it is! Also, if I were going to remove ONE of these books, it would be An American Tragedy. As the late great Dorothy Parker said, "Theodore Dreiser / Should ought to write nicer." :P

Jeane said...

I've read 27 of them- but there's about ten more I know I've tried and give up on- so I don't think I'll ever read the entire list, even if I tried!

C. B. James said...

I've read most of these, probably 75% over the years. This is one of those "good for you" lists most students would turn their noses up at. There are several that I'd drop.

Brave New World
The Lord of the Rings
I, Claudius
Eminent Victorians

I've read them all. They're good enough, but not something you need to read before you die.