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Old 7th Feb 2007, 16:23   #1
Bookie
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Default The Top Ten: Writers Pick Their Favorite Books

I couldn't find this posted anywhere else here, but if it has been, I apologize -- please merge or delete as is seen fit.

Anyway, I recently came across this book, The Top Ten: Writers Pick Their Favorite Books, edited by J. Peder Zane. In it, 125 writers were polled to provide their personal top ten books. There were no restrictions. Books could be in any form and from any time. The writers polled include Norman Mailer, Peter Carey, Ha Jin, Joyce Carol Oates, George Saunders, David Mitchell, Annie Proulx, Jonathan Franzen and John Irving. It also has a website: http://www.toptenbooks.net/

From those lists, "master lists" were compiled (i.e. Top Ten Books of All Time, Top Ten Authors, Top Ten Books from the 19th Century, Top Ten Books by British Writers, etc). Ultimately, these kinds of lists are rather silly, but I thought it might be of interest just to see what they came up with.

Here is the overall top ten list:

01. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
02. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
03. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
04. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
05. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
06. Hamlet by William Shakespeare
07. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
08. In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust
09. The stories of Anton Chekhov
10. Middlemarch by George Eliot

Personally, it's clear that all the books in the top ten are classics, but I was mildly disappointed that the choices ended up being so canonical, Eurocentric and limited, mainly, to novels written in the last 200 years. Still, it's an interesting reference. If you get Peter Zane's book, you can see all the lists, all the books voted for, etc.
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Old 7th Feb 2007, 19:04   #2
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Default Re: The Top Ten: Writers Pick Their Favorite Books

There are some notable books absent. Crime and Punishment, The Brothers Karamazov, Ulysses. No Dickens? I won't dispute any of the five I have read and certainly can't do so with the five I have not read but that list seems a little thin to me. The absence of Dostoevsky and Dickens is rather glaring to me. I've read five of them and the five I haven't are on my TBR list.
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Old 12th Feb 2007, 0:15   #3
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Default Re: The Top Ten: Writers Pick Their Favorite Books

Quote:
Originally Posted by ions View Post
There are some notable books absent. Crime and Punishment, The Brothers Karamazov, Ulysses. No Dickens? I won't dispute any of the five I have read and certainly can't do so with the five I have not read but that list seems a little thin to me. The absence of Dostoevsky and Dickens is rather glaring to me.

But therein lies the problem of Top Tens
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Old 31st Mar 2014, 7:29   #4
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Default Re: The Top Ten: Writers Pick Their Favorite Books

Vol de Nuit (Night Flight) by Antoine de Saint-Exupery is also unaccountably missing - the one of two pleasant memories I took away from French Literature class at Louisiana State University (conducted in the French language, which was unremitting Hell for me because I had to defend both my impressions of our reading list and my indefensibly - to our cultured Lebanese instructor - guttural German Coast Cajun French accent).
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Last edited by loupgarous; 31st Mar 2014 at 7:30. Reason: expanded the acronym "LSU" for non-USians
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