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The Top Ten: Writers Pick Their Favorite Books

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3.4 of 5 stars 3.40  ·  rating details  ·  149 ratings  ·  30 reviews
You'll find the answer in The Top Ten: Writers Pick Their Favorite Books: the ultimate guide to the world's greatest books. As writers such as Norman Mailer, Annie Proulx, Stephen King, Jonathan Franzen, Claire Messud, Margaret Drabble, Michael Chabon and Peter Carey name the ten books that have meant the most to them, you'll be reminded of books you have always loved and...more
Paperback, 352 pages
Published January 17th 2007 by W. W. Norton & Company
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Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
I browsed through this book a few weeks back during a bookstore visit and put it back on the shelf; my quick assessment found it tediously monotonous, with all the writers picking the same few classics. I couldn’t pass it up for two dollars at a book sale, however. It did read with deadly repetition for the majority of the book: Macbeth…Macbeth…Macbeth…Middlemarch…Middlemarch…Middlemarch…War and Peace…War and Peace…War and Peace. It was the surprises, the little known favorites, that I found to...more
Kyla
oddly laid out - bare bone lists with few expansions, a ranking points system and a mandate that kind of shoots itself in the foot: the cover claims the writers choose their favourite books but really, they're trying to choose the "greatest" books and appear weighty. I utterly respected the authors who had the balls to choose their actual favourites, like David Foster Wallace with his genre fiction list that was meant to screw with the whole system. But really, how many times can you read a list...more
Amanda Patterson
Interesting. Most writers will be curious to discover their favourite author's choices. It becomes boring quickly when you realise it's simply a book of random lists. The drawback is the lack of reason for the book's existence.
Andres
Interesting look at what 125 different writers think are the top ten books they've ever read.

The lists are somewhat interesting but reading list after list gets boring very quickly. Even if you look up the lists made by your favorite writers they really aren't very helpful or useful. Even the "top top ten list" or the sub-lists don't really pack any punch. I guess that's to be expected with any huge list of lists---there's just so much information it becomes overwhelming and shrug-inducing.

What...more
Kurt
First I will have to cop to a certain proclivity for top ten lists and also for the tabulation of points based upon an item’s appearance on those lists to make other top ten lists. Then if you make those top tens the favorite books of 125 contemporary authors, you have me hooked. This is a nice book to pick through at your leisure over time, otherwise reading list after list could become rather maddening. After the author’s lists, a synopsis of each book appears in the order of its popularity fr...more
Jain
I really like hearing about other peoples' favorite books, so the first half of The Top Ten, in which 125 authors list their top ten books, was enjoyable despite some drawbacks: all of the authors were American or British, I hadn't heard of most of them (though I'm planning to check some of them out based on their brief bios and their top ten selections), and almost none of the lists included commentary from the authors on why they'd selected those particular books.

The composite lists in the app...more
Cheryl
Picked this up somewhere and read it while I was home with food poisoning. Quick read, because of the large number of lists and the synopses of books on those lists. An interesting glimpse into some people's opinions of what makes a book great.
Lynecia
Feb 06, 2008 Lynecia rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: everyone!
Recommended to Lynecia by: Leah J. Love
It took me quite a while to get through this book! Lists and lists of top ten books (from various authors, some of them favorites of mine) was both interesting and tedious. The second half of this book gave paragraph synopsis of all the books chosen--it's a treasure trove of literature! Lots of the chosen titles were unique, sometimes obscure works,mixed with old faithfuls such as "Anna Karenina" and "Pride and Prejudice"...This is a great reference book for those who want some new, interesting...more
Tracy
This is a fun book that I found one day while browsing the library shelves. It is a list of writers' top ten book lists. It features writers like Michael Chabon, Stephen King, Jennifer Weiner, Ann Patchett and more. It was interesting to see their top picks. The only downside is that many of the lists contain the same classics. Once in a while though, there is an interesting and unique pick that will go on to your "to read" list. :-) If anything, getting a peak at a favorite author's list provid...more
Jess
Editor Zane asked 125 writers to select their top ten favorite books, yielding the expected (Anna Karenina got the most votes, followed by Madame Bovary) and the unexpected:

--David Foster Wallace really likes Stephen King's The Stand
--Annie Proulx calls the project "difficult, pointlesss, and wrong-headed, but submits 10 anyway, including The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Black Book
--Nobody picked Dracula
--544 books were selected, 23 of which earned a top slot but no other, including I, Claud...more
Shonna Froebel
125 leading American and British authors were asked to provide "a list, ranked, in order, of what you consider the ten greatest works of fiction of all time--novels, story collections, plays, or poems." A few also picked some non-fiction works. The books were given points based on their ranking and an overall ranked list was created. The choices of each author are also given, book summaries are included and other short commentaries. I was fascinated and decided I must have my own copy, so have...more
Kristine
125 Writers including Peter Carey, Annie Proulx, Sandra Cisneros, and Michael Cunningham list their favorite books. Most of the lists are simply that--a listing of their favorite works, but there are descriptions of each work in the appendix, and scattered throughout, some of the authors have written appreciations of favorite books. The editor uses a strange system to rank the works in several categories, e.g., Top 10 Works of the 20th Century, Top 10 Works by Russian Authors, but overall it is...more
sleeps9hours
I love lists of greatest books, and this book has lots of lists. 125 authors list their personal top 10, which are compiled into the top top 10. Then all 544 books listed are briefly described. I’ve been reading too many bad or mediocre books lately, so I’m looking back to the greats for a sure thing. There are so many I still haven’t touched, and several I want to reread. Made for an enjoyable couple hours of dreaming about what to pick up next.
John
On one hand, I really didn't recognize many of the writers compiling lists, and too often there wasn't a lot of personal reasoning behind their choices. On the other hand, who better to create a master list of great books to enjoy. The list at the end with general plot synopses (minus spoilers) is very useful for those who are trying to create a "to read" list of literature's great works.
Sam
While I appreciate the exposure to lists of books I didn't know I wanted to read, I'm not sure I understand the point of this collection of lists. There are so many absences, and the question of what makes a book great just hovers around every list.
Emily
I used this book to help seed my reading choices in the first year of my retirement. It was a great way to fill in the gaps in my classics education. The abstracts of all the books were really helpful. Ironically, the lists of each writer's top 10 picks were the least interesting aspect of the book for me.
Jess
This book is great for picking out your next read. It is a compilation of authors' top ten books with brief explanations as to why they have chosen them. As a rule I try to read at least two classics a year and this is how I usually select which one to read next.
Kiof
one of least fun list books ever made, just simply in the presentation, but one of the best ideas for a list book. because of this i found it very depressing. sure, theres a couple tidbits, but this shoulda been a goldmine.
Drbrown Brown
I thought I was well-read; now I know that "well-read" is an impossibility! I've got a looong reading list to get through..... *happy sigh*..... what a great problem to have! Joy! Joy!
Erin
I love list books, and this one was OK, but didn't seem to have a clear point (other than that there is a surprising amount of agreement about "best books" among writers).
Avi
It's not the best list book I've ever read, but I did find out about some interesting things with this in conjunction with Amazon, so, no significant complaints.
Dianne Merridith
It was very interesting to see what authors themselves believe are the best books. I got lots of ideas for future reading.
Saralyn
My favorite part was reading what authors had to say when they didn't want to pick a top ten list. :)
Lauren
Wish there would have been more authors I liked giving their lists... I mainly bought it for Franzen.
Lisa
Definitely worth reading, even though I don't agree with many of the “Top Tens."
Enrique Hernandez
It is very comforting and a great place to find the next great book to read.
Nancye
It was fascinating to read author's lists of favorite books!
Summer
I hope to someday make it through the lists in this book.
Jackelyn
Jun 11, 2013 Jackelyn is currently reading it
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