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Top 100 novels of the 20th Century

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message 1: by Ragallachmc (new)

Ragallachmc | 8 comments The Top 100 Novels of the 20th Century was compiled a few years ago by The Modern Library. How many of them have you read? I have a shameful 15.


message 2: by Muzzlehatch (new)

Muzzlehatch | 168 comments My shame beats yours -- 13, though I own about 2 dozen more and intend to read most of them, honest!

That's the editor's list, a little better on the reader's list -- 22.


message 3: by Ragallachmc (new)

Ragallachmc | 8 comments The Reader's list is pretty bad. How many Ayn Rand and Hubbard books should really be on there? Doing a quick count I have 28 on the Reader's list.


message 4: by Claude S (new)

Claude S | 200 comments I've read 23, and there were about 10 more I was supposed to read in college. I was an expert at taking exams without reading the book.

A few years ago I thought about tackling the entire list. I didn't get very far.


message 5: by Dodd (new)

Dodd | 127 comments 16 for me and the shameful part is that so many of them were so long ago.

The readers' list is a bit of an embarrassment. Ayn Rand even once? Objectivist half baked presumptuousness aside, her writing is so bad that I can't even make myself read it to gather ammunition for counter arguments.


message 6: by Claude S (new)

Claude S | 200 comments anybody tried to tackle Ulysses?


message 7: by Dodd (new)

Dodd | 127 comments Absolutely.
I couldn't do it when I was in college, but when I picked it up a couple of years ago, I couldn't stop (except that I did about half way through). There was a new edition published in the 1980s and a good annotation (Gifford?) that can make clear some of the more obscure references. But the writing is a much more compelling thing for me now that I am older.

And that "older thing" is the frustration for me. Now that I am able to enjoy and appreciate things like Ulysses, I don't have the big blocks of time to read long-form stuff. Most of my reading ends up being short work and that is frustrating. It makes it hard to take vacations with my wife because I just want to sit and read while she wants to go out and do vacationish things like sightsee and museums, etc.


message 8: by Frank (new)

Frank Hays (logicalfrank) | 40 comments Sixteen but a bunch of those are barely remembered because I had to read it in high school. I'd say out of all of them I feel truly familiar w/ maybe five total.

The readers list is hilarious. It is like the Scientologists invaded. I got twenty-eight of those.


message 9: by Ragallachmc (new)

Ragallachmc | 8 comments It took me three tries to get through Ulysses. First 2 were in college and I would get frustrated by the narrative and walk away. Third time was when I was preparing to take a trip to Ireland. Something just clicked and it all made sense.

I have a similar block on Gravity's Rainbow. I've tried to read that 3 times and just get annoyed. Anybody read that, and is it worth slogging through?


message 10: by Dodd (new)

Dodd | 127 comments LOL My Gravity's Rainbow has the first thirty pages seriously worn. The rest never touched.


message 11: by grantonio (new)

grantonio | 24 comments I've got a pretty bad 11 on the editor's list. I'd say 10 or so are ones I fully intend to read soon. 21 on the readers' list.

I've gotten about 2/3 of the way through Ulysses. I guess it's ok on a superficial level, but I don't have the knowledge of classical literature to get more than a fraction of the allusions, and I honestly don't really care to, so I probably won't touch that one again.

I'm always surprised to see Grapes of Wrath on those sort of lists and not East of Eden. East of Eden is a FAR superior work, imho.


message 12: by Muzzlehatch (new)

Muzzlehatch | 168 comments It's pathetic of me not to have read Ulysses, or any Pynchon, given my love for difficult stream-of-consciousness stuff -- but I haven't. Wanted to take a Joyce class in college, but the only guy who regularly taught Joyce/Irish lit was a stereotypical loud drunken old Irish guy who seemed like he was about to have a heart attack every other class period (I had him for a required 20th C lit class), so I decided against it. Love "Portrait" and "Dubliners" but just haven't gotten round to putting forth the effort to read "Ulysses." Maybe that will be a goal for this year.

Along with Harry Potter, of course.



message 13: by Jacob (new)

Jacob | 17 comments I've got you all beat. I've read four. I'm not even that ashamed.


message 14: by Nate (new)

Nate (gueuze) | 13 comments I read wayyyy to much popular fiction. I've only read (so far) 3 books on the "Board's List" ... Sun Also Rises, Catcher in the Rye, and 1984.

I've got 10 on the other list, including crossovers above.


message 15: by Muzzlehatch (new)

Muzzlehatch | 168 comments I read too much junky pop fiction too; but unlike most of you (I think) I was an English major in college specializing in The Novel, and yet I still have managed to ignore a very large percentage of the "great" ones. Of course, I was a lousy student...


message 16: by Brandon (new)

Brandon (bbbrr) | 18 comments I was fortunate enough to take a Joyce class in grad school, and most of the semester was dedicated to a close reading of Ulysses. I've since read it twice more, and always find more to love. As with all of Joyce's work, it really helps to read it out loud. As several teachers have told me in the past, "stop trying to make sense of it, just let it waft over your brain, and eventually the sense will come."

Pynchon is a whole other beast. He creates worlds that are much like our own, but operate by their own internal logic, so the problem with his work is less making sense of the words than it is making sense of the world he is presenting to you. Plus, his narratives tend to be "encyclopedic," drawing from history, physics, math, philosophy, etc., so sometimes it's difficult to understand some of his ideas (unless you're some kind of super nerd with multiple advanced degrees). So, much like with Joyce, you sometimes have to come to terms with the fact that you aren't going to "get" all of it, especially not in the first reading. You just have to decide whether or not what you DO get from it is worth the trouble.

But that's the beauty of authors like these. You can appreciate and understand their work on multiple levels. You don't need to get all of the hundreds of literary parallels Joyce crams into Ulysses to enjoy it as a wonderful emotional and psychological portrait of an individual. And you don't need to understand engineering and quantum mechanics to enjoy Slothrop's journey into the f-ed up wonderland of post-war Europe in Gravity's Rainbow. Everyone enjoys a book in a different way. The incredible thing about books like these is that people from many walks of life can appreciate them in so man different ways; that's what makes them classics.


message 17: by Claude S (new)

Claude S | 200 comments Muzzle-
I love a good annotated volume, especially for Joyce, Pound, Eliot and some of the heavier hitters.

I have the same problem with time (see other thread), so the denser books take a LOT longer. I've been reading some books for years. That biography of Canaris I'm reading is translated from German, and that biographer is telling the WHOLE story... with detailed histories of the various german intelligence agencies and interplay between. It's interesting, but takes forever.

I too love the dense stream-of-consciousness type stuff.

I need a job where I can just read. How much does security guard pay?


message 18: by William (new)

William (acknud) Wow... I had 1 on the editors list and 7 on the readers list. I am so ashamed!


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