Monday, June 29, 2015

Modern Library's Top 100, Readers' Choice

Modern Library's list of the top 100 novels of the 20th century is respectable and well-regarded for its distinction, if not its originality.  Commendably, they decided to see what the average reader thought the best books of the century were.  This resulted in a strange combination of modern classics, pulp writers with big fanbases, and a top ten overrun by Scientologists and Objectivists (the top ten contains three by L. Ron Hubbard and four by Ayn Rand).  So, in much the same spirit as my original project, I am embarking on another reading journey.  The difference here is that I will be updating every other Monday, alternating with my adaptation review series.  The list is as follows, starting with #100:

100. The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie
99. The Cunning Man by Robertson Davies
98. Illusions by Richard Bach
97. Mythago Wood by Robert Holdstock
96. Suttree by Cormac McCarthy
95. Mulengro by Charles de Lint
94. My Antonia by Willa Cather
93. Sometimes a Great Notion by Ken Kesey
92. The Sheltering Sky by Paul Bowles
91. A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway
90. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey
89. Light in August by William Faulkner
88. Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh
87. Citizen of the Galaxy by Robert Heinlein
86. Double Star by Robert Heinlein
85. V. by Thomas Pynchon
84. It by Stephen King
83. The Puppet Masters by Robert Heinlein
82. Guilty Pleasures by Laurell K. Hamilton
81. The Hunt for Red October by Tom Clancy
80. Naked Lunch by William S. Burroughs
79. Watership Down by Richard Adams
78. Arrowsmith by Sinclair Lewis
77. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
76. At Swim-Two-Birds by Flann O'Brien
75. The Call of the Wild by Jack London
74. I, Claudius by Robert Graves
73. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig
72. The Door into Summer by Robert Heinlein
71. The Magus by John Fowles
70. The Wood Wife y Terri Windling
69. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
68. Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller
67. As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
66. The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
65. Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury
64. The World According to Garp by John Irving
63. The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
62. Starship Troopers by Robert Heinlein
61. The Recognitions by William Gaddis
60. The Little Country by Charles de Lint
59. Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
58. Greenmantle by Charles de Lint
57. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce
56. On the Beach by Nevil Shute
55. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
54. Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy
53. The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
52. The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers
51. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
50. Trader by Charles de Lint
49. The Moviegoer by Walker Percy
48. To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf
47. Memory and Dream by Charles de Lint
46. One Lonely Night by Mickey Spillane
45. At the Mountains of Madness by H. P. Lovecraft
44. Yarrow by Charles de Lint
43. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
42. On the Road by Jack Kerouac
41. Someplace to Be Flying by Charles de Lint
40. Fifth Business by Robertson Davies
39. Under the Volcano by Malcolm Lowry
38. Wise Blood by Flannery O'Connor
37. Of Human Bondage by W. Somerset Maugham
36. Absalom, Absalom! by William Faulkner
35. Moonheart by Charles de Lint
34. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
33. The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
32. The Worm Ouroboros by E. R. Eddison
31. Beloved by Toni Morrison
30. The French Lieutenant's Woman by John Fowles
29. The Stand by Stephen King
28. A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
27. Trustee from the Toolroom by Nevil Shute
26. Shane by Jack Schaefer
25. Lord of the Flies by William Golding
24. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
23. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
22. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
21. Gravity's Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon
20. Animal Farm by George Orwell
19. The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger
18. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
17. A Town Like Alice by Nevil Shute
16. Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein
15. The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress by Robert Heinlein
14. Dune by Frank Herbert
13. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
12. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
11. Ulysses by James Joyce
10. Fear by L. Ron Hubbard
9. Mission Earth by L. Ron Hubbard
8. We the Living by Ayn Rand
7. Anthem by Ayn Rand
6. 1984 by George Orwell
5. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
4. The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien
3. Battlefield Earth by L. Ron Hubbard
2. The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand
1. Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand


  1. I have read 30 of these which is fairly consistent whenever I run across these types of lists. As you noticed, the ballot box stuffing is so intense as to make the results meaningless. And while you noticed the Ayn Rand results as being from Objectivists, I suspect the strong showing by the works of Robert Heinlein to be a result of their over-representation as well. He has six novels on this list which is well beyond his more conventional literary reputation.

    1. Heinlein, Shute, and de Lint all seem to have fan bases over-represented here.

  2. What, no Grisham?

    I've read 23. Like yellojkt, I usually fall around 20-30% with such lists.
    As usual, I find authors I would put on this list, but with different books: The Member of the Wedding instead of The Heart is a Lonely Hunter. The Dharma Bums instead of On the Road. Main Street (or even Babbitt) instead of Arrowsmith.

    I'd love to know how they conducted this survey!

  3. I'm at 29, including the few that were on the best sellers list. Still not sure what I'm going to do about those. Right now, I'm just trying to get far enough ahead so I'll have time enough to tackle "The Recognitions."