Newsweek’s Top 100 Books of All Time, part 2

Posted on July 18, 2009. Filed under: Book Reviews |

The other day I discussed the first 52 books of The Top 100 list put out by Newsweek. Today I want to go through the remainder of the list. I absolutely believe that Christians ought to be well read in the classics. As I have gone through the list I realize how inadequate my education and my own personal reading have been. Going through the list is humbling but also motivating; I hope to renew my love for great literature and read some more good books soon.

To sum up then: in the first half of the list I have read 12 of the books from start to finish and parts of 6 others.

#53 starts us off with Walt Whitman’s “Leaves of Grass”, one of the great classics in the American canon of poetry…which I have, of course, never read. Dr Levy back at OU would be upset with me for never reading it. OK, while poetry just isn’t my thing, I guess I will need to read it; I do own a copy.

But #54, “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” by Mark Twain, I have read a couple of times and love it. It is so amazing that this book gets banned for its use of the N-word, WHEN THE BOOK IS A SERIOUS INDICTMENT AGAINST RACISM YOU IDIOTS! The book is about a child who befriends a runaway slave and the bond that they share while the white people they meet are shown to be hypocrites and ruffians, idiots and thieves. This book is considered by many to be the greatest American novel, though on this list To Kill A Mockingbird ranks higher. Both books deal with racism and view the world through a child’s eyes. Maybe that is why I love both books so much? Buy it; read it; give it to a teacher and dare her/him to teach it in class. Good luck with that. Don’t get me started with the American public educrats….

Rudyard Kipling’s “Kim” holds down the #55 slot. I have not read it, and likely won’t, although I loved “Captain’s Courageous”. But India is not my thing, you see.

#56 is the first Sci Fi novel ever written- Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein”. I have read it a couple of times and need to re-read it now that I own the Norton Critical Edition and “Mary Shelley- Frankenstein: essays, articles, reviews edited by Berthold Schoene-Harwood. Let me just put a plug in here for the Norton Critical Editions- these are inexpensive paperbacks that include a lot of background material on the author and the book, correspondence between the author and friends or critics, critical reviews throughout the history of the book and other cool stuff. Granted they don’t look as cool on the shelf as The Modern Library editions do, so that is why I buy both. Seriously. I have a lot of duplicates because I used to (back when I had $$) buy 2 or even 3 copies of the same book from different publishers. Here is a link to Norton Critical Editions:

OK…where was I? Oh yeah, Frankenstein. This is a book that is so much more than a horror story. It delves deep into the heart of man searching for the source of evil, searching for a cure for loneliness and alienation. It warns of the dangers of science when devoid of ethics and love. Wow. I have got to read this one again. Place Frankenstein in my top ten list, or at least top 20.

57 “Song of Solomon” by Toni Morrison, 1977. The problem here is that I have not only never heard of this book, but it was written after 1970 which almost assuredly means I would not consider it a classic. Next…

58 Ken Kesey’s “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” from 1962. Hmmm, never read it but it should probably be on my list. Haven’t seen the movie either.

Ernest hemingway finally shows up at #59 with “For Whom the Bell Tolls” and #68 with “The Sun Also Rises”. Of course they choose a Hemingway book that I haven’t read to be higher rated than the ones I have read. I would put “The Green Hills of Africa” in my top 20 list probably, but the other Hemingway books I have read are pretty depressing. I have read, “The Sun Also Rises” and its hopelessness and pointlessness makes the point quite well: the 20th century sucks, life sucks then you die. You should read “A Farewell To Arms” though, the greatest American novel to come out of the WW1 experience. The ending….voof!

In 1969 Kurt Vonnegut published “Slaughterhouse 5” and I had to read it ten years later for Dr. Levy. I read it, hated it, didn’t get it, until the day Dr. David Levy explained it. E=MC2. Wow. I need to read it again.

OK, now we’re talkin’ with #’s 61-62 “Animal Farm” by George Orwell and “Lord of the Flies” by William Golding. I have read Animal Farm a few times, watched the movie, and in the one semester I taught school, required it for my Seniors in Government. This book ought to be read by every American immediately. Which pig is Obamasky? Napoleon? And Rahm Emmanuel is Squealer? I am trying to write a multi volume review of Animal Farm:

Right there with Animal Farm is Golding’s “Lord of the Flies” at 62. This is another must read by every American today as it deals with the hearts of people, even small children are sinners, and the effects of sin upon our society and how we govern ourselves. Gotta read this again. Have the movie but is was some weird indie thing done in a very bizzarre way. Seriously need a modern day movie of this book, dedicate it to Obamasky.

“In Cold Blood” comes in at 63. By Truman Capote…I am disinclined to read anything by him.

Doris Lessing’s “The Golden Notebook” comes in at 64. Why? Go away.

“Remembrance of Things” by Marcel Proust. I once had a chance to buy a large collection of Proust for pretty cheap. Nice editions too. But, he is French. Never read him. OKkkk, I ought to read him I guess.

Raymond Chandler’s “The Big Sleep” comes in at #66. I have the book and the movie with Bogey and Bacall. Love the movie but need to read the book. But, detective novels…c’mon, does this really belong on the list? Anything with Bogey and Bacall belongs on the list though!

William Faulkner shows up again at #67 with “As I Lay Dying”. Why have I never read anything by Faulkner? Much embarrassment.

#68 see Hemingway above.

“I, Claudius” by Robert Graves, at 69,is a book I should have read, as much Roman history as I took in college and have read much of since. Add this one to my “must read” list.

Carson McCullers’ “The Heart Is A lonely Hunter” is likely not my speed; never read it; doubt if I do. #70

#71 “Sons and Lovers” by DH Lawrence. Nope. Nada. Nyet. Never.

#72 “Robert Penn Warren’s “All The King’s Men” is perhaps the best American political novel, and certainly one of my all time favs. The book won a Pulitzer and the movie an Oscar. Haven’t seen the Sean Penn movie though, heard it was a flop. Some classics you should just leave alone. I couldn’t put this book down. Somewhat related to Huey P. Long, governor of Louisiana, but it gives a timeless examination of money, politics and corruption. Mmm Hmm, you need to read it today…well…after 1984, Animal Farm and Lord of the Flies.

#73 “Go Tell It On The Mountain” by James Baldwin is another great book that I cannot believe I have not read.

#74 EB White’s “Charlotte’s Web” is a children’s classic that I never read because it is for girls. Maybe I will read it if I ever have any grandchildren…

At 75 is “Heart of Darkness” by Joseph Conrad. Read it, didn’t get it, had a delayed reaction, now I want to read it again. Now that I have the Norton Critical Edition…Yeah, “Apocalypse Now” was loosely based on it. It’s the historical background that eventually shook me up way after I read the novel. But Conrad is just difficult for me for some reason. I’ll have to try him again.

OK…for this third quarter of the list how did you do? Here is my tally: I have completely read 8 of the books and part of 1. That is a little bit better than the other 2 quarters I have reviewed!

Here is your task: go through the list and let me know how many and which ones you have read. We might even discuss the books some. Cool!

I will save the next 25 for next time.

Equality 7-2521 (PS- does anyone know which of my favorite novels that pseudonym comes from?)




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