Monday, November 24, 2008


Life seems to be injecting lists into my daily experience. The NY Times has the best books of 2008 (already). Another blog I read has 75 books every man should read. There were the 10 Commandments on Sunday. Another blog I came across has 101 things you don't know about [him the blogger]. And just last week someone asked me about my favorite books.

Lists are hard. But I like them. They interest as much for what they include as for what they don't. They elicit opinions--sometimes strong ones. They force self-reflection, solicit new lists, promote discussion. I'm not David Letterman, but I think I'll try some of these.

Here's a top ten contemporary novel list with a tie for ten:

1. The Prince of Tides (turned me on my head at age 20...had no idea language could do this to a person)
2. Sophie's Choice (a dilemma that leveled me...I was never the same)
3. Lonesome Dove (I didn't know I could love two characters, fictional characters)
4. Pillars of the Earth (epic, beautiful, and what medieval times must've been like)
5. I Know This Much is True (Wally Lamb is a small god that stirs my soul)
6. Shantaram (a true story, haunting, and so evocative I dreamed about it)
7. Middlesex (writing so beautiful I called people on the phone to read to them)
8. The Things They Carried (the best book about war ever written)
9. The Secret History (the most brilliant first novel I've ever read)
10. The Cider House Rules (John Irving is a genius, pure and simple)
10. A Prayer for Owen Meany (I'll say it again...John Irving is a genius)

And how about a top ten classic American novel list:

1. The Great Gatsby (I want to live in Nick Carroway's spare bedroom)
2. To Kill a Mockingbird (Atticus is my hero and role model)
3. Fahrenheit 451 (one of the coolest plots and best titles ever)
4. Crime & Punishment (Raskolnikov is one of the best characters ever created)
5. A River Runs Through It (contemporary, but a classic. A heartbreaking poem really)
6. Of Mice and Men (Lenny--unforgettably tragic; George profoundly just)
7. A Lesson Before Dying (how to be a man, applicable to any generation, any race)
8. Huck Finn (no comment necessary)
9. The Sound and the Fury (Quentin, the existential man)
10. For Whom the Bell Tolls (Hemingway's opus)

Wow, I should've done top twenties. Huge gaps, huge gaps.... Got thoughts of your own? I'd love to hear them.

No comments: