Sunday, October 22, 2006

1001 Novels We All Should Read?

Confession: Other than Boomeritis, I have not read a single novel since I quit working in bookstores more than 10 years ago. I have reread some things I've read before, but nothing new. Yes, I know . . . .

Jessa at Bookslut liked 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die enough that she talked to the editor, Peter Boxall.

You can read the list here. Organized by century, it's still very top heavy with books from the 1990's and 2000's -- books which may not survive the next ten years, let alone 100 years.

Once you get past the 1990's, the list is fairly representative of most college lit classes, though I would argue that the list disproportionately favors novels written in English.

Here is a segment of the list that covers part of my career as a bookseller:
  1. A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth
  2. The Stone Diaries – Carol Shields
  3. The Virgin Suicides – Jeffrey Eugenides
  4. The House of Doctor Dee – Peter Ackroyd
  5. The Robber Bride – Margaret Atwood
  6. The Emigrants – W.G. Sebald
  7. The Secret History – Donna Tartt
  8. Life is a Caravanserai – Emine Özdamar
  9. The Discovery of Heaven – Harry Mulisch
  10. A Heart So White – Javier Marias
  11. Possessing the Secret of Joy – Alice Walker
  12. Indigo – Marina Warner
  13. The Crow Road – Iain Banks
  14. Written on the Body – Jeanette Winterson
  15. Jazz – Toni Morrison
  16. The English Patient – Michael Ondaatje
  17. Smilla’s Sense of Snow – Peter Høeg
  18. The Butcher Boy – Patrick McCabe
  19. Black Water – Joyce Carol Oates
  20. The Heather Blazing – Colm Tóibín
  21. Asphodel – H.D. (Hilda Doolittle)
  22. Black Dogs – Ian McEwan
  23. Hideous Kinky – Esther Freud
  24. Arcadia – Jim Crace
  25. Wild Swans – Jung Chang
  26. American Psycho – Bret Easton Ellis
  27. Time’s Arrow – Martin Amis
  28. Mao II – Don DeLillo
  29. Typical – Padgett Powell
  30. Regeneration – Pat Barker
I've read about 70% of those books. Several of them will survive the test of time, but most won't. Still, if one wanted an idea of what to read to be well-read in fiction, this list would be a good start.

What do you all think of this list?

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