Friday, June 27, 2008

More. Scrolling

In addition to the film list, EW put out lists of teh best 100 books, albums, and TV shows of the last 25 years. Because Jaq did it, here is my look at the book list. It should be noted that EW was upfront that they deliberately tried to limit authors to one or two books on the 100. So only one Harry Potter, one Stephen King, etc. I also must take a moment to bemoan the absence of the book I'd put at #1 - Edward P. Jones' masterful slavery novel The Known World. See here for why.

You know the drill - bold is read it, red is don't wanna read it, and green is hope to read it.

(may be spoilers within)

1. The Road , Cormac McCarthy (2006)
I've read pretty much nothing but high praise, and the concept - father and son wander through hellish post-apocalyptic landscape, is right up my alley. This is on my library list, and pretty high up actually.

2. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, J.K. Rowling (2000)
Is this the best Potter? I might go with Half-Blood Prince myself, but at the point we're just quibbling.

3. Beloved, Toni Morrison (1987)
A great, great book that was free-form and poetic enough that I really need to re-read it to get a better sense of it.

4. The Liars' Club, Mary Karr (1995)
The king of the "horrible childhood" memoirs. Very curious to see what the fuss was about.

5. American Pastoral, Philip Roth (1997)
The structure of this book, with the vast majority of the plot being a fantasy of one character at a dance, really bugged me - why am I supposed to care about the main character when it's all fake. (Which of course raises the question, and I'm sure deliberately, is why I'd care if the framework wasn't there - after all, it would still all be made up).

6. Mystic River, Dennis Lehane (2001)
I love Lehane - this more "literary" effort is great, but his more pop-mystery "Kensit and Gennaro" mystery books are equally great.

7. Maus, Art Spiegelman (1986/1991)
I love this book, but was surprised how non-fictional it was.

8. Selected Stories, Alice Munro (1996)
I've read one book of Munro stories, and I think this is it. She's great, but a bit too dry for my tastes. I also am not a huge short story fan, and that's all she does.

9. Cold Mountain, Charles Frazier (1997)

10. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, Haruki Murakami (1997)
Never heard of it.

11. Into Thin Air, Jon Krakauer (1997)
I read Into the Wild and liked it fine - am curious to read this more personal story.

12. Blindness, José Saramago (1998)

13. Watchmen, Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons (1986-87)
Just re-read this actually. Grand and every bit as good as advertised.

14. Black Water, Joyce Carol Oates (1992)
I like Oates, but haven't read nearly enough of her work - just We Were the Mulvaneys actually.

15. A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, Dave Eggers (2000)
Great, effortless fun. I loved the meta-structural games Eggers played here.

16. The Handmaid's Tale, Margaret Atwood (1986)
Sheer genius. Just a remarkably disturbing, engrossing book.

17. Love in the Time of Cholera, Gabriel García Márquez (1988)

18. Rabbit at Rest, John Updike (1990)
I've never read any Updike. Bad reader!

19. On Beauty, Zadie Smith (2005)
Great, and, I agree, better than White Teeth.

20. Bridget Jones's Diary, Helen Fielding (1998)
I've seen the film and feel no need to read the book.

21. On Writing, Stephen King (2000)
A great, short and sweet hybrid of memoir and writer's guide. That being said, I'd much prefer to see some of King's fiction here - It or The Green Mile.

22. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Junot Díaz (2007)
Heard nothing but good things.

23. The Ghost Road, Pat Barker (1996)
Never heard of it.

24. Lonesome Dove, Larry McMurtry (1985)
Not a huge Western fan.

25. The Joy Luck Club, Amy Tan (1989)
Another where I've seen the film and don't feel the need to read.

26. Neuromancer, William Gibson (1984)
Nothing I've heard or read about this makes me feel the need to read it.

27. Possession, A.S. Byatt (1990)

28. Naked, David Sedaris (1997)
Very funny stuff.

29. Bel Canto, Anne Patchett (2001)
Comes highly recommended from a trusted source.

30. Case Histories, Kate Atkinson (2004)
Never heard of it.

31. The Things They Carried, Tim O'Brien (1990)
32. Parting the Waters, Taylor Branch (1988)
33. The Year of Magical Thinking, Joan Didion (2005)

34. The Lovely Bones, Alice Sebold (2002)
A very sad and sweet novel.

35. The Line of Beauty, Alan Hollinghurst (2004)

36. Angela's Ashes, Frank McCourt (1996)
Will get to it one day.

37. Persepolis, Marjane Satrapi (2003)
Will get to it one day.

38. Birds of America, Lorrie Moore (1998)
39. Interpreter of Maladies, Jhumpa Lahiri (2000)

40. His Dark Materials, Philip Pullman (1995-2000)
Great kid's fantasy that never speaks down to its audience. Nowhere near as joyous as the Potter books, but very good nonetheless.

41. The House on Mango Street, Sandra Cisneros (1984)
42. LaBrava, Elmore Leonard (1983)
43. Borrowed Time, Paul Monette (1988)
44. Praying for Sheetrock, Melissa Fay Greene (1991)
45. Eva Luna, Isabel Allende (1988)

46. Sandman, Neil Gaiman (1988-1996)
I've never warmed to Gaiman.

47. World's Fair, E.L. Doctorow (1985)
Ragtime was pretty good, but not so good as to make me seek out more Doctorow.

48. The Poisonwood Bible, Barbara Kingsolver (1998)
A beautiful, epic, structurally inspired novel I will read again one day.

49. Clockers, Richard Price (1992)

50. The Corrections, Jonathan Franzen (2001)
Good, and much more fun and accessible than it's "literary" reputation might success.

51. The Journalist and the Murderer, Janet Malcom (1990)
52. Waiting to Exhale, Terry McMillan (1992)

53. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, Michael Chabon (2000)
Another I must read again. So good.

54. Jimmy Corrigan, Chris Ware (2000)

55. The Glass Castle, Jeannette Walls (2006)
56. The Night Manager, John le Carré (1993)

57. The Bonfire of the Vanities, Tom Wolfe (1987)
I've only read Charlotte Simmons, but liked it enough to want to check out more Wolfe

58. Drop City, TC Boyle (2003)
I like Boyle enough to want to check this one out.

59. Krik? Krak! Edwidge Danticat (1995)

60. Nickel & Dimed, Barbara Ehrenreich (2001)
A vey well-done and engaging bit of muckraking.

61. Money, Martin Amis (1985)
62. Last Train To Memphis, Peter Guralnick (1994)
63. Pastoralia, George Saunders (2000)

64. Underworld, Don DeLillo (1997)
I read the first 50 pages of White Noise and tossed it away. Not my cuppa.

65. The Giver, Lois Lowry (1993)

66. A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again, David Foster Wallace (1997)
Wallace writes my favorite pieces of journalism. Wonderful in-depth stuff.

67. The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini (2003)

68. Fun Home, Alison Bechdel (2006)
69. Secret History, Donna Tartt (1992)
70. Cloud Atlas, David Mitchell (2004)
71. The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down, Ann Fadiman (1997)

72. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Mark Haddon (2003)
A wonderful novel with a wonderfully executed point of view (first-person from an autistic child).

73. A Prayer for Owen Meany, John Irving (1989)
One of my favorite books ever, and my Irving choice as well.

74. Friday Night Lights, H.G. Bissinger (1990)

75. Cathedral, Raymond Carver (1983)
76. A Sight for Sore Eyes, Ruth Rendell (1998)

77. The Remains of the Day, Kazuo Ishiguro (1989)
I read this almost reluctantly (a novel about a British butler?), but it's wonderful.

78. Eat, Pray, Love, Elizabeth Gilbert (2006)

79. The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell (2000)
I like Gladwell's articles very much, but this felt a little drawn out.

80. Bright Lights, Big City, Jay McInerney (1984)
81. Backlash, Susan Faludi (1991)

82. Atonement, Ian McEwan (2002)
Should be much higher.

83. The Stone Diaries, Carol Shields (1994)
84. Holes, Louis Sachar (1998)
85. Gilead, Marilynne Robinson (2004)
86. And the Band Played On, Randy Shilts (1987)

87. The Ruins, Scott Smith (2006)
Stephen King told me I should read it, so I shall.

88. High Fidelity, Nick Hornby (1995
Hornby is very dependable. Agreed that this is his best.

89. Close Range, Annie Proulx (1999)

90. Comfort Me With Apples, Ruth Reichl (2001)
I'm a sucker for a good foodie memoir.

91. Random Family, Adrian Nicole LeBlanc (2003)
92. Presumed Innocent, Scott Turow (1987)
I know the twist.

93. A Thousand Acres, Jane Smiley (1991)
Another author I keep meaning to read more of - I loved this farmland retelling of King Lear.

94. Fast Food Nation, Eric Schlosser (2001)
Great muckraking.

95. Kaaterskill Falls, Allegra Goodman (1998)
96. The Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown (2003)
97. Jesus’ Son, Denis Johnson (1992)
98. The Predators' Ball, Connie Bruck (1988)
99. Practical Magic, Alice Hoffman (1995)

100. America (the Book), Jon Stewart/Daily Show (2004)
A triumph of design and content.

Until Whenever


bill said...

Don't think I've said - I'm enjoying your recaps of the lists. Read and enjoyed:

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, J.K. Rowling (2000)
Into Thin Air, Jon Krakauer (1997)
The Handmaid's Tale, Margaret Atwood (1986)
Neuromancer, William Gibson (1984)
Naked, David Sedaris (1997)
The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell (2000)
Backlash, Susan Faludi (1991)
And the Band Played On, Randy Shilts (1987)
Presumed Innocent, Scott Turow (1987)

Neil Gaiman: read two of his in past year. Loved "Neverwhere." Read "Stardust" after seeing the movie and wrote: loved the movie.Then read the Neil Gaiman book. Not that good. Every change the movie made improved the story.

What I'm most likely to mention if asked for a recommendation,

Where the Suckers Moon: The Life and Death of an Advertising Campaign, Randall Rothenberg (nonfiction)

Memoir From Antproof Case, Mark Helprin. My favorite of his.

And, of course, everything by Neal Stephenson. But limiting myself, I think his 1999 works -- Cryptonomicon (fiction) and In the Beginning...was the Command Line (nonfiction) -- will be reviewed and studied for their depiction of the golden age of geek culture.

W. P. Kinsella's Shoeless Joe just misses (1982), so my next favorite of his is Box Socials (1991). A wonderfully lyrical story that reads as oral storytelling as the narrative coils and uncoils, like a spring. I had a radio show in college and I'd read excerpts over the air.

Tosy And Cosh said...

bill - thanks for the feedback! I guess I'll have to do the TV and albums ones now. I'll have to add your recommendations to my library list. My travails with Stephenson have been well-trod here, but I'm just not man enough for his remarkable density of thought and event. He beats me, every time.

bill said...

Wait, you didn't start with Quicksilver, did you? If I wasn't such a fanboy, I doubt I would have made it past 600 pages. It kept getting better after that and you begin to see why all that before was necessary...but, man, that was rough stuff. Anyway, towards the beginning of the third book, after you've reading about 2300 pages, there's a wonderful Monty Python joke. Just so you know.

In the comments to this post, I try to answer "Which Neal Stephenson book would you recommend to one who had never read Neal Stephenson?" Shorter answer: go with either "Zodiac" or "Interface." Both are nondense, relatively short, and still filled with entertaining ideas and language.

Tosy And Cosh said...

I did!! Twice! Seriously, I read about half, fell away from it, and then a year later started from the beginning and got all of 50 pages from the finish . . . and fell away. I may have to give one of those you mention a shot.