For the English speaking world, what are (considered to be) the best novels of the 20th century? As I set out to find the answer I came upon some nice lists. And like all lists they represent the eccentricity of their makers. Some of the titles will leave you doubting, while some others will invite angry gasps by their conspicuous absence. To repeat, lists are only that much. They represent the taste of one, few or many people. How else can you explain that some people do not find Catch-22 funny? Here I am, dying of side-splitting laughter when I first read the book a few years ago and breaking into a giggle even today by just thinking of it . And I know people who read it and said “It is OK”. Forget that, I even know someone who tried reading the book, but could not, because it did not appeal!!
But one thing is for sure. If you are like me, there is a certain peace in knowing that you know what next to read. And going by the collected pages held between these lists, there is enough to keep the bookworm in you happy for many years.
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My take (on 20th century works) from whatever I have read:
Drama – Kane and Abel, The Good Earth, 1984, The Man, First Among Equals
Action Thriller – The Day of the Jackal, The Dogs of War, The Fist of God,
Vision and storytelling – The Lord of the Rings
Youth – The Catcher in the Rye
Funny, outrageous, dark and tragic – Catch 22
Western – Louis L’Amour (specially the Sackett series)
Mystery – Sherlock Holmes and Hercule Poirot
Philosophy – The Fountainhead, Illusions, The Animal Farm, To Kill a Mockingbird
Science – Cosmos, In Search of the Big Bang, Imagined Worlds, E=mC2