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.
– – –
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
Thanks for the list of lists. AOL has one that has a mix of genre (likely put together by their marketing department). If you haven’t already read it, I am a broken record when suggesting A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving.
donstuff, you are welcome. I have not read ‘A Prayer for Owen Meany’ and will definitely pick it up when I am next out for books. Infact, this will be an excellent reason to taste Irving, an author I have been wanting to read (but have not) for many years now.
Owen Meany is one of the most unique, memorable and compelling characters in literature.
How can you go wrong with a book that begins, “I AM DOOMED to remember a boy with a wrecked voice – not because of his voice, or because he was the instrument of my mother’s death, but because he is the reason I believe in God; I am a Christian because of Owen Meany.”
The book, however, isn’t about Christianity, although religion certainly runs through the pages.
That is sure a VERY inviting begining. I am tempted to read this work right away, but I must first complete the books already started.
The Lord of the Rings is on the top of my list!
Hmm… i’ll hunt for that book donstuff mentioned.
For many people The Lord of the Rings can be intimidating at over 1200 pages, however, I was held captive by the storytelling and was through within a week or so. That I was coming from The Hobbit (read a few years before I read LOTR) was a help. That said, Tolkien’s work is a few levels above anything written in the past few hundred years simply because of the breadth – to create tightly bound characters and stories spread over vast spans of time, invent a language (elvish), and entertain people of all ages is no mean feat.
How did you find the 3-part movie series on LOTR? I loved the cinema version too. There is a Extended DVD Edition (11 DVDs if I remember correctly) which I very very highly recommend.
I’m absolutely in love with Peter Jackson’s LOTR Trilogy, my fave movies ever. It was so fantastically done! The characters just come alive…the scenery is breathtaking and what i really love about them is that you feel the emotions in the scene!
Waу сool! Some very valid points! I appreciate you writing this
post andd the rest of the website is also vey good.