The Best Books of All Time, As Voted by 125 Well-known Authors – The Marginalian

“Studying is the nourishment that allows you to do attention-grabbing work,” Jennifer Egan as soon as stated. This intersection of studying and writing is each a needed bi-directional life talent for us mere mortals and a secret of iconic writers’ success, as bespoken by their private libraries. The Prime Ten: Writers Choose Their Favourite Books asks 125 of modernity’s best British and American writers — together with Norman Mailer, Ann Patchett, Jonathan Franzen, Claire Messud, and Joyce Carol Oates — “to supply an inventory, ranked, so as, of what [they] think about the ten best works of fiction of all time– novels, story collections, performs, or poems.”

Of the 544 separate titles chosen, every is assigned a reverse-order level worth primarily based on the quantity place at which it seems on any listing — so, a e book that tops an inventory at primary receives 10 factors, and a e book that graces the underside, at quantity ten, receives 1 level.

In introducing the lists, David Orr affords a litmus check for greatness:

When you’re placing collectively an inventory of ‘the best books,’ you’ll need to do two issues: (1) out of kindness, keep away from anybody engaged on a novel; and (2) resolve what the phrase ‘nice’ means. The primary half is straightforward, however how concerning the second? A brief listing of doable definitions of ‘greatness’ may appear like this:

1. ‘Nice’ means ‘books which were best for me.’
2. ‘Nice’ means ‘books that might be thought-about nice by the most individuals over time.’
3. ‘Nice’ has nothing to do with you or me — or individuals in any respect. It includes transcendental ideas like God or the Chic.
4. ‘Nice’? I like Tom Clancy.

From David Foster Wallace (#1: The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis) to Stephen King (#1: The Golden Argosy, a 1955 anthology of the very best quick tales within the English language), the gathering affords a uncommon glimpse of the constructing blocks of nice creators’ combinatorial creativity — as a result of, as Austin Kleon put it, “you’re a mashup of what you let into your life.”

The e book concludes with an appendix of “literary quantity video games” summing up some patterns and developing a number of general rankings primarily based on the totality of the completely different authors’ picks. Amongst them (*with hyperlinks to free public area works the place out there):

  1. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
  2. The Nice Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  3. In Search of Misplaced Time by Marcel Proust
  4. Ulysses* by James Joyce
  5. Dubliners* by James Joyce
  6. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  7. The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
  8. To The Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf
  9. The whole tales of Flannery O’Connor
  10. Pale Fireplace by Vladimir Nabokov
  1. Anna Karenina* by Leo Tolstoy
  2. Madame Bovary* by Gustave Flaubert
  3. Battle and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
  4. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
  5. The tales of Anton Chekhov
  6. Middlemarch* by George Eliot
  7. Moby-Dick by Herman Melville
  8. Nice Expectations* by Charles Dickens
  9. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky
  10. Emma* by Jane Austen
  1. William Shakespeare — 11
  2. William Faulkner — 6
  3. Henry James — 6
  4. Jane Austen — 5
  5. Charles Dickens — 5
  6. Fyodor Dostoevsky — 5
  7. Ernest Hemingway — 5
  8. Franz Kafka — 5
  9. (tie) James Joyce, Thomas Mann, Vladimir Nabokov, Mark Twain, Virginia Woolf — 4
  1. Leo Tolstoy — 327
  2. William Shakespeare — 293
  3. James Joyce — 194
  4. Vladimir Nabokov — 190
  5. Fyodor Dostoevsky — 177
  6. William Faulkner — 173
  7. Charles Dickens — 168
  8. Anton Chekhov — 165
  9. Gustave Flaubert — 163
  10. Jane Austen — 161

As a nonfiction loyalist, I’d love an identical anthology of nonfiction favorites — then once more, well-known writers may wave a realizing finger and level me to the complicated relationship between reality and fiction.

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