Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Entertainment Weekly's "Best 100 Novels" List, 51-75

51. The Corrections. A reminder to add this to my re-read list, because I loved this book. I remember it was very love-it-or-hate-it and there was a big divide and fights and stuff, but I loved it. Loved it.

52. Song of Solomon. I remember enjoying the jazzy language of this, but not being as emotionally moved as I was by Beloved or The Bluest Eye. It was a while ago, though, and I feel like this is probably a good spot for it on this list.

53. Gone with the Wind. An interesting choice. Obviously the romanticizing of slavery is a major problem, but it’s a window into the Confederate South that’s fascinating  both on a textual and meta-textual level. Plus, Scarlett O’Hara is just a wonderful anti-hero. Not a lot of “anti-heroines” that I can think of. (This list on Wikipedia is fairly interesting. I’d forgotten about Becky Sharp and Lisbeth Salander. But notice how overwhelmingly male this list is.)

54. Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk. This is a pretty recent book to be this high up on the list! I guess I’m gonna have to read it, huh?

55. A Fine Balance. Have not read it.

56. Sophie’s Choice. There is no way I could read this book now that I’m a parent; it was gutting enough before I was. I really enjoyed the “modern-day” framing device of this book,  and the psychological realism, and it’s impossible to get Meryl Streep’s performance out of my head even though, you know, the book is not the movie. Deserves its spot.

57. The Children of Men. Have not read it.

58. Midnight’s Children. I’m surprised this isn’t higher up. I mean I totally hated it, but I accept that this was a personal taste issue and not the fault of the book. Sorry, India. I will go watch Bend It Like Beckham again so you know it’s nothing personal.

59. Dracula. I should re-read this one purely based on the fact that my daughter is named Mina. In the meantime, I’m happy with it here, and glad that the “horror” label doesn’t disqualify it. (Same with Stephen King, actually. Nice to see some genre stuff on here.)

60. Their Eyes Were Watching God. I would probably put this a little higher. I think of it as one of the Great American Novels and taught it alongside The Sun Also Rises, and found a lot of interesting parallels that way. Higher!

61. Love in the Time of Cholera. I am very sorry, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, I haven’t read this one yet either. I will bring back the tiny letters of shame.

62. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. I feel like many people enjoy this novel more than I do. I’m okay with it at 62, but I wouldn’t move it higher.

63. Portnoy’s Complaint. I preferred American Pastoral by a wide margin, but obviously in the annals of Jewish-American literature, this is one of the most important! I’m okay with it.

64. Infinite Jest. A wonderful book. I would probably swap it with The Corrections, especially since David Foster Wallace > Jonathan Franzen, in my opinion.

65. Herzog. Herzzzzzzzog. There are lots of books I respect and just don’t enjoy, like Midnight’s Children. This one I neither respected nor enjoyed.  You bore me, Saul Bellow. To sobs.

66. Howards End. My favorite Forster!  For sure belongs here.

67. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay.  I really like this choice.  It’s interesting to me to see which books hold up enough over time to be deemed modern classics.

68. Middlemarch. Yeah, this should be higher.  By like, 50 spots at least. One of the great novels of all time.  (I know that this is already a list of the great novels of all time, so that’s a given, but you know what I mean.)

69. Money. This is one of the books I read last year that I totally loved discovering. I love seeing it on this list. Read this book, Ian, you will like it!

70. Neuromancer. I haven’t read this one, and am kind of surprised it hasn’t been on either of my booklists. This seems to be on here primarily because of its importance in the development of sci-fi as a genre. Is it worth reading on its own?

71. The Hobbit. Sure. But where is Little Women? (I realize the parallels between those books might not be immediately apparent, but it makes sense in my head. They’re both big books beloved by kids with characters overwhelmingly of one gender who have lots of adventures.)

72. The Remains of the Day. Absolutely. I really go back and forth between this and Never Let Me Go as to which one is my favorite, but I have re-read each of those books half a dozen times and I love them both. I would move it a little higher on my personal list, but I’m okay with its placement here.

73. The Spy Who Came in from the Cold. Sure, a classic.  I personally liked but did not love it, but its reputation is very high.

74. Cold Mountain. I didn’t read it. All I see is Renee Zelwegger’s Oscar clip in my head when I think about this book. Yelling something about raining in a terrible accent. Is the novel any good?

75. Madame Bovary. Oh yes. I’d nearly forgotten about Madame Bovary, and it’s wonderful and worthy. Except that Entertainment Weekly calls this book “an exquisite portrait of a lady” and that reminds me, do you know what else is an exquisite portrait of a lady? THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY.  WHERE IS IT, ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY!?



Blogger Beth said...

I was having a hard time with Cold Mountain on that list but then I remembered that I never actually read it, it has just sat on my bookshelf staring at me accusingly for so long that I have apparently grown to hate it. That might also be true of Infinite Jest. Man, I hate that book I never read! Heh.

I am genuinely shocked that you hated Midnight's Children. Not that I think it is a book that everybody ought to love, I just would have guessed that you would have loved it. (Did you ever read A Suitable Boy? Maybe you could make it up to India with that one. It's Middlemarch-like. Also they make nice matching doorstops.)

10:42 AM  
Blogger mo pie said...

Infinite Summer was definitely the way to go with Infinite Jest, I probably wouldn't have stuck with it otherwise!

I thought you knew we had the great Midnight's Children Divide, I think that came up when I read it the first time? I feel like we also are on opposite sides of Wide Sargasso Sea and The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter (I didn't like either one but I feel like you love them both).

8:29 PM  
Blogger Beth said...

I am actually pretty indifferent to both of them. I hated Wild Sargasso Sea the first time I read it, but then I read it again later after too many times reading Jane Eyre (which I do hate, I respect it but ugh, I hate it) and suddenly I really liked it. I don't think it's necessarily a best novel but I like it.

The Heart is a Lonely Hunter was one that I expected to blow me away, but it took me several tries to get through it and I just didn't care that much. (See also: Eudora Welty and Flannery O'Connor. I should love them all more than I actually do.)

1:09 PM  
Blogger mo pie said...

Yeah maybe I will like it again if I re-read it, except I am in no hurry to do that!

I feel like I haven't read any Eudora Welty. But I do love O'Connor! Maybe admire more than love.

6:40 PM  

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