09 July 2009

WAR AND PEACE is still overrated

From the Hawaiian office: Newsweek has come up with what it's calling the "Top 100 Books: The Meta-List," formed by an unholy hybrid of 10 lists including the Modern Library lists of fiction and nonfiction, but also Wikipedia's biggest best-sellers and Oprah's book-club picks. (I'm not certain Oprah herself would call those the best books ever.) The list is more than a little British, Greek- and Roman-friendly and 4 percent Shakespeare; The Lesser Tolstoy tops the list with 1984 and ULYSSES nipping at its heels.

Accounting for the facts that I have read one book in the His Dark Materials trilogy and the ODYSSEY but not the ILIAD, and rounding up on the Bible, I have read 50.83 books on this list. Dare you best me on the field of literature?

13 comments:

Wade Garrett said...

I have read but 46.

-A lot of books on that list are the sort of book you are assigned in school; if, like me, you made it through college without being assigned Divine Comedy, Leviathan, The Social Contract, Das Kapital or The Prince, are you really going to go back and read them now that you're an adult who works for a living and don't have a nice lady who stands at a chalkboard and gives you a sticker when you done did your hometown? Safe to say, I am never getting above 95 on this list.

-Shouldn't the Bible be in the top 10? At the very least, can we put political correctness aside long enough to admit that the King James Bible is a better and more important book than Things Fall Apart

-Moby Dick didn't make the cut?

Ellen said...

4 out of the 10 lists they used were 20th-century focused, so the Bible wouldn't have been eligible for them (although it snuck onto one anyway as the Revised Standard version). THINGS FALL APART was named on 6 lists and 3 of those were 20th century specific. That may be the chasm into which MOBY DICK fell as well.

Of the books you just named I was assigned THE PRINCE and not the other four. I might go back and read THE DIVINE COMEDY, not sure about the others. Of course the real answer is that no one will follow the dictates of this list, because there will be a new list to argue about next week. I'm still baffled as to how GONE WITH THE WIND got up there.

Elizabeth said...

Of course you should go back and read the LEVIATHAN!

And THE PRINCE is really short. You'll get through it in no time.

Elizabeth said...

32.

Besides, I always like to pretend that THE GOLDEN COMPASS didn't have any sequels. Like in this comic.

Ellen said...

Heh. I have sadly seen the second Matrix movie but never bothered with the third. Are the second and third Golden Compass books really that bad?

Elizabeth said...

Yes. Yes, they are.

I really liked COUNT KARLSTEIN, if you're looking for a Philip Pullman fix. And! it's short.

Ellen said...

I remember liking THE RUBY IN THE SMOKE but I never read the other books in that series.

ap said...

Hawaiian office here:
Ellen, don't watch the "Ruby in the Smoke" TV movie or its sequel. Horribly done I thought.

Ellen said...

I just saw the poster for that on Wikipedia and started giggling. Oh, Billie Piper, Serious Actress!

Marjorie said...

Goodness, I've read only 27. Where Philip Pullman was concerned, I was "meh" on The Subtle Knife but loved The Amber Spyglass.

sunt_lacrimae_rerum said...

I want to lodge a protest at the neglect of the Victorians!

Ellen said...

Protest lodged, Sunt -- again, I think it's because of the 20th-century-only lists. Who would you like to see in there? (Bonus question, who would you kick out to make room?)

Bill said...

The Russian Realists are essential reading. Period. Over-rated? Really? Almost two hundred years of continuous publication stand as rebuttal.

To Wade Garret: Some people didn't just "make it" through college - they graduated...with honors. Maybe because they were curious and hungry for knowledge. Rumor has it they also might be working adults.

I'm kind of surprised how many people are into Pullman too. What a hack.

Read Usula K. Le Guin and get blown away by real high fantasy literature.