Saturday, July 7, 2007

Top 5 Novels of All-Time

Obligatory explanatory note from Ryan: I always treat these with what I think is the proper mixture of all-time greatness and my own personal taste. With this top 5, I think I've tended toward the former, which is unusual for me. This list evolves on a daily basis, of course:

Ryan's Top Five:

1. The Sun Also Rises, by Ernest Hemingway.
2. The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald.
3. Mother Night, by Kurt Vonnegut (has climbed the charts recently)
4. Light in August, by William Faulkner
5. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, by Ken Kesey

Note from Dan: OK, so I don't really read much anymore, so don't be surprised if these were on your high school reading list, too. I tend to try to mix my personal tastes with the all-time greatness thing, though if we're talking about music, my taste is going to have a bit of an edge determining who gets in and who gets left out.

Dan's Top Five:

1. One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, by Ken Kesey (yes, Ryan got this one from my list)
2. To Kill A Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
3. The Lord of the Flies, by William Golding
4. The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger
5. Dune, by Frank Herbert

Tim's Top 5:
1) A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess - Talk about a one-hit wonder. I've read other Burgess works, only to find utter mediocrity. This, on the other hand, is a masterpiece, even if it requires a bit more of an investment than lit written entirely in English.
2) The Love of the Last Tycoon by F. Scott Fitzgerald - I love it more than The Great Gatsby, one has to wonder if it would have gotten better or worse had Fitzgerald lived long enough to finish it.
3) Catch-22 by Joseph Heller - It took a number of tries to get into it, at first it just seemed like it was too clever. But ultimately, it really is a classic that deserves its reputation, and is perhaps the most genuinely accessible masterpiece I've ever read.
4) In Cold Blood by Truman Capote - This is blurring the line a little bit, it's certainly novel-ish, but since it's not know, I'm including it anyway.
5) Flight to Canada by Ishmael Reed - This one's not for everyone, and like Burgess, I've found Ishmael Reed's other works are difficult to get into (though not as utterly disappointing as Burgess' have been). It's a satire that hits more than it misses by playing racial, social and historical stereotypes and anachronism into a Civil War tale for the ages.

I'm an admirer of To Kill a Mockingbird, but it's not a Top 5 tale for me. Mother Night is probably around #7, but I've just finished it, so it's too early to call it a top 5. Try as I might, I still think The Shining is my second favorite book...and I suspect it's because, unlike most of Stephen King's other work, it's actually pretty good.

1 comment:

Mr. Fox said...

Damn it Ryan, you thought of Mockingbird earlier and forgot to include it.

I'm actually torn between Mockingbird and Cuckoo (um, animal comparison...not intended..) for spot 5. I think if I had to change it, I would, and what wins out is Atticus Finch, one of the most powerful literary characters in litereralia.