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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Modern Classics

Over at The Bookish Kitty, the Literary Feline has posted the following list which as appeared on several other sites as well. Originally found in Entertainment Weekly, the list contains EW's staff picks of modern classics published in the last 25 years. Of course, we all have disagreements about the value of particular books, but there is no doubt that these books have been influential.

The very first one bothers me because I found No Country for Old Men to be MUCH better than The Road-- so much so that the book's impact prevented me from seeing the movie; just couldn't face the emotional tension in visual form. The themes in No Country were more complex and gave me more to ponder. I still think about it. Didn't enjoy it, but consider it an excellent book.

At any rate, I've highlighted the one's I've read (some of which have been among my all-time favorites and others that did not appeal at all), and I'm reminded of the many titles here that have been on various TBR lists I've compiled, but that I've never gotten around to reading.

1. The Road , Cormac McCarthy (2006)
2. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
, J.K. Rowling (2000) 3. Beloved, Toni Morrison (1987)
4. The Liars' Club, Mary Karr (1995)
5. American Pastoral, Philip Roth (1997)
6. Mystic River, Dennis Lehane (2001)
7. Maus, Art Spiegelman (1986/1991)
8. Selected Stories, Alice Munro (1996)
9. Cold Mountain
, Charles Frazier (1997)
10. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, Haruki Murakami (1997)
11. Into Thin Air, Jon Krakauer (1997)
12. Blindness, José Saramago (1998)
13. Watchmen, Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons (1986-87)
14. Black Water, Joyce Carol Oates (1992)
15. A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius
, Dave Eggers (2000)
16. The Handmaid's Tale, Margaret Atwood (1986)
17. Love in the Time of Cholera, Gabriel García Márquez (1988)
18. Rabbit at Rest, John Updike (1990)
19. On Beauty, Zadie Smith (2005)
20. Bridget Jones's Diary
, Helen Fielding (1998)
21. On Writing, Stephen King (2000)
22. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Junot Díaz (2007)
23. The Ghost Road, Pat Barker (1996)
24. Lonesome Dove
, Larry McMurtry (1985) 25. The Joy Luck Club, Amy Tan (1989)
26. Neuromancer, William Gibson (1984)
27. Possession
, A.S. Byatt (1990)
28. Naked, David Sedaris (1997)
29. Bel Canto
, Anne Patchett (2001) 30. Case Histories, Kate Atkinson (2004)
31. The Things They Carried, Tim O'Brien (1990)
32. Parting the Waters, Taylor Branch (1988)
33. The Year of Magical Thinking, Joan Didion (2005)
34. The Lovely Bones, Alice Sebold (2002)
35. The Line of Beauty, Alan Hollinghurst (2004)
36. Angela's Ashes, Frank McCourt (1996)
37. Persepolis, Marjane Satrapi (2003)
38. Birds of America, Lorrie Moore (1998)
39. Interpreter of Maladies, Jhumpa Lahiri (2000)
40. His Dark Materials, Philip Pullman (1995-2000)
41. The House on Mango Street, Sandra Cisneros (1984)
42. LaBrava, Elmore Leonard (1983)
43. Borrowed Time, Paul Monette (1988)
44. Praying for Sheetrock, Melissa Fay Greene (1991)
45. Eva Luna, Isabel Allende (1988)
46. Sandman, Neil Gaiman (1988-1996)
47. World's Fair, E.L. Doctorow (1985)
48. The Poisonwood Bible, Barbara Kingsolver (1998)
49. Clockers, Richard Price (1992)
50. The Corrections, Jonathan Franzen (2001)
51. The Journalist and the Murderer, Janet Malcom (1990)
52. Waiting to Exhale, Terry McMillan (1992)
53. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay
, Michael Chabon (2000)
54. Jimmy Corrigan, Chris Ware (2000)
55. The Glass Castle, Jeannette Walls (2006)
56. The Night Manager, John le Carré (1993)
57. The Bonfire of the Vanities, Tom Wolfe (1987)
58. Drop City, TC Boyle (2003)
59. Krik? Krak! Edwidge Danticat (1995)
60. Nickel & Dimed, Barbara Ehrenreich (2001)
61. Money, Martin Amis (1985)
62. Last Train To Memphis, Peter Guralnick (1994)
63. Pastoralia, George Saunders (2000)
64. Underworld, Don DeLillo (1997)
65. The Giver, Lois Lowry (1993)
66. A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again, David Foster Wallace (1997)
67. The Kite Runner
, Khaled Hosseini (2003)
68. Fun Home, Alison Bechdel (2006)
69. Secret History
, Donna Tartt (1992)
70. Cloud Atlas, David Mitchell (2004)
71. The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down, Ann Fadiman (1997)
72. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
, Mark Haddon (2003)
73. A Prayer for Owen Meany, John Irving (1989)
74. Friday Night Lights
, H.G. Bissinger (1990)
75. Cathedral, Raymond Carver (1983)
76. A Sight for Sore Eyes, Ruth Rendell (1998)
77. The Remains of the Day, Kazuo Ishiguro (1989)
78. Eat, Pray, Love, Elizabeth Gilbert (2006)
79. The Tipping Point
, Malcolm Gladwell (2000)
80. Bright Lights, Big City, Jay McInerney (1984)
81. Backlash, Susan Faludi (1991)
82. Atonement
, Ian McEwan (2002)
83. The Stone Diaries, Carol Shields (1994)
84. Holes, Louis Sachar (1998)
85. Gilead, Marilynne Robinson (2004)
86. And the Band Played On, Randy Shilts (1987)
87. The Ruins, Scott Smith (2006)
88. High Fidelity, Nick Hornby (1995)
89. Close Range, Annie Proulx (1999)
90. Comfort Me With Apples
, Ruth Reichl (2001)
91. Random Family, Adrian Nicole LeBlanc (2003)
92. Presumed Innocent
, Scott Turow (1987)
93. A Thousand Acres, Jane Smiley (1991)
94. Fast Food Nation, Eric Schlosser (2001)
95. Kaaterskill Falls, Allegra Goodman (1998)
96. The Da Vinci Code
, Dan Brown (2003)
97. Jesus’ Son, Denis Johnson (1992)
98. The Predators' Ball, Connie Bruck (1988)
99. Practical Magic
, Alice Hoffman (1995)
100. America (the Book), Jon Stewart/Daily Show (2004)


  1. I posted this list on my blog, too. I was pleasantly suprised by many of them--for example, Bridget Jones's Diary, or Random Family (a must read).

  2. The Da Vinci Code is there as a modern classic? Which already makes me disrespect this list. ;p

  3. Although, I love and revere and occasionally dream about Lorrie Moore, I think they picked the wrong book -- I would've chosen Anagrams...but at least they had sense enough to put her on the list.
    DaVinci Code...I'm predicting, wait a few years...that'll go the way of The Bridges Of Madison County, as in "What was all the fuss about?"

  4. Katherine - I was surprised, too. The appeal is more popular than one finds in many lists.

    Orpheus - :) Quite a contrast from The Da Vinci Code to Atonement, eh?

    Bybee - Who knows? The person who recommended Moore may not have even read Anagrams - I wonder if that is the reason they chose The Road over No Country for Old Men...

  5. It was interesting to see which books by certain authors were chosen for the list. Not all were ones I would have picked, but in other cases, I could understand why.

  6. LF - It is an interesting list. I think that even with my disagreements about authors and titles, I prefer it to some of the shortlists for the various prizes. :)

  7. I thought the list was interesting too - so much that I decided to host my first challenge based on it. Would be great if you joined in! :-)

  8. Joanna - There are certainly several books on the list that I've intended to read for some time.

  9. I've read 26/100. Will get my list up on my blog later this week.

  10. Les - Maybe we should choose a few of our favorites from the list and post them. Several of the ones I've read from this list didn't appeal to me at all - i.e. The Secret History and Atonement, but some I really enjoyed.

  11. I'm a big fan of these lists for the simple fact that they help me choose some of the books i put on my TBR.

    still, very often, i don't agree with them and i feel that they left out geat titles.

  12. Ama - I agree- perusing the various lists can be a great help on choosing books. Often we are familiar with the titles, but haven't gotten around to reading them, and the lists can refresh our interest. Of course, we all disagree with some of the choices! :)