Some of Your Responses:
You guys got about 30 right. You need to rework this list, fast.
We are so blessed to have too many REALLY GREAT books from which to choose, that a list of 100 could never begin to incorporate a fraction of them. But I must say, if you are going to narrow it to 100, Ender’s Game, Dune and The Wheel of Time should be in there. Oh and Amy Tan’s Joy Luck Club!!! I could go on and on.
A nice list. There is no way to please everybody, of course – there are too many competing standards for how to judge a book as one of the greatest of the past 80+ years. That being said, I would have chosen The Long Goodbye over The Big Sleep as Chandler’s contribution. The Big Sleep is a great novel, but The Long Goodbye is Chandler at his most mature, transcending the detective genre and becoming a thriller with the emotional depth to compare to any novel from any genre.
The list seems to be too American male-centric. A female view could have included Birth of Venus by Sarah Dunant, Five Quarters of the Orange by Joanne Harris, Anna’s Book by Barbara Vine, The Secret History by Donna Tartt. Glad at least Posession and The Blind Assassin were included.
What about Lonesome Dove? Several McMurtry novels are worthy of the list, but Lonesome Dove is a masterpiece. In it, McMurtry creates timeless, larger-than-life characters who wrestle with issues of honor, personal sacrifice & selflessness.
As with any list, you can never satisfy everyone. Picking the top 100 books is very challenging, do you pick the most socially influential books, the most popular, etc. The criteria used is so interpretive. My list would include books that influence young readers to read more. While Harry Potter, Series Of Unfortunate Events , etc. are not necessarily great literary works like a War and Peace, they do have significant influence on getting young readers to read more. And this is what writing is all about, getting preople to read more and think about what they have read.
You were right! Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is the better John Le Carre novel! And East of Eden should replace The Grapes of Wrath too. But I can’t believe you left off The Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe and Accidental Tourist. Ann Tyler is one of my favorite authors.
What about Anita Diamants The Red Tent? A female opinion is definitely missing.
I’m sure it took a lot of work to come up with this, but leaving out Paul Auster is a MAJOR mistake. He should be there at least twice.
New York, NY
You missed The English Patient. What an oversight! Also, you can tell that this list was compiled by two men; women would have selected a somewhat different list, I think.
Thank you for not including any Harry Potter. I would have lost all respect for TIME magazine if that had been included (they are okay books, they’re just nowhere near list worthy). The list, however, seems to be missing Dune, and anything from Asimov, Bradbury, and HP Lovecraft. These are serious errors of judgement.
One of my 5 favorites that didn’t make the list: THE PRINCE OF TIDES by Pat Conroy. He is one of the few writers who can pull you right into the characters he writes about and make you feel that you’re involved in what happens to them.
Thank you so much for including Watchmen on your list. It truly is an important work in English literature, and basically allowed graphic novels and comic books to take off into the millions of different directions that they have today. Do not be surprised if Alan Moore is the first graphic novelist to win a Nobel Prize.
WHY ISN”T THE HARRY POTTER SERIES ON THERE!!?? IT DEFINITLEY SHOULD BE ON THERE!!
I think you’ve done a very fine job here. I appreciate the attention paid to “niche” genres (Sci-fi, childrens lit, graphic novels), and while I have some personal favorites that didn’t make the list; Watership Down. I think you’ve captured a great cross-section of the art of the novel over the past 100 years or so.
Cape Cod, MA
Where is Ayn Rand and John Irving? I checked your list twice, I can’t believe you did not list either author. Not to be sexist, perhaps you need a female opinion. Susan Sayfan
I was disappointed that the Kite Runner was left off your list. I found it to be truly thought provoking and have recommended it to all my friends. I was glad to see my favorite book, To Kill A Mockingbird, on your list.
Mary Ann Doerr
Great list except for one – how did Possesion get on there? That book was awful. It was slow, boring, and too long. I had to struggle to get to the end.
Johnson City, NY
Red Harvest may be a seminal novel
of the genre, but that shouldn’t qualify it as listworthy. Your list should have either of Harriet Arnow’s two great novels and I’d vote for Hunter’s Horn. Annie Dillard’s The Living should be there and at least one of Thomas Harris’ thrillers, Black Sunday or Silence of the Lambs, representing the best of the thriller genre.
Where was A Farewell to Arms?
How can we take this list seriously when you left off the great American novel: Lonesome Dove? Back to the drawing board for you.
Los Gatos, CA
I like the list, as it gives me some nice titles to seek out when I have some spare time next, but I am disquieted by the lack of science fiction titles on it. Neuromancer is a fine choice, but there are so many fine titles in the genre, Enders Game, Foundation, and Dune , just to name a few.
San Antonio, Texas
Why did you not include one horror novel on that list? Certainly Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend or Stephen King’s The Shining deserve a spot if Snow Crash deserved one???
John Irving’s books are among my favorite novels. The World According to Garp and A Prayer for Owen Meaney are masterful stories and I am a better person for having read them. I also find Richard Adams’ book, Watership Down one that I can never forget. I read the book first in 1979, and think about Hazel and Bigwig everytime I see a wild rabit.
It’s wonderful that you chose Are You There God? It’s me, Margaret to include in your list. It was a wonderful book for just the right time in a young girl’s life. Every girl I knew read it. And I think parents were happy that kids were able to get true, accurate information – without their own embarassment.
Albany, New York
One title comes to mind when I am asked what is the greatest book ever written: The Fountainhead, by Ayn Rand. It celebrates individuality in the face of societal pressures to constantly comform and comply. Not only is it a great book, but the philosophy running through this novel is one that should be brought forth in schools around the world.