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The Top Ten: Writers Pick Their Favorite Books Paperback – January 20, 2007
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From The Washington Post
This is a readers' service of the first order, a guidebook to the resulting 544 titles for those tortured by too much choice and looking for what to read next. Each of the 125 responses appears in Zane's book -- some in short answer form, some just titles, some annotated -- along with a few essays, helping steer you through what Zane calls the "yin and yang of the modern reader: opportunity and befuddlement."
To get you started, here's "The Top Top Ten":
1. Anna Karenina, by Leo Tolstoy
2. Madame Bovary, by Gustave Flaubert
3. War and Peace, by Leo Tolstoy
4. Lolita, by Vladimir Nabokov
5. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain
6. Hamlet, by William Shakespeare
7. The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald
8. In Search of Lost Time, by Marcel Proust
9. The stories of Anton Chekhov
10. Middlemarch, by George Eliot
Copyright 2007, The Washington Post. All Rights Reserved.
Top Customer Reviews
The top five works by living authors are, (1) One Hundred Years of Solitude, (2) To Kill a Mockingbird, (3) Beloved, (4) The Catcher and the Rye and (5) Rabbit Angstrom. And there were a few authors who submitted lists who were fortunate to have their works mentioned on the top ten list of another artist. Michael Cunningham submitted his lists of favorites from Shakespeare's King Lear to the stories of Flannery O'Connor. Anita Shreve, author of The Pilot's Wife, placed Cunningham's The Hours in the number four spot. Stephen King includes Lord of the Flies and 1984 on his list, while David Foster Wallace and Jennifer Weiner both place King's The Stand as their second greatest book.
Shakespeare has the greatest number of works on the lists (11), yet Tolstoy collects the most points (327) off of 2 great works. Of the 125 lists there are 544 separate titles, 23 of which appeared as the greatest work on one authors list alone, not making any other list.Read more ›
What's fun about this is checking out the individual lists by individual authors. I was often surprised by some of the picks, and actually came away from it with a slightly altered opinion about some of the recommenders. I think it's more interesting to start at the bottom end - the books that only got one recommendation - and move forward from there.
Interesting. But it's not meant to be definitive. I think everyone involved knew that. Take it as a light, intelligent read, with some things you'll agree with and others that you'll shake your head at.
The first part of THE TOP TEN consists of the lists themselves. Many of the contributors, by the way, are (or were) heavyweights in the literary world -- people like Julian Barnes, Margaret Drabble, Carl Hiaasen, Ha Jin, Norman Mailer, Claire Messud, David Mitchell, Reynolds Price, Annie Proulx, and David Foster Wallace. The 125 lists named 544 different titles. A few of the respondents offer brief explanations, and there are about sixteen short essays or "Appreciations" amplifying on a particular listed work -- for example, Kathryn Harrison on Kobo Abe's "The Woman in the Dunes", Tom Wolfe on James T. Farrell's "Studs Lonigan", and A.L. Kennedy on Flann O'Brien's "The Third Policeman".
The second part of the book, presumably prepared by editor Zane, may be the most valuable part. It contains one-paragraph descriptions of each of the 544 titles that appear on the various lists. By browsing through the lists themselves and then these brief descriptions, you might end up producing a list of your own -- of books to add to your personal catalogue of "books to read" before you kick the bucket. (I added about a dozen books to my list, so now I guess I will to have to live a few months longer.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Really enjoy reading what authors think about other works of literature.Published 11 months ago by chrisanne mcgraw
Interesting, but I don't know if all the authors took it seriously.Published 13 months ago by Wolfe
Wonderful insight into more than 125 writers' judgments of the best fiction ever written. It is an invaluable guide for those who wonder what truly great literature is and what... Read morePublished 18 months ago by Gordon Cohn
Please send iphone kindle
version, I do not have a kindle
Machine to use this kind of version.
This is a very interesting book about top ten best books by several dozens of living writers (125 to be exact). Read morePublished on January 8, 2013 by Benjamin
My first question about this book, that I do not believe the editor J. Peder Zane answers anywhere, is how did he select the 125 writers who submitted their favorite books. Read morePublished on November 17, 2012 by Foster Corbin
I browsed through this book a few weeks back during a bookstore visit and put it back on the shelf. My quick assessment found it tediously monotonous, with all the writers picking... Read morePublished on January 1, 2012 by Debnance at Readerbuzz
It is amusing to look through the lists of individual writers and see their favorite works, and see if they connect with the writer's own kind of writing. Two examples. Read morePublished on August 22, 2011 by Shalom Freedman
The favorite books of these 125 "leading writers" are populated by adulterers and adulteresses, nihlists, existentialists, pedophiles, and atheists. You can't fault J. Read morePublished on October 11, 2007 by Christy