The 100 Greatest American Novels most of which I haven’t read, sadly enough.

Books are sexy, people who read are sexy!!

I’ve been promising myself that I would read more fiction because it can tell us so much about ourselves as a culture at a point in time and this list by Jeff O’Neal from Book Riot is sexy!

Firstly, how O’Neal formulated his list:

  • I’d rather have just one Faulkner under my belt if that means I can read another author. So each author only gets one slot.
  • We need 20 years of perspective before we can have any sense of a given work’s longevity. So the latest works we can reasonably include have to have been published in 1991 or before. Mark back 100 years from there and you have 1891, which is good because it falls just after Twain’s high period and catches some late 19th Century work that has more to do with 20th century fiction than 19th.
  • “Important” means that a work is important to readers, writers, critics, and scholars. Not every work will do all three, but the final list should be sufficiently multi-purpose to speak to these groups.
  • This isn’t a judgment but a tool. There’s nothing that says that these will be the works that people who care about literature will care about in another 100 years, but they do need to represent our current sensibilities. “Merit” matters less than influence and reach.
  • While I think the selected work for each author is important, there is some interchangeability. If you’ve read Song of Solomon, but not Beloved, you have a sense of Morrison.

The list, by year:

  • The Yellow Wallpaper and Other Stories by Charlotte Perkins Gilman (1892)
  • Maggie, Girl of the Streets by Stephen Crane (1893)
  • The Country of Pointed Firs by Sarah Orne Jewett (1896)
  • The Awakening by Kate Chopin (1899)
  • The Call of the Wild by Jack London (1903)
  • The Golden Bowl by Henry James (1904)
  • The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton (1905)
  • The Jungle by Upton Sinclair (1906)
  • Three Lives by Gertrude Stein (1909)
  • My Antonia by Willa Cather (1918)
  • The Magnificent Ambersons by Booth Tarkington (1918)
  • Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson (1919)
  • Main Street by Sinclair Lewis (1920)
  • Autobiography of an Ex-Coloured Man by James Weldon Johnson (1921)
  • Cane by Jean Toomer (1923)
  • The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (1925)
  • An American Tragedy by Theodore Dresier (1925)
  • The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway (1926)
  • The Bridge of the San Luis Rey by Thornton Wilder (1927)
  • Home to Harlem by Claude McKay (1928)
  • The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner (1929)
  • Look Homeward, Angel by Thomas Wolfe (1929)
  • The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett (1930)
  • Flowering Judas and Other Stories by Katherine Porter (1930)
  • The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck (1931)
  • Call It Sleep by Henry Roth (1934)
  • The Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller (1934)
  • Appointment in Samarra by John O’Hara (1934)
  • The USA Trilogy by John Dos Passos (1936)
  • Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell (1936)
  • Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston (1937)
  • Day of the Locust by Nathaniel West (1939)
  • The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler (1939)
  • The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck (1939)
  • Native Son by Richard Wright (1940)
  • The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers (1940)
  • The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand (1943)
  • A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith (1943)
  • All the King’s Men by Robert Penn Warren (1946)
  • Tales of the South Pacific by James Michener (1947)
  • The Naked and the Dead by Norman Mailer (1948)
  • The Sheltering Sky by Paul Bowles (1948)
  • The Lottery and Other Stories by Shirley Jackson (1949)
  • The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger (1951)
  • Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison (1952)
  • Go Tell It On the Mountain by James Baldwin (1953)
  • The Adventures of Augie March by Saul Bellow (1953)
  • Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (1953)
  • Andersonville by MacKinley Kantor (1955)
  • On the Road by Jack Keroauc (1957)
  • Gimpel the Fool by Isaac Bashevis Singer (1957)
  • The Wapshot Chronicle by John Cheever (1957)
  • Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov (1958)
  • The Magic Barrel by Bernard Malamud (1958)
  • Goodbye, Columbus by Philip Roth (1959)
  • Naked Lunch by William S. Burroughs (1959)
  • The Little Disturbances of Man by Grace Paley (1959)
  • Browngirl, Brownstones by Paule Marshall (1959)
  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (1960)
  • Rabbit, Run by John Updike (1960)
  • The Sot-Weed Factor by John Barth (1960)
  • The Moviegoer by Walker Percy (1961)
  • Catch-22 by Joseph Heller (1961)
  • Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates (1961)
  • One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey (1962)
  • The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath (1963)
  • A Sport and a Pastime by James Salter (1967)
  • The Confessions of Nat Turner by William Styron (1967)
  • Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? By Philip K. Dick (1968)
  • Slaughterhouse-5 by Kurt Vonnegut (1969)
  • House Made of Dawn by N. Scott Momaday (1969)
  • them by Joyce Carol Oates (1969)
  • The Collected Stories of Jean Stafford (1969)
  • Play It As It Lays by Joan Didion (1970)
  • The Complete Stories of Flannery O’Connor (1971)
  • Mumbo Jumbo by Ishmael Reed (1972)
  • Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner (1972)
  • Gravity’s Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon (1973)
  • Ragtime by E.L. Doctorow (1975)
  • JR by William Gaddis (1976)
  • Roots by Alex Haley (1976)
  • Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko (1977)
  • The World According to Garp by John Irving (1978)
  • Airships by Barry Hannah (1978)
  • Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson (1980)
  • A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole (1980)
  • The Collected Stories of Eudora Welty (1982)
  • The Color Purple by Alice Walker (1982)
  • Cathedral by Raymond Carver (1983)
  • Love Medicine by Lousie Erdrich (1984)
  • Neuromancer by William Gibson (1984)
  • White Noise by Don Delillo (1985)
  • Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy (1985)
  • Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry (1985)
  • City of Glass by Paul Auster (1985)
  • Beloved by Toni Morrison (1987)
  • The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan (1989)
  • The Shawl  by Cynthia Ozick (1989)
  • The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien (1990)
  • How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents by Julia Alvarez (1991)

It isn’t as sexy knowing that I have only read ten of the books on this list! I should be more well read and aim to fix this little error!!! What makes it worse is that I have seen many of the film adaptations of these books, which if we were counting would bring my total up to…32 (SERIOUSLY?!)

However, after feeling a little ashamed and reading through the comments on the article, I found more lists. I REALLY like lists, especially when they have to do with something as awesome as books!

Here is Modern Library’s list of 100 books, followed by their readers preferences…

  • The Board’s List (Really? I’ve only read 9, this is sad!)

  • The Reader’s List  (I’ve read 14, YES!)

Then their is the Time’s list of 100 works, of which I have read 11. Once again however, if we were counting film adaptations on the list, it would be longer. Don’t judge me please. I understand that based on my own criteria, having read such a small number of books on this list makes me a little sexy. I promise to work on that!  Unfortunately (excuses coming), I have been reading far too many academic books about Culture Studies and American Culture overall…which even though I do find interesting, after a while it does make me want to just turn off and sit with my husband watching a film. Okay, spring is upon us…I will make a promise to change this and add to the list, for sure!!! I will update the list if I have read a book or two, or perhaps just begin writing reviews of them; we’ll see.

I love comments and feedback, so leave me some.

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