Wednesday, May 14, 2014

My 100 favorite books

When the book club decided to have an unofficial discussion of Donna Tartt's The Secret History, I got really excited. After all, it's one of my favorite novels ever. I recall reading it almost 20 years ago and having been floored by Tartt's exquisite prose and thrilling story. I'm rereading it now. Because, you know, I've turned 40, so technically, I read The Secret History during my "mid-life," so I've forgotten most of its details.

Anyway, Tartt's novel made me think about my favorite books. I remember coming up with a list before, but I just haven't posted a blog entry about it. So last night, I wrote down in my journal my 100 favorite books. It took me a couple of hours.

The list surprised me. For one, I never realized how much I prefer fiction to nonfiction, and novels to other literary forms. No poetry book made it on my list, and I listed just 1 graphic novel as a favorite, even though I read a lot of those lately. Also, there's a dearth of locally published books in my list. Have to fix that ASAP.

So here's my list, dear readers. I've listed the books according to categories. I know that some of these categories may be debatable and that some books cut across different categories, but just indulge me and let's go with them. Except for the first group, my top 10, all the books in the other categories (the remaining 90 of them) are listed in no particular order.

My top 10
1. I, Claudius – Robert Graves
2. Independent People – Halldór Laxness
3. One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel García Marquez
4. The History of the Siege of Lisbon – José Saramago
5. The Story of Mankind – Hendrik Willem Van Loon
6. The House of Mirth – Edith Wharton
7. The Secret History – Donna Tartt
8. The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins
9. We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed with Our Families – Philip Gourevitch
10. The Stolen Child – Keith Donohue

Nonfiction (13)
The Moral Animal – Robert Wright
The Discoverers – Daniel Boorstin
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius – Dave Eggers
The Professor and the Madman – Simon Winchester
The Elegant Universe – Brian Greene
Hitler’s Pope – John Cornwall
Nobody’s Perfect – Anthony Lane
Gomorrah – Roberto Saviano
The Man Who Ate Everything – Jeffrey Steingarten
The Man Who Loved Only Numbers – Paul Hoffman
Deluxe – Dana Thomas
The Wives of Henry VIII – Antonia Fraser
The Omnivore’s Dilemma – Michael Pollan

Classics (30)
Jane Eyre – Charlotte Brontë
The Return of the Native – Thomas Hardy
The Portrait of a Lady – Henry James
An American Tragedy – Theodore Dreiser
Women in Love – D. H. Lawrence
Melmoth the Wanderer – Charles Maturin
The Monk – Matthew Gregory Lewis
Dracula – Bram Stoker
Siddhartha – Herman Hesse
Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh
The Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck
Henderson the Rain King – Saul Bellow
Of Human Bondage – W. Somerset Maugham
The Magus – John Fowles
Les Misérables – Victor Hugo
Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy
Stoner – John Williams
Don’t Look Now and Other Stories – Daphne Du Maurier
The Brothers Karamazov – Fyodor Dostoevsky
The Collected Stories of Vladimir Nabokov
The Collected Stories of John Cheever
Fantastic Tales – edited by Italo Calvino
Catch-22 – Joseph Heller
Ragtime – E. L. Doctorow
Forbidden Colors – Yukio Mishima
The Age of Reason – Jean-Paul Sartre
The Call of the Wild – Jack London
Invisible Man – Ralph Ellison
A Farewell to Arms – Ernest Hemingway
The End of the Affair – Graham Greene

Contemporary fiction (24)
The Chess Garden – Brooks Hansen
The Troublesome Offspring of Cardinal Guzman – Louis de Bernières
The Innocent – Ian McEwan
American Gods – Neil Gaiman
The Woman in Black – Susan Hill
The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle – Haruki Murakami
The World According to Garp – John Irving
The Crimson Petal and the White – Michel Faber
A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry
The Historian – Elizabeth Kostova
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time – Mark Haddon
Salem’s Lot – Stephen King
Ghost Story – Peter Straub
Weaveworld – Clive Barker
The Elegance of the Hedgehog – Muriel Barbery
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – Stieg Larsson
Out – Natsuo Kirino
The Talented Mr Ripley – Patricia Highsmith
A Thousand Splendid Suns – Khaled Hosseini
The Unconsoled – Kazuo Ishiguro
The Bonfire of the Vanities – Tom Wolfe
The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafón
The White Tiger – Aravind Adiga
The Blind Assassin – Margaret Atwood

Science fiction and fantasy (7)
Inverted World – Christopher Priest
The Day of the Triffids – John Wyndham
A Game of Thrones – George R. R. Martin
Perdido Street Station – China Miéville
Dune – Frank Herbert
Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea – Jules Verne
Altered Carbon – Richard Morgan

Young adult and children's (8)
The Westing Game – Ellen Raskin
Pop Stories for Groovy Kids (Green Edition) – Nick Joaquin
The Chaos Walking Trilogy – Patrick Ness
His Dark Materials Trilogy – Philip Pullman
The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban – J. K. Rowling
Across the Nightingale Floor – Lian Hearn
The Schwa Was Here – Neal Shusterman

LGBT (6)
Tales from the City – Armistead Maupin
Sucking Sherbet Lemons – Michael Carson
Faggots – Larry Kramer
The Farewell Symphony – Edmund White
Boy Meets Boy – David Levithan
Rainbow Boys – Alex Sanchez

Graphic novel (1)
Y: The Last Man – Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra

I know that this list is a dynamic one, and it'll constantly change for some reasons. I'm still trying to find that poetry collection that will blow me away. And with my dead guy challenge this year, I might add more books in the classics category. I live in exciting times.


Louize Gonzales said...

Hi, Peter!
I am currently reading The Thirteenth Tale, and for me it feels like reading Wilkie Collins's The Woman in White, which is a favorite too. :)

Peter S. said...

Hello, Louize! I love The Thirteenth Tale as well! She has a new book out, and I'm curious about it. Heard that it has major gothic themes as well.

Evanescence said...

I didn't think I'd be able to remember enough books or have read enough books to come up with my favourite 100. I think I'm definitely going to write up my 50 top/favourite books especially if I included childrens books in the list!

Monique said...

I feel like I haven't read enough books to make my own list yet, but I will try, at the end of this year. :)

Also, currently reading Independent People! ;)

Awesome list, by the way. :)

Peter S. said...

Hello, Evanescence! It took me a couple of hours to finish this list! Hehehehehehe. Most of the time, I had to take a peek at my bookshelves just to make sure that I've read a particular book.

Hi, Monique! I do hope you love Independent People as much as I do. It's one of the books that changed my life, so to speak. :-)

Ryan said...

I have The Monk, I just need to read it. I still need to read Melmoth the Wanderer. Have you read Barney the Vampire or The Castle of Otranto yet?
I'm glad you have Dracula on there.

Peter S. said...

Hello, Ryan! Oh, I've read The Castle of Otranto. I loved it! I'm big on Gothic fiction.

Ryan said...

That should have said Varney not Barney.

Peter S. said...

No worries!

Lance said...

Really interesting book choices. I love it that your have One Hundred Years of Solitude in your top ten. I only read Donna Tartt's the Goldfinch—quite the doorstopper but worth the effort—enough to safely assume that she is a terrific writer. I'm encouraged to take on many of the works I'm not quite familiar with. Onward.

Peter S. said...

Hello, Lance! I'm still halfway in for The Goldfinch. It really is a riveting read, yes? I like her second novel too -- The Little Friend.