TIME’s list of 100 great books

I have read 23 out these 100 books. This is because I couldn’t finish two books. So I gave myself a half for each!

I have one major complaint against this list. Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s novel One Hundred Years of Solitude doesn’t even figure in the list but Judy Blume does! Every one I have met who has read Marquez’s this novel agrees that this is a literary tour de force. And it made such a deep impression on me when I read it. I will talk about it in another post. Let’s go to the list first.

The Adventures of Augie March (Saul Bellow)
All the King’s Men (Robert Penn Warren)
American Pastoral (Philip Roth)
An American Tragedy (Theodore Dreiser)
Animal Farm (George Orwell)
Appointment in Samarra (John O’Hara)
Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret (Judy Blume)
The Assistant (Bernard Malamud)
At Swim-Two-Birds (Flann O’Brien)
Atonement (Ian McEwan)
Beloved (Toni Morrison)
The Berlin Stories (Christopher Isherwood)
The Big Sleep (Raymond Chandler)
The Blind Assassin (Margaret Atwood)
Blood Meridian (Cormac McCarthy)
Brideshead Revisited (Evelyn Waugh)
The Bridge of San Luis Rey (Thornton Wilder)
Call It Sleep (Henry Roth)
Catch-22 (Joseph Heller)
The Catcher in the Rye (J.D. Salinger)
A Clockwork Orange (Anthony Burgess)
The Confessions of Nat Turner (William Styron)
The Corrections (Jonathan Franzen)
The Crying of Lot 49 (Thomas Pynchon)
A Dance to the Music of Time (Anthony Powell)
The Day of the Locust (Nathanael West)
Death Comes for the Archbishop (Willa Cather)
A Death in the Family (James Agee)
The Death of the Heart (Elizabeth Bowen)
Deliverance (James Dickey)
Dog Soldiers (Robert Stone)
Falconer (John Cheever)
The French Lieutenant’s Woman (John Fowles)
The Golden Notebook (Doris Lessing)
Go Tell it on the Mountain (James Baldwin)
Gone With the Wind (Margaret Mitchell)
The Grapes of Wrath (John Steinbeck)
Gravity’s Rainbow (Thomas Pynchon)
The Great Gatsby (F. Scott Fitzgerald)
A Handful of Dust (Evelyn Waugh)
The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter (Carson McCullers)
The Heart of the Matter (Graham Greene)
Herzog (Saul Bellow)
Housekeeping (Marilynne Robinson)
A House for Mr. Biswas (V.S. Naipaul)*
I, Claudius (Robert Graves)
Infinite Jest (David Foster Wallace)
Invisible Man (Ralph Ellison)
Light in August (William Faulkner)
The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe (C.S. Lewis)
Lolita (Vladimir Nabokov)
Lord of the Flies (William Golding)
The Lord of the Rings (J.R.R. Tolkien)
Loving (Henry Green)
Lucky Jim (Kingsley Amis)
The Man Who Loved Children (Christina Stead)
Midnight’s Children (Salman Rushdie)
Money (Martin Amis)
The Moviegoer (Walker Percy)
Mrs. Dalloway (Virginia Woolf)
Naked Lunch (William Burroughs)
Native Son (Richard Wright)
Neuromancer (William Gibson)
Never Let Me Go (Kazuo Ishiguro)
1984 (George Orwell)#
On the Road (Jack Kerouac)
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (Ken Kesey)
The Painted Bird (Jerzy Kosinski)
Pale Fire (Vladimir Nabokov)
A Passage to India (E.M. Forster)
Play It As It Lays (Joan Didion)
Portnoy’s Complaint (Philip Roth)
Possession (A.S. Byatt)
The Power and the Glory (Graham Greene)
The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (Muriel Spark)
Rabbit, Run (John Updike)
Ragtime (E.L. Doctorow)
The Recognitions (William Gaddis)
Red Harvest (Dashiell Hammett)
Revolutionary Road (Richard Yates)
The Sheltering Sky (Paul Bowles)
Slaughterhouse-Five (Kurt Vonnegut)
Snow Crash (Neal Stephenson)
The Sot-Weed Factor (John Barth)
The Sound and the Fury (William Faulkner)
The Sportswriter (Richard Ford)
The Spy Who Came in From the Cold (John le Carre)
The Sun Also Rises (Ernest Hemingway)
Their Eyes Were Watching God (Zora Neale Hurston)
Things Fall Apart (Chinua Achebe)
To Kill a Mockingbird (Harper Lee)
To the Lighthouse (Virginia Woolf)
Tropic of Cancer (Henry Miller)
Ubik (Philip K. Dick)
Under the Net (Iris Murdoch)
Under the Volcano (Malcolm Lowry)
Watchmen (Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons)
White Noise (Don DeLillo)
White Teeth (Zadie Smith)
Wide Sargasso Sea (Jean Rhys)

*The House for Mister Biswas was too boring to continue.
#“1984” – too scary to finish reading. I started looking over my shoulder and expecting the Thought Police to record everything I thought!


22 thoughts on “TIME’s list of 100 great books

  1. Wow..thats a comprehensive list lol..and you seem to have a read a lot of the books in the list too..way to go..hey me came here first time..both your blogs are wonderful..they look really clean and nice..and the posts are great too!!keep posting..and yeah merry xmas and a happy new year!!

  2. Wow thats a handful of books. U sure love reading AFK. 🙂 well i am looking forward to your new post on the “impression” u were talking about.

    Looking forward.

    “Happy holidays!”

  3. AFJ: I’m assuming this list is of novels written in English – which would explain the exclusion of GGM. If that’s not true, then I have so many issues with the list that I wouldn’t know where to start. (I’m also assuming these are novels in the last century 105 years – otherwise there’s so much else that’s missing).

    As it is I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. The Pynchon representation is a good thing, but no Joyce? No Conrad? And of all the Murdoch novels to pick – Under the Net?? And only one Morrisson? And ‘Never Let me Go’??!! I could go on and on and on. What are these people smoking?

  4. P.S. I just realised – No Coetzee! Not one! and no Gordimer! Have these people heard of Africa? Or do they think putting in the one Achebe is enough. Bah!

  5. Given how middlebrow these lists tend to be, it’s a pleasant surprise to find Flann O’Brien and Henry Green. I suppose Firbank is too much to hope for…

    I love that Narnia is represented. It would have been nice if they’d managed to sneak Chesterton in.

  6. What, no “Watt”?!!

    And Falstaff, you should take it easy. We wouldn’t want you to expire from outrage, you are an important component of our daily blog fix. Imagine it be a whimsical list, and then there’s some good stuff on there…

  7. falstaff, that must be the case… no camus, no eco!!!!! ;-), no kundera, no hesse…

    and yeah… i second your outrage, just in case you want to save it according to suggestions… what? no conard? no JOYECE!

    and Lukcy Jim? it’s like a subtle david dhawan film that’s all.

    i love these lists! life wud be dull w/o them.


  8. 23 books? just wow!

    you’re young and you’re still gonna devour hundreds of great books more. enjoy reading!

    btw, perhaps it’s because “one hundred years of solitude” was published in spanish and was just translated into english that’s why it didn’t make it to the list.

  9. Sudarshan: Thanks! Merry Christmas and happy new year to you!

    The Monk: I knowwww!

    Jewel Rays: Thanks and yes I will write about it. Happy Holidays to you too!

    Rohit: 7 is a good place to start! Please let me know if you do finish “The House for Mr. Biswas!”

    Zee: Don’t worry. Drops of water make an ocean!

    AquaM: You think the world of me and that’s GOOD!

    Falstaff: You jogged my memory right out of the cobwebs! It’s abominable but it looks like the novels that TIME thinks to be “great”, excludes the good writing from the “rest of the world.” Such prejudice is astounding!

    Translation: that could be the explanation! And these people haven’t heard of Africa or India or Austria either. I wonder why they didn’t call their list “TIME’s 100 great novels from Anglo America”?

    Cheshire Cat: We all have our grouse with THE list. Why list what can’t be listed?

    Asuph: The optimist as usual, I see!

    Abaniko: Thank you! And you are possibly right about GGM. Falstaff pointed that out first. And thanks for the compliment. Though I wouldn’t count 23 good at all….but then who knows I might fare better in another list. Possibly mine!

  10. 23! Wow! I have just read 8 out of them. And everytime I tripped on a name I have read I was like I am not so bad! :-)) But I have some of them lying on my book shelf. I guess I better read them.

    But I do not see James Joyce here. Neither Henry MIller, Albert Camus nor Arthur Koestler. And I personally believe ‘Love in the Time of The Cholera’ was perhaps Marquez’s best.

    Thanks for dropping in at my blog. And if you keep encouraging me like this, I’d perhaps keep writing the way I do. 🙂



  11. AFJ, I won’t reveal the no. of books from this list that I have read(I got a complex by the no. 23, happy?), but I have a small doubt. Catch-22 hasn’t been ticked by you. Any special reason for ignoring this masterpiece?

  12. Hmm. When will “The Alexandria Quartet” (Lawrence Durrell) start figuring in these lists is what we’re wondering here. And no “Of Human Bondage”? At the very least, they would’ve helped us take our tally into the double digits!

  13. I believe my count’s 15. But not sure – some seem very familiar but I forgot whether I read them or not. But everyone’s top 100 is different, some of my favorites wouldn’t ever figure in any top 100.

  14. Well, i have a lot of issues with that list. Lots of books that i think should be there are not. So feel a bit cheated! I’ve read about 24 from that! Feel extremely illiterate and embarrassed. Reading is something i pride myself on!

  15. Dan: I love “Love in the time of Cholera” too and that other Marquez tribute to love “Of Love Among Other Demons” too!

    Do write: There’s nothing worse than seeing talent go waste! And if I do end up making an artists’ colony (as I intent to), you are most invited!

    Obi Wan: I guess I haven’t gotten around to reading it yet! I do intend to though.

    TCP: You probably are a voracious reader of comics! So, you are not that wrong!

    Rohit: Merry merry christmas to you too!

    Ludwig: Hi! Durrell if I am not mistaken has never been reading list material. And I have noticed old masters like Somerset Maugham hasn’t been seen in a respectable list since a long time. I just think Maugham has been missed out because it’s all about what’s in fashion to read.

    Thanks for dropping my blog. I hope to see you again!

    Soumyadip: I know what you mean. I found that out the hard way.

    Vijayeta: Good to see you back! I totally understand. But then I guess not everyone could have read ALL the books in any list, so just chill!

    Rita: Long time! I do read many others but they will never ever make it to the list re! 🙂

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