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My Rankings

Time Magazine didn’t rank the top 100, so I thought I’d have a little fun and rank them myself. This is totally subjective, my opinion, and in no way represents the opinions of the editors at Time.

After I read each book, I’ll ask myself one question: Did I enjoy this book? That’s it. If I enjoyed the book, I’ll rank it high. If I hated it, or if I just didn’t like it as much, then I’ll rank it accordingly.

Rankings updated through Book 71: The Death of the Heart (6/11/14)

  1. The Great Gatsby
  2. To Kill A Mockingbird
  3. I, Claudius
  4. A Death In The Family
  5. Their Eyes Were Watching God
  6. Catch 22
  7. Things Fall Apart
  8. Infinite Jest
  9. 1984
  10. The Sun Also Rises
  11. Invisible Man
  12. All The King’s Men
  13. An American Tragedy
  14. American Pastoral
  15. Never Let Me Go
  16. A Handful Of Dust
  17. The Bridge Of San Luis Rey
  18. The Grapes Of Wrath
  19. The Sot-Weed Factor
  20. The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter
  21. The Power And The Glory
  22. Animal Farm
  23. Red Harvest
  24. The Blind Assassin
  25. Native Son
  26. Call It Sleep
  27. Falconer
  28. The French Lieutenant’s Woman
  29. Ubik
  30. Blood Meridian
  31. The Corrections
  32. Revolutionary Road
  33. One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest
  34. Atonement
  35. Money
  36. The Death of the Heart
  37. Pale Fire
  38. Wide Sargasso Sea
  39. Go Tell It On The Mountain
  40. The Moviegoer
  41. A Clockwork Orange
  42. The Crying of Lot 49
  43. The Spy Who Came In From The Cold
  44. Rabbit, Run
  45. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
  46. The Catcher in the Rye
  47. Deliverance
  48. Beloved
  49. Watchmen
  50. The Assistant
  51. The Golden Notebook
  52. The Big Sleep
  53. Death Comes For The Archbishop
  54. Ragtime
  55. Gone With The Wind
  56. Slaughterhouse Five
  57. Lord of the Flies
  58. The Day of the Locust
  59. Loving
  60. A Passage To India
  61. Portnoy’s Complaint
  62. Under The Volcano
  63. Snow Crash
  64. Dog Soldiers
  65. Lolita
  66. Neuromancer
  67. Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret
  68. Possession
  69. The Sound And The Fury
  70. Mrs. Dalloway
  71. A Dance To The Music Of Time
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126 Comments Post a comment
  1. I admire the idea behind your blog. Bravo and happy reading.

    October 7, 2011
  2. Love this! It’s a great idea.

    October 8, 2011
  3. Read the novel ‘Its not about the bike- My journey back to life’. Its a biography by Lance Armstrong. I know you are interested in novels rather than non-fiction. But try reading this, you will surely like it. By the way, nice ordering of books… :)

    October 9, 2011
    • yzarcerauoy #

      Akshat Mittal: I think Lance Armstrong’s book “It’s Not About The Bike….” is an inspirational story, but I found the actual writing less than desirable. I am not an english major or editor my trade; however, Lance Armstrong did admit that he was allowed a lot of full reign in the writing of it, and writer—he is not. Inspirational story, yes. Well written—not quite.

      July 30, 2014
  4. Lotus Flower #

    You’ve motivated me to start a similar project but relating it to preparation for the Graduate Records Examination to enter a dual masters degree. Thanks so much for all your inspiration! :)

    October 13, 2011
    • Awesome! Good luck with it and keep me posted.

      October 13, 2011
  5. its a gud idea

    November 4, 2011
    • Dilip, you flatter him far too much.

      April 16, 2012
  6. I am sad to see Lord of the Flies ranking so below on your list. You’ve actually got it below Lion, Witch, and Wardrobe, which I thought was pretty ordinary stuff :(

    November 28, 2011
    • Sorry to disappoint. Sometimes I wonder if I have Lord of the Flies too low as well!

      December 12, 2011
  7. I love the concept of your blog/project.

    Nineteen Eighty-Four is my all-time favourite, bar none.

    June 8, 2012
  8. Good blog. I’m a sucker for the 100 best novels idea. Not too many foreign novels there. If Dostoevsky saw this list he’s rise up from his grave. And then we’d only have to bury him again.

    August 8, 2012
  9. I love the idea of this blog, going through the 100 best books, and from the books that I’ve read on your list I mostly agree with you, though personally Catch 22 would be my top book.

    January 2, 2013
  10. Melissa @ Swamp of Boredom #

    I haven’t read Mrs. Dalloway or A Dance to the music of Time but I totally agree with your ranking of The Sound and the Fury.

    January 3, 2013
  11. I’m on pins and needles, wondering where you will be ranking Pale Fire. Looking forward to the revelation! :o)

    January 17, 2013
  12. I took a quick look a your rankings, up to the list on the page, top 51.
    My first comment is: the majority of the books are by American authors.
    Saul Bellow isn’t on the list. An omission, I think.

    January 26, 2013
    • The Adventures of Augie March is on the list. I just haven’t got to it yet.

      April 16, 2013
  13. camdengirls #

    Fab idea!

    February 5, 2013
  14. Lord of the Rings? The Hobbit?

    March 11, 2013
    • Lord of the Rings is on the list. I haven’t got to it yet. Your looking at my rankings of the books I’ve already read.

      April 16, 2013
  15. how about ranking blogging sites? I see your alexa traffic ranking is 1,250,588,

    April 14, 2013
    • Oh no! I’ve always wanted to be in the top 1,250,500. So close.

      April 16, 2013
  16. I actually hated Catch-22, The Great Gatsby, and The Catcher in the Rye. I felt like they all had a misogynistic undertone. Something a man might not notice. I love Slaughterhouse Five, and pretty much everything else Vonnegut wrote. I love lists like this. I’ve read most of the authors, but not the exact works listed.

    April 18, 2013
    • I think a part of me died inside after reading this comment. Though I do agree with you, Slaughter House Five is fantastic. What do you think about Lord Of The Flies?

      August 16, 2013
      • That is one of those classics I somehow never got around to reading. If I ever do I’ll let ya know. :)

        August 16, 2013
      • I should add- I loved 9 stories and Franny & Zooey. Salinger isn’t all bad. Just hated that particular book.

        August 17, 2013
        • 9 stories is a gem

          August 18, 2013
    • yzarcerauoy #

      Wow—hard to believe someone could actually not like Catch-22…did you read the ending part of Snowden in that novel? I swear NO WRITER will ever capture the shock and dismay of a main character like Heller did just in that scene alone. I still bookmark that page and only wish I could write such work!

      You are definitely entitled to your own opinions, but I rarely meet anyone who read Catch-22 and did not like it, even a little.

      July 30, 2014
      • Uggh I know- I feel a bit freakish. I’ll read it again someday and perhaps I’ll like it better.

        July 30, 2014
        • yzarcerauoy #

          Sorry for picking on you! Lol

          July 30, 2014
          • No worries- plenty of friends have been genuinely taken aback that I don’t like the novel. I also dislike most Kerouac, Plath’s prose, and I think Tolstoy is sexist- none of these are popular opinions.

            July 30, 2014
          • yzarcerauoy #

            HA! I also dislike Kerouac (his life was more interesting than his actual writings, along with his famous writer friends), Plath was crazy so that seems to make her prose that much more “interesting” to some (not me!)…I am not versed well on Tolstoy that much, but he doesn’t do much for me as well.

            July 30, 2014
          • Welll in Tolstoy’s world women tend to be beautiful virgins or beautiful whores. Sometimes he lets in a faded but formerly beautiful matron and nameless maidservants for their husbands to cheat on them with. Dostoevsky is brilliant for writing multi-faceted women. I’m glad I’m not the only one who dislikes Kerouac and Plath- seems like a cardinal sin among certain social circles. :)

            July 30, 2014
  17. It’s a great idea. But I wonder if you are always inspired enough to read the big names. Sometimes it is so much fun to pick up just anything and read! Do you find yourself taking a break from the list once in a while?

    April 19, 2013
  18. I’m happy to see “Things Fall Apart” rated so highly on this list! It’s a book I’ve returned to several times throughout my life and each time I’m moved by how powerful of a story it is. I know several Authors and Students that can’t stand it, so it’s refreshing to see others appreciate it as well.

    Very inspirational idea! Have you found any underlying similarities in the books you’ve enjoyed the most?

    April 21, 2013
  19. I flinched hard at some of the ratings, and then smiled because you read all these and gave them time and chances and differing opinions are not the devil or anything, but rather a sign of character.

    April 24, 2013
  20. Lara #

    Have to admit I couldn’t get through Mrs. Dalloway! Loved Slaughterhouse Five though…

    April 25, 2013
  21. What did you find so great about the Great Gatsby? To be honest, I found it a bit underwhelming, but I’m thinking of giving it another read.

    April 25, 2013
    • I agree with sarsrose. I gave Gatsby two stars, underwhelmed:

      December 4, 2013
  22. I love that you have A Handful of Dust in your top 20. I feel that that novel doesn’t get the recognition it deserves, everyone is always so focused on Brideshead Revisited. Personally, A Handful of Dust is one of my favorite novels, alongside This Side of Paradise and The Catcher in the Rye. So this makes me very happy. It’s also great to know not everyone is on the Lolita-is-an-amazing-piece-of-work bandwagon :)

    May 1, 2013
  23. Strange that over the last week, I have independently thought about your top four books, all of which I read as a teenager, and thought “I must revisit that book”.

    May 13, 2013
  24. I was a bit astonished at your ranking of Blind assassin so high. I don’t know if you are aware of the fact, but it’s highly ‘inspired’ by Doris Lessing’s golden notebook. And The sound and the fury is in a lower position than Gone with the wind! Really!!!! And you are a guy!!! I though I would never see that happening :P

    May 27, 2013
  25. Outstanding idea for a blog! I look forward to reading about your progress.

    July 9, 2013
  26. Will you read “The Bluest Eye” by Toni Morrison? That was pretty good, I read it last summer.

    July 17, 2013
  27. I recently found this blog and I think what you are doing is absolutely remarkable. Furthermore, I agree that The Great Gatsby is a superb novel but I do think that The Catcher In The Rye is worthy of a top ten spot.

    August 16, 2013
  28. Love this idea, I’d love to do the same thing. Especially rereading the ones I read in high school and probably didn’t understand..

    August 20, 2013
  29. Fun list. I’m impressed by anyone who’s finished Infinite Jest. I’m halfway through A Dance to the Music of Time and will get to the rest. There are a few other titles on your list I want to get to as well.

    August 21, 2013
  30. Great list! Respectful top two. Also, cool pick with #14 – great contemporary choice.

    August 22, 2013
  31. I loved To Kill a Mockingbird!

    September 8, 2013
  32. Every time I see a top/best book list, I have the urge to do what you’re doing. I have even tried it once or twice, but I always get distracted by other books. There are just so many books! And since I have discovered WordPress, I am doing even less book reading, unfortunately. Oh well, I will just do it vicariously through your blog now. :)
    p.s. I, Claudius WAS a really great read!

    September 24, 2013
  33. So great to see Revolutionary Road up there, but I am a bit puzzled about One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest..sure, the idea there and they way it transpired into a movie was amazing, but the novel itself? the greatest – as in top 30, really?

    December 16, 2013
  34. As a fellow avid reader, I love the premise of your blog! Will definitely be referring to this list the next time I’m looking for a new book to read

    December 17, 2013
  35. Very interesting ranking. I thoroughly agree with you about Gatsby. I love Hemingway’s short stories, A Farewell to Arms and Old Man and the Sea but The Sun Also Rises I don’t think is his best work. Prefer Graham Greene’s The Heart of the Matter over The Power and The Glory. Some of your higher ranked I would rate lower and some of your lower ranked I would rate higher.

    January 8, 2014
  36. Ju Lie #

    I don’t think I could rank those books – I loved almost all of them that I have read. But Rabbit Run is my favourite.

    January 20, 2014
  37. I absolutely love the idea behind this blog! I hope you are enjoying reading all of these wonderful books. I’m glad to see The Great Gatsby at the top, but Mrs. Dalloway? Anyway, keep reading; I’ll be enjoying reading what you have to say about all of the books!

    March 28, 2014
  38. Lesa #

    I love this idea! And there are so many I haven’t read yet…I need to rededicate myself to reading again! I’m confused by the people who are disappointed in your rankings, though. Even if something ranks lower than another, it doesn’t necessarily mean the book is bad or that you didn’t like or appreciate it…just not as much as the ones ranked higher. I mean, all of these would be considered “good” or even classics, right? And of course, it’s your opinion and not everyone has the same taste in books. Thanks for sharing your idea and your opinions!

    May 7, 2014
  39. Thank you for your list! I have looked high and low for recommendations of good books, hoping to help me get back to having a good, diverse vocabulary. These days, words that used to be simple for me, seem to escape me – they have difficulty making their way beyond the tip of my tongue (laugh). I’ve read a good amount of the books on your list – so it’ll be fun to go through the list and get lost in them. Do you have any recommendations for good grammar books I can look into? Thanks!

    May 17, 2014
  40. The Great Gatsby, such a wonderful book. It reads like a poem and the last page is the best last page of any book ever,

    June 5, 2014
  41. Hello! I could have sworn I’ve been to this web site before but after looking
    at some of the articles I realized it’s new to
    me. Nonetheless, I’m certainly pleased I came across it and I’ll be bookmarking it
    and checking back often!

    July 25, 2014
  42. yzarcerauoy #

    I love your idea of chronicling your journey of reading these great works of literature. You are brave to be so candid amidst a world of judgers, such as we are—all of us have in our own heads, “But, what about…”, and “Why didn’t you include…”. Hahaha…

    Kudos, nonetheless. ; )

    July 30, 2014

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