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The First 30: A Look Back

After each set of ten books, I write a brief recap that highlights some of my favorite and least favorite aspects of the novels I’ve read to that point.

Today’s post is my third recap. If you’re interested, here’s my recap of the first 10 and the first 20.

Now, without further ado, here’s a breakdown on the first 30 novels–the 101 Books Awards, if you will. 

Total pages read: 10,614

Favorite book: It’s still To Kill A Mockingbird (Complete rankings.)

Least favorite book: Mrs. Dalloway, by a hair, over The Sound and The Fury

Favorite character: Yossarian (Catch 22).

Least favorite characters: 1) April Wheeler (Revolutionary Road)  2) Case (Neuromancer)

Favorite writer:  George Orwell (1984 and Animal Farm)

Least favorite writer: William Gibson (Neuromancer).

Biggest surprise: I, Claudius over The French Lieutenant’s Woman

Most difficult book: The Sound and The Fury tops Infinite Jest

Most depressing book: Rabbit, Run edges Revolutionary Road.

Most violent book: Blood Meridian edges A Clockwork Orange by half a bloody torso.

Most inspirational book: To Kill A Mockingbird

Funniest book: Catch 22. Nothing else is even close.

Longest read: Infinite Jest 

Shortest read: Animal Farm

Best opening line: “Ten days after the war ended, my sister Laura drove a car off a bridge.” (The Blind Assassin)

Most memorable line: Three favorites from the first 30:

  1. “Soon you’ll regret all that sun-tanning. Your face will look like a testicle.” – Iris Chase
    (Iris Chase, The Blind Assassin)
  2. “Because in the end, when you were falling into water, there was no solid thing to reach for but your children.” (The Corrections)
  3. “I do things like get in a taxi and say, ‘The library, and step on it.’” ( Hal Incandenza, Infinite Jest)

Favorite posts: Some posts that I’m fond of either because of the subject matter or the discussion that resulted from it.

The Beginning: First post. How it all got started.

Freshly Pressed Fun: My thoughts on the first  freshly pressed feature—the day after.

Freshly Pressed Fun, Part Deux: Self-explanatory.

The Sound and The Fury: My slightly controversial review of the Faulkner classic. Also Freshly Pressed.

101 Books Guide To Carrying An Embarrassing Book In Public: Believe me, thanks to this project, I have a lot of experience.

Q&A With Lev Grossman: My interview with one of the two creators of the Time list.

Why Read Fiction? The journey of a former nonfiction snob. That’s me.

One Book You’ll Never ReadThe books we all hate.

Looking Back on Infinite JestAll everything from my experience reading IJ.

Did Stanley Kubrick Misinterpret A Clockwork Orange? Yep.

The Art of Reading While Watching Football: It can be done.

Do You Like Depressing Stories? If you don’t, you should.

5 Disgusting Words That Make Me Cringe: This is nasty stuff.

The Book You’ve Never Read: Be honest.

What do Harper Lee and Captain Underpants Have in Common? More than you think!

Getting Spammy With It: Where I make fun of spammers.

Your Search Questions Answered: My meager attempt at humor.

Thanks to all of you, this blog keeps growing. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Even if you weren’t reading, I’d still be doing this. But it’s a lot more fun knowing a few people make 101 Books part of their daily routine.

So, enough sentimental crap. Agree or disagree with any of my “awards”?

13 Comments Post a comment
  1. I wouldn’t have thought much of anything could be more violent than A Clockwork Orange.


    November 16, 2011
    • Yep. It’s a close one, but I think Blood Meridian is a little more violent. No lie: Puppies die. Puppies!


      November 16, 2011
      • Personally, I felt the “ultra violence” of Clockwork was out-bled/out-hacked/out-burned by Blood Meridian. Consider the babies…or the Delaware Indians in the tree; gives me shivers. While horrid, the scenes fit perfectly with the reality of desert living.


        November 16, 2011
      • Yeah, something about the tone of Blood Meridian. I can’t quite remember if it had as much violence in it as Clockwork, but it was just to a different level, and that’s saying something.


        November 16, 2011
  2. pdshah429 #

    I love Catch-22. Nothing could be funnier than all of that “circular logic.” I wonder if any of the other books on your list are even as close to being comical as Joseph Heller…


    November 16, 2011
  3. homec #

    Love this project and enjoy reading all your reviews. Inspired me to read some of these books as well. I’m currently reading Never Let Me Go along with you. So far so good!


    November 16, 2011
    • Awesome. Keep at it. It’s fun to someone else out there is reading the same thing.


      November 17, 2011
  4. I think that you need a special award for IJ. It’s not enough that it is the longest book or was beat out for hardest book – it was beat by a book you didn’t like. I’d like to see a sense of accomplishment here, maybe the Mt. Everest award. And who knows, it might get beat by some great mountain of a book yet to come.


    November 16, 2011
    • I agree. Might need to include that next time. IJ was a beast, but there are a few others on the list.


      November 17, 2011
  5. Love, love, love Catch 22 but it’s been so long since I’ve read it. Time to read it again I think. Thanks for the reminder. Great blog by the way and fantastic idea behind it.


    November 16, 2011
    • It’s definitely one of my favorites so far.

      Thanks for reading the blog!


      November 17, 2011
  6. I find it interesting and slightly perplexing that To Kill a Mockingbird is still no. 1 almost a third of the way into your list. I tried to read it in an attempt to catch up on American literature (I am not a native speaker of English) but it never really appealed to me and I put it down after a couple of days. I always thought it was because I was just too old when I tried to read it, given that it was originally written for a young audience, but it seems like it can still has an enduring appeal even to adult Americans. Perhaps it’s a cultural thing. Perhaps it just doesn’t hold the same appeal to non-Americans.

    I have, however, experienced how one’s age and level of maturity at the time of reading can influence the way you read and judge a book. There are books that I was too young to read when I first tried, that I gave a second try later in life with much greater success. On the other hand, there are also books that I enjoyed reading in my early twenties, that I now find I can’t read – not because they are bad, but because my tolerance for aestheticized violence is a lot lower than it was 15 years ago.


    November 17, 2011
  7. Love To Kill a Mockingbird, and not just because I went to law school 🙂 It’s so impressive how Lee manages to capture a time and culture in her pages that still feels fresh, no matter how many years go by. I feel a lot of the same things about Mark Twain…


    November 21, 2011

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