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Ranking The First 30 (Plus 1)

Somehow I let this post slip by.

For newcomers, I usually stop and explain my latest rankings after each set of five books. Book #30 (Animal Farm) came and went and I totally forgot to recap. So today’s post is a quick explanation of my rankings for the last set of books (26-31).

Remember, these are my highly subjective and totally opinionated rankings of the first 31 novels.

Book #26: Revolutionary Road (Current rank: 12): If an author can make me hate a character as much as I hate April Wheeler, then that author is doing his job. Richard Yates is a beautiful storyteller and an even more impressive writer. This is a dark, heart-wrenching, emotional story that will make your head spin with frustration, and that’s why it’s so good.

Book #27: The Sound and The Fury (Current rank: 30): Oh, my head hurts just trying to remember this novel. I think I’ve repressed 90% of what I read during this Faulkner book. But thanks to Mrs. Dalloway, it’s not in last place.

Book #28: The Moviegoer (Current rank: 15): With The Moviegoer, Walker Percy’s writing stands out to me more than the book itself. I think it’s fitting that this one is right in the middle, because I enjoyed reading it but it’s not necessarily a story that jumps out at me when I look back on the novels I’ve read to this point.

Book #29: Beloved (Current rank: 22) Toni Morrison is a fabulous writer. And, yes, I realize I’ve said that a lot about all of these writers, but it’s true. Beloved is a weird, creepy novel, mostly in a good way. The ghost angle in this story totally caught me off-guard, but some of the creativity in the book seemed a little forced to me. In the end, I can’t quite put my finger on why this is ranked in the bottom third, but there it is…at number 22.

Book #30: Animal Farm (Current rank: 7) So good. So refreshing and creative. Animal Farm is allegory at its finest. It’s good on multiple levels, as an accessible story for kids about animals who raise hell on a farm, or as a biting, political commentary that will definitely make you think.

Book #31: Never Let Me Go (Current rank: 6) I’ll put Never Let Me Go up there with I, Claudius and The French Lieutenant’s Woman in the “books that surprised me” category. I honestly didn’t expect much, even though many of you think highly of this book, and you all were right. It’s good, really good. Never Let Me Go has made me think probably more than any book from the first 31.

And there you have it. If you’re interested, check out my complete rankings of the first 31.

As always, tell me how much you hate me and my rankings in the comments section. Or give me the virtual finger. Your choice.

Where did I go wrong (or right)?

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8 Comments Post a comment
  1. You convinced me with Never Let Me Go. I’ve placed a hold on a digital edition at the local library.

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    November 28, 2011
  2. bba #

    Let’s see, you never read GWTW prior to this list and you bang on Faulkner. If you didn’t fawn over TKAM, I’d have to question your regional allegiances.

    Like

    November 28, 2011
    • Faulkner will get another shot and Beloved is definitely a southern novel. Otherwise, yeah, the southern authors aren’t blowing me away. For shame.

      Like

      November 28, 2011
  3. homec #

    I’m getting frustrated that my library doesn’t have more of these books available in digital editions. I just rented Animal Farm, which they did have. I may have read it before, but I am not certain. The story is so well known, I am not sure if I just feel like I read it or if I actually did. I’m sure it is worty of a re-read either way.
    I’m very interested in your thoughts on The Watchmen. As an avid reader I’ve yet to understand these graphic novels. I looked at some in the store to try and figure out why they are all the rage. Still don’t know.

    Like

    November 28, 2011
  4. Robert, I read through most of this blog over the Thanksgiving holiday. As a result, I bought Never Let Me Go (which I’d never heard of before and am currently reading), as well as The Moviegoer, The Blind Assassin, 1984, Blood Meridian, and I, Claudius. I was half-amazed that I found all of them at a used bookstore in a relatively small town. So, I’d like to thank you for reigniting my yen for quality fiction and for sticking with such a long project.

    Also, your post on the Stockholm Syndrome led me to write this post this morning: http://www.blakeatwood.com/2011/11/28/the-stranglehold-of-the-long-novel

    And, to actually answer the question you posed in this post: I’m surprised that The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe has fallen to 19. Did you already list why and I haven’t gotten to that post yet? Or was it a casualty of such a strong “best of” list? And might the Stockholm Syndrome have influenced your #4 rating for Infinite Jest?

    But, considering I’ve only read 7 in your current list of 31, I likely don’t know what I’m talking about . . .

    Like

    November 28, 2011
    • Thanks for reading the blog, Blake.

      I think you’re right about The Lion, The Witch…falling to 19. It’s definitely because the strength of the other books. Plus, this is all so subjective anyway that I might rank it higher if I read it right now. Who knows.

      And, yeah, I think the Stockholm Syndrome theory did influence my ranking for IJ. I really did enjoy that book, but it also felt like an achievement to finish it.

      Like

      November 29, 2011
  5. I haven’t read any of these so I can’t judge you on your judging. But I really want to read a bunch of them.

    Like

    November 29, 2011

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