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Ranking The First 51 Books

So, as you may know, Time Magazine chose not to rank the 100 All-Time novels when they created this list, but I thought I’d be a dove and help them out. So I rank each novel after I’m finished with it. I like to call these my totally meaningless and highly subjective rankings.

After every 5-6 books, I take a little time to explain why I ranked each book as I did. It’s my way of staying accountable to you and letting you rain down hate upon me in the comments section, if you so choose.

So, here’s how I ranked books 46 through 51:

Book 46: The Grapes of Wrath (current rank: 14): Outstanding Steinbeck novel worthy of all the praise it receives. For me, the preachy tone kept it  lower in the rankings than it might have been. Still, it’s a classic.

Book 47: Atonement (current rank: 26): This one is almost right square in the middle of my rankings. McEwan is a wonderful writer. The story in Atonement is solid, but several turning points in the book feel too forced, too Hollywood. Atonement is so close to being a top 10 novel, but I didn’t like the way it seemed the story was written with a Hollywood script in mind.

Book 48: Invisible Man (current rank: 8): You can’t go wrong with Invisible Man. It’s a novel that makes a social statement without being too preachy. Loved it.

Book 49: A Handful of Dust (current rank: 12): The story is somewhat predictable, but it’s fast paced and enjoyable nonetheless. Tony Last is one of the more memorable characters I’ve encountered. One of the few black spots for A Handful of Dust is the crappy alternate ending included in my version of the book. If your version has the alternate ending, skip it.

Book 50: The Great Gatsby (current rank: 1): We’ll, there you go. The Great Gatsby was my favorite novel before I started the list, and it’s still my favorite novel, edging out To Kill A Mockingbird. If I had one novel to read the rest of my life, this would be it.

Book 51: A Dance To The Music of Time (current rank: 51): I just realized that I reviewed my bottom-rated book right after my reviewing and reading my top-rated book. How about that? I guess I’m a man of extremes. I’m tired of talking about A Dance. Most of you know I hated it. If you’d like to find out why, go here.

In all, that was a pretty good set of books–with the exception of A Dance.

I currently have all 5 of the other novels rated in the top half of my rankings, and I’m wondering if I might have been a little too harsh on Atonement, putting it at #26. It really was a great story with a few faults. Major faults, in my view, but only a few.

Anyway, if you’re keeping score at home, my upcoming novels (after Pale Fire) are The Golden Notebook and Snow Crash.

Here is my complete totally meaningless and highly subjective rankings if you are interested.

Okay, go ahead and tell me how stupid my rankings are. Fire away!

7 Comments Post a comment
  1. I’m just glad Mrs. Dalloway isn’t the worst anymore 😀


    January 17, 2013
    • Mrs. Dalloway’s saving grace is that it was 200 pages. Had it been 3,500 pages, it would still be last.


      January 17, 2013
  2. Robert, I should stop reading your blog! I just bought “Infinite Jest” and “The Great Gatsby” for my Kindle; price at $3.99 each was a great temptation, but when will I ever find the time to read these books! By the way, I am sorry you had to pick “Mrs Dalloway” instead of “To the Lighthouse” which is infinitely better!


    January 17, 2013
    • Cool. Don’t worry, though, To The Lighthouse is on the list, so I’ll get around to it.


      January 17, 2013
  3. Reblogged this on makinghismark and commented:
    When asked, (usually to myself) why I majored in English the answer I give is close to “Well I first tried majoring in history but that involved way too much cramming and not enough creativity ( a euphemism for bullshitting), so I switched to English. Besides I was spending a lot of time reading for pleasure so why not convert a hobby into an academic major.

    There is a good dose of enduring truth to such a response. I, like many aspiring writers, like being able to use my imagination and playing with facts rather than simply synthesizing them as history majors must do. I also love reading, maybe not as much as I love mint chocolate chip ice cream, going to a U2 concert or watching my team of preference win a big game but books are definitely in my favorite five.

    I am also glad I grew up in a day and age where there were fewer outside distractions. In fairness, I am not sure how students today fend off all of the stimulation and from what I have observed as both a teacher and tutor, it’s a juggernaut that is almost impossible for adolescents to defend. Luckily, I have had enough time to read and even teach some great novels during my life, and I owe a large chunk of that gratitude to ending up as an English major. So in keeping with the spirit of this reblog and whatever ranking Time Magazine may have produced, I would like to mention my twelve favorite books, though in no particular order.
    I’d also love to hear my fellow book-lovers top lists:

    – A Separate Peace by John Knowles
    – Night by Elie Wiesel
    – The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas
    – The whole S.E. Hinton series (at least when I read it in middle school)
    – The Razors Edge by W. Somerset Maugham
    – Henry V by William Shakespeare
    – Moby Dick by Herman Melville
    – This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald
    – A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway
    – Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce
    – The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

    And the novel illustrated above – The Invisible Man

    In compiling this list, I am well aware that it is subject to change, particularly after I refill my brain with some actual food. I am also aware, with some accompanying guilt, that almost all the authors are DWEM’s (Dead White European Males). But that’s part and parcel of being raised in the 20th century in New England, exposed to the classics, taught the classics and I suppose, obsessed with them too.

    I am curious what others would choose and while I wait for your responses, am going to agonize over the novels I left out. And if I make it a priority, I may actually start reading some books from some living authors.


    January 17, 2013
  4. Reblogged this on austindejesus5.


    January 17, 2013
  5. Go Gatsby! One of the few books I truly enjoyed reading in English class. Definitely ranked as one of my favorite books 🙂


    January 19, 2013

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