I spent the morning thinking about the listing of my top 40 recommendations. I don’t see any reason to make any major changes at this time but I realize that there are so many texts that I have yet to read, many of which might be contenders for the top 40.
Several years back I had yet to read George Eliot’s Middlemarch and suggested that I would probably place it in the top forty based on the comments and suggestions of others. I have since then read Middlemarch and, although I did not revere the novel to the extent of its praise, Middlemarch did in fact push its way into the list.
Then for a while I was considering David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest. That too made the list after I read it, but just barely. Today I probably would use William Gaddis’s novel The Recognitions.
One thing I noticed was that for a “best” list it was also useful as a “biggest” or “most challenging” list despite several shorter, less complex novels being represented.
Why is that?
What novels would you expect to make the list if and when I finally get around to reading them … or should I put then at the top of my next reading list immediately?
- Ulysses — James Joyce
- Madame Bovary — Gustave Flaubert
- À La Recherche du temps perdu — Marcel Proust
- The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy — Laurence Sterne
- Don Quixote — Miguel de Cervantes
- The Brothers Karamazov — Fyodor Dostoevsky
- Anna Karenina — Leo Tolstoy
- The Faerie Queene — Edmund Spenser
- Finnegans Wake — James Joyce
- Waiting For Godot — Samuel Beckett
- Our Lady of the Flowers — Jean Genet
- Under the Volcano — Malcolm Lowry
- The Last Temptation of Christ — Nikos Kazantzakis
- The Cairo Trilogy
- La Vie mode d’emploi — Georges Perec
- Bouvard et Pécuchet — Gustave Flaubert
- A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man — James Joyce
- The Magic Mountain — Thomas Mann
- JR — William Gaddis
- Crime and Punishment — Fyodor Dostoevsky
- Le Voyeur — Alain Robbe-Grillet
- The Makioka Sisters — Junichero Tanizaki
- Absalom, Absalom! — William Faulkner
- To the Lighthouse — Virginia Woolf
- Lolita — Vladimir Nabokov
- The Sea of Fertility — Yukio Mishima
- Middlemarch — George Eliot
- Moby Dick — Herman Melville
- The Leopard — Giuseppe di Lampedusa
- A Dance to the Music of Time — Anthony Powell
- Mulligan Stew — Gilbert Sorrentino
- Naked Lunch — William S. Burroughs
- The Good Soldier — Ford Madox Ford
- The Awakening Land — Conrad Richter
- The Alexandria Quartet — Lawrence Durrell
- Clarissa — Samuel Richardson
- Europe Central — William Vollmann
- The Tin Drum — Günter Grass
- The Adventures of Augie March — Saul Bellow
- Infinite Jest — David Foster Wallace