Top-Ten Time! (Our Favorite Novels)

We all like to discuss the novels we love most, so I thought I’d formalize that this week by listing my ten all-time favorite novels and then asking for yours.

To make things more interesting, I’ll tally up everyone’s favorites mentioned in comments here, in comments on Facebook, and in comments on Twitter. Then I’ll rank them and post the results this Friday, March 31. (Ten points for each first-place mention, nine points for each second-place mention, etc.) I realize better-known novels might have an advantage, but, heck, there’s little that’s scientific about this little poll.  🙂

Needless to say, your lists can include everything from literary novels to mass-audience books to genre fiction.

My sometimes-hard-to-rank list, which includes novels by six women and four men – and authors from the United Kingdom (4), Canada (1), France (1), Germany (1), Italy (1), Russia (1), and the United States (1):

10. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas. Incredible tale of false imprisonment and epic revenge.

9. The Night in Lisbon by Erich Maria Remarque. The most gripping World War II novel I’ve ever read focuses on two German refugees.

8. The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery. A diagnosis of terminal illness changes a young woman’s life for the better. (Not a depressing book, I assure you.)

7. Possession by A.S. Byatt. An intricate tour de force that includes 19th- and 20th-century love affairs with some similarities.

6. History by Elsa Morante. Another riveting World War II novel, about a beleaguered woman and her two very different sons. Each chapter opens with a historical timeline.

5. The seven Harry Potter books by J.K. Rowling (series are okay to include in your lists  🙂 ). Wizardry, friendship, cliffhangers, distinctive heroes/heroines/villains, humor, much more.

4. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. Feverish writing and psychological fireworks that glue you to the page.

3. Daniel Deronda by George Eliot. Magnificent and heartbreaking (and one of the few 19th-century novels with three-dimensional Jewish characters).

2. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck. Powerful saga of the Joad family in particular and injustice in general.

1. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë. A fiercely independent protagonist and one of literature’s great love stories — plus gothic/mystery elements.

And here’s my incomplete list of novels, mentioned alphabetically by author, that would rank somewhere between 11 and 100:

The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende, The Robber Bride and Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood, Persuasion and Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, Old Goriot and Eugenie Grandet by Honoré de Balzac, If I Never Get Back by Darryl Brock, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brontë, Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë, Kindred by Octavia Butler, Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes, the Jack Reacher series by Lee Child, Shogun by James Clavell, Claudine at School and The Vagabond by Colette, The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins, The Deerslayer by James Fenimore Cooper, The Pickwick Papers and Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens, The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, and Middlemarch, The Mill on the Floss, Silas Marner, and Adam Bede by George Eliot.

Also: Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison, Time and Again by Jack Finney, Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café by Fannie Flagg, The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, Lost Horizon by James Hilton, The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James, The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver, The Leopard by Giuseppe di Lampedusa, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and its two sequels by Stieg Larsson, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, The Sea-Wolf and Martin Eden by Jack London, Suttree and Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy, and Reflections in a Golden Eye by Carson McCullers.

Also: Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery, Arch of Triumph by Erich Maria Remarque, Old Mortality and The Heart of Midlothian by Sir Walter Scott, The Last Man by Mary Shelley, So Much for That by Lionel Shriver, White Teeth by Zadie Smith, East of Eden by John Steinbeck, Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe, The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt, His Dog by Albert Payson Terhune, The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien, The Kreutzer Sonata by Leo Tolstoy, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court by Mark Twain, The House of Mirth and The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton, Native Son by Richard Wright, Candide by Voltaire, and Germinal by Emile Zola.

Your top-ten favorites? Of, if you prefer, you could list your top five or just one favorite.

The box for submitting comments is below already-posted comments, but your new comment will appear at the top of the comments area — unless you’re replying to someone.

Next Sunday (April 2), I’ll be posting a piece about my new literary-trivia book Fascinating Facts About Famous Fiction Authors and the Greatest Novels of All Time.

In addition to doing this weekly blog, I also write the award-winning “Montclairvoyant” topical-humor column — now with, which covers Montclair, N.J., and nearby towns. The latest weekly column is here.

124 thoughts on “Top-Ten Time! (Our Favorite Novels)

  1. I don’t have a top ten list but my favorite novel is “Anna Karenina” despite some weaknesses in the portrayal of the title character. Her change from being a poised, sophisticated society woman toward someone with serious mental illness seems too abrupt to be completely believable. However, I have never read a novel with more vivid descriptions of scenes which seem almost cinematic at times and descriptions of characters’ mental states which range from the ecstasy of being in love to total despair. The strange thing was when I was reading this novel I actually felt the same emotion as the fictional characters. I felt the same thing when reading “Crime and Punishment” but the emotional range in this novel is much narrower and seem almost completely negative (no feelings of joy or ecstasy).

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Tony!

      That’s certainly a VERY worthy favorite novel, even though it’s not a perfect book. (No novel is, I guess.) Your terrific comment made a convincing case for the greatness of “Anna Karenina.”

      Liked by 1 person

      • “War and Peace” and some of Dickens novels have a similar vivid and fluid prose style, but I do not like them as much as “Anna Karenina”. “War and Peace had too many minor characters to keep track of and also those seemingly endless essays, and Dickens writings are somewhat lacking in emotional depth.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I looked at every top-ten-novels list posted in the comments section here, and elsewhere, in response to my March 26 column. Then I gave first-place picks 10 points, second-place choices 9 points, etc. Here are the overall results:

    1. “Crime and Punishment” (1866) by Fyodor Dostoyevsky: 49 points

    2. “Pride and Prejudice” (1813) by Jane Austen and “To Kill a Mockingbird” (1960) by Harper Lee: 35 points apiece

    3. “The Grapes of Wrath” (1939) by John Steinbeck: 33 points

    4. “Catch-22” (1961) by Joseph Heller: 23 points

    5. “The Brothers Karamazov” (1880) by Dostoyevsky, “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” (1884) by Mark Twain, and “The Great Gatsby” (1925) by F. Scott Fitzgerald: 20 points apiece

    6. “Gaudy Night” (1935) by Dorothy L. Sayers: 18 points

    7. “A Hero of Our Time” (1840) by Mikhail Lermontov: 17 points

    8. “The Good Earth” (1931) by Pearl S. Buck: 16 points

    9. “Wuthering Heights” (1847) by Emily Brontë: 14 points

    10. “Kindred” (1979) by Octavia E. Butler: 13 points

    The above results will also be posted as part of my next blog post this Sunday, April 2.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks so much for this, Dave. It was a challenge, but definitely the fun kind. I completely agree with jhNY about opinions on books changing over time. Most of my top ten I’ve read in the last ten years, so I had to ask myself what would have made my top ten before then? And of course it’s too embarrassing to even contemplate what I thought was great literature in my 20s. Actually, that’s probably not fair. I still have fond memories of reading those books, but as you said, time has passed and I’ve managed to stumble across some great literature that far surpasses what I thought was good when I was younger. Not least of which is “Crime and Punishment” which I’m thrilled to see won your poll!

      Also, my never ending list has become even more never ending with the addition of “Gaudy Night” which is obviously much loved on this blog.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you, Susan! It WAS fun, and I got to use my rusty math skills when counting up points. 🙂

        “Crime and Punishment” definitely won going away (as Raskolnikov had to do near the end of Dostoyevsky’s magnificent novel).

        “Gaudy Night” is a very interesting book. Deeper and longer than many mysteries, and just as much literary as it is a mystery.

        And, yes, our opinions about particular books DO change over the years and decades. Two of many examples for me were liking “Moby-Dick” and “The Scarlet Letter” much more the second time (in middle age) than the first time (in my teens).


      • Thank you, thepatterer! Yes, some surprising omissions — though of course it was an unscientific poll that didn’t have hundreds of participants. Hemingway and Wilde did get some points, but James Joyce (if I’m remembering right) didn’t make anyone’s top ten. If I were compiling a top-ten list of short stories, I’d consider his masterful “The Dead,” but I’ve yet to read any of Joyce’s novels. Have you?

        And, ha — Russian novels did indeed do well (with Tolstoy’s “War and Peace” coming close).


        • Dave, War & Peace almost made my list! What stopped me is I’ve only read it once and, much as I did like it, I don’t plan to reread it. But thanks to your poll I’ve added Crime & Punishment (or the BK) to my to-read list!

          Liked by 1 person

          • “War and Peace” would indeed be a tough novel to reread, Sheila. 🙂 I read it a long time ago, and was of course impressed, but I can’t imagine devoting the required time to revisit it. I did get a Tolstoy “fix” a few months ago by reading a collection of his best short stories, and most of them were off-the-charts good.

            “Crime and Punishment” is an astonishingly great novel. I felt like I was under a spell when I read it.

            Liked by 1 person

        • I would definitely include ‘Ulysses’ on a top ten list of most influential novels and it was a powerful reading experience which I’ll probably repeat at some point. However, subjectively, it didn’t keep me riveted as most of my top 10 novels did and it never surfaced in my consciousness as one of my all-time favorites in the intervening 23 years since I read it. As far as Russians are concerned, Tolstoy’s ‘War and Peace’ and ‘Anna Karenina’ are both fantastic, powerful works that I fully intend to re-read at some point but I have to say that in the Dostoevsky vs. Tolstoy competition that Dostoevsky wins out every time. I think he’s a spiritual kin in so many respects that touches my heart and mind in a more personal way than Tolstoy does. I guess I’m trying to say that emotional resonance trumps intellectual acknowledgment of brilliance.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Great mention of the idea of influential novels, bobess48! They may or may not be our most favorite books, but they had a big impact on novels to come. For instance, I’ve heard that “Ulysses” had some influence on the writing of Virginia Woolf’s “Mrs. Dalloway,” and Joyce’s opus definitely helped usher in “modernist” literature in general.

            I also enjoyed your thoughts about Fyodor and Leo’s work, and I’m with you in preferring the former. There’s definitely something to be said for emotional resonance over intellectual brilliance — though of course Dostoyevsky was also no slouch in the brains department.


    • Hi Dave, I was very interested in the results of your poll, and it’s inspired me to put “Crime and Punishment” in my “shopping bag” on B&N’s on-line bookstore. It’s a fairly new translation by Oliver Ready and got a lot of rave reviews for it. I probably won’t buy it until I’ve accumulated enough points to get another $25 gift card, but at the rate I’m going should be very soon, especially with 4 new dental crowns in progress (ugh!). I think I’ve read 7 of those mentioned, so not too bad, but there are a few I should have read and some I’ve never heard of before (“A Hero of Our Time” and “Kindred”).

      I’m still looking forward to tomorrow’s column regarding your new book!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you, Kat Lib! I would definitely recommend “Crime and Punishment” highly — and it’s much more readable than its reputation might make it seem.

        I had only been vaguely familiar with “A Hero of Our Time” before doing the poll — now on my to-read list, too. And “Kindred,” which Ana recommended a while ago, is a searing novel about an African-American woman in 20th-century California being yanked back in time to the Antebellum South. Riveting and of course depressing.

        Sorry about the dental-crown ordeal. A high indirect price to pay for a gift card. 😦

        Still working on tomorrow’s column. My goal is to post it in the afternoon. Thanks for mentioning it!


    • Howdy, Dave!

      If Yevgeny Yevtushenko were alive today (as he was, until a few hours ago) and one of the DAOLiterati, then he might have reiterated something he wrote in a prose piece — “The Spirit of Elbe (To My American Readers)” — appearing in his book “Yevtushenko Poems” about one of the novels on your aggregated list: “In my youth I swallowed, very unsystematically, Edgar Allan Poe, O’Henry [sic], [Theodore] Dreiser, Sinclair Lewis, Upton Sinclair, [John] Dos Passos, [Erskine] Caldwell. But one book above all others shook me completely. It was ‘The Grapes of Wrath’ by [John] Steinbeck. This book astonished me by its austere bareness and its expression of the highest form of love for man — without emotional priestlike commiseration, without sentimental sighing.”


      Liked by 1 person

      • Of course, “The Grapes of Wrath” should have appeared within single quotation marks in the above comment. Both the responsible copy editor and the responsible proofreader have been sacked, the former unemotionally and the latter unsentimentally.

        Liked by 1 person

        • J.J., I loved your comment above! I’ve always prided myself on my ability to proofread and thought I’d make a great copy editor, but I find myself making more and more grammatical mistakes in my posts on this blog. Is it getting older or is it just that everything on the internet is more laissez-faire these days? I’m going to have to add “The Grapes of Wrath” to my “shopping bag” as the only book of his I’ve read was “The Red Pony.”

          Also, thanks for the mention of Yevtushenko’s death; one of my favorite poems is Colours:

          “When your face appeared over my crumbled life,
          At first I understood only the poverty of what I had.
          Then it’s particular light on woods, on rivers, on the sea,
          Became my beginning in the colored world in which I had not yet had my beginning.

          I am so frightened, so frightened of the revelations, tears, and excitement finishing.
          I don’t fight it. This fear is my love. I nourish it who can nourish nothing –
          Love’s slipshod watchman.
          Fear hems me in.

          I am conscious that these minutes are short and that the colors in my eyes will vanish when your face sets.”

          Joan Baez included this on her album “Baptism” which is where I first heard it. Thanks again, J.J.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Howdy, Kat Lib!

            — I loved your comment above! —

            Thanks for the kind words!

            — Is it getting older or is it just that everything on the internet is more laissez-faire these days? —

            Based on my 45 years on the editorial side of the publishing business — books, e-mail newsletters, magazines, newspapers, Web sites and a whole lot of whatnot, both online and in print — I believe the gremlins you will always have with you. The best you can do is to be ready to play Whack-a-Mole whenever you see the bloodshot whites of their beady little eyes.

            — I’m going to have to add “The Grapes of Wrath” to my “shopping bag” as the only book of his I’ve read was “The Red Pony.” —

            I love “The Red Pony,” too! Of course, neither it nor “The Grapes of Wrath” is as funny as either “Cannery Row” or “Tortilla Flat.”

            — Also, thanks for the mention of Yevtushenko’s death; one of my favorite poems is Colours —

            I also like this baby, but I kind of prefer George Reavey’s translation of it (, even though I think his editor should have employed “Colors” over “Colours” in the poem’s title to be consistent with Reavey’s translation of the same word in the body type. (Gremlins! Whack! Whack! Whack!)

            — Joan Baez included this on her album “Baptism” which is where I first heard it. —



            Liked by 1 person

      • What a quote, J.J.! Thanks! I think those words capture a lot of what John Steinbeck did in “The Grapes of Wrath.” And Yevgeny Yevtushenko mentions several other writers featured in my book. 🙂


    • Drolly said, Bill! 🙂 Certainly a magnificent book, especially the first two thirds of it.

      You made it just in time for inclusion in the overall poll results, which I will post within an hour.


  3. Hi Dave, and the DAOLiterati,

    As always, I currently have two books on the go. Despite being a big Stephen King fan, I’ve never read “It”. Not only is it one of King’s earlier, more popular novels, it’s also apparently brilliant. Apparently. I’m about half way through, and just not feeling it. It’s told from the POV of multiple narrators and jumps around in time. There are two major time periods, and I just get used to one, when King switches to the other. Sometimes they’re flashbacks, sometimes memories, and for me, it just doesn’t work.

    I’m also about 150 pages through John Irving’s “A Prayer for Owen Meany” which is also not straight up linear, but it all feels like it’s happening now, despite it being written both before and after that fateful baseball game. Maybe because it’s only one POV and in the first person. Maybe it’s just written better.

    Anyway, I never fail to be amazed at how many things books can have in common, and how many things that can be different. Just thought I’d share…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Great point, Susan, about how novels can do the “same” things in different ways. I think Stephen King is quite a skillful writer, but, like any author, some of his books are better than others. (I’ve read about 15 of his novels, but not “It.”) John Irving is a VERY talented writer, even if he at times overdoes the quirkiness a bit.

      I admire your ability to read two novels at a time. I just can’t do it. But I’m currently reading a novel with “Two” in the title — Jorge Amado’s “Donna Flor and Her Two Husbands.” 🙂


  4. 10. Cervantes, Don Quixote
    9. The Brothers Karamazov, Dostoevsky
    8. The Trial, Kafka
    7. Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain
    6. Tom Jones, Henry Fielding
    5. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
    4. Great Expectations, Charles Dickens
    3. Song of Solomon, Toni Morrison
    2. In Watermelon Sugar, Richard Brautigan
    1. To the Lighthouse, Virginia Woolf

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for the great list, Daedalus Lex! (And that’s not just because it includes “GREAT Expectations.” 🙂 ) You named many powerhouse authors — including Henry Fielding, whose hilarious “Joseph Andrews” I also enjoy.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes to the hilarity of Joseph Andrews! I actually recommend that one to friends more often than Tom Jones. Joseph Andrews is probably better for the layman — more accessible than Tom Jones — but ultimately I thought Tom Jones had more of the qualities of a masterpiece.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I hear you — and well said! “Tom Jones” is indeed a more impressive novel, but “Joseph Andrews” is shorter and somewhat more “readable.” And SO funny. I think it was partly designed as a satire of Samuel Richardson’s “Pamela,” with a man (Joseph Andrews) rather than a woman (Pamela) being the highly virtuous protagonist.

          Liked by 1 person

    • I’m impressed that someone besides me remembers and recognizes ‘In Watermelon Sugar’. It was definitely a mind-altering experience for me. Brautigan deserves some of the love that’s been bestowed and overbestowed on authors that aren’t really much more impressive than he was.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. My top Ten Dave

    1. “To kill a Mockingbird” Harper lee
    2. “Razor`s Edge” Somerset Maugham
    3 “Of Mice and Men” John Steinbeck
    4. “The Good Earth” Pearl S. Buck
    5. “Dragon Trilogy” Steig Larrson
    6. “Pride and Prejudice” ( and Emma ) Jane Austen
    7. “Gone with the Wind” Margaret Mitchell
    8 “And Then there was None” Agatha Christie
    9 “Citadel” A.J Cronin
    10. “The Scapegoat” Daphne du Maurier

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks for your great list, bebe! (I’ve read seven of your choices, and agree with your opinion about them. 🙂 )

      Your mention of “The Scapegoat” reminds me of the long conversation about it you and others had on The Huffington Post several years ago! I still need to read that du Maurier book — she’s a VERY compelling writer.

      And thanks again for recommending Larsson’s trilogy. It’s fantastic!

      Liked by 1 person

        • Thanks, bebe! When I do my compilation, should I put “Gora” number one and then bump all the others down one spot? Would be happy to do so, if you want. Also, should I put “The Crescent Moon” number two and bump all the others down two spots? Or, if you’d like, you could re-post a revised list and I would use that.

          Still can’t find much of Tagore’s work in my local library, but I may very well order “Gora” on Amazon one day. 🙂

          I read some of “The Crescent Moon” when you linked to it a while back. Magnificent!

          Yes, so many authors just miss making a person’s top ten — and you named three great ones (two living, one deceased).

          Liked by 1 person

  6. Hi Dave,

    I’m not completely sure that this is right, but as others have said, I had to hurry up and post before I changed my mind:

    10. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe – C.S. Lewis (one of the first books that I ever fell in love with)
    9. Much ado about nothing – William Shakespeare
    8. The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins
    7. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis de Bernières
    6. Catch 22 – Joseph Heller
    5. Rebecca – Daphne du Maurier
    4. Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck
    3. Gone with the Wind – Margaret Mitchell
    2. The Dark Tower Series – Stephen King (thank you for allowing me to combine this into one!)
    1 Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky

    Others that I would have liked to include – Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen), The Luminaries (Eleanor Catton), Great Expectations (Charles Dickens), The Stand (Stephen King), The Life (Malcolm Knox), Of Human Bondage (W Somerset Maugham), The Road (Cormac McCarthy), Cloud Atlas (David Mitchell), 1984 (George Orwell), We need to talk about Kevin (Lionel Shriver), Lord Arthur Savile’s Crime (Oscar Wilde)

    After this topic, I’ve amended my TBR list and made room for re-reads. Thanks for making me think about these novels that I love!

    Liked by 1 person

    • PS. Obviously being in a different time zone means that I’m often posting when you’re in bed, but it also means I can be the first to wish you a Happy Birthday!!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Sue, that’s a terrific list — your top ten and the (very) honorable mentions.

      We certainly share a high regard for “Crime and Punishment,” “The Grapes of Wrath,” and “The Woman in White”! (Dostoyevsky’s classic is doing extremely well so far in this “poll.”) And I’m kicking myself for forgetting to mention “The Luminaries” and “Of Human Bondage” in my runners-up paragraphs. Two riveting/ambitious novels written nearly a century apart. As the comments have multiplied, I’ve realized that there are dozens of other novels I could’ve/should’ve named and forgot to do so.



      • Dave, don’t feel too bad about the ones you forgot. It’s your blog after all, and you can change what you want. You could even make a rule that “Jane Eyre” must be everyone’s top spot 😉 But you got the important one anyway (“C&P”)

        My list’s foundation came from a Facebook challenge from a couple of years ago. It’s probably too early to ask, but have you thought of doing this every year or two to see what changes?

        Liked by 1 person

        • That’s a great idea, Susan! If I somehow remember, I could do another poll next March.

          And thanks for your understanding. Now that I think about it, I should have also included in my runners-up Ray Bradbury’s “Fahrenheit 451,” which you recommended as well.

          LOL — a requirement that everyone make “Jane Eyre” number one! Sounds like an authoritarian-type thing Trump would do if he had any interest in literature. (I wonder if some people think “Nausea” is about him? 🙂 )


  7. How difficult!
    10. Kon Tiki (Thor Heyerdahl)
    9. Insp Morse Mysteries (Colin D. Dexter) 13 books
    8. The Thorn Birds (Colleen McCullough)
    7. The Lighthouse (P. D. James)
    6. Gaudy Night (Dorothy L. Sayers)
    5. Evolution of Calpurnia Tate (Jacqueline Kelly) a young adult book
    4.The Winds of War (Herman Wouk)
    3. The Source (James Michener)
    2. The Good Earth (Pearl S. Buck)
    1. The Haunting of Gad’s Hall and Gad’s Hall (Norah Lofts)
    The Origin by Irving Stone, a biological novel of Charles Darwin, is a favorite of mine also.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Reba, for a very interesting list — and I hear you when you say it’s difficult to rank one’s favorite books!

      “Kon Tiki”! That brought back memories. I read it many years ago, and absolutely loved it. “The Lighthouse” is the only P.D. James mystery I’ve gotten to so far, and I thought it was really well done. “Gaudy Night” is an incredibly impressive piece of writing. And so on… 🙂

      Thanks again!


  8. Wow, what a challenge. But a fun one. Okay, as of March 28,2017 @ 1 p.m. I’m going to say —

    1. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky.
    2. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston.
    3. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.
    4. On the Road by Jack Kerouac.
    5. Wise Blood by Flannery O’Connor.
    6. Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck.
    7. Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DeCamillo.
    8. The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway.
    9. The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fist Fight in Heaven by Sherman Alexie.
    10. If Beale Steet Could Talk by James Baldwin.

    Okay, there you go. Now I’m going to quickly post before I change my mind. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, Tony! I like your list a lot — as well as your humor about how our favorite-novels lists can change from hour to hour. Maybe from nanosecond to nanosecond, too. 🙂

      I’ve read six of the books on your list (1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 8) and am a big fan of 1, 2, 3, 6.

      After reading Flannery O’Connor’s compelling short stories, I really should read her in novel form, too! “Wise Blood” is now on my list!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I’ve had the same top three for a long time:
    1) Pride & Prejudice (Jane Austen)
    2) North and South (Elizabeth Gaskell)
    3) Wuthering Heights (Emily Bronte)
    I had to think hard about the rest. I came up with:
    4) Nine Coaches Waiting (Mary Stewart)
    5)The Thirteen Problems (short stories by Agatha Christie, featuring Miss Marple)
    6) the Anne books by L.M. Montgomery
    7) Gaudy Night (Dorothy Sayers)
    8) Emma (Austen again)
    9) Lord of the Rings
    10) Persuasion (Austen again!)
    I try to vary the diet, now and again, but your favorites are your favorites!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Sheila! I’ve read seven of the ten on your list (all except 2, 4, and 5), and those are excellent works you mentioned!

      Including three Jane Austen novels. 🙂 I’m not a huge fan of “Emma,” but love “Persuasion” and “Pride and Prejudice.” And seeing how high you ranked “North and South” just put that book on my to-read list; I thought Elizabeth Gaskell’s “Cranford,” which I read a few months ago, was well done.

      If I ever attend a college reunion again, I’ll think about “Gaudy Night.” 🙂 A long novel as mysteries go, but so interesting.

      Liked by 1 person

      • “Gaudy Night,” is like the Lord of the Rings trilogy, I feel physically transported to another place when I read it. It’s true of several of my top ten actually… 🙂

        North and South was given to me by a sister when I was in my teens, and it probably is the book that started me on my English literature love affair!

        Liked by 1 person

        • Nice observation, Sheila. I love it when novels transport a reader to another place (which of course can also mean another time). One of the major appeals of reading literature.

          Wow — that’s a big impact “North and South” had on your reading life! Hope it’s at my local library the next I visit. 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

        • Sheila, it’s really wonderful to know that there are others out there you, like Reba above, who seem to treasure “Gaudy Night” as much as I do. I loved all the Lord Peter mysteries, but this is the one that such a huge impact on my life. And someone who is familiar with Mary Stewart as well? That’s amazing, as somewhere in the past five years or so, I reread “Nine Coaches Waiting,” “The Ivy Tree” and “My Brother Michael.” I’ve never read “North and South,” but I absolutely loved the BBC production of it. I loaned it to my sister, and she called me and said, “Best. Ending. Ever.” So I’ll have to read the book now, thanks for the recommendation!

          Liked by 2 people

          • KatLib, I really liked your list below (the first one), I thought it could practically have been my own list, with the exception of a couple of books I hadn’t read. Speaking of North and South, I read the book long before seeing the television adaptation–which was so good I think it would be hard to put it out of your mind when reading the book for the first time. But I think the book is good enough, you will enjoy it. 🙂

            Mary Stewart *is* the most amazing writer, I don’t know what it was about those mid-century British women writers, they had such a gift for taking you to a different place.

            Liked by 1 person

  10. This assignment (“should we choose to accept it”) was way harder than I thought. First of all, my original list was not in order of preference and that was difficult enough, but I also had more than ten. So I first had to kill off Flaubert, Twain, Crisp, Lowry, Stevenson and O’Connor, to arrive at 10 titles. It got even harder to put them in order. I switched several names several times. It was almost impossible, until I realized that I’d still be doing it after your Friday deadline. So here’s my final list in order of elastic preference:

    1. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Betty Smith)

    2. Don Quixote (Cervantes)

    3. The Last Temptation of Christ (Kazantzakis)

    4. Crime and Punishment (Dostoevsky)

    5. The Picture of Dorian Gray (Wilde)

    6. Pride and Prejudice (Austen)

    7. Candide (Voltaire)

    8. The Day Of The Locust (West)

    9. Animal Farm (Orwell)

    10. Brideshead, Revisited (Waugh)

    Root canal was easier than this assignment.

    Liked by 2 people

    • “Root canal was easier than this assignment” — ha! But also more expensive? 🙂 Luckily, the authors you had to kill off were already dead!

      Thanks for compiling your top ten, thepatterer; I know these things are not easy. An impressive list — of which I’ve enjoyed seven (need to get to 1, 3, and 10).

      For those who haven’t read Voltaire’s “Candide,” they’re in for a hilarious, scathing, beautifully written treat!

      Liked by 2 people

      • Since making your virtual acquaintance, I have several times been reminded of Candide, but only because I think, among your talents, the most impressive is how well and generously you have tended your own garden– of commenters and readers of your blog.

        Liked by 1 person

        • That’s so kind of you to say, jhNY! You made my day. Thank you! And the feeling is mutual for you and the other wonderful commenters here — always friendly, at times funny, and so knowledgeable about literature and many other topics.


  11. I really get something out of just about every novel that I read, but I’ll go ahead and make a list. I didn’t give this too much thought, in that I brainstormed and wrote down the first 15 or so books that were the most memorable. Ranking them 1-10 was the difficult part, as has been said by other readers. So here if my list:

    1. War and Peace – Tolstoy
    2. The Count of Monte Cristo – Dumas
    3. The Brothers Karamazov – Dostoyevsky
    4. Light in August – Faulkner (actually, I had a hard time selecting my favorite Faulkner book: it could just have easily been The Sound and the Fury, Absalom, Absalom!, or As I Lay Dying).
    5. David Copperfield – Dickens (as with Faulkner, I wanted to include a Dickens book in the top 10, and I could have selected Great Expectations, Nicolas Nickleby, or Bleak House)
    6. Les Miserables – Hugo
    7. A Prayer for Owen Meany – Irving
    8. The Great Gatsby – Fitzgerald
    9. Gulliver’s Travels – Swift
    10. Don Quixote – Cervantes

    What I notice about my list – only 3 novels are from the 20th Century, (Light in August, The Great Gatsby, and Owen Meany), which also are the only novels by American authors. Only one book was written by a writer that is still alive (Owen Meany). All but 2 (Light in August, and Gatsby) are big books – over 600 pages.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, drb, for your packed-with-classics list and the observations about it! I’ve read all ten on your list, and loved or liked them all!

      Like you, my top ten was light on American authors (just one). I had six novels from the 20th century, though I love a lot of older literature. 🙂

      I know what you mean about it being hard to choose the favorite work of a particular novelist. For the authors you mentioned in your top ten, I’m also a fan of works such as Tolstoy’s “The Kreutzer Sonata,” Dumas’ “Georges,” Hugo’s “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” Irving’s “The Cider House Rules,” and Fitzgerald’s “Tender Is the Night.”


  12. Where I have a problem is not choosing favorites, it’s putting them in order of preference, with one exception: “A Tree Grows In Brooklyn” by Betty Smith is #1.

    In no particular order are those novels which continue to influence my life to this day. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (Stevenson); Don Quixote (Cervantes/Grossman translation); Under The Volcano (Lowry); The Day Of The Locust (West); The Last Temptation of Christ (Kazantzakis); Brideshead Revisited (Waugh); Candide (Voltaire); Animal Farm (Orwell); The Naked Civil Servant (Crisp); The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Twain); The Picture of Dorian Gray (Wilde); Crime and Punishment (Dostoevsky); Madame Bovary (Flaubert); Everything That Rises Must Converge (O’Connor).
    Thanks for this, Dave, and for leaving me with a yearning to re-read all of the above, instead of tending to books as yet unread. It’s all your fault. ;~D

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, thepatterer! And from what you told me elsewhere, Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice” is on your list as well. You named some exceptional works, and I’m starting to see several of them on several people’s lists — “Crime and Punishment,” “Huckleberry Finn,” “Don Quixote,” etc.

      For the purpose of my compilation list this Friday, I’ll give “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn” points for number one, but leave the others out since they’re not specifically ranked?

      Enjoyed your last line, and your funny reference to the tug between reading and rereading. Mea culpa. (Which I don’t think was Robert Culp’s birth name.)


      • Hmmm. Let me post the list soon, in order to accommodate your anticipated Friday unveiling. “Dave Astor’s Naked List” has a ring to it (but only if one is fully engaged. I was once engaged to Robert Culp). So picture me hard at work on an in-order preference list for the next hour, followed by another hour of changing everything around.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Thanks in advance for the rankings, and I enjoyed your humorous description of the process! Also, a major “ha” about the unclothed nature of Friday’s unveiled unveiling! Maybe I’ll cover the list in Gogol’s “Overcoat”?

          Were you seriously once engaged to Robert Culp, or was that a quip? If you were, my apologies for the Culp reference — I had no idea.


            • I Spy-ed a hilarious and depressing comment of yours, thepatterer. What a vile disgrace Bill Cosby turned out to be. Of course, another vile, disgraceful sexual predator got elected president. Helps to be white… 😦

              Liked by 2 people

          • Ha, is right! It reminded me of a funny thing that happened on “Wheel of Fortune” last week. I know you haven’t seen the show ever, but the idea is somewhat similar to the old pencil game we played as kids of “Hangman.” The clue to the puzzle was “Title” and the 3 players guessed enough letters to come up with “A STREETCAR NA_ED DESIRE” — the player whose turn it was called for the letter “K” instead of “M” — as you can imagine, much hilarity ensued. 🙂

            Anyway, Happy Birthday to You, Dave!

            Liked by 1 person

  13. Hi Dave … My list of favorite books, as with my list of favorite movies, is highly subjective, with one exception in the area of books: “To Kill a Mockingbird” is my favorite novel and always will be.
    – Favorites 2-10 (today, anyway) in no particular order:

    2. “Catch-22” – Joseph Heller
    3. “The Great Gatsby” – F. Scott Fitzgerald
    4. “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” – Mark Twain
    5. “Animal Farm” – George Orwell
    6. “All the King’s Men” – Robert Penn Warren
    7. “The Grapes of Wrath” – John Steinbeck
    8. “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, and Through the Looking-Glass” – Lewis Carroll
    9. “Of Human Bondage” – W. Somerset Maugham
    10. “Wuthering Heights” – Emily Bronte

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Pat! A very admirable list!

      I thought long and hard about including “To Kill a Mockingbird” in my top ten; I decided it was probably somewhere in the 11-15 spot for me. An amazing book that deserves its popularity. Novels that combine memorable, three-dimensional characters with strong social commentary are wonderful — and you have several on your list.

      Also, I know what you mean about how many (not all) of our favorites can shift in rank from day to day or week to week!

      Liked by 1 person

  14. I will add a few, please: “Freedom” by Jonathan Franzen, “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald, “Moveable Feast” by Ernest Hemingway, ” To Kill A Mockingbird” by Harper Lee, “You Must Remember This” by Joyce Carol Oates and ” I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings” by Maya Angelou.

    Am reading the second autobiographical book from Angelou’s incredible life now ” A Gathering In My Name” because I am enthralled and do not want her story to end!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, Michele! I’ve read four of the six you mentioned (all but the Hemingway and Oates books), and they were all terrific in their ways.

      As ambitious/literary contemporary novelists go, I guess I’m a bit more partial to writers like Donna Tartt, (Ms.) Lionel Shriver, Margaret Atwood, and Barbara Kingsolver than Jonathan Franzen. But “Freedom” (the one novel I’ve read of his) is a great, multifaceted book!

      For my Friday, March 31, compilation purposes, should I rank the books you named in the order you mentioned them, or not?


  15. That’s going to take some thought. How does one weigh The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams as they vie for a position in the hierarchy.

    And then where does Crime and Punishment and Heart of Darkness come in?

    But the big question is…. how do I admit that Practical Demonkeeping by Christopher Moore is favorite book of all time and that One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez has to be satisfied with a distant second?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree, Almost Iowa — ranking favorite novels is not the easiest thing to do. I look forward to your list, if you decide to do one.

      Meanwhile, I very much liked the questions — almost existential in nature 🙂 — you asked in the comment above!

      Liked by 1 person

  16. Howdy, Dave!

    — Your top-ten favorites? —

    The first 10 novels (or series) I would painfully pick to pack in my steamer trunk today before the obligatory voyage to the proverbial desert island are as follow:

    10. “Slaughterhouse-Five” by Kurt Vonnegut Jr.
    9. “The Foundation Trilogy” by Isaac Asimov.
    8. “The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha” by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra.
    7. “Kindred” by Octavia E. Butler.
    6. “A Confederacy of Dunces” by John Kennedy Toole.
    5. “Crime and Punishment” by Fyodor Dostoyevsky.
    4. “Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter” by Mario Vargas Llosa.
    3. “The Grapes of Wrath” by John Steinbeck.
    2. “Catch-22” by Joseph Heller.
    1. “The Trilogy” by Henryk Sienkiewicz.

    Apologies to all the authors who did not make the cut this time around! Better luck tomorrow!

    J.J. (Alias MugRuith1)

    Liked by 2 people

    • Great list, J.J., and I enjoyed your reference to the proverbial desert island — where “Robinson Crusoe” is thankfully not the only novel in the little “branch” library tucked into the one palm tree there.

      Also liked your use of the full name for “Don Quixote,” which is an amazing novel — and still very readable for something written more than 400 years ago. Heck, the whole master/servant/buddy/sidekick thing we see in “The Pickwick Papers,” the Jeeves books/stories, “The Lord of the Rings” (Frodo and Sam), etc., seems to have started with “Don Quixote” — or at least was popularized by Cervantes’ novel.

      Enjoyed your final “apologies” line, too!


      • — I enjoyed your reference to the proverbial desert island — where “Robinson Crusoe” is thankfully not the only novel in the little “branch” library tucked into the one palm tree there. —

        Actually, I would be very happy to see Daniel Defoe’s most memorable work there upon my arrival, especially as I consider his “Robinson Crusoe” almost as foundational to the English-language modern novel as Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra’s “The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha” is to the Spanish-language modern novel.

        — Also liked your use of the full name for “Don Quixote,” which is an amazing novel — and still very readable for something written more than 400 years ago. —

        An achievement for the ages!

        — Enjoyed your final “apologies” line, too! —

        Louisa May Alcott, Jane Austen, Saul Bellow, Pierre Boulle, Ray Bradbury, Joseph Conrad, James Fenimore Cooper, Charles Dickens, E.L. Doctorow, Theodore Dreiser, William Faulkner, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Ernest Hemingway, Hermann Hesse, James Joyce, Erica Jong, Jack Kerouac, Ken Kesey, Jerzy Kosinski, D.H. Lawrence, Bernard Malamud, Vladimir Nabokov, George Orwell, Chaim Potok, Philip Roth, Clifford D. Simak, William Makepeace Thackeray, Mark Twain and John Updike all insisted on it, as did several hundred others. Meanwhile, Robert A. Heinlein flipped me the bird and Henryk Sienkiewicz said: “What? ‘Quo Vadis?’ is chopped liver?”

        Liked by 2 people

        • I agree — “Robinson Crusoe” was a very influential novel, and an interesting read. It will be 300 years old in 2019!

          And, yes, I also feel guilty about leaving certain authors out of my top ten and my runners-up list: Alcott, Bradbury, Fitzgerald, Garcia Marquez, Orwell, etc., etc. All wrote great novels that would rank somewhere between 100 and 200 of the thousands I’ve read. “Little Women,” “Fahrenheit 451,” “The Great Gatsby,” “One Hundred Years of Solitude,” “Nineteen Eighty-Four,” and so on.

          Your final Heinlein/Sienkiewicz line — LOL!


  17. Seconding a bunch of the books already listed, especially the Austen, Rowling, and Montgomery selections, as well as LOTR. I’ll also add:

    Master and Margarita, Bulgakov
    A Double Life, Karolina Pavlova
    Eugene Onegin, Pushkin
    A Hero of Our Time, Lermontov
    And honorable mention to The Time of Miracles by Borislav Pekic.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, elenapedigo, for your very interesting list! There are definitely books I want to read there. And Austen, Rowling, Montgomery, and Tolkien are SO worth reading (and rereading).

      Not sure how to rank your picks when I do a compilation list this Friday. Rank “Master and Margarita,” “A Double Life,” “Eugene Onegin,” “A Hero of Our Time,” and “The Time of Miracles” 1-5? Thread in Austen, Rowling, Montgomery, and Tolkien books in the top 5, or in a 6-10 ranking? Please advise. 🙂 If you don’t have time for that, I’ll figure something out!


      • Hmmm it’s hard to rank them! Maybe 1) Master and Margarita, 2) Eugene Onegin (I feel the flames of hell already against my back for not putting that at number 1!), 3) Double Life, 4) Hero of our Time, 5) Time of Miracles, 6) Collected works of Austen, 7) The Lord of The Rings 8) The Anne books by Montgomery, 9) Harry Potter series, and 10), hmmm, maybe The Idiot, Dostoevsky.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Thank you, elenapedigo! It IS hard to rank books — one reason why my blog seldom has lists (I made an exception this week 🙂 ). I MUST read “Master and Margarita”; I’ve had it on my to-get-to list for a long time.

          While “Anne of Green Gables” is my favorite “Anne” novel by far, some of the sequels are excellent. I think my favorites are “Anne’s House of Dreams” and “Rilla of Ingleside.”

          Thanks again!

          Liked by 1 person

  18. I don’t have time for ten, so here’s two slightly left-field choices:

    1. Cold Comfort Farm, by Stella Gibbons. Utter genius.
    2. The Gormenghast trilogy by Mervyn Peake – dystopian fantasy before dystopian fantasy became the common thing it is today. Wonderful characters and setting, and a fantastically exciting plot as well.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Slightly left field is good, The Reading Bug! 🙂 Thank you! “Cold Comfort Farm” is now on my to-read list, and it sounds like Peake was a pioneering author. Excellent brief descriptions of the two works that inspired me to just look at summaries of each on Wikipedia.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I’m curious to know if you ever saw the movie “Cold Comfort Farm,” which was quite enjoyable and rather quirky, and starred Kate Beckinsale and Eileen Atkins?

      Liked by 2 people

  19. Dave, since you okayed a series to be allowed as one pick, here are my top ten, in an order that might change from time to time:

    10. The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling
    9. “Mansfield Park” by Jane Austen
    8. “The Daughter of Time” by Josephine Tey
    7. “Little Women” by Louisa May Alcott
    6. “The Fault in our Stars” by John Green
    5. “Sense and Sensibility” by Jane Austen
    4. “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen
    3. “The House of Mirth” by Edith Wharton
    2. “Gaudy Night” by Dorothy L. Sayers
    1. “Persuasion” by Jane Austen
    There are books by Dickens, James, Tolstoy, Bradbury, Kingsolver and many others that I could have mentioned, as well as the other books by Austen (“Emma” and “Northanger Abbey”) but I really tried to come down to those essential books that I’ve read multiple times that I’d want to have with me always.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Very nice list, Kat Lib! Thanks! I’ve read all but the Josephine Tey and John Green novels, and you definitely chose some wonderful works! I’m especially impressed with Jane Austen’s four appearances. 🙂 We rank those novels of hers in the same 1-4 order — with “Persuasion” and “Pride and Prejudice” near but not quite in my top ten.

      Like you, one criteria for whether a novel was a favorite for me was whether I reread it once/multiple times.


      • Well, I was going to put my leather-bound collection of all six Jane Austen novels as one, but decided to be somewhat fair here. 🙂 So, I’ve decided to list my 10 favorite books over the last 7 years when I became disabled and eventually retired, most of which I’ve mentioned on this blog many times, so no one should be surprised here, but these books were very important to me during one of the very most difficult times in my life.
        10. “The Private Patient” by P.D. James (as I was inpatient at a local hospital, which I showed to my doctor and made him laugh)
        9. “Sister,” by Rosamond Lupton (as well as her novel “Afterwards”)
        8. “Paper Towns” by John Green (including his “Looking for Alaska”)
        7. “So Much For That” by Lionel Shriver (with so many other books, including “We Need to Talk about Kevin,” “The Post-Birthday World” and Big Brother”)
        6. “Still Alice” by Lisa Genova (along with “Left Neglected” and others)
        5. “The Bell Jar” by Sylvia Plath
        4. “Crossing to Safety” by Wallace Stegner
        3. “Where’d You Go Bernadette,” by Maria Semple
        2. “The Poisonwood Bible” by Barbara Kingsolver (as well as “Prodigal Summer” and “Flight Behavior”)
        1. “What Alice Forgot” by Liane Moriarty***

        ***This deserves an asterisk because it’s been a while since I’ve loved a non-crime fiction entire body of work so much that I have to immediately run out (or should I say, order on-line)and read the next book that comes out. There may be some individual books listed that were better than the one I noted, but as a body of work, there isn’t anyone who engages me so much as this author in every single book.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Thank you for that great additional list, Kat Lib!

          To address a couple of novels/authors on it, I totally agree about (Ms.) Lionel Shriver’s “So Much for That.” Loved that book, including its satire of America’s rotten medical system and its storybook ending on a tropical island. (I considered it for my top ten — definitely in my top 20 — but I read it so recently that I didn’t feel I had adequate perspective on it to see if it would stand the test of time enough to be in my top ten. I think it will.) And from my first reading of Liane Moriarty (“The Hypnotist’s Love Story”), that author is indeed out of this world.


          • So Dave, I went to PetValu today to get a large supply of food for my two critters, Willow and Jessie. They give seniors and veterans a 10% discount on the last Tuesday in the month, and today they were asking for donations for a small bottle of hand sanitizer that could be attached to a leash, which was a no-brainer. They partner with America’s VetDogs every March, and today was nationally recognized as Blinded Veterans Day, though they train service dogs for all sorts of other problems they face, such as PTSD.

            Anyway, Dave, in their honor, I hope you are OK with me starting another list (I join Pat D. as someone who loves lists!) of books about or inspired by animals? So here goes:

            10. “Animal Farm” by George Orwell 🙂
            9. “The Red Pony” by John Steinbeck
            8. “The Call of the Wild” by Jack London
            7. “Charlotte’s Web” by E.B. White
            6. “Old Yeller” by Fred Gipson
            5. “The Wind in the Willows” by Kenneth Grahame
            4. “The Tale of Peter Rabbit” by Beatrix Potter
            3. “The Incredible Journey” by Sheila Burnford
            2. “Black Beauty” by Anna Sewell
            1. “Lad: A Dog” by Albert Payson Terhune (along with many other books about his beloved collies, e.g., “Lad of Sunnybrook,” “Bruce,” “Wolf,” and “Gray Dawn”)

            Thanks, Dave!

            Liked by 1 person

            • Love your pet-store-trip inspired list, Kat Lib!

              Off the top of my head, two additions would be another great Jack London novel, “White Fang,” and Rita Mae Brown’s seriocomic mysteries starring cat and dog detectives.


            • Rascal by Sterling North
              Misty of Chincoteague by Marguerite Henry
              The Yearling by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings
              Watership Down by Richard Adams
              Heart of a Dog by Mikhail Bulgakov
              The Island of Dr. Moreau by HG Wells
              Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift

              Liked by 1 person

              • jhNY, a very interesting bunch of books with strong animal elements! I finally read “The Yearling” a few months ago, and it’s a powerful novel — with an incredibly moving childhood’s-end conclusion.

                If you want to post a list of your overall top-ten novels, jhNY, you still have time before I compile everyone’s picks and post the results in the comments section here tomorrow afternoon or evening.


                • Thanks!

                  I’ve thought about my Top Ten over the week, and find I don’t have one exactly. There are books I have met throughout my life that I found very moving or entertaining or something, but as much as anything else, time and place seem to figure in mightily as regards my regards for them. When you read, for example, The Great Gatsby in college, you may be transported in part by your own young hormones and by notions of your own future in glittering society– it probably reads a bit differently after 60– and if I read it for a third time, I’ll let you know.

                  So I thought instead I’d list my favorites among novels I’ve read twice, as at least it shows an abiding regard:

                  A Hero For Our Time by Lermontov
                  Moby Dick by Melville
                  The Charterhouse of Parma by Stendahl
                  Red Harvest by Hammett
                  The Leopard by Lampedusa
                  The Following Story by Nooteboom

                  It’s not ten, and it’s not every one I’ve read twice, but it’s something.

                  Liked by 1 person

                  • Thank you, jhNY! I’ve read three novels on your list — the Melville, Stendhal, and Lampedusa ones — and they are great. “Moby-Dick” is as epic as they come, and “The Leopard” has some of the most beautiful, evocative prose in literature. Will include your picks in my compilation, and will post the overall top ten within an hour or two in this comments area — and again in my new April 2 post this Sunday.

                    Yes, time can affect our views of books. Something in our top ten 20 years ago might not be in our top ten now. Partly because the books might not seem quite as good to us, and perhaps partly because we’ve had the chance to read many other books — some of which might crowd out earlier-read books from our top ten.

                    And, yes again, wanting to read a book a second time certainly is an indication of our regard for it — with either continuing admiration or a bit of disappointment resulting.


  20. Here’s what I’ve come up with so far. Novels #1 and #2 are really pretty interchangeable. I wouldn’t argue with a first place choice for either one of them. The rest of the Top 10 are the novels that first came to mind that left a powerful impression either within recent years or from earlier in my life. The next list are assorted great novels that I consider worthy of the highest acclaim and would be fine with putting any of them in a ‘Top 10’ list. However, you can’t have more than one Top 10 at the same time unless you are talking of alternate dimensions, in which there are multiple Top 10’s, 20’s and so on. Be that as it may, this is what I have come up with initially. I may add more to the mix throughout the week.

    Top 10 Favorite Novels
    1 – The Brothers Karamazov – Fyodor Dostoevsky
    2 – Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoevsky
    3 – The Moviegoer – Walker Percy
    4 – Middlemarch – George Eliot
    5 – Adventures of Huckleberry Finn – Mark Twain
    6 – Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte
    7 – Housekeeping – Marilynne Robinson
    8 – Little Big Man – Thomas Berger
    9 – The Last Temptation of Christ – Nikos Kazantzakis
    10 – Tender Morsels – Margo Lanagan

    Old Goriot – Honore de Balzac
    Cousin Bette – Honore de Balzac
    Moby-Dick – Herman Melville
    The Age of Innocence – Edith Wharton
    The House of Mirth – Edith Wharton
    The Ambassadors – Henry James
    The Portrait of a Lady – Henry James
    The Lord of the Rings – J.R.R. Tolkien
    Sophie’s Choice – William Styron
    Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
    Howards End – E.M. Forster
    The Tenant of Wildfell Hall – Anne Bronte
    Mother Night – Kurt Vonnegut
    A Sentimental Education – Gustave Flaubert
    In Search of Lost Time – Marcel Proust
    The Magic Mountain – Thomas Mann
    The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test – Tom Wolfe
    Great Expectations – Charles Dickens
    Little Dorrit – Charles Dickens

    Liked by 2 people

    • Impressive list, bobess48! And we definitely share a love for a number of the same novels and authors.

      Three of your top-ten novels (“The Brothers Karamazov,” “Middlemarch,” and “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn”) I also strongly considered for my top ten — they just missed! If Tom Sawyer had only not shown up in the latter part of Twain’s book… 🙂

      Also, I love your idea of alternate-dimension top tens! It IS hard to narrow down so many great novels into a top ten, and, heck, my top ten might be a bit different if I wrote this blog again next month.


      • I think some critics have defended Twain’s introduction of Tom in the last part of ‘Huck Finn’ as how Huck reverts back to a subservient role to Tom once he’s back in the picture. Without Tom and while he and Jim were on the river he was his own ‘man’. Tom definitely introduces an unwanted element of ‘sivilization’ as Huck would call it as well as some repulsive hijinks. Personally I think MT just got tired of where he was going with the novel and just thought, “I’ll liven things up a bit by bringing Tom back into it. He’s always a reliable character for me.” I think he was undisciplined enough as a novelist that he would do that even if it detracted from the overall quality of the novel. He was a great writer but he was not a great novelist in the sense that masters of the form–Henry James, George Eliot, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Charles Dickens, to name just a few other greats from the 19th century–were. ‘Huck Finn’ is a flawed novel that contains many elements of greatness and touches on some national themes that recur throughout American literature. It also possesses a mythic quality to it that has been as influential on everything that came after it as any work I can think of. So Hemingway is not exaggerating very much when he says all American literature comes from ‘Huck Finn’.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I definitely see what you’re saying. The great Mark Twain could be all over the map at times (maybe the most disciplined novel I’ve read of his was the late-career “Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc”). The first two-thirds of “Huckleberry Finn” is absolutely brilliant — socially aware, adventurous, funny, pitch-perfect dialogue and dialect, etc.


  21. What a great topic! This is going to take some thought. Will be back to comment during the week 🙂

    Can’t wait to see everyone else’s lists! Thanks Dave

    Liked by 1 person

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