The Top 100 Novels, Reviewed.

Doug Reviews The Top 100 Novels

In 1999, the editorial board of the Modern Library came up with their list of the "Top 100 best English language novels of the 20th century." It turns out the list was derived pretty idiotically. A bit of web-research will reveal exactly how the list was derived. When the list came out, I turned to my friend, John Hall, and said, "I think I'll read them all." Hence this site.

Rating Scale

    

(Reviewed before 1999)        (Reviewed in 2002)           (Reviewed in 2006)
I did not like it.      (Reviewed in 1999)     (Reviewed in 2003)     (Reviewed in 2007)
I liked it.      (Reviewed in 2000)     (Reviewed in 2004)     (Reviewed in 2008)
I thought it one of the Best Novels of All Time      (Reviewed in 2001)     (Reviewed in 2005)     (Reviewed in 2009)
  
1.  Ulysses, James Joyce Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes) 5/25/01 Buy it now
2.  The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes)Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes) 8/14/98 Buy it now
3.  A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, James Joyce Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes)Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes) 8/14/98 Buy it now
4.  Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes)Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes)Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes) 7/21/01 Buy it now
5.  Brave New World, Aldous Huxley Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes)Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes)Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes)   9/16/98 Buy it now
6.  The Sound and the Fury, William Faulkner Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes)Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes) 10/25/99 Buy it now
7.  Catch-22, Joseph Heller Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes)Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes)Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes) 8/14/98 Buy it now
8.  Darkness at Noon, Arthur Koestler Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes)Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes)Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes) 8/9/01 Buy it now
9.  Sons and Lovers, D.H. Lawrence Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes)Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes) 8/14/98 Buy it now
10.  The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes)Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes) 8/14/98 Buy it now
11.  Under the Volcano, Malcolm Lowry Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes) 5/3/04 Buy it now
12.  The Way of All Flesh, Samuel Butler Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes)Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes) 5/5/03 Buy it now
13.  1984, George Orwell Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes)Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes)Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes) 8/14/98 Buy it now
14.  I, Claudius, Robert Graves Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes)Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes) 1/30/03 Buy it now;
15.  To the Lighthouse, Virginia Woolf Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes) / Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes)Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes)Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes) 10/25/00 Buy it now
16.  An American Tragedy, Theodore Dreiser

Buy it now
17.  The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter, Carson McCullers Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes)Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes)Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes) 3/14/02 Buy it now
18.  Slaughterhouse Five, Kurt Vonnegut Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes)Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes) 8/14/98 Buy it now
19.  Invisible Man, Ralph Ellison Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes)Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes)Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes) 11/23/99 Buy it now
20.  Native Son, Richard Wright Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes)Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes) 7/12/99 Buy it now
21.  Henderson the Rain King, Saul Bellow Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes)Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes) 2/20/02 Buy it now
22.  Appointment in Samarra, John O’Hara Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes)Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes) 9/10/01 Buy it now
23.  U.S.A. (trilogy), John Dos Passos

Buy it now
24.  Winesburg, Ohio, Sherwood Anderson Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes)Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes) 12/20/02 Buy it now
25.  A Passage to India, E.M. Forster Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes)Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes) 2/24/00 Buy it now
26.  The Wings of the Dove, Henry James

Buy it now
27.  The Ambassadors, Henry James Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes) 5/11/05 Buy it now
28.  Tender Is the Night, F. Scott Fitzgerald Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes)Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes) 8/7/00 Buy it now
29.  The Studs Lonigan Trilogy, James T. Farrell

Buy it now
30.  The Good Soldier, Ford Maddox Ford Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes)Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes) 11/23/05 Buy it now
31.  Animal Farm, George Orwell Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes)Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes)Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes) 8/14/98 Buy it now
32.  The Golden Bowl, Henry James

Buy it now
33.  Sister Carrie, Theodore Dreiser Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes)Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes) 7/14/03 Buy it now
34.  A Handful of Dust, Evelyn Waugh Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes)Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes)Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes) 8/7/00 Buy it now
35.  As I Lay Dying, William Faulkner Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes) 5/6/03 Buy it now
36.  All the King’s Men, Robert Penn Warren

Buy it now
37.  The Bridge of San Luis Rey, Thornton Wilder Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes)Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes) 6/6/00 Buy it now
38.  Howards End, E.M. Forster Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes)Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes) 1/5/05 Buy it now
39.  Go Tell It on the Mountain, James Baldwin Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes)Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes) 12/1/05 Buy it now
40.  The Heart of the Matter, Graham Greene Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes)Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes) 6/10/03 Buy it now
41.  Lord of the Flies, William Golding Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes)Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes)Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes) 8/15/98 Buy it now
42.  Deliverance, James Dickey Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes)Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes)Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes) 12/16/03 Buy it now
43.  A Dance to the Music of Time (series), Anthony Powell Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes)/Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes)Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes)Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes) 10/27/06 Buy it now
44.  Point Counter Point, Aldous Huxley Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes)Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes)Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes) 1/19/07 Buy it now
45.  The Sun Also Rises, Ernest Hemingway Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes) 3/9/00 Buy it now
46.  The Secret Agent, Joseph Conrad

Buy it now
47.  Nostromo, Joseph Conrad

Buy it now
48. The Rainbow, D.H. Lawrence

Buy it now
49.  Women in Love, D.H. Lawrence Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes) 2/4/02 Buy it now
50.  Tropic of Cancer, Henry Miller Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes)Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes) 8/19/98 Buy it now
51.  The Naked and the Dead, Norman Mailer

Buy it now
52.  Portnoy’s Complaint, Philip Roth 4/19/03 Buy it now
53.  Pale Fire, Vladimir Nabokov Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes)Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes) 8/16/98 Buy it now
54.  Light in August, William Faulkner

Buy it now
55.  On the Road, Jack Kerouac Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes)Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes) 5/06/04 Buy it now
56.  The Maltese Falcon, Dashiell Hammett Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes)Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes) 12/22/99 Buy it now
57.  Parade’s End, Ford Maddox Ford

Buy it now
58.  The Age of Innocence, Edith Wharton Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes)Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes)Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes) 3/26/07 Buy it now
59.  Zuleika Dobson, Max Beerbohm

Buy it now
60.  The Moviegoer, Walker Percy Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes) 8/30/99 Buy it now
61.  Death Comes for the Archbishop, Willa Cather

Buy it now
62.  From Here to Eternity, James Jones

Buy it now
63.  The Wapshot Chronicles, John Cheever

Buy it now
64.  The Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes)Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes)Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes) 8/16/98 Buy it now
65.  A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes)Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes)Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes) 8/16/98 Buy it now
66.  Of Human Bondage, W. Somerset Maugham Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes)Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes)Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes) 8/16/98 Buy it now
67.  Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes) 6/29/99 Buy it now
68.  Main Street, Sinclair Lewis Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes)Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes)Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes) 10/22/03 Buy it now
69.  The House of Mirth, Edith Wharton Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes)Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes)Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes) 4/7/03 Buy it now
70.  The Alexandria Quartet, Lawrence Durrell

Buy it now
71.  A High Wind in Jamaica, Richard Hughes Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes)Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes)Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes) 6/20/00 Buy it now
72.  A House for Mr. Biswas, V.S. Naipaul

Buy it now
73.  The Day of the Locust, Nathanael West Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes)Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes) 11/7/01 Buy it now
74.  A Farewell to Arms, Ernest Hemingway Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes)Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes) 8/4/05 Buy it now
75.  Scoop, Evelyn Waugh

Buy it now
76.  The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, Muriel Spark Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes)Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes) 12/3/99 Buy it now
77.  Finnegans Wake, James Joyce

Buy it now
78.  Kim, Rudyard Kipling Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes)Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes) 6/17/01 Buy it now
79.  A Room With a View, E.M. Forster

Buy it now
80.  Brideshead Revisited, Evelyn Waugh

Buy it now
81.  The Adventures of Augie March, Saul Bellow Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes) 5/30/00 Buy it now
82.  Angle of Repose, Wallace Stegner

Buy it now
83.  A Bend in the River, V.S. Naipaul

Buy it now
84.  The Death of the Heart, Elizabeth Bowen

Buy it now
85.  Lord Jim, Joseph Conrad

Buy it now
86.  Ragtime, E.L. Doctorow Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes)Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes) 9/29/99 Buy it now
87.  The Old Wives’ Tale, Arnold Bennett

Buy it now
88.  The Call of the Wild, Jack London Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes)Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes) 8/16/98 Buy it now
89.  Loving, Henry Green Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes)Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes) 9/7/06 Buy it now
90.  Midnight's Children, Salman Rushdie

Buy it now
91.  Tobacco Road, Erskine Caldwell Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes)Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes)Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes) 6/19/07 Buy it now
92.  Ironweed, William Kennedy Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes)Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes)Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes) 8/1/07 Buy it now
93.  The Magus, John Fowles Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes)Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes) 2/1/00 Buy it now
94.  Wide Sargasso Sea, Jean Rhys Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes)Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes)Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes) 2/4/05 Buy it now
95.  Under the Net, Iris Murdoch Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes)Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes) 5/5/07 Buy it now
96.  Sophie's Choice, William Styron Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes)Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes)Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes) 7/20/00 Buy it now
97.  The Sheltering Sky, Paul Bowles

Buy it now
98.  The Postman Always Rings Twice, James M. Cain Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes)Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes) 2/7/02 Buy it now
99.  The Ginger Man, J.P. Donleavy Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes) 6/28/00 Buy it now
100. The Magnificent Ambersons, Booth Tarkington Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes)Graphics/star.gif (1012 bytes) 9/7/03 Buy it now

 

I don't pretend to know anything about Literature, and I wouldn't be egotistical enough to think that I could add any deep insight to books that have been discussed extensively by literature scholars. I have included my subjective comments on these books, for the simple reason that I like to. There are spoilers aplenty, so be careful.  If you are moved to comment, please email me! I would like to know your thoughts.

If you would like me to notify you whenever I post a new review, please join the top100 mailing list. (You will get no other emails but these notifications)

One more thing: Independent bookstores rock.  They are the places you should go to buy books.  You will find books there that you will never find in other places, you get to browse, and you may even meet someone very attractive of the appropriate gender that likes reading as much as you do.  Given the choice between buying these books at a real store, or amaz*n.com, I would strongly urge you to buy them at the independent bookstore. 

BUT, if you insist on buying online, if you just click the "Buy it now" next to the book you want and you can get it from amaz*n.com easily, and I will get a monetary kickback.  I promise to spend the money at my local independent bookstore or coffee shop. (If you bookmark http://www.dougshaw.com/amazon, and use that link every time you go to amaz*n, you would be doing me a great service)

 

In the years since I've started walking on this road, I have been pleased to encounter other fellow-travelers.

A web-denizen, Orrin, is also reviewing these books.  He's reviewed all of them, and read all of them but Ulysses, and perhaps Finnegan's Wake.  His perspective is very different than mine, and his page is worth a look-see. I got a message from Tim, who said I inspired him to do his own top 100 review site, and you may want to check out his page as well. Another reviewer of Great Literature is Eric, and his page is worth looking at, too.

I received an email from the father of one of my good friends, Dr. Karl S. He is also walking alongside me, and we've had some nice conversations about these books. A student at my University, Chris, is also on the journey. I've also received notice from fellow travelers Dave F., Mary W., James T., Ron D., Tomo, Cat G., Charles W., Sara P. and Hal P. If you are also going through the list, and would like me to mention you as well, let me know. If you are also reviewing the top 100, I'd be glad to give you a link.

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Doug Code 5/2000:   lknk cnk vkivrk xqi rdimg sin kbknmcr rosk xqi hcdmb sogfnk ifb xqcb bid ji xol lktpkrykp im c bfkpjcu csbknmiim