I grabbed this banner from altscreen.com.  They deserve credit, because it's awesome.

I grabbed this banner from altscreen.com. They deserve credit, because it’s awesome.

My Top 10 Adapted Screenplays:

  1. Greed  (1925)
  2. The Phantom of the Opera  (1925)
  3. The Hunchback of Notre Dame  (1923)
  4. Faust  (1926)
  5. The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse  (1921)
  6. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde  (1920)
  7. Ingeborg Holm  (1913)
  8. Oliver Twist  (1922)
  9. The Birth of a Nation  (1915)
  10. The Avenging Conscience  (1914) (more…)
The Top 100 Novels.

The Top 100 Novels.

Here it is.  My Top 100 Novels – the complete list.

The intro was here.  The second 100 can be found here.  Various statistics and trivia about the list can be found here.

Here is the list: (more…)

Sinclair Lewis is king of the second 100, with four books.  He is on the cover of Time Magazine, 15 years after winning the Nobel Prize.  Have you ever read anything by him?

Sinclair Lewis is king of the second 100, with four books. Here he is on the cover of Time Magazine, 15 years after winning the Nobel Prize, yet now he is mostly forgotten or ignored. Have you ever read anything by him?

This list works a bit differently than the Top 100.  First of all, this is not a ranked list.  Except for the first three listed titles, they are placed on this list chronologically.  Second, I have not been back through each one of these titles the way I have gone through the Top 100.  Some of these I haven’t re-read in years while every one of the Top 100 were re-read before I wrote on them.  There won’t be individual posts on these books.  Think of this list as less the definitive second 100 as 100 great novels that are worth a read.

Don’t mistake me.  These aren’t just books I enjoy reading.  I hope to start a series soon called Great Reads (which will all get individual posts), which are all about the books I really enjoy, but that don’t really belong on a list like this one, let alone the Top 100.  These are all great novels (though some might also end up in Great Reads).

What about your book, the one you were surprised didn’t make the Top 100 and are even more surprised didn’t make this list?  Well, I had to pare it down (I originally typed out over 125 novels and considered far more).  Just imagine that whatever book you’re thinking of that didn’t make the list was one of the last ones I cut.  Well, unless your book is Infinite Jest, Middlemarch, On the Road or anything by Jane Austen or Henry James.  If you thought those might ever make the list you have clearly never read anything else I have ever posted on literature and are probably brand new to the site.  Welcome!

Now, as for those first three titles.  Well, I made the decision not to re-approach my list while in the process of doing these posts (of course I didn’t know it would take over three years to get the whole list done).  Because of that, sometimes things come up that I realized belonged on the list.  The first of them was something I had somehow never read and as soon as I read it (mid-2011), I realized it should have been on the list.  The second was one I went back and re-read in the summer of 2012 after re-watching the film with Veronica and I realized I had long under-estimated it and it should have been on the list.  The third of them I have the best excuse for – it hadn’t even been written when I did the list.  But it belongs on it.  So those are the de facto other Top 100 books. (more…)

The Modern Library Giant dust jacket for Dostoevsky's The Brothers Karamazov.

The original Modern Library Giant dust jacket for Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov.

The Brothers Karamazov  (Братья Карамазовы)

  • Rank: #2
  • Author:  Fyodor Dostoevsky  (1821  –  1881)
  • Published:  1880
  • Publisher:  The Russian Messenger
  • Pages:  796  (Pevear / Volokhonsky)
  • First Line:  “Alexei Fyodorovich Karamazov was the third son of a landowner from our district, Fyodor Pavlovich Karamazov, well known in his own day (and still remembered among mus) because of his dark and tragic death, which happened exactly thirteen years ago and I which I shall speak of in its proper place.”
  • Last Line:  ” ‘And eternally so, all our lives hand in hand!  Hurrah for Karamazov!’ Kolya cried once more ecstatically, and once more all the boys joined in his exclamation.”
  • ML Version:  #151  (five dust jackets – gift set, 1929, 1931, 1943, 1967); Giant #40 (three dust jackets – 1937, 1969, 1970); P7; Illustrated Acetate (two bindings); Illustrated Box; Gold Dust jacket (1992)
  • Film:  1958  (*** – dir. Richard Brooks), 1969  (*** – dir. Kirill Lavrov), others too numerous to mention
  • First Read:  January, 1996 (more…)
The rather odd cover of Vintage's edition of The Stranger which I have owned for decades.

The rather odd cover of Vintage’s edition of The Stranger which I have owned for decades.

The Stranger (L’Étranger)

  • Rank:  #4
  • Author:  Albert Camus  (1913  –  1960)
  • Published:  1942  (French)  /  1946  (English)
  • Publisher:  Librairie Gallimard
  • Pages:  154
  • First Line:  “Mother died today.”
  • Last Line:  “For all to be accomplished, for me to feel less lonely, all that remained to hope was that on the day of my execution there should be a huge crowd of spectators and that they should greet me with howls of execration.”
  • Acclaim:  Le Monde’s 100 Books of the Century
  • ML Version:  none – which is odd since Vintage, which is also published by Random House, has had paperback rights for decades and 5 of Camus’ other works have been published in the ML
  • Film:  1967 (*** – dir. Luchino Visconti); 1991  (Fate – dir. Zeki Demirkubuz)
  • First Read:  Fall 1991

(more…)

The Avon / Bard mass market editions of the first several García Márquez books.

“Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice.”  (One Hundred Years of Solitude)

It was the spring of my junior year of college when I first heard of him.  My friend Jake had been taking more Spanish classes and I asked him why.  He wanted to read Cien años de soledad, the original Spanish language version of One Hundred Years of Solitude.  “It’s my new barometer for people,” he said.  “If they don’t like it, I can’t listen to them anymore.”  As one of my oldest and closest friends, this seemed like a direct challenge.  I needed to find this book and read it and like it.  Preferably, from the tone of his voice, think it brilliant.

I found an old Avon paperback in Chapter II, the same little used bookstore in Forest Grove (now long gone) where, browsing in the fall, I had found Portnoy’s Complaint and Ragtime and embarked on reading odysseys through Philip Roth and E.L. Doctorow.  It took me little more than a day to get it read (why bother reading stuff for school when I can be reading this, I kept thinking).

I called him back the next day.  “It was brilliant,” I told him.  “Especially that last sentence.  That was amazing.”  And so it began, my odyssey into this, the greatest of all the writers from Latin America, one of the few people who was won the Nobel Prize and absolutely deserved it.

(more…)

The Bantam cover of Crime and Punishment (complete with Dostoevsky portrait).

Crime and Punishment  (Преступлéние и наказáние)

  • Rank:  #11
  • Author:  Fyodor Dostoevsky  (1821  –  1881)
  • Published:  1866
  • Publisher:  The Russian Messenger
  • Pages:  564
  • First Line:  “At the beginning of July, during an extremely hot spell, towards evening, a young man left the closet he rented from tenants in S—y Lane, walked out to the street, and slowly, as if indecisively, headed for the K—n Bridge.”
  • Last Lines:  “But here begins a new account, the account of a man’s gradual renewal, the account of his gradual regeneration, his gradual transition from one world to another, his acquaintance with a new, hitherto completely unknown reality.  It might make the subject of a new story – but out present story is ended.”
  • ML Edition:  #199  (four dust jackets – 1932, 1934, 1940, 1967); Illustrated Box; Illustrated Acetate; P-1; gold hardcover (1994)
  • Films:  many, incl.  1935 (***); 1959  (***); 1970  (***)
  • First Read:  Spring, 1995 (more…)