This is the next batch of 50 in my countdown of the Top 1000 films through 2011 (the first century of film).  Down through Last Year at Marienbad, they all earn an 87, which is the highest ***.5, or just short of being a great film.  From #829 on to the end of this list they all earn an 88 which is the lowest rating which earns **** (and thus gets called a great film).  You should probably look at the introduction first.  Your best bet for finding previous groups of 50 is to click here.

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This didn’t come straight from the book but neither did anything else in the film.

My Top 10

  1. Ed Wood
  2. The Shawshank Redemption
  3. Quiz Show
  4. Nobody’s Fool
  5. Grave of the Fireflies
  6. The Madness of King George
  7. Little Women
  8. Death and the Maiden
  9. Vanya on 42nd Street
  10. To Live

note:  There will be more to say about this in the Awards post which comes next. (more…)

Straight Man

  • Author:  Richard Russo
  • Published:  1997
  • Publisher:  Random House
  • Pages:  391
  • First Line:  “Truth be told, I’m not an easy man.”
  • Last Lines:  see below
  • First Read:  Summer 2001

The campus novel has a long and strong tradition.  Its origins date back to the 30’s although the comedic campus novel really dates to 1954 with the publication of Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis.  While there have been a number of really good serious novels that can be considered campus novels (both Human Stain and Disgrace are among my Top 100 and Possession could definitely be considered one), I prefer the ones that find the humor at the core of the university experience, books like Wonder Boys or Dear Committee Members or even White Noise. (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 hardcover dust jacket of Richard Russo's Pulitzer Prize winning Empire Falls (2001)

Empire Falls

  • Author:  Richard Russo  (b. 1949)
  • Rank:  #71
  • Published:  2001
  • Publisher:  Alfred A. Knopf
  • Pages:  483  (Vintage paperback)
  • First Line:  “Compared to the Whiting mansion in town, the house Charles Beaumont Whiting built a decade after his return to Maine was modest.”
  • Last Lines:  “Together, dead woman and living cat bumped along the upstream edge of the straining dam, as if searching for a place to climb out and over.  Bumping, nudging, seeking, until finally a small section of the structure gave way and they were gone.”
  • ML Edition:  None
  • Acclaim:  Pulitzer Prize
  • Film:  2005  (**** – dir. Fred Schepisi – HBO mini-series)
  • Read:  Fall, 2001 (more…)

the 1st Edition of Richard Russo's The Risk Pool (1988)

The Risk Pool

  • Author:  Richard Russo
  • Rank:  #80
  • Published:  1988
  • Publisher:  Random House
  • Pages:  479  (Vintage paperback)
  • First Lines:  “My father, unlike so many of the men he served with, knew just what he wanted to do when the war was over.  He wanted to drink and whore and play the horses.”
  • Last Lines:  “She had the baby on her breast, and she turned it over so I could see my son’s little stem.  It was a touching moment.”
  • ML Edition:  none
  • Film:  long rumored, never made
  • Read:  Fall, 2001 (more…)
Brilliant!

Brilliant!

Drivel!

Drivel!

A quick note: the following 10 novels will not appear on this list. It’s not your list. You might think these are great. I think they are overrated, whether because they are simply badly written (The Historian, The Memory Keeper’s Daughter), pretentious McSweeney’s-esque prattle (Absurdistan, Special Topics in Calamity Physics, Everything is Illuminated), boring (Life of Pi), overrated due to serious subject matter (Lovely Bones), well written but uninteresting (Bee Season, Wickett’s Remedy), or fatally flawed due to oversimplification of a truly horrid situation (The Kite Runner). They’re not here so don’t ask for them.  While I am at it, I should add a few more: A Visit from Goon Squad (an utter mess), The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (even being part of its target audience I hated it), The Finkler Question (simply awful).  Those are more recent prize-winning novels that also aren’t here because I couldn’t stand them. Also not here are the Thursday Next books by Jasper Fforde, which are fantastic, but, like Douglas Adams, not quite great writing, or the Jump 225 Trilogy, which I love and was written by a friend of mine, but isn’t quite up there. I have done away with the English language requirement for this list, because my previous list was done to Modern Library standards to match up against their list. Only two of these are foreign language novels anyway.

Before I get to the list, I feel I should point out that it’s now up to 29 35 books.  That’s because I have added some updates over the last couple of years and didn’t feel the need to delete the books at the bottom of the list.

Actually, let me add to that last little paragraph, which was written in 2010.  At the time I was just doing some additions.  This time I have actually changed the title of the list.  Why change the title and not just do a whole new post?  Because I am proud that people keep finding this list and I like all the conversations that the comments have inspired.  So, I decided to up it to 35, add six more books and go with that.  To that end, I had to cut some books I considered, including The Sense of an Ending, The Marriage Plot, Wolf Hall, 1Q84 and even The Casual Vacancy (yes, I thought it was very good – a modern Thomas Hardy).  But something interesting came to me as I was doing the additional titles: five of the six of them were written by females and three of them were first novels.  So let’s be glad for some new blood getting out there and getting noticed (at least by me).

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