swI have always been a proponent of the idea that I can separate what I think is brilliant from what I personally enjoy.  Let’s just look at 2015.  I think that Carol and The Revenant were the two best films of the year.  But if I’m going to sit and watch a movie from 2015, odds are it will be The Force Awakens (this is borne out by the fact that I’ve seen Carol twice, The Revenant all the way through once and The Force Awakens, at a modest count, 21 times complete plus the final 20 minutes about 15 more).

To that extent, I have finally culled together a list of my 100 Favorite Films, the ones I am most likely to sit still and watch, or at least not change the station if I come across them.  They’re not heavy Drama.  In fact, when I went through the genres, only one film on the entire list is one that I classify primarily as Drama (Casablanca).

It’s really hard to do this kind of list when you’ve seen as many films as I have (14,000+).  I put it together by going through year by year and adding films, and once I hit 100, knocking off the films at the bottom.  When I first read Veronica a list of 50 films, I then pointed out that those were the 50 I was about to delete because they didn’t make the list and she was stunned.  “But you love those films!” she pointed out.  “But I love the Top 100 even more,” I replied.  It was very, very tough.  Though they are easily two of the greatest directors of all-time if not the two greatest directors of all-time, not a single Kurosawa or Kubrick film ended up on the list.  There is no Bergman.  There is no David Lean.  The Ealing Comedies and the Hammer Horror, both of which I love so much I wrote about them only have one film each.  I did For Love of Film posts for James Bond (1 film) and Star Trek (2 films).  It’s really, really hard to narrow it all down. (more…)

I have this poster.  It's not currently on one of our walls because it's enormous.

I have this poster. It’s not currently on any of our walls because it’s enormous.

Surely he’s insane, you think.  Top 100 Songs?  Do they even have 100 songs?

Well, to be precise, they have 223 235 songs that I considered for this list.  That includes the 131 142 different songs on the band’s 12 13 albums, 40 b-sides from the various singles over the year and 52 rare songs that have either been on soundtracks, tribute albums, compilations or were unreleased until the box set in 2006.

Note:  This update is coming in July of 2015, and all the updated bits are in red (except the links, which are in blue because of some formatting issues).  I could have done one much earlier – in October of 2014, say, when Songs of Innocence and Experience was released.  But, first, I wanted to give more time to listen to the album.  Second, I just saw U2 in Boston and have now had the chance to hear all the best songs off the album live.  So, I am reposting this with updates since the original post came out.  The list now covers 107 songs because I didn’t want to just lop the songs off the bottom of the list.  So, my Top 100 really begin with “Kite”.

So why would I waste my time with such a list, certainly some people are thinking.  And for those people who want to just trash on U2 or say how much they dislike them that’s fine, but I’m going to delete your comments.  Feel free to comment on something else.  Just skip the list.  If you disagree with my choice, if you say, like the band but don’t like my #1 song, well, feel free to comment.  I’m always up for the discussion. (more…)

The Vintage Corrected Text mass market copy of The Sound and the Fury I bought for AP English in 1991.  I haven't parted with it since.

The Vintage Corrected Text mass market copy of The Sound and the Fury I bought for AP English in 1991. I haven’t parted with it since.

The Sound and the Fury

  • Rank:  #1
  • Author:  William Faulkner  (1897  –  1962)
  • Published:  1929
  • Publisher:  Jonathan Cape & Harrison Smith, Inc.
  • Pages:  378
  • First Line:  “Through the fence, between the curling flower spaces, I could see them hitting.”
  • Last Line:  “The broken flower drooped over Ben’s fist and his eyes were empty and blue and serene again as cornice and facade flowed smoothly once more from left to right, post and tree, window and doorway and signboard each in its ordered place.”
  • ML Version:  #187  (with As I Lay Dying – 1946), #187  (by itself – 1966), P6 (both with As I Lay Dying and by itself), gold dust jacket, new dust jacket
  • Acclaim:  Modern Library Top 100 English Language Novels of the 20th Century #6, Le Monde’s 100 Books of the Century, All-TIME List
  • Film Version:  1959  (***  –  dir. Martin Ritt)
  • First Read:  Fall, 1991 (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…)

Faulkner is the king of the list.  Does that really surprise you?

Faulkner is the king of the list. Does that really surprise you?

Before I put up the full Top 100 list (and do the post for #1), I am tossing up this bit of various trivia and statistics about the novels on my Top 100 list and on the 101-200 list.

Please note that none of the lists involving 101-200 have numbers attached because I didn’t rank them.

  • Longest Top 100 Novel:  In Search of Lost Time  (4651 pages)
  • Shortest Top 100 Novel:  Heart of Darkness  (96 pages)
  • Earliest Top 100 Novel:  Gulliver’s Travels  (1726)
  • Latest Top 100 Novel:  Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrel  (2004)
  • Latest Top 200 Novel:  The Night Circus / The Tiger’s Wife  (2011) (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…)