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Top Ten Paperback – Dec 26 2006
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About the Author
J. Peder Zane is the book-review editor of the Raleigh News & Observer and the editor of Norton's Remarkable Reads. His syndicated column received the ASNE Distinguished Writing Award for Commentary.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
The top five works by living authors are, (1) One Hundred Years of Solitude, (2) To Kill a Mockingbird, (3) Beloved, (4) The Catcher and the Rye and (5) Rabbit Angstrom. And there were a few authors who submitted lists who were fortunate to have their works mentioned on the top ten list of another artist. Michael Cunningham submitted his lists of favorites from Shakespeare's King Lear to the stories of Flannery O'Connor. Anita Shreve, author of The Pilot's Wife, placed Cunningham's The Hours in the number four spot. Stephen King includes Lord of the Flies and 1984 on his list, while David Foster Wallace and Jennifer Weiner both place King's The Stand as their second greatest book.
Shakespeare has the greatest number of works on the lists (11), yet Tolstoy collects the most points (327) off of 2 great works. Of the 125 lists there are 544 separate titles, 23 of which appeared as the greatest work on one authors list alone, not making any other list. The range of authors selected to submit top ten lists is varied and diverse including the late Bebe Moore Campbell, Sandra Cisneros, Pearle Cleage, Edwidge Danticat, Arthur Goldin, John Irving, Ha Jin, Sue Monk Kidd, Wally Lamb, Joyce Carol Oats, Ann Patchett and Robert Pinsky. While this survey of fiction does include a small sample of non-fiction and poetry, the central focus is the novel. All of the poets & non-fiction writers who were surveyed, have also published fiction works.
This book is a great guide for bloggers, who like myself, are searching for 100 great books to read this year.
What's fun about this is checking out the individual lists by individual authors. I was often surprised by some of the picks, and actually came away from it with a slightly altered opinion about some of the recommenders. I think it's more interesting to start at the bottom end - the books that only got one recommendation - and move forward from there.
Interesting. But it's not meant to be definitive. I think everyone involved knew that. Take it as a light, intelligent read, with some things you'll agree with and others that you'll shake your head at.
So that is one interesting way of reading the work. And this when one might question the list of one- hundred and twenty- five noted authors also. As could be expected there are top writers with one's far lower down on the totempole. And there are many absences. I would have loved to have seen Philip Roth's favorites but he apparently did not respond.
As for the top of the top list I was surprised to see 'Anna Karenina' there. If one were to choose Tolstoy as one's greatest novelist one should certainly choose the far greater book 'War and Peace'. ( As I understand it by the way this was meant to be a list of Novels. Otherwise how explain the absence of the 'Book of Books' certainly the greatest book of all times.
I also was surprised that 'Don Quixote' was not in the top ten. If the question was asked of Literary Critics my suspicion is it would be the first.
In any case there is a lot of room in this work for pleasurable speculation and conjecture.
Very good and enjoyable if not taken too seriously.
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