‘100 Best English Language Novels from 1923 to the Present’ ( actually 2005), according to Time Magazine

March 20, 2022 at 8:57 pm (Uncategorized)

I love lists like this! With this one, in particular, I found myself careening between books I could not get through to books I loved.

Here’s a link to the list.

And here are some (totally subjective) examples:

Books I couldn’t get through:

Call It Sleep by Henry Roth

Light in August and The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner. I’ve had my struggles with Faulkner…

Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie

Mrs Dalloway and To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf. …and with Virginia Woolf as well.

Possession by A.S Byatt. Yes I know: All my literary friends and relatives – including my mother – eagerly pressed this book upon me. What can I say? It just didn’t work for me. I found something about her writing oddly off-putting. I think I prefer her sister Margaret Drabble.

Love the cover, though:


The Beguiling of Merlin by Sir Edward Burne-Jones


Books I loved (and still love):

Atonement by Ian McEwan. Not my absolute favorite McEwan, though – that would probably be Enduring Love.

The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler

Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh

The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen. listened to this on CD in the car, and II remember having to pull over at on point because I was laughing so hard!

Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis

A Passage to India by E. M. Forster

The Power and the Glory by Graham Greene – though my favorite work by this author is The Quiet American

Red Harvest by Dashiell Hammett. Instead of The Maltese Falcon – really? But I do love those subtle pulp fiction covers:


I decided on a special category for books I especially revere:

Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather. One of my favorite novels ever. A beautful, beautiful book.

An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser. To quote myself from a previous post: ‘Although it dragged in some places, and Dreiser’s writing can be exasperating, it was also powerful enough to keep me up at night and in a deep state of dread. I ended up loving it.’

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

“Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Lo-lee-ta: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth.”
(I was going to add something, but I don’t think I really need to.)

Rabbit, Run by John Updike

Ragtime by E.L. Doctorow

The Sot-Weed Factor by John Barth

And a novel from Australia that is, in my opinion, one of the great under appreciated masterpieces of 20th century literature: Picnic at Hanging Rock by Joan Lindsay. And after you’ve read the novel, watch Peter Weir’s brilliant realization of it on film.

1 Comment

  1. Michelle Ann said,

    I have a lot of agreement with you on those I have read – I thought Possession was OK, but not great, and I think Death Comes for the Archbishop and Picnic at Hanging Rock are really underappreciated classics.

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