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In order of which I would take to a desert island. Based on books  that I could think of off the top of my head, and that I could see on my bookshelf without getting up off my couch.

The first 25 or so are pretty firm (although I feel a little guilty about having so much Hemingway near the top – cut me some slack with those). After that, well, the order is likely to shift on any given day. And it get’s downright ugly near the bottom.

And I don’t want to hear any crap about literary merit. Im not about to argue that Jurassic Park (69) is a better novel than Light in August (83). I’d take it with me first, though. Or, at least, if you asked me right this moment I would.

 

  1. 100 Years of Solitude – Garcia Marquez. Fantastic.
  2. Lonesome Dove – McMurtry. A great adventure. Moves pretty well for 900 pages. Often hilarious.
  3. The Sun Also Rises – Hemingway. On the one hand, if you can separate what you know about the man from his work, the more you can appreciate this book. On the other hand, the more you know about the man, the more you can appreciate this book.
  4. The Old Man and the Sea – Hemingway. This story, however, stands on it’s own merit. It’s just a good story; even with all the allegory.
  5. The Baron in the Trees – Calvino. Brilliant, charming.
  6. The Name of the Rose – Eco. Marvelously intricate mystery set in a 14th Century monastary. Very erudite.
  7. Siddartha – Hesse. Elegant and profound.
  8. Cannery Row – Steinbeck. Another great story. The Shelter before there was a Shelter. Very funny.
  9. Henderson the Rain King – Bellow. Very satisfying. A man’s search for life, for meaning, takes him to Africa.
  10. The Great Gatsby – Fitzgerald. Elegance. A beautiful portrait of a fabled era.
  11. For Whom the Bell Tolls – Hemingway. Sigh. Here’s where I need some slack cut.
  12. Of Mice and Men – Steinbeck. A sad and moving tale.
  13. Invisible Cities – Calvino. Brilliant, playful.
  14. The Sot-Weed Factor – Barth. Probably the funniest book on this list.
  15. A Confederacy of Dunces – Toole. Probably the second funniest book on this list.
  16. The Commitments – Doyle. Hmm. Probably the third funniest book on this list. Irish teens form a band.
  17. If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler – Calvino. Calvino is perhaps the most imaginitive writer of the century. Right up there with Nabakov.  Oops.  That reminds me of a book I forgot to put on here.
  18. The Last Picture Show – McMurtry. If you grew up in a small town, or a not-so-small town with small-town pretentions, you should relate with the setting and characters.
  19. The Plague - Camus - A very strange and disturbing story.
  20. The Sound and the Fury - On any other night, this book might be number one.  It is pure art, pure genius.  But it is somewhat difficult on the first read. 
  21. Love in the Time of Cholera - Really a beautiful and melancholy story of unrequieted love.
  22. The Storyteller - Very different, and somewhat wistful, I thought.  About an  indigenous South American tribe and the passing of an era.  I wanted to know more about the characters, to get closer to them, but felt kind of shut out.  Which I guess is part of the idea.
  23. Rabbit is Rich - Updike is such a fine craftsman.  His stories are not always compelling.  The Witches of Eastwick and the Centaur are much jucier stories, but this one and the next are great examples of his mastery of craft.
  24. Rabbit at Rest - See above.
  25. A Farewell to Arms - More slack, please.
  26. Vox
  27. The Bourne Identity
  28. The Fellowship of the Ring
  29. Ender’s Game
  30. The Witches of Eastwick
  31. The Adventures of Augie March
  32. As I Lay Dying
  33. The Pearl
  34. A Moveable Feast
  35. The Hobbit
  36. The Grapes of Wrath
  37. Foucault’s Pendulum
  38. Tortilla Flat
  39. A Handful of Dust
  40. Rabbit, Run
  41. Horseman, Pass By
  42. Humboldt’s Gift
  43. Green Hills of Africa
  44. To Have and Have Not
  45. Catch-22
  46. The Centaur
  47. The Return of the King
  48. War and Peace
  49. Conversations at Curlow Creek
  50. The Silmarillion
  51. Rabbit Redux
  52. The Two Towers
  53. Roger’s Version
  54. Across the River and Into the Trees
  55. Babbit
  56. Main Street
  57. To the Lighthouse
  58. Sons and Lovers
  59. Beloved
  60. To a God Unknown
  61. Slaughterhouse Five
  62. Cat’s Cradle
  63. The Catcher in the Rye
  64. Texasville
  65. The Stranger
  66. A Canticle for Leibowitz
  67. Chronicle of a Death Foretold
  68. Left Hand of Darkness
  69. Jurassic Park
  70. White Noise
  71. His Master’s Voice
  72. Bloodline
  73. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
  74. The Scarlet Letter
  75. Flags in the Dust
  76. Howard’s End
  77. The Prince of Tides
  78. Abberation of Starlight
  79. The House of the Seven Gables
  80. Jacobs Well
  81. God Knows
  82. The Fountainhead
  83. Light in August
  84. Master and Commander
  85. Less than Zero
  86. Hold Autumn in Your Hand
  87. The Alienist
  88. A Thief of Time
  89. Maia
  90. Cain and Able
  91. The Valley
  92. Baja Oklahoma
  93. Invisible Man
  94. The Day of the Locust
  95. The Call of the Wild
  96. Gravitys Rainbow
  97. A Prayer for Owen Meany
  98. Interview with a Vampire
  99. Dead Man’s Walk
  100. The Countrywoman
  101.   Jailbird
  102.   V.
  103.   Islands in the Stream
  104.   The Garden of Eden
  105.   Portrait of Dorian Grey
  106.   Rameses
  107.   God’s Game