The Baystate Objectivist

The Baystate Objectivist

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Good Books

Rating the top 100.

Many of you know that I am a former Massachusetts state certified English teacher. Therefore it shouldn't surprise anyone that when our Alaskan friend Zoomabooma listed the top 100 books of all time and what he thought of them, that I should be tempted to do the same. Of course the list itself is a little whack. Nothing by Kesey? No Ayn Rand? Where's Dr. Seuss? Oh well, despite these glaring omissions, it seemed like a fun pastime for a hot Saturday afternoon to just go through the list and make a quick quip about each.

1. The Time Traveller’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger - This is number one? You're kidding!
2. The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams - I saw the movie on Ecstasy.
3. The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood - I liked this novel, but her poetry sucks.
4. Lord of the Flies - William Golding - Pretentious but creepy.
5. Life of Pi - Yann Martel - Sorry, not a math major.
6. The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett - Sounds like a dull mystery.
7. The Color Purple - Alice Walker - The movie was good but did not inspire me to read the book.
8. Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle - No one could fail to be entertained by these tales.
9. Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte - Movie versions always looked boring.
10. To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee - The book was better than the movie, although the movie was very good.
11. Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte - Struck me as a dull antique soap opera.
12. Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell - The best political book ever written.
13. His Dark Materials (trilogy) - Phil Pullman - So dark I never saw it.
14. Great Expectations - Charles Dickens - Overlong.
15. Catch 22 - Joseph Heller - One of the great war novels.
16. The Hobbit - J.R.R. Tolkien - Personally I like it better than the trilogy.
17. Catcher in the Rye - J.D. Salinger - Salinger is a great stylist but this book lacks substance. Most overrated book of the post-war period.
18. Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh - Shreiks boredom.
19. Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky - Great psychological insight into the nature of guilt.
20. Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll - Acid consciousness before there was LSD.
21. Chronicles of Narnia - C.S. Lewis - My neices loved this book, but it bored me to read it to them.
22. The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe – C.S. Lewis - See above.
23. Winnie the Pooh - A.A. Milne - Cute and clever.
24. Animal Farm - George Orwell - The second best political book ever written.
25. Brave New World - Aldous Huxley - He was a stoner and it shows.
26. Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck - He writes so beautifully his laundry list would be worth reading.
27. On The Road - Jack Kerouac - The best bohemian book ever written.
28. Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens - Corny but readable.
29. Charlotte’s Web - E.B. White - The artwork was better than the story.
30. Hamlet - William Shakespeare - Some of the best lines in the English language.
31. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - The Johnny Depp movie version looked interesting.
32. Complete Works of Shakespeare - Not everything he wrote was a masterpiece.
33. Ulysses - James Joyce - A tiresome literary fraud.
34. Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad - A powerful mood piece. Wasn't Apocalyse Now based on this?
35. Les Miserables - Victor Hugo - A wonderful book, but skip the introduction.
36. Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen - The title suggests more than it delivers.
37. The Bible - God and Friends - I was raised Catholic, okay?
38. The Great Gatsby - F. Scott Fitzgerald - Some great passages, but overall dull.
39. War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy - Not worth the effort.
40. Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck - Good read despite socialist propaganda.
41. Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy - His darkest work, a real downer.
42. The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini - Never read it but it sounds like fun.
43. One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez - Sounds very dull.
44. Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen - Seems like an overrated bore.
45. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon - I'm curious to know more.
46. Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov - Another overrated author.
47. The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery - Some people worship this book. I think they have psychological problems.
48. A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole - Is this about Springfield politics?
49. The Lord of the Rings - The movies were better.
50. Harry Potter series - A stiff writer, the movies were better.
51. Little Women - Louisa M. Alcott - For chicks only.
52. Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy - Sad but well-written.
53. Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier - Not familiar with it but it sounds dull.
54. Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks - Based on the song by Jerry Garcia?
55. Middlemarch - George Eliot - Another probable bore.
56. Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell - Forever eclipsed by the film.
57. Bleak House - Charles Dickens - Sounds like a load of laughs.
58. The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame - Zoomabooma says, "playin' "Tea for Two" ... sky was yellow and the sun was blue?"
59. David Copperfield - Charles Dickens - Not bad for Dickens.
60. Emma - Jane Austen - Maybe chicks will like it.
61. Persuasion - Jane Austen - Unconvincing.
62. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres - Who choosing these books, some French fag?
63. Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden - Straight people will like it.
64. The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown - This cost the list a chunk of credibility.
65. A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving - This is not the best John Irving novel.
66. The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins - Another insomnia cure.
67. Anne of Green Gables – L.M. Montgomery - Is this the book about which the critic wrote, "I could not put it down, instead I hurled it against the wall!"
68. Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy - Annoying.
69. Atonement - Ian McEwan - Who needs a literary guilt trip?
70. Dune - Frank Herbert I hope the book was better than the movie.
71. Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons - Where you don't want to go.
72. A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth - Another yawner.
73. The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon - Slow, plodding plot.
74. A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens - The only really good Dickins novel.
75. Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez - Painfully depressing.
76. The Secret History - Donna Tartt - More about Valley politics?
77. The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold - A morbid bore.
78. Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas - Men in tights are always tiresome.
79. Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy - Not obscure enough.
80. Bridget Jones’ Diary - Helen Fielding - Watch the X-rated version.
81. Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie - Makes you wish the fatwa had been successful.
82. Moby Dick - Herman Melville - Tiresome beginning, but a cosmic trip overall.
83. Dracula - Bram Stoker - No film has matched the book.
84. Notes From A Small Island - Nice, but no classic.
85. The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath - Weepy tale of suicide and depression.
86. Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome - Yawn.
87. Germinal - Emile Zola - Tiresome Frenchman.
88. Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray - The magazine is better.
89. Possession - A.S. Byatt - See the Exorcist instead.
90. A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens Some good lines, but overall sentimental pap.
91. Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell - How about Atlas Shrugged?
92. The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro - Literary leftovers.
93. Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert - Even less interesting than it sounds.
94. A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry - Makes you want to tip the scale.
95. The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom - But what if you're going to hell?
96. The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton - For nature lovers only.
97. The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks - Don't get stung.
98. Watership Down – Richard Adams - Will give your kids nightmares.
99. A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute - Don't go there.
100. The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas - The candy bar was better.

It was so hot and humid in downtown Northampton last night that I wish I could've been dressed like this guy.

I saw this morning that the old willow by Southwest at UMass was hit by lightning last night, the second time this summer that I'm aware of. Thankfully the injuries do not appear to be life threatening, but how long before the old tree gets hit with a death blow?

Majestic sentinel, long may you stand.

In a parking lot at UMass someone stenciled this word of encouragement.


beckyfenn said...

"To Kill a Mockingbird" is without a doubt my favorite book of all time. I have probably read it two dozen times and taught hundreds of students with it. I recently read parts of it to my son when he was reading it for his English class. One of the last parts renders me to tears every time I read it:

"Neighbors bring food with death and flowers with sickness and little things in between. Boo was our neighbor. He gave us two soap dolls, a broken watch and chain, a pair of good-luck pennies, and our lives. But neighbors give in return. We never put back into the tree what we took out of it: we had given him nothing, and it made me sad."-Scout

Tony said...


5. Life of Pi - Yann Martel - Sorry, not a math major.

Nothing to do with the mathematical Pi (Pi is the name of acharacter), also a good story you should give it a read.