100 Great Books

June 21, 2008

If you want to breathe out, you need to breathe in. If you want to write, you need to read.

I’m always on the lookout for good recommendations on what book to pick up next. This one is pretty fascinating: a list of the “100 best reads” from the last quarter-century. Albeit compiled by the editors of Entertainment Weekly (not who you’d necessarily consider the nation’s prime arbiter of literary taste), it’s a meaty list, and not a bad source for building your own “books I really need to read” list.

I was pleased to note my favorite novel of all time on the list: A Prayer for Owen Meany, by John Irving (1989). Here are a few other of my favorite novels that appear on the EW list:

  • The Road, Cormac McCarthy (2006)
  • American Pastoral, Philip Roth (1997)
  • Mystic River, Dennis Lehane (2001)
  • Cold Mountain, Charles Frazier (1997)

As well as several nonfiction books that I loved:

  • On Writing, Stephen King (2000)
  • The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell (2000
  • The Year of Magical Thinking, Joan Didion (2005)

My agent, Margret McBride, and her delightful husband, Nevins, just recommended I read Lonesome Dove, by Larry McMurtry (1985). Yep, there it is, #24. Neil Gaiman’s Sandman (the only thing of his I haven’t yet read). The Kite Runner, The Interpreter of Maladies, The Remains of the Day, Love in the Time of Cholera, Rabbit at Rest, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao—all of these titles are on my shelves, but I just haven’t gotten to them yet.

(Note to self: get to them.)

Eventually I’ll compile my own “top 100 books of all time” list and post it here — and invite you to let me know your list, too. Meanwhile, there are about 75 books on the EW list I haven’t read yet . . .

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