Category Archives: Literature

Best Books of the 21st Century (So Far)

I’m completing a mini-series of “Best of the 21st Century (So Far)” meta-lists with a list of the best books.  I collected over 7 lists of best books of the 21st Century and combined them into two lists: fiction and non-fiction.  I’ve also included my personal five-star-rated (out of five) books since 2000.

For the other “Best of the 21st Century” meta-lists, go to:
Best Albums of the 21st Century (So Far)
Best Films of the 21st Century (So Far)

FICTION
On 7 Lists
The Corrections (2001). By Jonathan Franzen

On 6 Lists
White Teeth (2000). By Zadie Smith
Atonement (2001). By Ian McEwan
Middlesex (2002). By Jeffrey Eugenides
The Road (2006). By Cormac McCarthy
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (2007). By Junot Díaz

5 Lists
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay (2000). By Michael Chabon
Kafka on the Shore (2002). By Haruki Murakami
The Namesake (2003). By Jhumpa Lahiri
Oryx and Crake (2003). By Margaret Atwood
Gilead (2004). By Marilynne Robinson
Cloud Atlas (2004). By David Mitchell

4 Lists
Austerlitz
(2001). By W. G. Sebald
American Gods (2001). By Neil Gaiman
Bel Canto (2001). By Ann Patchett
The Kite Runner (2003). By Khaled Hosseini
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (2003). By Mark Haddon
Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell (2004). By Susanna Clarke
2666 (2004). By Roberto Bolaño
Never Let Me Go (2005). By Kazuo Ishiguro
No Country for Old Men (2005). By Cormac McCarthy
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (2007). By J. K. Rowling
The Art of Fielding (2011). By Chad Harbach

3 Lists
The Secret Life of Bees (2001). By Sue Monk Kidd
The Time Traveler’s Wife (2003). By Audrey Niffenegger
The Line of Beauty (2004). By Alan Hollinghurst
The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (2005). By Stieg Larsson
The Book Thief (2005). By Markus Zusak
The Thirteenth Tale (2006). By Diane Setterfield
The Name of the Wind (2007). By Patrick Rothfuss
The Hunger Games (2008). By Suzanne Collins
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (2008). By Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows
The Help (2009). By Kathryn Stockett
Wolf Hall (2009). By Hilary Mantel
The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet (2010). By David Mitchell
The Night Circus (2011). By Erin Morgenstern
The Fault in Our Stars (2012). By John Green
Gone Girl (2012). By Gillian Flynn

NON-FICTION
On 5 Lists
Persepolis (2000). By Marjane Satrapi

4 Lists
The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America (2003). By Erik Larson
The Year of Magical Thinking (2005). By Joan Didion

3 Lists
Me Talk Pretty One Day (2000). By David Sedaris
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius (2000). By Dave Eggers
Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation (2003). By Lynne Truss
Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything (2005). By Steven D. Levitt
The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals (2006). By Michael Pollan
Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace … One School at a Time
(2007). By Greg Mortenson

2 Lists
The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference (2000). By Malcolm Gladwell
On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft (2000). By Stephen King
London: The Biography (2000). By Peter Ackroyd
Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America (2001). By Barbara Ehrenreich.
John Adams (2001). By David McCullough
Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking (2005). By Malcolm Gladwell
The Glass Castle (2005). By Jeannette Wells
Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia (2006). By Elizabeth Gilbert
Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic (2006). By Alison Bechdel
Enrique’s Journey (2006). By Sonia Nazario
The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism (2007). By Naomi Klein
The Hemingses of Monticello (2008). By Annette Gordon-Reed
Zeitoun (2009). By Dave Eggers
Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen (2009). By Chris McDougall
The Swerve: How the World Became Modern (2011). By Stephen Greenblatt
Thinking, Fast and Slow (2011). By Daniel Kahneman
Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking (2012). By Susan Cain
Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail (2012). By Cheryl Strayed

MY FIVE-STAR BOOKS OF THE 21ST CENTURY

Fiction
Peace Like a River (2001). By Leif Enger
Atonement (2001). By Ian McEwan
Austerlitz (2001). By W.G. Sebald
Middlesex (2002). By Jeffrey Eugenides
The Known World (2003). By Edward P. Jones
Never Let Me Go (2005). By Kazuo Ishiguro
Europe Central (2005). By William T. Vollmann

Non-fiction
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius (2000). By Dave Eggers
John Adams (2001). By David McCullough
Charles Darwin: The Power of Place (2002). By Janet E. Browne
A Short History of Nearly Everything (2003). By Bill Bryson
They Marched Into Sunlight: War and Peace, Vietnam and America, October 1967 (2003). By David Maraniss
The Stories of English (2004). By David Crystal
Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and bin Laden from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001 (2004). By Steve Coll
1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus (2005). By Charles C. Mann
The Rough Guide To Classical Music (2005). By Duncan Clark
The Year of Magical Thinking (2005). By Joan Didion
James Tiptree, Jr.: The Double Life of Alice B. Sheldon (2006). By Julie Phillips
American Movie Critics: An Anthology From the Silents Until Now (2006). By Philip Lopate, ed.
The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals (2006). By Michael Pollan
Cleopatra: A Life (2006). By Stacy Schiff
The Rest is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century (2007). By Alex Ross
The Hemingses of Monticello (2008). By Annette Gordon-Reed
Pictures at a Revolution: Five Movies and the Birth of the New Hollywood (2008). By Mark Harris
The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration (2010). By Isabel Wilkerson
Lennon: The Man, the Myth, the Music – The Definitive Life (2011). By Tim Riley
Conversations with Scorcese (2011). By Richard Schickel
The Riddle of the Labyrinth: The Quest to Crack an Ancient Code (2013). By Margalit Fox
Lawrence in Arabia; War, Deceit, Imperial Folly, and the Making of the Modern Middle East (2013). By Scott Anderson

Reading Lists

Although I love lists, I don’t like to make my own Top 10, Top 25 or Top 100 lists. I usually have many more than 10, 25 or 100 favorites in any category, and so the supposedly fun process of making the list becomes the intensely painful process of cutting items from the list. I love more than 100 movies, 100 books, 100 musical recordings, etc. – what is the point of putting myself through the unpleasantness of culling the sum total of favorites just to meet some arbitrary cut-off number? My preferred method is to rate items on a scale (1-5 or 1-10 usually) and then list all the top-rated items (those with 5 out of 5 or 10 out of 10 stars) as my “best of” list. Some may find this disconcerting, because there is no easy round number of items – both my best movies and best books lists have somewhere between 200 and 300 listed items – but I find this listing method much less arbitrary and more fulfilling, because it is comprehensive.

I recently updated my list of best/favorite books – you can find every book I’ve rated 5 out of 5 stars HERE. In going over the list, I noticed that I read a number of the books before high school. I rated them as an adult based on how I remembered feeling about the book way back when. This is a risky technique, I suppose, since I don’t know if I would give the book five stars if I read it as an adult. The list I’ve set out below shows the 16 books on my “Five-Star Books” list that I read before entering high school (1st through 8th grade), organized chronologically by date of publication:

  1. The Voyage of the Beagle. Charles Darwin (1839)
  2. On the Origin of Species. Charles Darwin (1859)
  3. Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. Jules Verne (1869)
  4. Kidnapped. Robert Louis Stevenson (1886)
  5. Dracula. Bram Stoker (1897)
  6. The Bounty Trilogy: Mutiny on the Bounty; Men Against the Sea; Pitcairn’s Island. Charles Nordhoff & James Hall (1932-1934)
  7. Life Long Ago: The Story of Fossils. Carroll Lane Fenton (1937)
  8. The Hobbit. J.R.R. Tolkein (1937)
  9. The Catcher in the Rye. J.D. Salinger (1951)
  10. The Foundation Trilogy: Foundation; Foundation & Empire; Second Foundation. Isaac Asimov (1951-1953)
  11. Nine Stories. J.D. Salinger (1953)
  12. Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters & Seymour: An Introduction. J.D. Salinger (1955)
  13. The Lord of the Rings. J.R.R. Tolkien (1956)
  14. Franny and Zooey. J.D. Salinger (1961)
  15. The Gulag Archipelago 1918-1956. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (1973)
  16. All the President’s Men. Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward (1974)

Books (or movies, or music, or other works of art) come into our lives at different points in our development and we respond to them as the people we are then. What books were right for that moment but would not translate well to this moment we are living in now? What books did we just not appreciate at the time we read them that we would see today totally differently? Feel free to let me know what you think.

FYI, here are links to all my five-star lists:
My Five-Star Books
My Five-Star Films
My Five-Star Albums

My Personal Year-End Round Up: Books and Movies

It’s not quite the end of 2016, but like many of you out there, I am in a rush for the year to be over, so I’m publishing my end of year summary a few days early.  Here are some of the highlights of my year in movie-watching and book-reading.

MOVIES
Number of Movies Seen in 2016: 64

Category
Feature Films: 37
Short Films: 17
Documentaries: 10

Date of Movie
1920-1930: 12
1930-1959: 10
1960-1979: 4
1980-1999: 3
2000-2014: 16
2015: 9
2016: 9

Highest Rated Movies
10/10
Shoe Shine (Italy, De Sica, 1946)
Anomalisa (US, Johnson & Kaufman, 2015)
Moonlight (US, Jenkins, 2016)

9/10
Ballet mécanique (France, Léger & Murphy, 1924)
The Freshman (US, Newmeyer & Taylor, 1925)
Ghosts Before Breakfast (Germany, Richter, 1928)
Lot in Sodom (US. Webber & Watson, 1933)
Meshes of the Afternoon (US, Deren & Hammid, 1943)
21-87 (US, Lipsett, 1964)
Land of Silence and Darkness (West Germany, Herzog, 1971)
The Cruise (US, Miller, 1998)
The Secret in their Eyes (Argentina, Campanella, 2009)
The Big Short (US, McKay, 2015)
45 Years (UK, Haigh, 2015)
Tangerine (US, Baker, 2015)
Son of Saul (Hungary, Jeles, 2015)

BOOKS
Number of books finished in 2016: 12

Category
Fiction: 4
Non-Fiction: 4
Epic Poems: 4

Date Published
1000-1299: 5
1300-1799: 0
1800-1999: 1
2000-2016: 6

Highest Rated Books
FIve Stars

The Tale of Genji (Japan, 1021). By Shikibu Murasaki
Europe Central (US, 2005). By William T. Vollmann
Lawrence in Arabia (UK, 2013). By Scott Anderson

Make Lists, Not War: Fall 2016 Updates

Over the last few months, I have added two new pages to the website and made significant changes to several others.  Here are the updates:

Best Works of Civil Engineering
Best Works of Civil Engineering – Chronological
From the Great Pyramid of Giza to the International Space Station – with lots of buildings, bridges, waterworks, canals and tunnels in between: the greatest achievements in civil engineering. Plenty of diagrams and photos.

Best Short Stories of All Time – The Critics’ Picks
I have added links so that the full text of nearly every story on the list is now just a click away.

Best Works of Art of All Time – The Critics’ Picks, Part 1
Best Works of Art of All Time – The Critics’ Picks, Part 2
Art History 101 – Part I: The Prehistoric Era – 1399 CE
Art History 101 – Part IIA: 1400-1499
Art History 101 – Part IIB: 1500-1599
Art History 101 – Part III: 1600-1799
Art History 101 – Part IV: 1800 – Present
I increased the size of the images in many cases and added images in other cases.  I also significantly revised or completely rewrote a number of the essays accompanying each work of art.

 

Some Like It Hot, Others Like It Bound and Paginated – Marilyn’s Book Collection

marilyn monroe reading eve arnold 1955

While drafting an essay for a famous 1955 photograph by Eve Arnold of Marilyn Monroe sitting in a children’s playground in her bathing suit reading James Joyce’s Ulysses (to read the essay, go here), I came across a wonderful list of all the books in Ms. Monroe’s book collection (http://www.openculture.com/2014/10/the-430-books-in-marilyn-monroes-library.html).  Many of the books were auctioned by Christie’s in 1999.  Those who knew her said that Monroe read books whenever she had a spare moment, and Arnold’s is not the only photograph of Marilyn reading.  The list contains quite a few intellectually challenging works, perhaps not surprising for someone once married to playwright and intellectual Arthur Miller, including Karl Marx’s Das Kapital, a history of the American Communist Party and works by Freud, Plato, Aristotle and Spinoza.  There are many plays and poetry collections and, of course, James Joyce (Dubliners and  Ulysses, but not Portrait of the Artist).  Some of the titles remind me of the scene in Annie Hall when Annie easily identifies the books Alvy gave her because “they all have ‘death’ in the title.”  Random titles on the list: Sexual Impotence in the Male, by Leonard Paul Wershub, Pet Turtles, The Little Engine that Could and Baby & Child Care, by Dr. Benjamin Spock, a poignant inclusion given that Marilyn died childless at the age of 36.  Other poignant titles are The Failure of Success, by Esther Milner and How To Travel Incognito, by Ludwig Bemelmans. Overall, one gets the sense of a searching and curious mind. Here is the list, in alphabetical order by book title:

Marilyn Monroe’s Book Collection
100 Modern Poems, edited by Selden Rodman
A Book about Bees by Edwin Way Teale
A Cup of Tea for Mr. Thorgill by Storm Jameson
A Death in the Family by James Agee
A European Education by Romain Gary
A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway
A High Wind in Jamaica by Richard Hughes
A Lost Lady by Willa Cather
A Partisan Guide to the Jewish Problem by Milton Steinberg
A Piece of My Mind by Edmund Wilson
A Prison, A Paradise by Loran Hurnscot
A Shropshire Lad by A.E. Houseman
A Socialist’s Faith by Norman Thomas
A Stone, A Leaf, A Door: Poems by Thomas Wolfe
A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams
A Time in Rome by Elizabeth Bowen
A Train of Powder by Rebecca West
A View of The Nation – An Anthology: 55-59, edited by Henry Christian
Abraham Lincoln: The Prairie Years and the War Years by Carl Sandburg
Act One by Moss Hart
Add a Dash of Pity by Peter Ustinov
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Through the Looking Glass & The Hunting of the Snark, by Lewis Carroll
All The Naked Heroes by Alan Kapener
Almanach: Das 73 Jahr by S. Fischer Verlag
America The Invincible by Emmet John Hughes
American Rights: The Constitution in Action by Walter Gellhorn
An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser
An Anthology of American Negro Literature, edited by Sylvestre C. Watkins
An Mands Ansigt by Arthur Miller
And It Was Told of a Certain Potter by Walter C. Lanyon
Anna Christie, The Emperor Jones & The Hairy Ape by Eugene O’Neill
Antigone by Jean Anouilh
Aragon: Poet of the French Resistance by Hannah Josephson & Malcolm Cowley
Baby & Child Care by Dr Benjamin Spock
Background & Foreground – The New York Times Magazine: An Anthology, edited by Lester Markel
Bahai Prayers
Balthazar by Lawrence Durrell
Bedside Book of Famous Short Stories
Beethoven: His Spiritual Development by J.W.N. Sullivan
Bell, Book and Candle by John Van Druten
Bernard Shaw & Mrs Patrick Campbell – Their Correspondence
Best American Plays: Third Series, 45-51
Best Plays of the Modern American Theatre by John Glassner
Best Russian Stories: An Anthology, edited by Thomas Seltzer
Blow Up a Storm by Garson Kanin
Born Yesterday by Garson Kanin
Bound For Glory by Woody Guthrie
Brighton Rock by Graham Greene
Camille by Alexander Dumas
Camino Real by Tennessee Williams
Captain Newman, M.D. by Leo Rosten
Catechism for Young Children
Christliches ergissmeinnicht by K. Ehmann
Cities of the Plain by Marcel Proust
Clash by Night by Clifford Odets
Close to Colette by Maurice Goudeket
Codfish, Cats & Civilisation by Gary Webster
Collected Sonnets by Edna St Vincent Millay (2 editions)
Common Sense and Nuclear Warfare by Bertrand Russell
Commonwealth vs. Sacco & Vanzetti by Robert P. Weeks
Conditioned Reflex Therapy by Andrew Salter
Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky
Critics’ Choice by Jack Gaver
Dance to the Piper by Agnes DeMille
Das Kapital by Karl Marx
De Humani Corporis Fabrica by Andreas Vesalius
Death in Venice & Seven Other Stories by Thomas Mann
Democracy in America by Alexis de Tocqueville
D.H. Lawrence: A Basic Study of His Ideas by Mary Freeman
Doctor Pygmalion by Maxwell Maltz
Don’t Call Me by My Right Name & Other Stories by James Purdy
Dubliners by James Joyce
Elizabethan Plays by Hazelton Spencer
Ellen Terry and Bernard Shaw – A Correspondence
Essays by Ralph Waldo Emerson
Etruscan Places by D.H. Lawrence
Evergreen Review, Vol 2, No. 6
Everyman’s Search by Rebecca Beard
Famous European Plays, edited by Bennett Cerf and Van H. Cartmell
Fancies and Goodnights by John Collier
Fever in the Blood by William Pearson
First Degree by William Kunstler
Flower Arranging For Fun by Hazel Peckinpaugh Dunlop
Forever Young, Forever Healthy by Indra Devi
Fowlers End by Gerald Kersh
From Hiroshima to the Moon by Daniel Lang
From Russia with Love by Ian Fleming
Gertrude Lawrence as Mrs. A by Richard Aldrich
Glory Reflected by Martin Freud
God Protect Me from My Friends by Gavin Maxwell
God’s Little Acre by Erskine Caldwell
Golden Boy by Clifford Odets
Goodness Had Nothing to Do with It by Mae West
Goodnight Sweet Prince by Gene Fowler
Greek Mythology by Edith Hamilton
Green Mansions by W.H. Hudson
Hawaii by James Michener
His Brother’s Keeper by Milton Gross (from Readers’ Digest)
Horizon, a Magazine of the Arts (Nov 1959, Jan. 1960, Mar. 1960)
How Stanislavsky Directs by Mikhail Gorchakov
How to Do It, or, the Art of Lively Entertaining by Elsa Maxwell
How to Talk At Gin by Ernie Kovacs
Hugo’s Pocket Dictionary: French-English and English-French
Hurricane Season by Ralph Winnett
Hypnotism Today by Leslie Lecron & Jean Bordeaux
I Knock at the Door by Sean O’Casey
I Married Adventure by Olso Johnson
In Defense of Harriet Shelley & Other Essays by Mark Twain
Independent People by Halldor Laxness
Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
Jean Dubuffet by Daniel Cordier
Jean of Lorraine by Maxwell Anderson
Jeremy Todd by Hamilton Maule
Jesus by Kahlil Gilbran
Jonathan by Russell O’Neill
Journey to the Beginning by Edgar Snow
Jungle Lore by Jim Corbett
Justine by Lawrence Durrell (2 editions)
Kingdom of the Rocks by Consuelo De Saint-Exupery
Landscaping Your Own Home by Alice Dustan
Last Essays by Thomas Mann
Let’s Make Love by Matthew Andrews
How to Travel Incognito by Ludwig Bemelmans
Letters of Sigmund Freud, edited by Ernest L. Freud
Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke
Lidice by Eleanor Wheeler
Lie Down in Darkness by William Styron
London by Jacques Boussard
Long Day’s Journey into Night by Eugene O’Neill (2 copies)
Look Homeward Angel by Thomas Wolfe
Love Poems & Love Letters for All The Year
Lucy Gayheart by Willa Cather
Lust for Life by Irving Stone
Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert (2 copies)
Malcolm by James Purdy
Man Against Himself by Karl A. Menninger
Man Alive by Daniel Colin Munro
Man’s Supreme Inheritance by Alexander F. Matthias
Man-Eaters of India by Jim Corbett
Marilyn Monroe by George Carpozi
Max by Pericle Luigi Giovannetti
Max Weber (art book)
Medea by Jeffers Robinson
Memories of a Catholic Girlhood by Mary McCarthy
Men and Atoms by William Laurence
Men of Music by Wallace Brockaway and Herbert Weinstock
Merry Christmas, Happy New Year by Phyllis McGinley
Metaphysics by Aristotle
Minister of Death: The Adolf Eichmann Story by Quentin Reynolds, Ephraim Katz and Zwy Aldouby
Miracle in The Rain by Ben Hecht
Mischief by Charlotte Armstrong
Miss America by Daniel Stren
Modern American Dramas, edited by Harlan Hatcher
More by Corwin by Norman Corwin
Moses and Monotheism by Sigmund Freud
Mr. Roberts by Joyce Cary
Mujer by Lina Rolan
Music for the Millions by David Ewen
My Antonia by Willa Cather
My India by Jim Corbett
Mythology by Edith Hamilton
Nana by Emile Zola
Napoleon by Emil Ludwig
New York State Vacationlands
Night by Francis Pollini
Of Human Bondage by W. Somerset Maugham
Three Famous French Romances by Antoine Francois Prevost, Proper Merimee & Alphonse Daudet
Of Stars and Men by Harlow Shapley
Of the Nature of Things by Lucretius
Oh Careless Love by Maurice Zolotow
On Such a Night by Anthony Quayle
On the Road by Jack Kerouac
Once There Was a War by John Steinbeck
Our Knowledge of the External World, by Bertrand Russell
Out of My Later Years by Albert Einstein
Outpost Nurseries (brochure)
Panorama: A New Review, edited by R.F. Tannenbaum
Paris Blues by Harold Flender
Part of a Long Story: Eugene O’Neill as a Young Man in Love by Agnes Boulton
Peace of Mind by Joshua Loth Liebman
Pet Turtles by Julien Bronson
Plays by Moliere
Plutarch’s Lives, Vols. 3-6, edited by William and John Langhorne
Poe: Complete Poems, edited by Richard Wilbur
Poems by John Tagliabue
Poems of Robert Burns, edited by Henry Meikle & William Beattie
Poems of W.B. Yeats
Poems, including Christ and Christmas by Mary Baker Eddy
Poet in New York by Federico Garcia Lorca
Poetry: A Magazine of Verse, Vol. 70, no. 6
Politics in The American Drama by Caspar Nannes
Portrait of the Artist as a Young Dog by Dylan Thomas
Hear Us O Lord From Heaven Thy Dwelling Place, by Malcolm Lowry
Prayer Changes Things
Psychopathology of Everyday Life by Sigmund Freud
Red Mirage by John O’Kearney
Red Roses for Me by Sean O’Casey
Rededication to Freedom by Benjamin Ginzburg (2 copies)
Redemption & Other Plays by Leo Tolstoy
Relax and Live by Joseph A. Kennedy
Renoir by Albert Skira
Report from Palermo by Danilo Dolci
Robert Frost’s Poems, edited by Louis Untermeyer
Roget’s Pocket Thesaurus, by C.O. Mawson & K.A. Whiting
Roughing It by Mark Twain
Russian Journey by William O. Douglas
Say You Never Saw Me by Arthur Nesbitt
Schubert by Ralph Bates
Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy
Selected Plays by Sean O’Casey
Selected Plays of George Bernard Shaw
Selected Poems by D.H. Lawrence
Selected Poems by Emily Dickinson
Selected Poems by Rafael Alberti
Selected Poems by Rainer Maria Rilke
Selected Poetry by Robinson Jeffers
Selected Works by Alexander Pope
Sephath Emeth: Order of Prayers For The Wholes Year in Jewish and English
Set This House on Fire by William Styron
Sexual Impotence in the Male, by Leonard Paul Wershub
Short Novels of Colette
Short Story Masterpieces
Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser
Six O’Clock Casual by Henry W. Cune
Six Plays of Clifford Odets
Smoke by Ivan Turgenev
Snobs by Russell Lynes
Some Characteristics of Today by Rudolph Steiner
Something to Live By by Dorothea S. Kopplin
Songs for Patricia by Norman Rosten
Sons and Lovers by DH Lawrence (2 editions)
Sons of Men by Herschel Steinhardt
Spartacus by Howard Fast
Spoken French for Travellers and Tourists, by Charles Kany & Mathurin Dondo
Star Crossed by Margaret Tilden
Stoned Like A Statue: A Complete Survey of Drinking Cliches, Primitive, Classical & Modern by Howard Kandel & Don Safran
Strike for a Kingdom by Menna Gallie
Swann’s Way by Marcel Proust
Tender Is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald
The 7th Cross by Anna Seghers
The Actor Prepares by Konstantin Stanislavsky
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
The Album of the Cambridge Garrick Club
The Alienation of Modern Man by Fritz Pappenheim
The American Claimant & Other Stories & Sketches by Mark Twain
The American Puritans: Their Prose & Poetry, by Perry Miller
The Art of Loving by Erich Fromm
The Assistant by Bernard Malamud
The Autobiography of Lincoln Steffens
The Ballad of the Sad Cafe by Carson McCullers
The Short Novels of Colette
The Best of All Worlds, or, What Voltaire Never Knew by Hans Jorgen Lembourn
The Bible
The Biography of Eleanora Duse, by William Weaver
The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book by Fannie Merritt-Farmer
The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky
The Building by Peter Martin
The Call Girl by Harold Greenwald
The Captive by Marcel Proust
The Carpetbaggers by Harold Robbins
The Cat with 2 Faces by Gordon Young
The Collected Short Stories by Dorothy Parker
The Complete Plays of Henry James
The Contenders by John Wain
The Country Girl by Clifford Odets
The Dancing Bear by Edzard Schaper
The Day the Money Stopped by Brendan Gill
The Dead Sea Scrolls by Millar Burrows
The Deer Park by Norman Mailer
The Devil’s Advocate by Morris L. West
The Rebel by Albert Camus
The Devil in Massachusetts by Marion Starkey
The Failure of Success by Esther Milner
The Fall by Albert Camus
The Family of Man by Carl Sandburg
The Flower in Drama and Glamour by Stark Young
The Forest and the Sea by Marston Bates
The Form of Daily Prayers
The Gingko Tree by Sheelagh Burns
The Golden Bough by James G. Frazer
The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald
The Green Crow by Sean O’Casey
The Guermantes Way by Marcel Proust
The Guide by R.K. Narayan
The Havamal, edited by D.E. Martin Clarke
The Heart of India by Alexander Campbell
The Hero Maker by Akbar Del Piombo & Norman Rubington
The Holy Scriptures According to the Masoretic Text
The House of the Dead, by Fyodor Dostoevsky
The Ignorant Armies by E.M. Halliday
The Importance of Living by Lin Yutang
The Jury Is Still Out by Irwin Davidson and Richard Gehman
The Last Temptation of Christ by Nikos Kazantzakis
The Law by Roger Vailland
The Life and Times of Archy and Mehitabel by Don Marquis
The Life and Work of Sigmund Freud by Ernest Jones
The Life of Michelangelo by John Addington
The Little Disturbances of Man by Grace Paley
The Little Engine That Could by Piper Watty
The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery
The Magic Barrel by Bernard Malamud
The Magic Christian by Terry Southern
The Magic of Believing by Claude M. Bristol
The Magic Word L.I.D.G.T.T.F.T.A.T.I.M. by Robert Collier
The Mark of the Warrior by Paul Scott
The Masks of God: Primitive Mythology, by Joseph Campbell
The Medal & Other Stories by Luigi Pirandello
The Mermaids by Boros
The Miracles of Your Mind by Joseph Murphy
The Mountain Road by Theodore H. White
The New Joy of Cooking by Irma S. Rombauer & Marion Rombauer-Becker
The Open Mind by J. Robert Oppenheimer
The Open Self by Charles Morris
The Passionate Playgoer by George Oppenheimer
The Penguin Book of English Verse, edited by John Hayward
The Philosophy of Plato
The Philosophy of Schopenhauer by Irwin Edman
The Philosophy of Spinoza by Joseph Ratner
The Plays of Anton Chekhov
The Pocketbook of Modern Verse by Oscar Williams
The Poems and Fairy-Tales by Oscar Wilde
The Poems, Prose & Plays of Alexander Pushkin
The Poetical Works of John Milton, edited by H.C. Beeching
The Poetical Works of Robert Browning
The Poetical Works of Shelley
The Poetry & Prose of Heinrich Heine, edited by Frederich Ewen
The Portable Blake
The Portable Anton Chekhov
The Portable D.H. Lawrence
The Portable Dorothy Parker
The Portable Irish Reader
The Portable Poe
The Portable Walt Whitman
The Potting Shed by Graham Greene
The Power Within You by Claude M. Bristol
The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran (4 copies)
The Rains Came by Louis Broomfield
The Red and the Black by Stendhal
The Right of the People by William Douglas
The Rights of Man by Thomas Paine
The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone by Tennessee Williams
The Roots of American Communism by Theodore Draper
The Saviours of God: Spiritual Exercises, by Nikos Kazantzakis
The Sawbwa and his Secretary by C.Y. Lee
The Secret Agent by Joseph Conrad
The Secret Books of The Egyptian Gnostics, by Jean Doresse
The Shook-Up Generation by Harrison E. Salisbury
The Short Reign of Pippin IV by John Steinbeck
The Slide Area by Gavin Lambert
The Sound and the Fury & As I Lay Dying, by William Faulkner
The Story of a Novel by Thomas Wolfe
The Story of Esther Costello by Nicholas Montsarrat
The Study of History by Arnold Toynbee
The Summing Up by W. Somerset Maugham
The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
The Support of the Mysteries by Paul Breslow
The Sweeniad, by Myra Buttle
The Sweet Cheat Gone by Marcel Proust
The Tales of Rabbi Nachman, by Martin Buber
The Thinking Body by Mabel Elsworth Todd
The Thomas Mann Reader
The Tower and The Abyss by Erich Kahler
The Truth about the Munich Crisis by Viscount Maugham
The Twain Shall Meet by Christopher Rand
The Un-Americans by Alvah Bessie
The Unfinished Country by Max Lerner
The Unnamable by Samuel Beckett
The Use of the Self by Alexander F. Matthias
The Vapor Trail by Ivan Lawrence Becker
The Wall Between by Anne Braden
The War Lover by John Hersey
The Wisdom of the Sands by Antoine de Saint-Exupery
The Wise Garden Encyclopedia, edited by E.L.D. Seymour (2 editions)
The Woman Who Was Poor by Leon Bloy
The Women by Clare Boothe
The Works of Rabelais
Theatre ’52 by John Chapman
Theory of Poetry and Fine Art by Aristotle
They Came to Cordura by Glendon Swarthout
Thirteen By Corwin, by Norman Corwin
This Demi-Paradise by Margaret Halsey
This Week’s Short Stories
Thomas Wolfe’s Letters to His Mother, edited by John Skally Terry
Three Circles of Light by Pietro Di Donato
Thurber Country by James Thurber
To The Actor by Michael Chekhov
To the One I Love Best by Ludwig Bemelmans
Tortilla Flat by John Steinbeck
Troubled Women by Lucy Freeman
Two Plays: Peace and Lysistrata by Aristophanes
Ulysses by James Joyce
Untitled & Other Radio Drams by Norman Corwin
Venetian Red by L.M. Pasinetti
VIP Tosses a Party, by Virgil Partch
Wake Up, Stupid by Mark Harris
What Is A Jew? by Morris Kertzer
Who Blowed Up the House & Other Ozark Folk Tales, edited by Randolph Vance
Why I Am Not a Christian, by Bertrand Russell
William Shakespeare: Sonnets, edited by Mary Jane Gorton
Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson
Within a Budding Grove by Marcel Proust
Wordsworth by Richard Wilbur
World Underworld by Andrew Varna
Yuan Mei: 18th Century Chinese Poet by Arthur Waley

A Time to Every Purpose Under Heaven: A Series of Announcements

Happy New Year to everyone who follows or otherwise reads Make Lists, Not War.  I am thrilled to see that people from around the world have been checking out the lists on this site – every year the numbers grow.  I particularly appreciate the comments and suggestions by some of the readers.

1.  In  this blog post, I have three announcements.  The first is that 2015 was the best year so far for Make Lists, Not War since I began blogging in 2013. To give you a sense of the level of activity this year, here are some statistics, courtesy of the diligent folks at WordPress:

Total Views (2015): 60,095
Total Viewers (2015): 35,859

Top Ten Most Popular Lists (with links):
(1) Best Works of Art of All Time – The Critics’ Picks, Part 2
(2)  Art History 101 – Part 1: Prehistoric Era – 1399 CE
(3) Best Operas of All Time – The Critics’ Picks
(4) Best Architecture of All Time – The Critics’ Picks
(5) Best Inventions of All Time – Chronological: Part II
(6) Best Works of Art of All Time – The Critics’ Picks, Part 1
(7) Best Inventions of All Time – Chronological: Part III
(8) Best Inventions of All Time – Chronological: Part I
(9) Best World Music of All Time – The Critics’ Picks
(10) Best Photography of All Time – The Critics’ Picks

Viewers’ Top 10 Countries of Origin:
(1) United States (29,011 views)
(2) United Kingdom (3,986)
(3) Canada (2,633)
(4) Germany (1,823)
(5) Australia (1,597)
(6) France (1,578)
(7) India (1,237)
(8) Italy (949)
(9) Netherlands (835)
(10) Spain (830)

Top 10 Search Terms
(1) “best operas”
(2) “greatest operas”
(3) “100 great short stories”
(4) “best operas of all time”
(5) “greatest works of art”
(6) “greatest paintings of all time”
(7) “best world music albums”
(8) “greatest architects of all time”
(9) “alfred stieglitz flatiron building 1903 photo reproduction”
(10) “greatest architecture of all time”

2.  My next announcement is to introduce five new lists (actually, two two-part lists and one one-part list).  Although I had already taken the Best Literature list and organized it by author, I had not made a list of Best Authors.  Similarly, I had taken the Best Classical Music list and organized it by composer, but I hadn’t made a list of the Best Composers.  I have now filled those gaps in the list-verse.  In both cases, I collected lists of the best authors/best composers and combined them into meta-lists.  I then made lists of each author/composer on more than two (for authors) or three (for composers) original source lists.  In addition, I made a list of each author’s most highly-regarded literary works and for the composers, I made lists of their most highly-regarded music compositions. In the case of the writers, there is a two-part list organized chronologically by author’s date of birth.  In the case of composers, there is a list organized chronologically by date of birth and a two-part list organized by rank (i.e., starting with the composer on the most lists).  The results of these projects can be found by following the links below:

The Best Writers and their Best Works, Part 1: 850 BCE – 1870
The Best Writers and their Best Works, Part 2: 1871-Present

The Best Classical Composers and their Best Works, Ranked: Part 1
The Best Classical Composers and their Best Works, Ranked: Part 2
The Best Classical Composers and their Best Works: Chronological

3.  My third announcement will be mostly of interest to my wife and others who know me personally.  While I am devoted to the blog, and have a number of projects in the wings (more pictures! more descriptive/analytical essays!), it is a time-consuming labor of love that sometimes saps time and energy from other necessary activities and pursuits.  After researching and creating over 160 lists that will remain fully accessible to viewers around most of the globe, I feel comfortable taking a hiatus from Make Lists, Not War for a significant portion of 2016, after which I hope to return with renewed vigor.  Until then, please enjoy these lists and remember to Make Lists, Not War.

John B.

Short and Sweet: The Short Story Lists, Redux

During our first dinner out together, over nachos and Dos Equis in a Tex-Mex place, the woman who would soon become my true love and later my wife said two things that made me realize that she was more than just beautiful and easy to talk with.  First, she told me her father was a professor of English literature and that he taught her to love books.  Second, she told me she was enrolled in an adult education course called, “The Short Story.”  While our story, which continues with no signs of stopping 30 years after that meeting, would be better suited to a novel, the short story form continues to intrigue us both.  Unlike the sprawl of the novel, where digressions are expected, and multiple story lines may be risked, the typical short story is single minded.  It is the literary equivalent of Brunelleschi’s single-point perspective, where all lines converge at a point.  Although some writers break the rules and introduce complex structures or reach across months, years or decades to tell their short stories, most confine themselves to a single main character, or a single event, and spend their energies pulling out all the strands of story and character, only to tuck them, albeit transformed, neatly back into place by the end (usually).  After he retired, my father-in-law brought us into his home library and told us he had set aside the books he wanted to keep and we could take anything that remained.  One of the books I took and still treasure is a short story anthology he had used to teach freshman English called The Expanded Moment.  This phrase described so many of my favorite stories, which don’t plumb the depths of an entire life but of one of life’s many crucial instants, like the instant when a man realizes he is eating nachos with the woman he will spend his life with.

The purpose of this post is to introduce my newly-revised short story meta-lists.  One is organized by rank (with the most-listed stories at the top) and the other is by chronology.  (See Links at end of post.)  The revision was sparked by a commenter’s concern that some of the literary works I’ve listed as short stories are actually novels or novellas.  I’ve removed some of the offenders (A Christmas Carol, Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde), but kept others (Heart of Darkness, Metamorphosis, The Death of Ivan Ilyich) because they are frequently included on lists of Best Short Stories as well as lists of Best Novellas.  So I apologize to those who feel I’ve not gone far enough in culling the herd. The other reason I decided to revise was my lingering disappointment that the original lists were so heavily weighted towards English-language stories and so lacking in contemporary writers. So I went back to the Internet and found more lists that addressed these two problems somewhat, although the English-language bias is still evident.

In the course of compiling the revised short story lists, I began reminiscing about some of my personal favorites, many of which I first discovered in my wife’s bookshelves.  I found that there were some stories and collections I remembered easily, while in other cases, I have only vague memories of a story that moved me but whose plot and characters are now only hazy ghosts.  I tried to find some of these lost favorites (e.g., a very funny story in an Eastern European sci-fi anthology about a man who runs a red light) by plugging what I remembered of the plot into Google, but the Internet failed to work its magic.  So, I qualify the following lists of favorites as ‘the ones I can remember.’

Some Favorite Short Stories:
The Birthmark, by Nathaniel Hawthorne (US, 1843)
The Nose, by Nikolai Gogol (Russia, 1935-1836)
Bartleby the Scrivener, by Herman Melville (US, 1853)
The Death of Ivan Ilyich, by Leo Tolstoy (Russia, 1886)
The Open Boat, by Stephen Crane (US, 1897)
Heart of Darkness, by Joseph Conrad (Poland/UK, 1899)
The Dead, by James Joyce (Ireland, 1914)
Metamorphosis, by Franz Kafka (Austria-Hungary, 1914)
The Doll’s House, by Katherine Mansfield (New Zealand/UK, 1922)
Babylon Revisited, by F. Scott Fitzgerald (US, 1930)
The Jilting of Granny Wetherall, by Katherine Anne Porter (US, 1930)
Silent Snow, Secret Snow, by Conrad Aiken (US, 1934)
Death of a Traveling Salesman, by Eudora Welty (US, 1936)
June Recital, by Eudora Welty (US, 1947)
A Perfect Day for a Bananafish, by J.D. Salinger (US, 1948)
Unready to Wear, by Kurt Vonnegut (US, 1952)
A Good Man is Hard to Find, by Flannery O’Connor (US, 1953)
Teddy, by J.D. Salinger (US, 1953)
Harrison Bergeron, by Kurt Vonnegut (US, 1961)
Everything That Rises Must Converge, by Flannery O’Connor (US, 1961)
In the Region of Ice, by Joyce Carol Oates (US, 1966)
In the Heart of the Heart of the Country, by William Gass (US, 1968)
I Could See the Smallest Things, by Raymond Carver (US, 1980)
What We Talk About When We Talk About Love, by Raymond Carver (US, 1981)
Cathedral, by Raymond Carver (US, 1983)
A Father’s Story, by Andre Dubus (US, 1983)
Ship Fever, by Andrea Barrett (US, 1996)

Some Favorite Short Story Collections:
The Collected Tales of Edgar Allan Poe (US, 1832-1849)
The Collected Tales and Sketches of Nathaniel Hawthorne (US, 1832-1853)
The Queen of Spades and Other Stories, by Alexander Pushkin (Russia, c. 1890)
Great Short Works of Herman Melville, by Herman Melville (US, 1853-1891)
Dubliners, by James Joyce (Ireland, 1914)
Winesburg, Ohio, by Sherwood Anderson (US, 1919)
Babylon Revisited and Other Stories, by F. Scott Fitzgerald (US, 1920-1937)
Nine Stories, by J.D. Salinger (US, 1953)
A Good Man is Hard to Find and Other Stories, by Flannery O’Connor (US, 1955)
First Love and Other Sorrows, by Harold Brodkey (US, 1958)
The Complete Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway (US, 1923-1961; pub. 1987)
Labyrinths, by Jorge Luis Borges (Argentina, 1962)
The Collected Stories of Katherine Anne Porter (US, 1964)
The Past Through Tomorrow, by Robert Heinlein (US, 1967)
Welcome to the Monkey House, by Kurt Vonnegut (US, 1968)
Something I’ve Been Meaning to Tell You, by Alice Munro (Canada, 1974)
Enormous Changes at the Last Minute, by Grace Paley (US, 1974)
Secrets and Surprises, by Ann Beattie (US, 1977)
The Stories of John Cheever, by John Cheever (US, 1978)
Night Shift, by Stephen King (US, 1978)
What We Talk What We Talk About When We Talk About Love, by Raymond Carver (US, 1981)
Cathedral, by Raymond Carver (US, 1983)
The Elizabeth Stories, by Isabel Huggan (Canada, 1984)
The Old Forest and Other Stories, by Peter Taylor (US, 1985)
Transactions in a Foreign Currency, by Deborah Eisenberg (US, 1986)
Only the Little Bone, by David Huddle (US, 1986)
Rock Springs, by Richard Ford (US, 1987)
The Collected Stories of Eudora Welty (US, 1941-1988)
Dusk and Other Stories, by James Salter (US, 1988)
The Things They Carried, by Tim O’Brien (US, 1990)
The Effigy: Stories, by Joan Millman (US, 1990)
A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain, by Robert Olen Butler (US, 1992)
Runaway, by Alice Munro (Canada, 2004)
The Best American Short Stories (US, annual publication) (especially 1969, 1973, 1978, 1983-1989)
Prize Stories: The O. Henry Awards (US, 1987, 1993)

And here are the revised short story meta-lists I mentioned above:

The Best Short Stories of All Time – The Critics’ Picks
The Best Short Stories of All Time – Chronological