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Thread: Let's discuss the best books of all time

  1. #1
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    Let's discuss the best books of all time

    My three favorite books are:

    1. Les Misérables - I confess I have not finished the book, but I loved the plot when I had to know the summary, for I fell in love with the musical before I fell in love with the book. I picked up the book in order to understand the musical's plot more easily. However, I soon found out that the book was much better than the musical. - I do not say this easily

    2. Night - Though a recent book, I believe it's recent enough to call it one of the best books ever written. It's prose is marvelous and its message stunning. It's all true as well.

    3. Watership Down - Yes, I like a book about bunnies. Though the author claims that it is not allegorical, it does reveal much about human nature. Its prose is excellent.

    So my question to you is: What are the best books of all time? What are your favorites? Do you consider a difference between the two?

    I'm sort of on a mission to read all of the best books ever written and I want to know your suggestions.

  2. #2
    Asa Nisi Masa mayneverhave's Avatar
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    May want to finish reading your favorite book first

    Edit:

    And, as to your question: yes there is a difference between the best and my favorite.

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    Registered User Joreads's Avatar
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    The trouble is everyone has a different idea on what the "best books are". You know what you could do have a look at some of the "best" lists that are produced and start from there then you can make up your own mind. I know that here in Australia the bookshops compile lists from votes by readers.

    My favorites would not be considered the best books written.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ancalagon View Post
    ....I'm sort of on a mission to read all of the best books ever written and I want to know your suggestions.
    Should keep you busy for the rest of your life.

    (And yes, there is a difference between 'best' and 'favourite' - what you like now may horrify you in twenty years time! Though I still like the book about the bunnies, I must say...)

  5. #5
    Kafkaesque johann cruyff's Avatar
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    I guess you could check out Harold Bloom's Western Canon for a pretty comprehensive list of the best books ever written and start from there...
    Noću, u intimnom, poluglasnom razgovoru sa samim sobom, nikako ne mogu zapravo logički opravdati zašto se u posljednje vrijeme toliko uzrujavam zbog ljudske gluposti.

    Miroslav Krleža

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    According to J. Peder Zane's book "The Top Ten", the ten greatest books of all time are as follows:
    1. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
    2. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
    3. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
    4. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
    5. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
    6. Hamlet by William Shakespeare
    7. The Great Gatsby F. Scott Fitzgerald
    8. In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust
    9. The Stories of Anton Chekhov by Anton Chekhov
    10. Middlemarch by George Eliot

    This list was compiled by Zane based on a survey of the opinions of 125 contemporary British and American authors. Not bad, but I'm surprised that Dostoyevsky appeared nowhere on the list.

    As to whether my opinion of the best books and my personal favorites are different, I would say that they definitely are. For instance, Ngugi wa Thiong'o's "Devil on the Cross" and Jean Genet's "Querelle" would appear in my personal top ten favorite books, but I don't think either would be considered one of the ten best books of all time. My favorite novel is Nabokov's "Lolita", but I think that "The Brothers Karamazov" was the best novel ever written.
    "A man must dream a long time in order to act with grandeur, and dreaming is nursed in darkness." -- Jean Genet

  7. #7
    Registered User kelby_lake's Avatar
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    Pretty hard. A lot of the stuff I think is very good would probably be sneered at if I were to suggest they were the best books written.

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    Artist and Bibliophile stlukesguild's Avatar
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    According to J. Peder Zane's book "The Top Ten", the ten greatest books of all time are as follows:
    1. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
    2. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
    3. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
    4. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
    5. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
    6. Hamlet by William Shakespeare
    7. The Great Gatsby F. Scott Fitzgerald
    8. In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust
    9. The Stories of Anton Chekhov by Anton Chekhov
    10. Middlemarch by George Eliot


    Zane must have been polling some rather middling writers in compiling this list. Hamlet, certainly... War and Peace... almost surely... In Search of Lost Time? Perhaps. But what of the Bible, the Divine Comedy, Don Quixote, the Canterbury Tales, Paradise Lost, the plays of Sophocles and Aeschylus, Montaigne's Essays, Leaves of Grass, Les Fleurs du mal, the collected poems of Petrarch, Donne, Keats, Shelley, Blake, Wordsworth, Holderlin, Goethe, etc...?
    Beware of the man with just one book. -Ovid
    The man who doesn't read good books has no advantage over the man who can't read them.- Mark Twain
    My Blog: Of Delicious Recoil
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    I would not mind any of those books, perhaps only Middlemarch or Great Gatsby is not what is close of "best book of all times" simple because i do not mind lists and I have no idea how this list was build. Except for Chekhov and Hamlet, they are all romance/novels (or a serie of romance novels as Proust), they do seem to share a trait of narrative and characters... anyways as you pointed, he does not seem to consider poems in his books.

  10. #10
    Asa Nisi Masa mayneverhave's Avatar
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    I guess it depends on how you define "book".

    Although Paradise Lost is not on that list, neither is The Inferno, Odyssey, or Iliad - all obvious choices for top 10 lists.

    Though it wouldn't be odd to see any of those three on a list like that, The Complete works of Keats?

    Individual poems (like, say, The Waste Land) I could see, but entire collections of poetry seems another thing entirely.

    The only one on that list st.luke's that I would really question is Chekhov, who, though hardly being bad, doesn't seem top 10 worthy - even without all the best poems on the list.

  11. #11
    Inderjit Sanghera
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    That authors list is ridiculous. George Elliot and Mark Twain?! The Great Gatsby? Honestly, where on earth is Ulysses? And Kafka?

    The omission of Ulysses is a crime. I know such things are subjective, but honestly....
    The cradle rocks above an abyss, and common sense tells us that our existence is but a brief crack of light between two eternities of darkness.-Vladimir Nabokov

    human speech is like a cracked kettle on which we tap crude rhythms for bears to dance to, while we long to make music that will melt the stars-Flaubert

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    If I remember correctly, each author compiled his or her own list, then Zane tallied up which books appeared the most times on all of the lists. I think he gave two points for books when they appeared as someone's first choice. Therefore, "Anna Karenina" appeared on the most top lists, often as a top choice. Hardly an ideal method, as those who have already commented have pointed out. "Huck Finn" and "Gatsby" stick out to me as undeserving, with several hugely more influential works not making the cut. I also noticed that despite the fac that the list specifies only the "best books", all the works are fiction. What about great works of science and philosophy? I glanced through the book quite some time ago, and I think the most interesting part was seeing the occasional strange, arbitrary choice finding its way into some lists.
    "A man must dream a long time in order to act with grandeur, and dreaming is nursed in darkness." -- Jean Genet

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    If you were the one making the list of the top 10 books of all time, what would be on it? This is my sinister method of getting book recommendations. I personally did not like Gatsby, and Tolstoy's two novels are my to-read list. What else should be there?

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    Kafkaesque johann cruyff's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ancalagon View Post
    If you were the one making the list of the top 10 books of all time, what would be on it? This is my sinister method of getting book recommendations. I personally did not like Gatsby, and Tolstoy's two novels are my to-read list. What else should be there?
    Browse through the first few pages of the General Literature forum,you're bound to find at least 3-4 threads with recommendations and Top 10 lists
    Noću, u intimnom, poluglasnom razgovoru sa samim sobom, nikako ne mogu zapravo logički opravdati zašto se u posljednje vrijeme toliko uzrujavam zbog ljudske gluposti.

    Miroslav Krleža

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    Harold Bloom list is not bad at all, as biased it is. The problem of best book is not that it is subjective or not, it is first what maynervehave pointed, some authors of short stories and Poems have produced texts with 1, 2,3 pages that worth of War and Peace or Quixote, Keats is certainly one of the greats alongside Tolstoi or Flaubert, but not every single poem he wrote is genial in the same way not every single short story of Poe is genial. So, yeah, the Complete Poems or Short stories (insert here the name of the great writer) certainly is one of the best readings literature can offer but they are not, even near, a whole concept like a Romance is.

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