Monday, March 4, 2013

Four novels I had to leave off my list of top ten favorites

THE 100 GREATEST NOVELS OF ALL TIME, a group I moderate on Google+, asks participants to submit a list of ten favorite novels. Inevitably, people complain about great books that did not make the cut for such a list. Here are a few of mine.

FREEDOM/Jonathan Franzen Not for the faint of heart, or those eager to fast-forward past national or familial dysfunctionality all in its varied manifestations. Funnier, by far, than most reviews I saw gave it credit for. And yes, darkly troubling in places. Reading this book got me to get up off my posterior and start hitting daily word counts on my own novel JIHADI.

BREAKFAST OF CHAMPIONS/Kurt Vonnegut Sci-fi writer Kilgore Trout realizes that a fan is taking his stuff literally. I devoured this at age thirteen, when I went on a major Vonnegut binge.

BEOWULF/Seamus Heaney, translator Others in our "anything-goes" G+ group are feeling free to include Homer as a novelist, so I suppose I should have considered more closely my decision to exclude this. The great Ur-Story that inspired Tolkien -- and everybody who ever built a story around a superhero.

THE HITCHHIKER'S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY/Douglas Adams Yes, I loved it. But I couldn't see my way through to knocking off Dickens or Hugo Nabokov to make room for it.  This is currently topping the charts in our group's weekly rankings. Shows you what I know.

What novels would you put on your own personal Top Ten list? What novels would you reluctantly leave off?