Featured List

Irvine Welsh

Sure, we could drop some giddy adjectival s-bombs and f-bombs (but never c-bombs) to express our delight. Instead we’ll just say aye, aye, min to our 166th member of Top Ten Land, Irvine Welsh.

 

After mainlining himself into the literary scene with his gobsmacking first novel Trainspotting (1996), he has produced a robust body of literature that often explores working class Scottish life with raw detail, a keen ear for dialect and hallucinatory imagination. Drugs, sex, violence, humor, class ... read more ...

The Book: The Top Ten

What is a classic book?

By J. Peder Zane

Italo Calvino defined it is as a work that “has never finished saying what it has to say.” Ezra Pound said it possesses “a certain eternal and irrepressible freshness." And the 19th century French literary critic Charles Augustin Sainte-Beuve declared that “[it] has discovered some moral and not equivocal truth, or revealed some eternal passion in that heart where all seemed known and discovered.”

At first glance, these definitions of classic/great books seem on the mark. Under their umbrella of excellence we can fit undisputed works of genius from “The Iliad” and “The Divine Comedy” to “Pride & Prejudice,” “Anna Karenina” and “Invisible Man.”

Unfortunately, they rest on a fallacy – that any and every book that exhibits these qualities will be considered a classic.  Read more ...

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Irvine Welsh

Sure, we could drop some giddy adjectival s-bombs and f-bombs (but never c-bombs) to express our delight. Instead we’ll just say aye, aye, min to our 166th member of Top Ten Land, Irvine Welsh.

 

Stephen King

Stephen King is in the news for at least two reasons this week. First, a prison break in upstate New York seems almost an homage to his terrific novel, The Shawshank Redemption, with a twist – in real life, the bad guys really are bad.

Christopher Bollen

   We are delighted to welcome the American writer Christopher Bollen as the 165th member of Top Ten land while he is basking in the glow of the warm reviews he is receiving for his second novel, Orient.

Tom LeClair

I was Lincoln’s Billy. Billy club when Lincoln refused to knock heads in Springfield. Billy goat when he needed a battering ram to reach Washington. Billy boy when he required a charming Billy to scare up money for his campaigns.

 

Kate Atkinson

This week’s New York Times Book Review offers a Top Ten two-fer as Tom Perrotta reviews Kate Akinson’s new novel, A God in Ruins. (Although our contributors gather often for spirits at the Top Ten Country Club and share days at sea on the Top Ten Yacht (the S.S. Doorstopper), Kate and Tom have never done so together, so there is no conflict of interest.)

Heidi Julavits

Heidi Julavits has received the first major review for her diary/essay collection and it’s a rave. 

Heidi Julavits

Heidi Julavits has received the first major review for her diary/essay collection and it’s a rave. 

Jonathan Lethem

“Jonathan Lethem’s extraordinary career is a reminder of the not-so-distant past when working novelists published their new creations regularly and with a seemingly free-flowing hand,” Michael Greenberg writes in the New York Times Book Review. “If one book wasn’t up to snuff, there would be another to redeem it a year or two later. It was all part of the ebb and flow of a lifetime of work.

 

Pages

New List

Emma Donoghue

1. Clarissa by Samuel Richardson (1747–48).
2. Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare (1595).
3. Emma by Jane Austen (1816).
4. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens (1860–61).
5. The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver (1998).
6. Red Shift by Alan Garner (1973).
7. Les Liaisons Dangereuses by Pierre Choderlos de Laclos (1782).
8. Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All by Allan Gurganus (1989).
9. The Passion by Jeanette Winterson (1987).
10. Ulverton by Adam Thorpe (1992).

Classic List

Norman Mailer

1. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy (1877).
2. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert (1857).
3. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky (1866).
4. The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky (1880).
5. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (1813).
6. The U.S.A. trilogy by John Dos Passos (1938).
7. Moby-Dick by Herman Melville (1851).
8. The Red and the Black by Stendhal (1830).
9. Buddenbrooks by Thomas Mann (1900).
10. Labyrinths by Jorge Luis Borges (1964).

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