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David Foster Wallace's Top Ten List

D.T. Max is receiving warm reviews for his biography of Top Ten contributor David Foster Wallace, Every Love Story is a Ghost Story.

New York Times book critic Michiko Kakutani avers: “What Mr. Max’s book does do — and does powerfully — is provide an emotionally detailed portrait of the artist as a young man: conflicted, self-conscious and deeply thoughtful, like so many of his characters a seeker after an understanding of his own place in the world and a Melvillian “isolato,” yearning for connection yet stymied by the whirring of his own brain and the discontinuities of an America reeling from information overload.”

If we could add one thing to Max’s work, it would be, of course, David’s delightfully provocative Top Ten List.

David Foster Wallace’s Top Ten List

1. The Screwtape Letters by C. S. Lewis (1942).

2. The Stand by Stephen King (1978).

3. Red Dragon by Thomas Harris (1981).

4. The Thin Red Line by James Jones (1962).

5. Fear of Flying by Erica Jong (1973).

6. The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris (1988).

7. Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein (1961).

8. Fuzz by Ed McBain (1968).

9. Alligator by Shelley Katz (1977).

10. The Sum of All Fears by Tom Clancy (1991). 

New List

Cathleen Schine

1. Emma by Jane Austen (1816).
2. Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman (1855–91).
3. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy (1869).
4. Phineas Finn: The Irish Member by Anthony Trollope (1869).
5. Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens (1864–65).
6. Quartet in Autumn by Barbara Pym (1977).
7. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain (1884).
8. The stories of  Alice Munro (1931– ).
9. The Makioka Sisters by Junichiro Tanizaki (1943–48).
10. Pictures from an Institution by Randall Jarrell (1954).

Classic List

George Saunders

1. Dead Souls by Nikolai Gogol (1842).
2. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain (1884).
3. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy (1869).
4. Tristram Shandy by Laurence Sterne (1759–67).
5. Hamlet by William Shakespeare (1600).
6. The stories of Isaac Babel (1894–1940).
7. The stories of Anton Chekhov (1860–1904).
8. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut (1969).
9. Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett (1953).
10. On the Road by Jack Kerouac (1957).