AdSense unconfigured block. Click to configure.

Lev Grossman's Top Ten List

 

Our newest list comes from Lev Grossman, who has pulled off the magical feat of creating literary works with bestseller appeal. Lev’s work is informed by the fantastic.

Warp (1997) centers on a verbally clever Star Trek fan on the cusp (we hope) of adulthood, who imagines himself in various episodes of the show and as a knight-errant saving damsel’s in distress.

Codex (2004) is a cerebral thriller about an investment banker whose discovers a rare medieval codex that is eerily similar to the computer game that obsesses him.

The Magicians (2009) is a coming-of-age saga of a fantasy novel devotee whose education at a college for sorcery in upstate New York provides him entrée to the Narnia-esque world of Fillory described in his favorite books.

The Magician King (2011), which the New York Times called a “serious, heartfelt novel [that] turns the machinery of fantasy inside out,” continues the adventures in Fillory on a magic sailing ship that leads the characters back to their former world.

 Lev is also a terrific critic, reviewing chiefly for Time. (I had the pleasure of serving with Lev on the Board of the National Book Critics Circle a while back, a sterling group that included Rebecca Skloot and John Freeman).

  * Check out Lev’s website.

  *  Follow him on Twitter.

  *  Read a Daily Beast interview with him.

  * Watch John Green’s discussion with Lev.

 

With only a bit further ado, here’s Lev’s list. I told him one pick was totally new to me, The Once and Future King by T.H. White. Lev said the book “is a wee bit of a crusade for me.  I've written about him a lot - for example this NPR piece.” He also wrote a brief description for us:

“T.H. White is nowhere near as well-known as C.S. Lewis and JRR Tolkien, but he did as much as either of them to create the modern fantasy novel as we know it. The Once and Future King - White's one and only fully realized masterpiece - is his translation of the great English epic, the tragedy of King Arthur, into the idiom of 20th century realism, using language so fresh and vivid and psychologically acute, you'd think it had all happened last week instead of 15 centuries ago.”

 

Lev Grossman’s Top Ten List

1. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert (1857).

2. Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf (1925).

3. Arcadia by Tom Stoppard (1993).

4. Ulysses by James Joyce (1922).

5. The Trial by Franz Kafka (1925).

6. The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis (1950-56).

7. The Once and Future King by T.H. White (1958).

8. Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh (1945).

9. Troilus and Criseyde by Geoffrey Chaucer (1381).

10. Dead Souls by Nikolai Gogol (1842). 

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).