Martha McPhee's Top Ten List


Please welcome Martha McPhee to Top Ten Land.

She is the author of four novels. Her first two, Bright Angel Time (1997) are Gorgeous Lies (2002), are semi-autobiographic stories based on her childhood in a family that included 10 kids – her mother, the photographer and feminist publisher Pryde Brown, who had four children with the New Yorker writer John McPhee and one with her second husband, Dan Sullivan, who had custody of all five children from his first marriage. According to a 1975 article in People Magazine, the blended family also included “10 chickens and six dogs.”

Her other novels are L’America (2006) and Dear Money (2010). Her work has been honored with fellowships from the National Endowment of the Arts and The John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. In 2002 she was nominated for a National Book Award. Her novels have been Best Books of The Year on The New York Times, Washington Post and Chicago Tribune lists. Her essays and reviews have appeared in numerous magazines and newspapers including The New York Times, The Chicago Tribune, The Newark Star Ledger, Vogue, More, Harper’s Bazaar, Self, Traveler, Travel & Leisure, among many others. McPhee is a tenured member of the English Department at Hofstra University. She lives in New York City with her children and husband, the poet and writer Mark Svenvold.

·       Visit Martha’s website – which includes some excellent recipes.

·       Read an interview with Martha and her sister, the author Jenny McPhee.

·       Watch the video trailer for Dear Money.


Martha McPhee’s Top Ten List

1. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck (1939).

2. Middlemarch by George Eliot (1871–72).

3. The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton (1905).

4. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark (1961).

5. Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray (1847–48).

6. Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy (1874).

7. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy (1877).

8. A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth (1993).

9. The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien (1990).

10. Charming Billy by Alice McDermott (1998).

New List

Jonathan Franzen

1. The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky (1880).
2. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy (1869).
3. The Trial by Franz Kafka (1925).
4. In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust (1913–27).
5. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (1925).
6. Absalom, Abalom! by William Faulkner (1936).
7. The Charterhouse of Parma by Stendhal (1839).
8. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov (1955).
9. The Man Who Loved Children by Christina Stead (1940).
10. Independent People by Halldór Laxness (1934).


Classic List

Mary Gaitskill

1. Ulysses by James Joyce (1922).
2. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov (1955).
3. Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov (1962).
4. Bleak House by Charles Dickens (1853).
5. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert (1857).
6. To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf (1927).
7. Gusev by Anton Chekhov (1860–1904).
8. Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie (1904).
9. Dead Souls by Nikolai Gogol (1842).
10. The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo (1831).

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