Featured List

David Foster Wallace

To celebrate the 20th anniversary of Infinite Jest, Top Ten Contributor Tom Bissel has written a sharp appraisal in the New York Times Book Review. It proposes four theories as ... 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 ...

Free and Easy Way to Support this Site

Use the Top Ten as your gateway to Amazon and we'll receive a small commission on everything your purchase. Just click here. THANKS!

 

cTo order an inscribed copy of The Top Ten ($15, includes shipping) click here.

Follow The Top Ten on:

David Mitchell

I don’t like fantasy, horror or ghost stories. I’ve never read Harry Potter or Narnia. I’ve never seen a single “Star Wars” movies.

 

I like my fiction real, my make-believe believable, if you know what I mean.

 

Rick Moody

Rick Moody is earning reviews so warm they’re glowing for his sixth novel, Hotels of North America - a darkly comic portrait of a man whose life - including his motivational speaking career, the dissolution of his marriage, the separation from his beloved daughter, and his devotion to an amour known only as "K." – is revealed through his online reviews.

 

Here are three:

 

Michael Cunningham

Fairy tale writers are the worst closers in the biz. Oh sure, they can spin a good yarn, full of magic, romance and now I can’t sleep at night terror. But when the time comes to wrap it all up, the best most can come up with is “and they lived happily ever after.”

 

Really?

 

They have been clever enough to sell this weakness as a virtue, calling it tradition and pretending they have no choice. But believe me, they catch it hard at literary festivals.

Sheila Heti

Where is the line the between literature and life? Between identity and performance? Between style and substance? Is there a line at all?

John Banville

“I don’t want to write about human behavior,” John Banville told The Paris Review. “If I can catch the play of light on a wall, and catch it just so, that is enough for me.”

For Banville sentences, images and words have become the alpha and the omega. “Linguistic beauty,” he continued, can be pursued “as an end in itself.”

Jonathan Franzen

At a time when the phrase “literary event” is a quaint anachronism (see Vargas Llosa’s Notes on the Death of Culture), a new novel from Jonathan Franzen may be as close as book lovers can come these days to tweezing a piece of the nation’s attention.

 

Siri Hustvedt

Just two weeks after Amanda Filipacchi placed The Blazing World atop her list, we are proud to welcome its author, Siri Hustvedt (hoost-ved) to Top Ten Land.

 

Pages

New List

Sandra Cisneros

1. The Time of the Doves by Mercè Rodoreda (1962).
2. The Ten Thousand Things by Maria Dermout (1955).
3. Stones for Ibarra by Harriet Doerr (1984).
4. The Burning Plain and Other Stories by Juan Rulfo (1953).
5. Good Morning, Midnight by Jean Rhys (1939).
6. La Flor de Lis by Elena Poniatowska (1988).
 7. Borderlands/La Frontera by Gloria Anzaldúa (1999).
8. The Book of Embraces by Eduardo Galeano (1989).
9. Dreamtigers by Jorge Luis Borges (1964).
10. Maud Martha by Gwendolyn Brooks (1953).

 

Classic List

Craig Nova

1. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (1925).
2. The Good Soldier by Ford Madox Ford (1915).
3. Parade’s End by Ford Madox Ford (1928).
4. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez (1967).
5. The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky (1880).
6. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy (1869).
7. Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather (1927).
8. Jazz by Toni Morrison (1992).
9. The Plague by Albert Camus (1947).
10. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens (1860–61).

 

Read On Amazon Fire Phone

Read Your Books and do so much more. You have to see it to believe it! What a great gift for Christmas

Amazon Fire Phone, 32GB (Unlocked GSM)Read Your books on Amazon Firephone and do so much more