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Lionel Shriver

Lionel Shriver is one of America’s most topical – and fearless – writers. Like Don DeLillo, she exposes the hidden forces and emperor’s clothes myths that shape our society; though where he often works from a 30,000 foot perch, focused on broad, abstract ideas, Shriver gets down and dirty with the beliefs that drive the daily behavior of ordinary people.

Her 15 novels have illuminated and punctured a broad range of issues including the health care industry ( ... 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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    Lionel Shriver

    Lionel Shriver is one of America’s most topical – and fearless – writers. Like Don DeLillo, she exposes the hidden forces and emperor’s clothes myths that shape our society; though where he often works from a 30,000 foot perch, focused on broad, abstract ideas, Shriver gets down and dirty with the beliefs that drive the daily behavior of ordinary people.

    Maxine Hong Kingston

    Our newest Top Ten list comes from one of America’s most celebrated writers, Maxine Hong Kingston, who has used Chinese-American experiences to depict the human condition through several works of nonfiction and one novel.

    The Top Ten Books by African-American Authors

    After our distinguished contributors – 168 and counting – submit their lists of the greatest works of fiction of all-time, the Top Ten team uses the vast resources at our disposal (usually a pencil and paper) to crunch the data. Awarding 10 points to a first place book and so on down the line to one point for a tenth place pick, we compile “scores” for each book to create All-Time lists.

    Percival Everett

    It is one of the most profound, and entertaining, questions we can ask: what if? The idea of taking that untaken road – which ya can’t cause ya didn’t - allows us to wrestle and play with the paradoxical polarities and of fate and free (that manage, somehow, to curve round and meet in the middle.

    Rereading Knut Hamsun

    By J. Peder Zane

    When it comes to books, my only question is: What's next?

    So much lurking greatness, so little time. So many gaps — "The Man Without Qualities," "The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire," "Eloise." So much guilt.

    Georges Simenon

    By J. Peder Zane (2005)

    The New York Review of Books is more than a leading journal of ideas. It is also a literary miracle worker. Since 1999 it has brought dead books back to life through its Classic series.

    Future Classics, 2010-19

    Our critics claim we live in the past. But besides the bedrock belief that life is too short to read anything but the best, the staff at Top Ten Books knows that the timeless literature has much to say about own life and times. Still, the classics have to start somewhere and with that spirit in mind we are happy to share a list from our friends at the Literary Hub of the best books of the last decade 2010-19.

    Tom Wolfe, RIP

    We have lost a giant – one of the very best reporters and writers in American history.

    The Wall Street Journal reports that Tom Wolfe, the best-selling alchemist of fiction and nonfiction who wrote “The Bonfire of the Vanities,” “The Right Stuff” and countless other novels and works of journalism, died of pneumonia in a New York hospital yesterday. He was 88 years old.

    Tom Perrotta

         “Disappointment plagues the characters in [Tom] Perrotta’s novels,” writes Laura Miller in the New Yorker, “from the disaffected parents in Little Children to the divorced sex-education instructor in The Abstinence Teacher. Their marriages lack passion, their spouses cheat, their kids demand too much from them.

    Pages

    New List

    Maxine Hong Kingston

    1. Armies of the Night by Norman Mailer (1968).
    2. Begin Again by Grace Paley (2000)
    3. Duty of Delight by Dorothy Day (2008)
    4. Every War Has Two Losers by William Stafford (2003)
    5. Nothing Ever Dies: Vietnam and the Memory of War by Viet Nguyen (2016).
    6. Peace is Every Step by Thich Nhat Hanh (1992)
    7. A Primer for Forgetting by Lewis Hyde (2019)
    8. The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien
    9. Veterans of War, Veterans of Peace, edited by Maxine Hong Kingston
    10. War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning by Chris Hedges (2002)



     

    Classic List

    Top Ten African-American Works

    1. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison (1952). 
    2. Beloved by Toni Morrison (1987). 
    3. Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison (1977). 
    4. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston (1937). 
    5. Native Son by Richard Wright (1945). 
    6. A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry (1959). 
    7. Another Country by James Baldwin (1962). 
    8. Cane by Jean Toomer (1923). 
    9. Lucy by Jamaica Kincaid (1990). 
    10. Manchild in the Promised Land by Claude Brown (1965). 

     





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