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The List of Books
We awarded points for each selection – 10 points for a first place pick, nine points for a second place pick, and so on. Then we totaled up all the points and ranked them accordingly. Here are all the books ordered by the number of points each earned. In the parentheses are the initials of the authors that selected them and the points earned. Click on their initials to see their list.
The Sum of All Fears by Tom Clancy (1991). The Cold War meets the age of terror in this pulsing techno thriller. Hoping both to derail Israeli–Palestinian peace and darken U.S.–Soviet relations, terrorists smuggle a nuclear weapon into the United States. Only one man can save the day, Clancy’s series hero, Jack Ryan, a CIA agent racked by personal and professional problems. Clancy brandishes his encyclopedic knowledge of the military—including plans for building a hydrogen bomb—while capturing a hero filled with doubt.
Total Points: 1 (DFW 1)
The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith (1955). Since his debut in 1955, Tom Ripley has evolved into the ultimate bad boy sociopath. Here, in this first Ripley novel, we are introduced to suave Tom Ripley, a young striver, newly arrived in the heady world of Manhattan. A product of a broken home, branded a "sissy" by his dismissive Aunt Dottie, Ripley meets a wealthy industrialist who hires him to bring his playboy son, Dickie Greenleaf, back from gallivanting in Italy. Soon Ripley's fascination with Dickie's debonair lifestyle turns obsessive as he finds himself enraged by Dickie's ambivalent affections for Marge, a charming American dilettante. A dark reworking of Henry James's The Ambassadors, The Talented Mr. Ripleyprovides an unforgettable introduction to this smooth confidence man, whose talent for murder and self-invention is chronicled in four subsequent Ripley novels.
Total Points: 1 (CBollen 1)
The Thin Man by Dashiell Hammett (1932). Retired gumshoe Nick Charles returns to Manhattan with his new heiress wife Nora, and their schnauzer Asta. The couple is quickly drawn into an investigation of a missing inventor and his murdered mistress. Hammett’s comic talents and infectious, rapid-fire dialogue take the lead in this stylish, cocktail-fueled yarn.
Total Points: 1 (ST 1)
The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga (2008). The white tiger of this novel is Balram Halwai, a poor Indian villager whose great ambition leads him to the zenith of Indian business culture, the world of the Bangalore entrepreneur. On the occasion of the president of China’s impending trip to Bangalore, Balram writes a series of letters to him describing his transformation and his experience as driver and servant to a wealthy Indian family, which he thinks exemplifies the contradictions and complications of Indian society. This darkly comic novel The White Tiger recalls The Death of Vishnu and Bangkok 8 in ambition and scope, with a mischief and personality all its own it is an amoral, irreverent, deeply endearing, and utterly contemporary first novel.
Total Points: 1 (PShreve 1)
Ulverton by Adam Thorpe (1992). The fictional town of Ulverton—and the English language itself—are the central characters of this debut novel in which a dozen different voices detail three hundred years in the life of an English village. As he moves from the time of Cromwell to the 1980s in twelve rich chapters, Thorpe deploys language drawn from the period described. He also displays a mastery of literary form, inventing diary entries, sermons, drunken conversations, and film scripts to tell his story.
Total Points: 1 (EDon 1)
Watership Down by Richard Adams (1972). This imaginative epic chronicles the adventures of a band of English rabbits who possess their own language, history, and myth and who are searching for a new home after a human developer has destroyed their old one. Like the fables of Aesop, Watership Down is sneakily dark, full of drama and death and warnings about the fascist tendencies of the modern world, and explores moral ideas, including freedom and responsibility.
Total Points: 1 (DAD 1)
When I Grow Too Old to Dream, lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein (1935). Hammerstein’s credits are a history of the American musical, including Oklahoma, Carousel, South Pacific, The King and I, and The Sound of Music. He wrote this sweet love song, which has been recorded by everyone from Nelson Eddy to Nat King Cole to Doris Day, for the film The Night Is Too Young. The singer asks for a parting kiss, then adds, “And when I grow too old to dream / That kiss will live in my heart.”
Total Points: 1 (AT 1)