New List

Michael Connelly

1. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (1925)
2. The Day of the Locust by Nathanael West (1939)
3. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (1960)
4. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey (1962)
5. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller (1962)
6. For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway (1940)
7. The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler (1953)
8. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut (1969)
9. The Public Burning by Robert Coover (1976)
10. Mildred Pierce by James M. Cain (1941)







The Book: The Top Ten: Writers pick their favorite books

Tom Wolfe Appreciates "Studs Lonigan"

Appreciation of James T. Farrell’s Studs Lonigan Trilogy by Tom Wolfe

To writers born after 1950, James T. Farrell (1904–79) is known, if at all, as a “plodding realist” who wrote a lot of dull, factual novels now as dead and buried as he is. To writers born from, say, 1925 to 1935, however, the very name James T. Farrell strums the heartstrings of youth. To be young and to read Farrell’s first novel, Studs Lonigan! It made one tingle with exhilaration and wonder. How could anybody else understand your own inexpressible feelings so well?

Lee Smith

If Silver Alert proves to be Lee Smith’s 15th and final novel, she is going out with a bang.

Through high-velocity prose filled with humor and sweet compassion that does not flinch from cruelty, Smith focuses on two improbable friends―an ailing octogenarian and a young woman with a frightening past―who are both trying to gain some measure of control over their lives.

Scott Turow

Top Ten contributor Scott Turow has built a long, illustrious career crafting topnotch legal thrillers. Though he works within a traditional genre, Turow also pushes the envelope.

Consider his latest novel, Suspect, which plays with the au courant ideas of #MeToo and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in a fast-paced tale of scandal and crime.

Percival Everett

Is Percival Everett the black male Joyce Carol Oates? Is Joyce Carol Oates the white female Percival Everett?

Perhaps there’s nothing to that comparison except that both are literary artist as prodigiously talented as they are stunningly prolific—delivering quantity and quality.

Just a year after his 22nd novel, The Trees, was named a Booker Prize finalist, Everett has given us his 23rd novel (which share shelf space with his six collections of poetry and four books of stories)—a smart and funny riff on high-level mathematics, identity, race and James Bond films called Dr. No.

Lydia Millet

Lydia Millet is that rare bird – a passionate environmentalist who spends her days trying to save the planet at the Center for Biological Diversity in Tucson and an acclaimed novelist who spends her nights and weekends crafting open-ended works of fiction that do not fall into the trap of activism or dogma.

Melissa Bank RIP

We are sad to hear that Top Ten contributor Melissa Bank died of lung cancer on Aug. 2 at the age of 61.

Melissa is best known for her bestselling book of linked short stories, The Girls’ Guide to Hunting and Fishing (1999), which featured a common main character, Jane Rosenthal, who was very similar to Bank. As Simon Hattenstone observed in a profile of Bank for the Guardian, “Jane and Bank were both born in Philadelphia and live in New York, they share a neurologist father who died of leukemia in his late 50s, a background in publishing, an older lover with a history of drunkenness and diabetes.”

Karen Joy Fowler

In an Author’s Note appended to her sixth novel, Booth, Karen Joy Fowler explains: “I did not want to write a book about John Wilkes. This is a man who craved attention and has gotten too much of it; I didn’t think he deserved mine. And yet there is no way around the fact that I wouldn’t be writing about his family if he weren’t who he was, if he hadn’t done what he did.”

Sheila Heti

Sheila Heti never shies away from the big questions. The title of her 2010 novel, for example, asked How Should a Person Be?

Where that bold work of autobiographical fiction merged memoir, philosophy and art to portray the search for meaning big and small—Does life have meaning? Why do I care about petty things?—it was an inward-looking work that focused on grounded struggles.

Classic List

John Irving

1. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens (1860–61).
2. Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy (1891).
3. Moby-Dick by Herman Melville (1851).
4. The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne (1850).
5. David Copperfield by Charles Dickens (1849–50).
6. The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy (1886).
7. The Tin Drum by Günter Grass (1959).
8. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez (1967).
9. The Deptford trilogy by Robertson Davies (1983).
10. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert (1857).