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 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)