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100 Novels

February 21, 2016

Recently, the Telegraph web site published an article “100 novels everyone should read”.  The number one novel, way down at the end of the list, was Middlemarch.  Even though I don’t normally read novels, I found that I had read about a third of the novels on this list, including Middlemarch.  I decided that this list would be a good starting point to read a few more classic novels, ones that the reviewers had thought were the best of their kind.  I chose the ones that appealed to me or intrigued me, and set to reading them.

I hadn’t read any science fiction for some time, but I certainly enjoyed The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.  It was exciting.  It was suspenseful.  It was full of surprises.  The curious thing was that the local book store had many copies of the first book of Douglas Adams’ trilogy, the one I bought, but only one copy each of the other four.

I had read The Hound of the Baskervilles when I was much younger, but I didn’t recall much about it.  When I reread it, I found it to be quite an enjoyable book.  It was a typical Sherlock Homes story.  I liked the mystery aspect, of course.  It was only near the conclusion that I was able to put all the pieces together, about the same time as Holmes explained them to Dr. Watson.

The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins was a wonderful book.  It was written as a series of letters, actually reports to one person who was investigating the fate of this precious gem.  Each letter unwrapped one small portion of the mystery.  Even then, I couldn’t discern which of the characters were involved it the disappearance, and which were innocent.  It came as a surprise to me when this question was finally resolved.

I suppose I like mysterys.  Brighton Rock by Graham Greene was another one.  The characters in this novel were interesting, unique, and unpredictable.  Knowing early in the book who had committed the murder didn’t help me at all.  It was the twists and turns of the investigation into this murder that made the story interesting.

There were many other novels that I liked and that I recommend, but they aren’t my top favorites:

  • The Home and the World
  • My Name Is Red
  • Things Fall Apart
  • The Big Sleep
  • Suite Francaise
  • Frankenstein
  • Moby-Dick

A Passage to India was too slow-moving for my taste.  The central story occupied only a small portion of the book.  Tess of the D’Urbervilles was also a slow and wandering story, even though it was an interesting story.  The Trial was worth reading, although it detailed a bizarre chain of events.  I thought of 1984.

The Sorrows of Young Werther was a slowly developing tragedy, leading to an inevitable end.  I began to dislike it about half way through.  Lucky Jim is supposed to be a humorous novel, but I found I was unable to appreciate the humour.  People with a different character than mine may enjoy this book.  I found The Portrait of a Lady to be very slow moving, even though I enjoyed portions of it.

So far in my reading, it’s been good.  I’ve only read about a quarter of My Name is Red.  I may change my opinion when I’ve finished it.  I may find some more novels that I’m pleased with.  I may find some more that are too tedious for my liking.  Who can tell?


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