Everyone, it seems, will publish what they call the top 100 books that you should read. Some are voted on, some belong to the opinion of the editor of the book review section of a newspaper, and, as you know, there are a lot of newspapers, a lot of editors, and a lot of opinions.
I’m not a newspaper, I’m not an editor, but I have a list, based on personal experience, and many, many years of reading.
It’s in no particular order.
41. The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, as well as a host of other Sherlock Holmes stories
42. The Secret Agent by Joseph Conrad, one of Conrad’s later political novels, set in London in 1886 and deals with anarchism and espionage. In those days spies were called anarchists.
43. The Ipcress File by Len Deighton, introducing us to Harry Palmer, who was personified by Michael Caine and led to Horse Under Water, and Funeral in Berlin. More of Len Deighton later on in the list
44. The Remorseful Day by Colin Dexter introducing the somewhat enigmatic detective, Morse, his first name not revealed for a long time but oddly, Endeavour. John Thaw brought him to life
45. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky, hard to pronounce and even harder to read, but perhaps worth it in the end. By the time I read this I was wishing for a Russian writer had could use an economy of words
46. Dr. Zhivago by Boris Pasternak wasn’t it. A vast and lengthy dissertation on lost love, I felt very sad for Zhivago in the end. I saw a stage play of the same name, and I’m sorry, but it’s a few hours of my life I will never get back
47. Casino Royale, the first of the James Bond novels by Ian Fleming. I have to say these are among my favorite spy books. I must say I preferred the new James Bond in Casino Royale, though Sean Connery still rules!
48. The Day of the Jackal by Frederick Forsythe, a fascinating story about an assassin
49. Anything written by John Le Carre, but in particular, the George Smiley collection. Finally unmasking his nemesis the Russian spymaster made it all so satisfying.
50. The Bourne Identity by Robert Ludlam, inspiring a long series by both Ludlam and Eric Lustbader makes entertaining reading, but the first, the man who did not know who or what he really was, was excellent. Matt Damon didn’t harm his persona either.
51. Murder Must Advertise by Dorothy Sayers, whose detective is Lord Peter Whimsey, a 1933 mystery novel that’s eighth in the series
52. Gorky Park by Martin Cruz Smith. You have to admit that his Russian detective Arkady Renko is up against it when his investigation goes in a direction that uncovers corruption and dishonest in his superiors
53. The Way of All Flesh by Samuel Butler, a semi-autobiographical novel written between 1987 and 1884, and published in 1903. The story of the Pontifex family.
54. Howards End by E. M. Forster, first published in 1910, is an interesting insight into the behavior of the, and between the classes, with the Schlegels acting as the catalyst.
55. Washington Square by Henry James, originally published as a serial, and covers the conflict between daughter and father. I must say I prefer The Ambassadors to Washington Square.
56. Ulysses by James Joyce, a day in the life of an ordinary man, Leopold Bloom, why could it not be the 7th June rather than the 16th, for obvious reasons
57. The Go-Between by L. P. Hartley is a view of society at the end of the Victorian period through the eyes of a young boy. I read this while still at school and had no clue why, but later, when I read it again, I understood the meaning
58. Atonement by Ian McEwan, I saw the film and then read the book. Never a good idea. Basically, a young girl makes a bad mistake and tries to atone for it.
59. Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell, the War and Peace of Americal novels, and as long by comparison. The only book written by Mitchell, and the second most read book by Americans. The film was interesting but awfully long.
60. The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje, with a man with severe burns and the effect he had on three others. Colin Firth is villain one day and hero the next, this time in the cinematic version, an out and out cad.
More to come…