The 100 All-Time Greatest Novels… depending on who you ask.

Have you seen the newest issue of Entertainment Weekly? The cover proclaims that the double issue includes “The 100 All-Time Greatest” of all things EW-ish: movies, TV shows, albums, and yes, novels. It’s actually quite fun to read through, doing the quick mental “saw that”, “didn’t watch that”, “liked it”, “are you kidding me??” checklists.

Annoyingly, the EW website only provides the top 10 for each list, so you have to actually pick up the magazine or subscribe online to see their full top 100 list… or head to this website, which has helpfully listed the top 100 novels as selected by the EW editors.

So how did the EW editors do? Overall, I think it’s a pretty great list. Anna Karenina at #1? I suppose I could argue for any of several other great novels — but AK works too.

I was thrilled to see that the Harry Potter series made the top 10, and equally happy to see other fantasy favorites on the list, including His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams, and The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien.

By quick count, I’ve read 41 out of the 100 books listed. Of the ones I haven’t read, in many cases I’ve read other books by the same author, just not the specific one(s) listed. For example:

  • Charles Dickens: I haven’t read Great Expectations or Bleak House, which were listed (I know, I know…) — but A Tale of Two Cities, which wasn’t listed, is always on my personal top 100 list.
  • I have read Anna Karenina, but not War and Peace (#28) or the various other classic Russian novels that also made the list.
  • I’ve read Beloved (#9) and several other Toni Morrison books not on the list, but not Song of Solomon (#52).
  • Bring Up The Bodies (#79) by Hilary Mantel is on the list, but not Wolf Hall, which I recently read.
  • I could go on with Faulkner, Forster, and Bellow, but that’s enough of a sampling!

I do have to question the selection of The Hobbit but not the Lord of the Rings trilogy. In my mind, The Hobbit is fun but LOTR is a masterpiece.

I love that they included Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret. by Judy Blume. I wrote a post early in my blogging days about the influence of this book on countless women who grew up during a certain time, wondering if girls today still read Judy Blume. For me and my friends, this was the book for pre-teen girls.

I don’t neccesarily put too much stock in any one “greatest of all time” list. It all comes down to perspective and opinion, after all. Still, I found EW’s top 100 to be a great representation of a mix of genres, eras, and authors, with everything from centuries-old classics to newer books from the last year or two.

So what do you think of EW’s selection of the 100 greatest novels of all-time? Any glaring omissions? Anything that just doesn’t deserve to be there?

For me, I’m feeling a bit inspired to check out a few of these titles that have always been “oh, gotta read it someday!” books for me. And it’s a terrific reminder of some books from my long-ago reading days that need a re-visit ASAP.

And for fun, check out their top movie and TV lists too. You may be pleasantly surprised!