Friday, January 20, 2012

World Library: 100 best books of all time

I love books and I love reading. More than words can say. But regretfully so, the lure of all the awesome blogs in the stratosphere by you guys is so high that I barely get any book reading done. And I reckon that there are many, many more like me who love reading but are just not as disciplined about it as they'd like to be. 

Enter this list. 

As awesome as the '1001 books you must read before you die' list is, this one is more at arms reach. I suppose that this exercise would take a couple of years to finish if you go at a moderate pace.

This list was prepared by the Norwegian Book Club Circles, and they have picked the brain matter of 100 writers from 54 countries to come up with this conclusive list that is representative of world literature and is a mix of culture, style and genre.The organizers have stated that the books are not ranked or categorized in any way and that "they are all on an equal footing", with the exception of Don Quixote which was given the distinction "best literary work ever written".

Read on, for the list {in alphabetical order by book title}.
1984 by George Orwell, England, (1903-1950)
 A Doll's House by Henrik Ibsen, Norway (1828-1906)
 A Sentimental Education by Gustave Flaubert, France, (1821-1880)
 Absalom, Absalom! by William Faulkner, United States, (1897-1962)
 The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, United States, (1835-1910)
 The Aeneid by Virgil, Italy, (70-19 BC)
 Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy, Russia, (1828-1910)
 Beloved by Toni Morrison, United States, (b. 1931)
 Berlin Alexanderplatz by Alfred Doblin, Germany, (1878-1957)
 Blindness by Jose Saramago, Portugal, (b. 1922)
 The Book of Disquiet by Fernando Pessoa, Portugal, (1888-1935)
 The Book of Job, Israel. (600-400 BC)
 The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor M Dostoyevsky, Russia, (1821-1881)
 Buddenbrooks by Thomas Mann, Germany, (1875-1955)
 Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer, England, (1340-1400)
 The Castle by Franz Kafka, Bohemia, (1883-1924)
 Children of Gebelawi by Naguib Mahfouz, Egypt, (b. 1911)
 Collected Fictions by Jorge Luis Borges, Argentina, (1899-1986)
 Complete Poems by Giacomo Leopardi, Italy, (1798-1837)
 The Complete Stories by Franz Kafka, Bohemia, (1883-1924)
 The Complete Tales by Edgar Allan Poe, United States, (1809-1849)
 Confessions of Zeno by Italo Svevo, Italy, (1861-1928)
 Crime and Punishment by Fyodor M Dostoyevsky, Russia, (1821-1881)
 Dead Souls by Nikolai Gogol, Russia, (1809-1852)
 The Death of Ivan Ilyich and Other Stories by Leo Tolstoy, Russia, (1828-1910)
 Decameron by Giovanni Boccaccio, Italy, (1313-1375)
 The Devil to Pay in the Backlands by Joao Guimaraes Rosa, Brazil, (1880-1967)
 Diary of a Madman and Other Stories by Lu Xun, China, (1881-1936)
 The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri, Italy, (1265-1321)
 Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Spain, (1547-1616)
 Essays by Michel de Montaigne, France, (1533-1592)
 Fairy Tales and Stories by Hans Christian Andersen, Denmark, (1805-1875)
 Faust by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Germany, (1749-1832)
 Gargantua and Pantagruel by Francois Rabelais, France, (1495-1553)
 Gilgamesh Mesopotamia, (c 1800 BC)
 The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing, England, (b.1919)
 Great Expectations by Charles Dickens, England, (1812-1870)
 Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift, Ireland, (1667-1745)
 Gypsy Ballads by Federico Garcia Lorca, Spain, (1898-1936)
 Hamlet by William Shakespeare, England, (1564-1616)
 History by Elsa Morante, Italy, (1918-1985)
 Hunger by Knut Hamsun, Norway, (1859-1952)
 The Idiot by Fyodor M Dostoyevsky, Russia, (1821-1881)
 The Iliad by Homer, Greece, (c 700 BC)
 Independent People by Halldor K Laxness, Iceland, (1902-1998)
 Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison, United States, (1914-1994)
 Jacques the Fatalist and His Master by Denis Diderot, France, (1713-1784)
 Journey to the End of the Night by Louis-Ferdinand Celine, France, (1894-1961)
 King Lear by William Shakespeare, England, (1564-1616)
 Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman, United States, (1819-1892)
 The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy by Laurence Sterne, Ireland, (1713-1768)
 Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov, Russia/United States, (1899-1977)
 Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Colombia, (b. 1928)
 Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert, France, (1821-1880)
 The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann, Germany, (1875-1955)
 Mahabharata, India, (c 500 BC)
 The Man Without Qualities by Robert Musil, Austria, (1880-1942)
 The Mathnawi by Jalal ad-din Rumi, Afghanistan, (1207-1273)
 Medea by Euripides, Greece, (c 480-406 BC)
 Memoirs of Hadrian by Marguerite Yourcenar, France, (1903-1987)
 Metamorphoses by Ovid, Italy, (c 43 BC)
 Middlemarch by George Eliot, England, (1819-1880)
 Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie, India/Britain, (b. 1947)
 Moby-Dick by Herman Melville, United States, (1819-1891)
 Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf, England, (1882-1941)
 Njaals Saga, Iceland, (c 1300)
 Nostromo by Joseph Conrad, England,(1857-1924)
 The Odyssey by Homer, Greece, (c 700 BC)
 Oedipus the King Sophocles, Greece, (496-406 BC)
 Old Goriot by Honore de Balzac, France, (1799-1850)
 The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway, United States, (1899-1961)
 One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Colombia, (b. 1928)
 The Orchard by Sheikh Musharrif ud-din Sadi, Iran, (c 1200-1292)
 Othello by William Shakespeare, England, (1564-1616)
 Pedro Paramo by Juan Rulfo Juan Rulfo, Mexico, (1918-1986)
 Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren, Sweden, (1907-2002)
 Poems by Paul Celan, Romania/France, (1920-1970)
 The Possessed by Fyodor M Dostoyevsky, Russia, (1821-1881)
 Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, England, (1775-1817)
 The Ramayana by Valmiki, India, (c 300 BC)
 The Recognition of Sakuntala by Kalidasa, India, (c. 400)
 The Red and the Black by Stendhal, France, (1783-1842)
 Remembrance of Things Past by Marcel Proust, France, (1871-1922)
 Season of Migration to the North by Tayeb Salih, Sudan, (b. 1929)
 Selected Stories by Anton P Chekhov, Russia, (1860-1904)
 Sons and Lovers by DH Lawrence, England, (1885-1930)
 The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner, United States, (1897-1962)
 The Sound of the Mountain by Yasunari Kawabata, Japan, (1899-1972)
The Stranger by Albert Camus, France, (1913-1960)
 The Tale of Genji by Shikibu Murasaki, Japan, (c 1000)
 Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe, Nigeria, (b. 1930)
 Thousand and One Nights, India/Iran/Iraq/Egypt, (700-1500)
 The Tin Drum by Gunter Grass, Germany, (b.1927)
 To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf, England, (1882-1941)
 The Trial by Franz Kafka, Bohemia, (1883-1924)
 Trilogy: Molloy, Malone Dies, The Unnamable by Samuel Beckett, Ireland, (1906-1989)
 Ulysses by James Joyce, Ireland, (1882-1941)
 War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy, Russia, (1828-1910)
 Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë, England, (1818-1848)
 Zorba the Greek by Nikos Kazantzakis, Greece, (1883-1957)
You can find this list and the reviews for each book in this Guardian UK article.

I'm gonna start small... with ten books from this list. And then we'll see. :) Easy does it too sometimes. Or in the case of my life, with pretty much everything!

Here is my list.
Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë, England, (1818-1848)
Ulysses by James Joyce, Ireland, (1882-1941)
To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf, England, (1882-1941)
The Stranger by Albert Camus, France, (1913-1960)
The Iliad by Homer, Greece, (c 700 BC)
Sons and Lovers by DH Lawrence, England, (1885-1930)
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, England, (1775-1817)
Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov, Russia/United States, (1899-1977)
Fairy Tales and Stories by Hans Christian Andersen, Denmark, (1805-1875)
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy, Russia, (1828-1910)
Start with a list - any list, and  work your way through it any way you want to. Maybe you have read a few books in this list, but maybe you haven't. It's really alright. I haven't read most of the books in this list, but I have heard of pretty much all of the authors and I feel so good about it. Nothing beats the cheap thrills that are a result of having low standards! But I imagine that I'll feel as good as golden when I finish these 100 books and am ready to take on the 1001.

At the end of the day, all that really matters is that you read.

End of story.


  1. I've not seen this list before but it's really interesting, thanks for sharing. I'm actually doing quite well because I read a lot of the latin/greek texts at university! PS good choice on The Iliad, it was always my favourite.

    1. That is so interesing! You are so smart! I on the other hand DID NOT do any reading in college. ;) But all I did in school was read so in my head, I kind of made up for it in advance! I'm reading Anna Karenina right now. maybe I'll read The Iliad after that...

  2. Very inspiring! I just finished re-reading Pride and Prejudice. Thank goodness there are so many by Shakespeare on the list as I've read 'em all. So, that puts me at least at 10%?? :) xo

    1. Ha ha. Very good work, G! Good for you! I have a long way to go
      ! I am at 5% probably. Less maybe. I have read abbreviated versions of a lot of these books when I was younger but that of course doesnt count!

  3. I love your blog! Great reading list!

  4. I have read some of these. The ones I have not read intimidate me. Like Anna Karenina. I find the idea of reading Tolstoy deeply intimidating.

    1. You need to readhim! He is like a little gerbil. Very non scary. Or a puppy. Or just imagine him in his underwear!

    2. LOL! Alright, I shall give it a go then. I suppose it is sort of shameful for a former Literature Major to run in fear from Literature.


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