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1000 novels worth reading [about] from the Guardian
January 22, 2009 1:57 PM   Subscribe

1000 novels worth reading [about], from the Guardian. Part of its ongoing 1000 series: 1000 albums, 1000 films, 1000 artworks. More than a list, it includes sub-articles and paragraph long write-ups of each.
posted by stbalbach (45 comments total) 49 users marked this as a favorite

 
That's a lot of reading.
posted by Artw at 2:10 PM on January 22, 2009


Reminds me of that book about "1000 places you should see before you die", which described neither an achievable goal nor particularly good places (for the region I was familiar with).
posted by shii at 2:16 PM on January 22, 2009


In that it describes a large but not unreadale number of very good books?
posted by Artw at 2:18 PM on January 22, 2009


1000 AskMes worth reading. Part of the ongoing 1000 series: 1000 comments, 1000 FPPs, 1000 Projects.
posted by Dumsnill at 2:22 PM on January 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Science Fiction and Fantasy
State of The Nation
Family and Self
Comedy
Crime
Love

You could have waited for War & travel...
posted by Artw at 2:25 PM on January 22, 2009


The SF list is excellent - I can't claim to have read every title on there but the ones that I have all eatrn their place, and there's some nice non obvious ones in there too. Good showing for Banks, though that's not the Culture book of his I'd have picked.
posted by Artw at 2:30 PM on January 22, 2009


I must admit to a certain amount of sadistic glee whenever Atwood gets praised for commiting an act of Science Fiction as well.
posted by Artw at 2:36 PM on January 22, 2009


The fact that they left out Edmund: A Butler's Tale, a giant roller coaster of a novel in 400 sizzling chapters, by Gertrude Perkins makes this list pretty suspect. I mean, it's a searing indictment of domestic servitude in the eighteenth century with some hot Gypsies thrown in! What's not to love?! Hell, Johnson liked it!
posted by robocop is bleeding at 2:37 PM on January 22, 2009


Some of the good stuff gets hidden away in some of the little sub-articles as well: Radical Reading

Presumably at some point there will be an easily digerstable list of the 1000 novels for us to bitch about in customary style.
posted by Artw at 2:38 PM on January 22, 2009


Is this another one of those things I have to do before I die? Or can I wait till later?
posted by LeLiLo at 2:44 PM on January 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


I started reading these in the print Guardian, but found the number of spoilers really irritating. I realise plot isn't everything, and a large percentage of readers will have read many of these books, but in a one paragraph summary, is it really necessary to say how the book ends?
posted by Infinite Jest at 2:49 PM on January 22, 2009


The "Most frequently stolen books" list in the Crime section is a little dubious, I supect it;s actually close to the theives list here.
posted by Artw at 2:49 PM on January 22, 2009


lelilo: "Is this another one of those things I have to do before I die? Or can I wait till later?"

Nope.. yes.. they changed the title! Now it's "everyone must read", still a directive, but better than the awful "you will die" cliche. It's more a 16 yeah old girly directive, than the cranky 60 year old directive.
posted by stbalbach at 3:07 PM on January 22, 2009


Yeah, like we don't all already have a backlog that we feel bad about.
posted by jbickers at 3:08 PM on January 22, 2009


jbickers, you don't really have to read them. In other words, if you actually did read them all, no one would care.
posted by stbalbach at 3:19 PM on January 22, 2009


No Nancy Mitford in comedy, and even more scandalous, no P.G. Wodehouse.

Perhaps they crop up elsewhere (after all, some of the comic novels are to my mind anything but), though if not, the list is clearly rubbish.
posted by IndigoJones at 3:42 PM on January 22, 2009


*Cough*

The best of PG Wodehouse
posted by Artw at 3:45 PM on January 22, 2009


Good showing for Banks, though that's not the Culture book of his I'd have picked.

I finished Consider Phelbas this week. It was the first of the Culture books I've read and it makes me not want to read the rest of them.
posted by eyeballkid at 3:53 PM on January 22, 2009


I just went through the Fantasy and SF collection (today's collection) with a friend of mine who has 20 years on me, a point for each novel read and movies don't count.

He beat me by two books, though what was interesting was that it was not always the best SF example or most read of a given writer's work: Snow Crash vs the Diamond Age; The Wasp Factory and Consider Phloebas vs Player of Games and Use of Weapons; The Einstein Intersection vs Dhalgren; American Gods vs Sandman and Anansi Boys

I could go on personally and rate the Medusa Frequency higher than Ridley Walker and the Castle beyond the Trial, Fiasco beyond Solaris and The Stone Canal Higher than the Night Sessions, Perdido Street Station above The Scar.

But that just might be horribly judgemental - so I won't
posted by Sparx at 3:53 PM on January 22, 2009


1000 places you must see
1000 activities you must do
1000 things you should have done if you weren't a loser couch potato...

How about 1000 best places to nap, I'd favorite that post.
posted by BrotherCaine at 3:56 PM on January 22, 2009


Just my opinion, but I'd certainly rate The Scar as better than Perdido Street Station - it's far more cohesive, and Perdido is much more of a messy jumble by comparison. And IIRC The Scar doesn't have a visit from the magic plot-solving spider (who turns up in the awful Iron Council as well).

Consider Phloebas suffers from the same problem compared with Player of Games and Use of Weapons - actually I think it suffers from it far worse, and would probably only really recommend it to people if they'd exausted other Banks books. Not that it doesn't have it's charms - the whole dead planet section is great.
posted by Artw at 4:11 PM on January 22, 2009



*Cough*


Good catch, Artw, but since it was NOT in the four sections of comedy writing, the list fails for being too complicated to wade through.
posted by IndigoJones at 4:36 PM on January 22, 2009


As far as I could see, Antonio Lobo Antunes was omitted, which makes this list an epic fail.
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:16 PM on January 22, 2009


Seems a fair enough list from a quick glace... I'm waiting for the final section before I go through it in detail.

It's doesn't seem quite as well, quirky, as the movie one at least (Ace Ventura WTF!?!).
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 5:52 PM on January 22, 2009


Oh and I suppose my 'not X but Y!' comment so far would be - there's room for three Banks novels but not The Bridge?
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 5:56 PM on January 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Oh and I suppose it's the categories themselves that are this time's 'quirky' contribution - The Andromeda Strain and Jurassic Park in 'Crime'?
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 6:00 PM on January 22, 2009


Jurassic Park was a crime against natural selection.
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:43 PM on January 22, 2009


Who needs the pressure? Not me.
posted by Forrest Greene at 7:08 PM on January 22, 2009


Did anyone else think that, given the limited amount of space available, there was too much discussion of the films made from these books? If we're going to talk about books, either leave out the acting and the soundtrack and all the differences between the book and the movie, or devote more than a short paragraph to each work.

Also, am I missing something or is there no complete list of all 1000 anywhere? My inner compulsive to-do-list-checker find this mildly stressful (then again, my inner compulsive to-do-list-checker is kind of obnoxious).
posted by naoko at 7:49 PM on January 22, 2009


List ain't complete yet.
posted by Artw at 7:53 PM on January 22, 2009


but found the number of spoilers really irritating.

I agree; I was enjoying it but kept finding completely unnecessary spoilers. So I stopped enjoying it.
posted by mediareport at 7:54 PM on January 22, 2009


mediareport: "I was enjoying it but kept finding completely unnecessary spoilers. So I stopped enjoying it."

There is an art to reading it. Low reading comprehension and fast browsing. Even better if dyslexic when choosing titles to read - "A Passage to Indiana", "Puree Gourmet" (Pere Goriot) etc..
posted by stbalbach at 9:09 PM on January 22, 2009


the list fails for being too complicated to wade through.

It works in print.

The categories and what goes in the categories are a bit odd, particularly "Crime". IndigoJones will be pleased to know Nancy Mitford does turn up under "Love" though.

The "Science Fiction & Fantasy" list - which is actually a much broader list of literature of the fantasic, including horror and gothic - is the only one I've read a decent percentage of and that was only just over a third. Lots of interesting stuff on there: I'd never heard of Pig Tales by Marie Darrieussecq.
posted by ninebelow at 5:31 AM on January 23, 2009


You could have waited for War & travel...

Up now and it includes Stephenson's Crytonomicom.

And mark me down as another who thinks The Scar is the right choice.
posted by ninebelow at 5:35 AM on January 23, 2009


Up now

WTF????

Sven Hassel was ROBBED!
posted by Artw at 9:22 AM on January 23, 2009


At least they had Vurt in there. I'm always proselytizing for Vurt and nobody has ever heard of it.
posted by mygothlaundry at 9:34 AM on January 23, 2009


Vurt is wonderful. Anyone who likes SciFi and wants a wndeful treat go out and get Vurt.

Pollen and some of the short storeis are also good, but dimminsing returns very much apply with Jeff Noon though, and he's given to fits of "I don't do science fiction" these days.

Though, and this is probably the only person would ever say this about, his experimental poetry book was very enjoyable.
posted by Artw at 9:38 AM on January 23, 2009


Oh and I suppose it's the categories themselves that are this time's 'quirky' contribution - The Andromeda Strain and Jurassic Park in 'Crime'?

PURE IS POOR
posted by Artw at 9:39 AM on January 23, 2009


Infinite Jest is comedy? Really?
posted by rusty at 10:03 AM on January 23, 2009


I think Pollen is actually a better novel than Vurt* but yeah, it all goes to pot after that.

* I read Vurt when it was first published by Ringpull. I knew nothing about it and it completely blew my mind.
posted by ninebelow at 11:40 AM on January 23, 2009


Pollen nails down a lot fo the stuff alluded to by Vurt, and I think strengthens the two books as a result. Then he nails stuff down further in ways that are a bit crap, and eventually throws the whole thing away and goes off to do several increasingly less cohesive takes on the same theme.

I dunno, has he done anything after Falling Out of Cars?
posted by Artw at 11:46 AM on January 23, 2009


I dunno, has he done anything after Falling Out of Cars?

I think the only thing he's done since then is some of the stuff on 217 Babel St.
posted by dng at 1:54 PM on January 23, 2009


Infinite Jest is comedy? Really?

I guess they figured they had to fit it in somewhere (it's the same on all the lists I've read; their thematic approach means some are incongruous).

IJ could really have fit almost any of those categories (at a stretch). I'd have gone with 'state of the nation' myself.
posted by Infinite Jest at 4:16 PM on January 23, 2009


FULL LIST
posted by Artw at 6:10 PM on January 25, 2009


no Mario Vargas Llosa?!??

how is anybody meant to even pretend to take this list seriously?
posted by UbuRoivas at 10:01 PM on January 25, 2009


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