Tag Archives: Time top 100

Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie

In 2005, Time magazine put out a Top 100 novels published in English since the magazine started in 1923. I try to include some classic books in my reading, so I’ll use lists like this to expand my reading into more traditional literary fiction. This was one of the books from the Time top 100 list. It’s also on the BBC’s The Big Read list.

Published: 1981

Genre: historical fiction

Length: 446 pages

Setting: India, starting in 1947 Continue reading

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Sophie’s Choice by William Styron

Published: 1976

Genre: fiction

Length: 562 pages

Setting: 1970s New York City, and WWII in Aushweitz

Interest: It’s one of the Time Top 100 books of the century Continue reading

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Scoop by Evelyn Waugh

Published: 1937

Genre: literary fiction

Length: 304 pages

Setting: 1930s England and the fictional country of Ishmalia

Interest: It was one of the Time Top 100 books Continue reading

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Time Top 100 for Young Adults

Time has recently released two new top 100 books of all time, one for young adults and one for children’s books. I hate that they’ve got 100 books in a slideshow, and I was able to find the YA books in an alphabetical by author file. Of course, any time you try to claim “the best of all time”, there’s going to be controversy and this list is no exception.

There’s an argument about the lack of diversity, and another about the audience the books is meant for. I found an excellent description of what makes a book a middle grade vs. young adult vs. adult book from the Young Adult Library Services Association:

Currently, young adult literature is defined most often as being written for teenagers from 12-18 years of age. These are often coming-of-age stories, where characters come to an understanding about not only themselves, but their place in the world. They can be dark and gritty, and when appropriate, contain violence and sex. In contrast, middle grade fiction, aimed at readers 8-12, focuses more on character’s relationship with self and family, spend less time on self-reflection, and almost always end on a hopeful note. And of course, young adult fiction differs from adult fiction, not only because the protagonists are teenagers themselves, but the voice and style of the narrative is more immediate, while adult fiction where teenagers are the main characters often have a reflective tone.

Regardless of whether the one hundred books are actually the best of all time is highly debatable, but I like book lists. They show me books I wasn’t aware of that might be worthwhile looking up. I also like to see how many I’ve read (44 of the YA books, and 58 of the children’s books). Perhaps I can get Mr. Curiosity or Miss Adventure to try some of the books on the list they haven’t read. I was reminded that I need to read Miss Adventure The Phantom Tollbooth. I’ll do that after we get done with the Dark is Rising and Anne of Green Gables series we’re currently switching between. So many good books, so little time. Guess I better make sure to read to the kids tonight!

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The Recognitions by William Gaddis

Published: 1952

Genre: fiction

Length: 956 pages

Setting: mid 1900s, East Coast and parts of Europe

Interest: It was a  Time Top 100 book

Summary: We follow a set of characters as they interact in the party circuit in New York and then travel to Europe. The main character is a painting forger. He’s supported by Recktall Brown, who’s in it just for the money. There’s a side story of someone trying to write and tell a play, someone who forges money, and all the people who show up at the parties. In the last third, everyone goes to Europe for various reasons.

Final thoughts: A rather annoying book. I kept waiting for a plot to show up, but nothing really seemed to happen. I could only handle about 200 pages at a time before the writing style (particularly at the parties where everyone talked over each other) drove me crazy and I had to put it down for a while. I kept picking it back up, though, because I wanted to know how it ended.

Title comes from: There was a common theme of the recognition of your soul/spirit (or not) in others.

Reading challenges fulfilled: None since this was a review of a book read in a previous year.

If you’re interested in purchasing the book, you can click on the cover image to follow an Amazon affiliate link to the book and thanks for supporting my blog!

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The Sot-Weed Factor by John Barth

Published: 1960

Genre: fiction

Length: 756 pages

Setting: London and Maryland, 1700s

Interest: It’s a Time Top 100 book.

Summary: Ebenezer Cooke is a poet in London, wandering his way through life until an incidence with the resident whore, Joan Toast. Cooke’s father is incensed (even though nothing happened) and send him to Malden, his tobacco plantation in Maryland. Along the way to Malden, there are many cases of mistaken identity, pirates, and reuniting long-lost families.

Final thoughts: A very long, dense book. It wasn’t a bad book, so I never wanted to give up on it, but I did need to read a couple other books in the middle of this one. My take home message was how fluid identity was back in the 1700s. One of the main characters, Henry Burlingham, pretended to be someone new every time he showed up. Even Ebenezer Cooke couldn’t prove he was the real Ebenezer Cooke since several other people were impersonating him.

Title comes from: The poem Ebenezer wrote about Maryland was called “The Sot-Weed Factor.” Sot-weed refers to tobacco and a factor was someone who ran the plantation.

Reading challenges fulfilled: None, since this is a review of a book read in a previous year.

If you’re interested in purchasing the book, you can click on the cover image to follow an Amazon affiliate link to the book and thanks for supporting my blog!

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Ubik by Philip K. Dick

Published: 1969

Genre: science fiction

Length: 216 pages

Setting: 1992 (which was near future when the book was written), the U.S. and Zurich

Interest: It’s a Time Top 100 book.

Summary: Glen Runciter is head of the top prudence organization that provides anti-psionic talent (called an inertial) to counter any psionic forces acting on you. The only problem is all of the big telepaths are disappearing. Runciter think he’s found them doing a project on Luna, and he heads up a delegation of inertials, plus Joe Chip to measure the psionic field. Instead, they are set up and a bomb goes off. Either Runciter or all the interials and Joe are killed in the blast. Joe is trying to figure out who’s alive in a world that is regressing to 1939. At the same time, members of his party are turning up dead and Runicter keeps sending cryptic messages to Joe. Joe heads off to Runciter’s funeral, and is searching for Ubik to restore his vitality and keep him safe. Eventually, Joe finds out who is killing off his friends and who is providing the Ubik.

Final thoughts: Reading a PKD book is always a bit surreal. He throws you in the deep end and uses all kinds of made up words. This is not the science fiction story you want to start with. It takes a couple of chapters to get all the terminology straight in your head, but once you do you have a strong sense of the world. Dick always has a unique vision of the future, and this book is no exception. Talk about being nickeled and dimed to death – you had to pay to use any item in your house or job. Joe had to pay just to open the apartment door (and he never seemed to have any money). And wouldn’t it be awesome if we really did have a lunar colony.

As for the plot, it was a great mystery – who was actually dead? Even once you think you’ve figured it out, Dick makes you question that certainty. It also took Joe a while just to figure out who the bad guy was. Once he was revealed, it made total sense, but so did the previous hypothesis for who was doing all the killing.

Title comes from: Ubik was the chemical spray used to protect Joe from death. It was a product name derived from the word ubiquitous. It was also referred to in the text heading up each chapter, as a product with many uses! That are perfectly safe! (If used as directed.)

Reading challenges fulfilled: 17/100 in my 100 Book Challenge, and a U in the Alphabet Soup Title Challenge

If you’re interested in purchasing the book, you can click on the cover image to follow an Amazon affiliate link to the book and thanks for supporting my blog!

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