Book Lists


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Discussing things at home with Aingeal and That Girl, the subject of the SAT Reading List came up. I looked it up — the only copy of the College Board SAT Recommended Reading list that I could find was on Missy’s Blog as a simple list. Looking into it, though, I found a number of lists of “100 Best Books”:

  • The College Board’s SAT recommended reading list (SAT):  Not sure why this is so hard to find.   Link to (Missy’s Blog)
  • The Guardian/The Observer (TG)  With the added bonus that they’ve reviewed them all!
  • Norwegian Book Club list (via Wikipedia) (NBC): as proposed by one hundred writers from fifty-four different countries, compiled and organized in 2002 by the Norwegian Book Club.
  • The Telegraph (TEL):  With a handy one-sentence summary, e.g., 1001 Nights:  “A Persian king’s new bride tells tales to stall post-coital execution.”
  • The Modern Library (ML):  I took the Board’s list.  They also have a “Readers list” which I have not included here (yet?).  I found a list by the NY Times… which was just the Modern Library’s list.
  • Radcliffe Publishing Course’s Rival 100 Best Novels (RAD):  On July 21, 1998, the Radcliffe Publishing Course compiled and released its own list of the century’s top 100 novels, at the request of the Modern Library editorial board.

And there are probably more!

Anyway, I’ve consolidated those lists into one mega-list of 372 books.  Each book gets 1 point for each list that it is on (which also shows which list it is on), for a maximum of 6 points (but no book scored a 6).  Only 134 books appeared on more than 1 list, and only 68 books appeared on 3 lists or more, giving us….  The 100 Top Books Meta-List (see the listing by score; and ok it’s not exactly 100!).

How many of  those (134 or 68) books on more than 1 list have you read?  And what’s your weighted score, i.e. 3 points for a book that’s on 3 lists?  Maximum score is 600 (6 lists times 100 books per list).

I have also added links to free copies of books, when I could find them, so you can download the books for free!  Note that, for translations, a more recent commercially-available translation may be more accessible (at least that’s my experience).  Note also that the sites offer books subject to copyright terms in the countries where the websites are hosted .  As Project Gutenberg Australia notes, “Be sure to check the copyright laws for your country before downloading or redistributing”.

Looking it over, the consolidated list is heavily weighted towards Western & Modern:  mostly English-language authors (perhaps I should look further, e.g. for a French or German list?) and mostly from the 20th and 19th centuries.  That doesn’t seem too surprising: I’m dealing with English-language sources, most books are modern.  Even so, have some books gotten on these lists with surprising speed… Or is a classic simply a classic, even if very recent?




 Posted by on 10 Feb 2014

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