Author Topic: List o' Crap #127 Top 50 Novels Countdown!  (Read 5128 times)

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Online CJones

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List o' Crap #127 Top 50 Novels Countdown!
« on: September 26, 2020, 11:22:41 AM »

Novels. They're the things that are usually better than the movie. They're what people used to pass the time with before the age of electronic screens. Give me good old paper any day. I received 11 lists (including my own), with a total of 215 unique entries. Here are the top 50 Novels that are presumably pretty good, if our tastes are anything to go by.

I apologize for how long this has taken. And you can expect more of that, since I'll be house sitting the next couple weeks. Updates will probably be sporadic  :-[

Let's get to it.


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Re: List o' Crap #127 Top 50 Novels Countdown!
« Reply #1 on: September 26, 2020, 11:39:28 AM »
#50a The Second Coming, by Walker Percy

1 List, 22 Points
Top Vote #4 George 2.0

“You can get all A's and still flunk life.”   <--  I can totally relate to this quote.

"Peace is only better than war if peace is not hell too. War being hell makes sense."

“My mother refused to let me fail. So I insisted.”

Will Barrett (also the hero of Percy's The Last Gentleman) is a lonely widower suffering from a depression so severe that he decides he doesn't want to continue living. But then he meets Allison, a mental hospital escapee making a new life for herself in a greenhouse. The Second Coming is by turns touching and zany, tragic and comic, as Will sets out in search of God's existence and winds up finding much more.

Spoiler (click to show/hide)

The book was nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award in 1980.

So straight off the bat we start with one I've never heard of. Funny story though, I almost posted a completely different book: "The Second Coming" by John Niven, a very different kind of book :o I started to post that, until I saw who's list it was on. That did not strike me as the sort of thing George 2.0 would have on his list, so I double checked and sure enough, it was the wrong author.




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Re: List o' Crap #127 Top 50 Novels Countdown!
« Reply #2 on: September 26, 2020, 12:09:53 PM »
#50b On a Pale Horse, by Piers Anthony

1 List, 22 Points
Top Vote #4 CJones

“Man is the one creature on Earth who knows he will die, and that is an appalling intellectual burden.”

“I don’t care how the sin ledger stands. There seem to be a number of artificial standards of good and evil that don’t really relate to true merit or demerit. Maybe the official system of classification has failed to keep up with the changing nature of our society.”

“What is life, except an ongoing instinct for survival? Nature uses that instinct to make us perform; otherwise we would all relax, and the species would disappear. Nature is a cruel green mother. The survival instinct is a goad, not a privilege.”

When Zane shoots Death, he has to take the job, speeding over the world riding Mortis, his pale horse/limo, measuring souls for the exact balance of Good and Evil, sending each to Heaven or Hell instead of Purgatory. The new Thanatos is superbly competent, ends pain when he ends lives. But Satan is forging a trap for Luna, the woman Death loves.

Spoiler (click to show/hide)

I read almost all of the Incarnations of Immortality books when I was a teen (so 25-30 years ago). On a Pale Horse and For Love of Evil were easily the best ones, with On a Pale Horse being the only one I read more than once. Bearing an Hourglass, With a Tangled Skein and Wielding a Red Sword were all pretty decent. Being a Green Mother was incredibly stupid, and And Eternity was incredibly dull. Never read Under a Velvet Cloak, as that was released 17 years later, and I was long past my Piers Anthony phase by then :-\ One thing I really liked about this series was the setting: modern day, but with magic and the afterlife being an everyday thing. Too often anything magical gets relegated to the archetypal swords and sorcery setting.

Fun Fact: This was the inspiration for the TV series  Dead Like Me, at least according to Hal Erickson of Allmovie.com


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Re: List o' Crap #127 Top 50 Novels Countdown!
« Reply #3 on: September 26, 2020, 01:19:10 PM »
#50c The Heart of the Matter, by Graham Greene

1 List, 22 Points
Top Vote #4 Cole Stratton

“Point me out the happy man and I will point you out either extreme egotism, selfishness, evil -- or else an absolute ignorance.”  <--- Wow, that's... bleak.

“In our hearts there is a ruthless dictator, ready to contemplate the misery of a thousand strangers if it will ensure the happiness of the few we love.”

“We are all resigned to death: it's life we aren't resigned to.”

In a British colony in West Africa, Henry Scobie is a pious and righteous man of modest means enlisted with securing borders. But when he’s passed over for a promotion as commissioner of police, the humiliation hits hardest for his wife, Louise. Already oppressed by the appalling climate, frustrated in a loveless marriage, and belittled by the wives of more privileged officers, Louise wants out.

Feeling responsible for her unhappiness, Henry decides against his better judgment to accept a loan from a black marketeer to secure Louise’s passage. It’s just a single indiscretion, yet for Henry it precipitates a rapid fall from grace as one moral compromise after another leads him into a web of blackmail, adultery, and murder. And for a devout man like Henry, there may be nothing left but damnation.

Spoiler (click to show/hide)

This is another one I've never heard of (most of the rest of the list I am familiar with, I swear). 'Pity' appears to be the central topic of the book. From the preface: Scobie is "a weak man with good intentions doomed by his big sense of pity" ... "I had meant the story of Scobie to enlarge a theme which I had touched on in The Ministry of Fear, the disastrous effect on human beings of pity as distinct from compassion. I had written in The Ministry of Fear: 'Pity is cruel. Pity destroys. Love isn't safe when pity's prowling around.' The character of Scobie was intended to show that pity can be the expression of an almost monstrous pride."

In 1998, the Modern Library ranked The Heart of the Matter 40th on its list of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century.

Fun Fact: George Orwell found the plot of the novel "ridiculous". Orwell charged that, "The fact that the book is set in Africa while the action takes place almost entirely inside a tiny white community gives it an air of triviality." Major Scobie, in Orwell's opinion, is not a credible character: "If he believed in Hell, he would not risk going there merely to spare the feelings of a couple of neurotic women. And one might add that if he were the kind of man we are told he is—that is, a man whose chief characteristic is a horror of causing pain—he would not be an officer in a colonial police force".

There is a 1953 film adaptation directed by George More O'Ferrall, and a 1983 made for TV movie.


Offline George-2.0

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Re: List o' Crap #127 Top 50 Novels Countdown!
« Reply #4 on: September 26, 2020, 03:35:32 PM »
Nice to see The Second Coming here...

Walker Percy was a cynical Southern Catholic existentialist (who uses language in the book that would make a Nun blush). Second Coming is a sequel, but you can ignore the muddled Last Gentleman. Seriously. It makes SC a little difficult at times, more mysterious, but watching that mystery unfold is marvelous.

The novel is very Southern, very languid – it takes its time and for a spell I was losing my patience with the pacing. But as it went on I found myself drawn to the protagonists, and identified with these two broken people who belonged nowhere but with each other. So moved by it I wrote a folky tune inspired by the story - Do I dare share this... it's just me and the guitar. I normally play rhythm and some bass, and am not a lead guitarist, but I decided I wanted to write a play the lead, just once... in hindsight, I should have let Goose (the lead guitarist on the rest of the EP) do the honors. As my picking is rather stiff - any way, here it is (I did the art for the cover too, man I must have been on an ego trip. lol)

<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/6cWCACmvR7U" target="_blank" class="new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/6cWCACmvR7U</a>

While I didn't vote for it, I like Graham Greene - the 1953 film (Heart of the Matter) is good, especially the acting (Trevor Howard, Maria Schell), and Orwell missed the forest for the trees in that critisism. So focused on his nits, that he missed the emotional impact of the piece.

Never read Anthony
« Last Edit: September 26, 2020, 03:40:21 PM by George-2.0 »


Online CJones

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Re: List o' Crap #127 Top 50 Novels Countdown!
« Reply #5 on: September 26, 2020, 04:36:00 PM »
#50d Misery, by Stephen King

1 List, 22 Points
Top Vote #4 linszoid

“Writers remember everything...especially the hurts. Strip a writer to the buff, point to the scars, and he'll tell you the story of each small one. From the big ones you get novels. A little talent is a nice thing to have if you want to be a writer, but the only real requirement is the ability to remember the story of every scar.
Art consists of the persistence of memory.”  <---  Misery does provide King the unique opportunity to write from the perspective of a writer

“In a book, all would have gone according to plan... but life was so fucking untidy — what could you say for an existence where some of the most crucial conversations of your life took place when you needed to take a shit, or something? An existence where there weren't even any chapters?”

“I am your number one fan.”

Paul Sheldon. He's a bestselling novelist who has finally met his biggest fan. Her name is Annie Wilkes and she is more than a rabid reader - she is Paul's nurse, tending his shattered body after an automobile accident. But she is also his captor, keeping him prisoner in her isolated house.

Spoiler (click to show/hide)

One of Stephen King's inspirations for Misery was the reaction his fans had to his 1984 novel The Eyes of the Dragon. Many fans rejected The Eyes of the Dragon because it was an epic fantasy book, with virtually none of the horror that initially made his reputation. Paul Sheldon feeling chained to the Misery books by his fans was a metaphor for King's feeling chained to horror fiction. Another source was King's addiction to drugs and alcohol, and his struggle to give them up. He stated: "Take the psychotic nurse in Misery, which I wrote when I was having such a tough time with dope. I knew what I was writing about. There was never any question. Annie was my drug problem, and she was my number-one fan. God, she never wanted to leave."

Fun Fact: The idea for Misery stemmed from a dream King had while on a trans-Atlantic flight to London. When he woke, he wrote on a cocktail napkin before he forgot: "She speaks earnestly but never quite makes eye contact. A big woman and solid all through; she is an absence of hiatus. 'I wasn't trying to be funny in a mean way when I named my pig Misery, no sir. Please don't think that. No, I named her in the spirit of fan love, which is the purest love there is. You should be flattered.'"

Another Fun Fact: Everyone knows about the movie, but Misery has also been adapted into no less than four stage plays, including a Dutch "feel bad" musical, and one written by William Goldman, writer of the screenplay.   


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Re: List o' Crap #127 Top 50 Novels Countdown!
« Reply #6 on: September 26, 2020, 06:02:45 PM »
The novel is very Southern, very languid – it takes its time and for a spell I was losing my patience with the pacing. But as it went on I found myself drawn to the protagonists, and identified with these two broken people who belonged nowhere but with each other. So moved by it I wrote a folky tune inspired by the story - Do I dare share this... it's just me and the guitar. I normally play rhythm and some bass, and am not a lead guitarist, but I decided I wanted to write a play the lead, just once... in hindsight, I should have let Goose (the lead guitarist on the rest of the EP) do the honors. As my picking is rather stiff - any way, here it is (I did the art for the cover too, man I must have been on an ego trip. lol)

<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/6cWCACmvR7U" target="_blank" class="new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/6cWCACmvR7U</a>

That is awesome, both the composition and the performance :D I'm also a singer (I'm actually singing in church tomorrow). I sing baritone and bass. I can't really comment on the guitar, since I can't play it at all. Used to play the violin, but my left hand is too screwed up to be able to do it any more  :-[


Offline linszoid

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Re: List o' Crap #127 Top 50 Novels Countdown!
« Reply #7 on: September 26, 2020, 07:26:02 PM »
Glad to see this list up and running.

Misery is probably my favorite Stephen King novel. I think for me a horror novel is much more scarier when it's more grounded in reality rather than throwing in a bunch of supernatural phenomena.


Offline linszoid

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Re: List o' Crap #127 Top 50 Novels Countdown!
« Reply #8 on: September 26, 2020, 07:27:14 PM »
I'll also add that Eyes of the Dragon is a decent read too.


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Re: List o' Crap #127 Top 50 Novels Countdown!
« Reply #9 on: September 26, 2020, 08:06:56 PM »
#50e The Catcher in the Rye, by JD Salinger

1 List, 22 Points
Top Vote #4 Stethacantus

“Among other things, you'll find that you're not the first person who was ever confused and frightened and even sickened by human behavior. You're by no means alone on that score, you'll be excited and stimulated to know. Many, many men have been just as troubled morally and spiritually as you are right now. Happily, some of them kept records of their troubles. You'll learn from them—if you want to. Just as someday, if you have something to offer, someone will learn something from you. It's a beautiful reciprocal arrangement. And it isn't education. It's history. It's poetry.”

“The mark of the immature man is that he wants to die nobly for a cause, while the mark of the mature man is that he wants to live humbly for one.”

“I'm quite illiterate, but I read a lot. ” 

The hero-narrator of The Catcher in the Rye is an ancient child of sixteen, a native New Yorker named Holden Caulfield. Through circumstances that tend to preclude adult, secondhand description, he leaves his prep school in Pennsylvania and goes underground in New York City for three days. The boy himself is at once too simple and too complex for us to make any final comment about him or his story. Perhaps the safest thing we can say about Holden is that he was born in the world not just strongly attracted to beauty but, almost, hopelessly impaled on it. There are many voices in this novel: children's voices, adult voices, underground voices-but Holden's voice is the most eloquent of all. Transcending his own vernacular, yet remaining marvelously faithful to it, he issues a perfectly articulated cry of mixed pain and pleasure. However, like most lovers and clowns and poets of the higher orders, he keeps most of the pain to, and for, himself. The pleasure he gives away, or sets aside, with all his heart. It is there for the reader who can handle it to keep.

Spoiler (click to show/hide)

J.D. Salinger's classic novel of teenage angst and rebellion was first published in 1951. The novel was included on Time's 2005 list of the 100 best English-language novels written since 1923. It was named by Modern Library and its readers as one of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century. It has been frequently challenged in the court for its liberal use of profanity and portrayal of sexuality and in the 1950's and 60's it was the novel that every teenage boy wants to read.

I've never read Catcher in the Rye. I know of it's reputation, and it just isn't something I ever had any desire to read. Looking through reviews of it, it's clearly polarizing. A lot of people praise it highly of course. Bill Gates claims it's one of his favorite books. But quite a few people seem to truly detest it. Though I expect a lot of this is backlash from it's lofty reputation, combined with a desire to smack Holden Caulfield and tell him to "grow up" :-\ There is an interesting argument that The Catcher in the Rye can best be understood as a disguised war novel. Salinger witnessed the horrors of World War II, but rather than writing a combat novel, Salinger took the trauma of war and embedded it within what looked to the naked eye like a coming-of-age novel.

Fun Fact: Between 1961 and 1982, The Catcher in the Rye was the most censored book in high schools and libraries in the United States.

Very UNfun Fact: Several shootings have been associated with Salinger's novel, including Robert John Bardo's murder of Rebecca Schaeffer and John Hinckley Jr.'s assassination attempt on Ronald Reagan. Additionally, after fatally shooting John Lennon, Mark David Chapman was arrested with a copy of the book that he had purchased that same day, inside of which he had written: "To Holden Caulfield, From Holden Caulfield, This is my statement".


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Re: List o' Crap #127 Top 50 Novels Countdown!
« Reply #10 on: September 26, 2020, 08:09:45 PM »
That will do it for tonight. Tomorrow, the last of the ties for 50th. Then we'll start in on the ties for 44th, of which there are a lot.


Offline dbsommer

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Re: List o' Crap #127 Top 50 Novels Countdown!
« Reply #11 on: September 26, 2020, 09:34:28 PM »
Glad to see this list up and running.

Misery is probably my favorite Stephen King novel. I think for me a horror novel is much more scarier when it's more grounded in reality rather than throwing in a bunch of supernatural phenomena.

I mostly prefer the opposite, which is probably why I enjoy Lovecraft. A human you can ultimately defeat; a force like in his mythos you can only survive or escape. Those are the best options you can hope for.


Offline linszoid

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Re: List o' Crap #127 Top 50 Novels Countdown!
« Reply #12 on: September 26, 2020, 09:43:45 PM »
#50e The Catcher in the Rye, by JD Salinger
Not my favorite book but it did inspire one of the best South Park episodes

<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/T9ZaC6Gw0UY" target="_blank" class="new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/T9ZaC6Gw0UY</a>


Offline George-2.0

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Re: List o' Crap #127 Top 50 Novels Countdown!
« Reply #13 on: September 27, 2020, 01:22:23 AM »
I finally read Catcher a few years back - late in life,  never read it in School, but I don't think it was because it was banned, but maybe they kept it off reading lists as a sideways way of avoiding controversy? It was a good read.

Misery wasn't one of my faves from King, I prefer his supernatural tales myself.

BTW, started in on the Masterlist entry, I figured that it would be easier to do that gradually, with each post, rather than have to work on 3 full LoCs at once.

That is awesome, both the composition and the performance :D I'm also a singer (I'm actually singing in church tomorrow). I sing baritone and bass. I can't really comment on the guitar, since I can't play it at all. Used to play the violin, but my left hand is too screwed up to be able to do it any more  :-[

Thanks, cool to meet a fellow singer on board (I knew we had a few artists here, folks who could draw, and at least one comedian - heck, we could put on an LoC talent show  ;)). Sorry to read about the hand, that's too bad.
« Last Edit: September 27, 2020, 01:24:59 AM by George-2.0 »


Offline Russoguru

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Re: List o' Crap #127 Top 50 Novels Countdown!
« Reply #14 on: September 27, 2020, 09:56:20 AM »
I knew what the story of Misery was, but I've always been a person who prefers the movie to the book. Sure, I understand there's a lot of stuff you miss if you just watch the movie instead of a book, but I have a very basic problem when it comes to reading... I can't like... visualize what I'm reading. I have a hard time turning words into images in my mind, and that creates a certain detachment that leaves me uninterested when reading the vast majority of novels. Ironic, I know, since I did submit my own list.