Tuesday, October 20, 1998

Modern Library: 100 Best Novels

First posted 6/9/2020.

image from the Modern Library
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Modern Library:

100 Best Novels

Modern Library assembled top 100 lists of the best novels and non-fiction books based on online votes. The poll for the novels closed on October 20, 1998 with 217,520 votes cast. Here are the results:

  1. James Joyce Ulysses (1922)
  2. F. Scott Fitzgerald The Great Gatsby (1925)
  3. James Joyce A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1916)
  4. Vladimir Nabokov Lolita (1955)
  5. Aldous Huxley Brave New World (1932)
  6. William Faulkner The Sound and the Fury (1929)
  7. Joseph Heller Catch-22 (1961)
  8. Arthur Koestler Darkness at Noon (1940)
  9. D.H. Lawrence Sons and Lovers (1913)
  10. John Steinbeck The Grapes of Wrath (1939)

  11. Malcolm Lowry Under the Volcano (1947)
  12. Samuel Butler The Way of All Flesh (1903)
  13. George Orwell 1984 (1949)
  14. Robert Graves I, Claudius (1934)
  15. Virginia Woolf To the Lighthouse (1927)
  16. Theodore Dreiser An American Tragedy (1925)
  17. Carson McCullers The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter (1940)
  18. Kurt Vonnegut Slaughterhouse-Five (1969)
  19. Ralph Ellison Invisible Man (1952)
  20. Richard Wright Native Son (1940)

  21. Saul Bellow Henderson the Rain King (1959)
  22. John O’Hara Appointment in Samarra (1934)
  23. John Dos Passos U.S.A. (Trilogy) (1936)
  24. Sherwood Anderson Winesburg, Ohio (1919)
  25. E.M. Forster A Passage to India (1924)
  26. Henry James The Wings of the Dove (1902)
  27. Henry James The Ambassadors (1903)
  28. F. Scott Fitzgerald Tender Is the Night (1934)
  29. James T. Farrell The Studs Lonigan Trilogy (1935)
  30. Ford Madox Ford The Good Soldier (1915)

  31. George Orwell Animal Farm (1954)
  32. Henry James The Golden Bowl (1904)
  33. Theodore Dreiser Sister Carrie (1900)
  34. Evelyn Waugh A Handful of Dust (1934)
  35. William Faulkner As I Lay Dying (1930)
  36. Robert Penn Warren All the King’s Men (1946)
  37. Thornton Wilder The Bridge of San Luis Rey (1928)
  38. E.M. Forster Howards End (1910)
  39. James Baldwin Go Tell It on the Mountain (1953)
  40. Graham Greene The Heart of the Matter (1948)

  41. William Golding Lord of the Flies (1954)
  42. James Dickey Deliverance (1970)
  43. Anthony Powell A Dance to the Music of Time (Series) (1975)
  44. Aldous Huxley Point Counter Point (1928)
  45. Ernest Hemingway The Sun Also Rises (1926)
  46. Joseph Conrad The Secret Agent (1926)
  47. Joseph Conrad Nostromo (1904)
  48. D.H. Lawrence The Rainbow (1915)
  49. D.H. Lawrence Women in Love (1920)
  50. Henry Miller Tropic of Cancer (1934)

  51. Norman Mailer The Naked and the Dead (1948)
  52. Philip Roth Portnoy’s Complaint (1969)
  53. Vladimir Nabokov Pale Fire (1962)
  54. William Faulkner Light in August (1932)
  55. Jack Kerouac On the Road (1957)
  56. Dashiell Hammett The Maltese Falcon (1929)
  57. Ford Madox Ford Parade’s End (1928)
  58. Edith Wharton The Age of Innocence (1920)
  59. Max Beerbohm Zuleika Dobson (1911)
  60. Walker Percy The Moviegoer (1961)

  61. Willa Cather Death Comes for the Archbishop (1927)
  62. James Jones From Here to Eternity (1951)
  63. John Cheever The Wapshot Chronicles (1958)
  64. J.D. Salinger The Catcher in the Rye (1951)
  65. Anthony Burgess A Clockwork Orange (1962)
  66. W. Somerset Maugham Of Human Bondage (1915)
  67. Joseph Conrad Heart of Darkness (1899)
  68. Sinclair Lewis Main Street (1920)
  69. Edith Wharton The House of Mirth (1905)
  70. Lawrence Durrell The Alexandria Quartet (1960)

  71. Richard Hughes A High Wind in Jamaica (1929)
  72. V.S. Naipaul A House for Mr. Biswas (1961)
  73. Nathanael West The Day of the Locust (1939)
  74. Ernest Hemingway A Farewell to Arms (1929)
  75. Evelyn Waugh Scoop (1938)
  76. Muriel Spark The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1960)
  77. James Joyce Finnegan’s Wake (1941)
  78. Rudyard Kipling Kim (1901)
  79. E.M. Forster A Room with a View (1908)
  80. Evelyn Waugh Brideshead Revisited (1945)

  81. Saul Bellow The Adventures of Augie March (1953)
  82. Wallace Stegner Angle of Repose (1971)
  83. V.S. Naipaul A Bend in the River (1979)
  84. Elizabeth Bowen The Death of the Heart (1938)
  85. Joseph Conrad Lord Jim (1900)
  86. E.L. Doctorow Ragtime (1975)
  87. Arnold Bennett The Old Wives’ Tale (1908)
  88. Jack London The Call of the Wild (1903)
  89. Henry Green Loving (1945)
  90. Salman Rushdie Midnight’s Children (1981)

  91. Erskine Caldwell Tobacco Road (1932)
  92. William Kennedy Ironweed (1983)
  93. John Fowles The Magus (1965)
  94. Jean Rhys Wide Sargasso Sea (1966)
  95. Iris Murdoch Under the Net (1954)
  96. William Styron Sophie’s Choice (1979)
  97. Paul Bowles The Sheltering Sky (1949)
  98. James M. Cain The Postman Always Rings Twice (1934)
  99. J.P. Donleavy The Ginger Man (1955)
  100. Booth Tarkington The Magnificent Ambersons (1919)

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Thursday, August 20, 1998

Holes: How to Convert a Book to a Movie - Without Creating Major Plot Holes

image from tvtropes.org

It is a popular pastime to rip on movie versions of books. The general consensus is that the movie jettisons large chunks of the book to fit the story into a two-hour time frame. What is often forgotten in this common complaint is that there are plenty of examples of books which have been made into great movies. In fact, some of history's most acclaimed movies were adaptations of books - Gone with the Wind, The Godfather, and The Wizard of Oz immediately spring to mind.

Louis Sachar's Holes (1998), also a Newbery winner, certainly isn't at that level. However, it is a nice example of a solid book which was transformed into a solid movie. Surprisingly, in my quest to read the Newbery award-winning books, this is the first (at least that I know of) which has been made into a movie. As I read it, I couldn't quite imagine it as a movie. As soon as I finished the book, though, I pulled up the movie on YouTube (you can view it at the bottom of this page). I was pleasantly surprised.

A movie can't do everything the book does. This is where most people criticize movies. However, movies can do things books can't. Often people are disappointed that the characters on screen don't look the same as the pictures created by the words in the book. A movie, however, can convey a huge chunk of information with one scene that might take pages in a book.

A movie also must typically add more dialogue and, in the case of Holes, the ending was altered. The key, though, is that Louis Sachar wrote the book and the screenplay. It keeps the movie from taking on a completely different tone, despite some of the differences between the page and the screen.

A movie cannot duplicate the book experience - and it shouldn't be expected to. If done correctly, however, it can complement the original and add dimensions not explored in the book. Holes is therefore a success - as a book and a movie.