Sunday, April 6, 2008

Telegraph: The Perfect Library

First posted 6/27/2020.


The Perfect Library

This British magazine assembled its ultimate reading list of 110 books presented, unranked, in the following categories: classics, poetry, literary fiction, romantic fiction, children’s books, sci-fi, crime, history, lives, books that changed the world, and books that changed your world.


  • Jane Austen Pride and Prejudice (1813)
  • Charlotte Brontë Jane Eyre (1847)
  • Charles Dickens David Copperfield (1850)
  • George Eliot Middlemarch, a Study of Provincial Life (1872)
  • Gustave Flaubert Madame Bovary (1857)
  • Homer The Odyssey (800 B.C.) / The Iliad (800 B.C.)
  • Jonathan Swift Gulliver’s Travels (1726)
  • William Makepeace Thackeray Vanity Fair (1848)
  • Leo Tolstoy War and Peace (1869)
  • Anthony Trollope The Barchester Chronicles (1857)


  • Dante Alighieri The Divine Comedy (Divina Commedia) (1320)
  • William Blake Songs of Innocence and Experience (1794)
  • Geoffrey Chaucer The Canterbury Tales (1387)
  • T. S. Eliot The Waste Land (1922)
  • Ted Hughes Collected Poems (2003)
  • John Keats Odes (1819)
  • John Milton Paradise Lost (1667)
  • William Shakespeare Sonnets (1609)
  • William Wordsworth The Prelude (1799)
  • William Butler Yeats Collected Poems (1927)


  • Ernest Hemingway For Whom the Bell Tolls (1940)
  • Henry James Portrait of a Lady (1881)
  • James Joyce Ulysses (1922)
  • Gabriel García Márquez One Hundred Years of Solitude (1967)
  • Toni Morrison Beloved (1987)
  • Marcel Proust In Search of Lost Time, aka Remembrance of Things Past (A La Recherche du Temps Perdu) (series: 1913-1927)
  • Philip Roth The Human Stain (2000)
  • Muriel Spark The Ballad of Peckham Rye (1960)
  • John Updike Rabbit (series: 1960-1991)
  • Evelyn Waugh Sword of Honour (trilogy: 1952-1961)


  • Daphne Du Maurier Rebecca (1938)
  • Robert Graves I, Claudius (1934)
  • Thomas Hardy Tess of the d’Urbervilles (1891)
  • Choderlos de Laclos Dangerous Liaisons (Les Liaisons Dangereuses) (1782)
  • Sir Thomas Malory Le Morte d’Arthur (1485)
  • Margaret Mitchell Gone with the Wind (1936)
  • Patrick O’Brian Master and Commander (1969)
  • Jean Plaidy The Plantagenet Saga (series: 1976-1982)
  • Boris Pasternak Dr. Zhivago (1957)
  • Mary Renault Alexander Trilogy (1969-1981)


  • Jean de Brunhoff Babar (series: 1931-1940)
  • William Grahame The Wind in the Willows (1908)
  • C.S. Lewis The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (1950)
  • A.A. Milne Winnie-the-Pooh (1926)
  • Edith Nesbit The Railway Children (1906)
  • Philip Pullman His Dark Materials (trilogy: 1995-2000)
  • Arthur Ransome Swallows and Amazons (1930)
  • J.K. Rowling Harry Potter (series: 1997-2007)
  • Robert Louis Stevenson Treasure Island (1883)
  • J.R.R. Tolkien The Lord of the Rings (trilogy: 1954-55)


  • Isaac Asimov Foundation (trilogy: 1951-1953)
  • Arthur C. Clarke 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
  • Philip K. Dick Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (1968)
  • William Gibson Neuromancer (1984)
  • Aldous Huxley Brave New World (1932)
  • George Orwell 1984 (1949)
  • Mary Shelley Frankenstein (1818)
  • Jules Verne Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea (1870)
  • H.G. Wells The Time Machine (1895)
  • John Wyndham The Day of the Triffids (1951)


  • John le Carré Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (1974)
  • Raymond Chandler The Big Sleep (1939)
  • Agatha Christie Murder on the Orient Express (1934)
  • Wilkie Collins The Woman in White (1860)
  • Arthur Conan Doyle The Complete Sherlock Holmes (series of 4 novels and 56 short stories: 1887-1927)
  • Dashiell Hammett The Maltese Falcon (1929)
  • Thomas Harris Red Dragon (1981)
  • Patricia Highsmith The Talented Mr. Ripley (1955)
  • Elmore Leonard Killshot (1989)
  • Edgar Allan Poe The Murders in the Rue Morgue (1841)


  • Carl von Clausewitz On War (1832)
  • Charles Darwin The Origin of Species (1859)
  • Denis Diderot (editor) The Encyclopedia (L’Encyclopédie) (1772)
  • Sigmund Freud The Interpretation of Dreams (1900)
  • Thomas Hobbes Leviathan (1651)
  • Niccolo Machiavelli The Prince (1532)
  • Karl Marx Das Kapital (1867)
  • Thomas Paine The Rights of Man (1791)
  • Jean-Jacques Rousseau The Social Contract (1762)
  • Alexis de Tocqueville Democracy in America (1840)


  • Douglas Adams The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (1979)
  • Richard Bach Jonathan Livingston Seagull (1970)
  • Malcolm Gladwell The Tipping Point (2002)
  • Peter Mayle A Year in Provence (1989)
  • Dave Pelzer A Child Called ‘It’ (1995)
  • Robert M. Pirsig Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (1974)
  • Ben Schott Schott’s Original Miscellany (2002)
  • Delia Smith How to Cook (1999)
  • Lynne Truss Eats, Shoots, and Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation (2003)
  • Naomi Wolf The Beauty Myth (2002)


  • anonymous The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (9th century)
  • Winston Churchill A History of the English-Speaking Peoples (4 volumes: 1956)
  • Orlando Figes A People’s Tragedy: The Russian Revolution, 1891-1924 (1996)
  • Edward Gibbon The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (8-volume set: 1787)
  • Herodotus The Histories (5th century)
  • T. E. Lawrence Seven Pillars of Wisdom (1922)
  • Steven Runciman A History of the Crusades (3 volumes: 1951-1954)
  • Simon Schama Citizens: A Chronicle of the French Revolution (1989)
  • A.J.P. Taylor The Origins of the Second World War (1961)
  • Thucydides The History of the Peloponnesian War (5th century)


  • St Augustine of Hippo Confessions (400 A.D.)
  • James Boswell The Life of Samuel Johnson (1791)
  • Alan Clark Diaries (3 volumes: 2002)
  • Elizabeth Gaskell A Life of Charlotte Brontë (1857)
  • Robert Graves Goodbye to All That (1929)
  • Primo Levi If This is a Man (1947)
  • Siegfried Sassoon Memoirs of a Fox-Hunting Man (1928)
  • Lytton Strachey Eminent Victorians (1918)
  • Suetonius Lives of the Caesars (aka "The Twelve Caesars") (De Vita Caesarum) (121 A.D.)
  • Vasari Lives of the Artists (aka "The Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects") (1550)

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Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Kenneth Grahame's The Wind in the Willows published 100 years ago today

First posted 7/4/2020; last updated 7/5/2020.

The Wind in the Willows

Kenneth Grahame

First Publication: April 1, 1908

Category: children’s literature

Sales: 25 million

Accolades (click on badges to see full lists):

About the Book:

“One of the most cherished works of children’s literature ever written.” AZ After Kenneth Grahame “retired…as secretary of the Bank of England, he moved back to Berkshire, where he had lived as a child, and spent his time by the River Thames doing much as the animal characters in his book do – …‘simply messing about in boats’ – and expanding the bedtime stories he had earlier told his son Alastair into a manuscript for the book.” WK

The Wind in the Willows chronicles the adventures of four friends” BN “in a pastoral version of Edwardian England.” WK “The story begins at the arrival of spring where we find the good-natured Mole tired of doing his spring cleaning. Mole decides to abandon his cleaning in order to enjoy the fresh air of spring. He journeys to the river where he meets Rat, whom he quickly befriends. Together the two row down the river eventually meeting up with Toad at Toad Hall. There they discover Toad’s current obsession with his horse-drawn caravan, one which he quickly abandons for a motorcar when his caravan is run off the road by one. A fourth friend enters the story in the form of Badger and when it is discovered that Toad’s obsession is becoming self-destructive, Mole, Rat, and Badger intervene to help protect Toad from himself.” AZ

The novel is notable for its mixture of mysticism, adventure, morality and camaraderie.” WK It was adapted by A.A. Milne for the state in 1929 and as a musical almost a century later. The first of several film adaptions came in 1946. WK

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