Best Novels

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  • #202866
    Weird Jim
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    • Topics - 131
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    http://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/aug/17/the-100-best-novels-written-in-english-the-full-list

    I thought the members here might find this list interesting. It’s only one persons (or perhaps one group of them) making a list.I’m going to make an assumption that it’s mostly male chosen, and as such would include mostly male preferences. Is it not then a bit degrading (to women novelists) for a woman columnist to ask why the paucity of women novelists. The beeoks got on the list because the list maker made a personal choice. If i’d made the list, Jane Austin would have been excluded, but then so would Somerset Maugham. I found only his short Rain to be a worthwhile read, and I’ve read it several times. In any case if the woman wants a list of great novelists that includes more women she should make her own.

    Anyway, this wasn’t meant to be a comment on the choices but a suggestion that the examination of it might provide clues to what makes a novel and its author popular over the years and thus provide guidance to wannabes.

    By the way, I’ve discovered there is a formula for a best seller, the problem is that some fool ran it through a shredder.

    #242460
    Michael E. Walston
    Participant
    • Topics - 38
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    Interesting list.

    No Robert A. Heinlein, Ursula K. Le Guin, or JRR Tolkien?

    I suppose it’s a point of reference, a start, but certainly not the last word…

    #242466
    Weird Jim
    Participant
    • Topics - 131
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    I found Tolkien unreadable. Not from his prose but from his subject matter. The only SF writer in the list was Margaret Atwood. Heaven save us; a woman. There was at one time a discussion on this forum as to why MA could get her stuff shelved with regular fiction at the library while poor Ursula was relegated to the SF shelves. I remember getting myself into trouble by addressing Ursula as “Babe” because that was a word MA used in one of her books. “Good Bones and Simple Murders”

    #242473
    Michael E. Walston
    Participant
    • Topics - 38
    • Replies - 182

    Frankenstein and 1984 were on the list. :)

    #242461
    ErinMH
    Moderator
    • Topics - 405
    • Replies - 10,885

    It’s not the 100 best novels in the English language, regardless of the headline. It’s 100 novels, many of them having been inflicted on students much too often, that one guy wants to enshrine and was given a platform to do so.(I’m going to ignore your disingenuous excusal of his gender bias.) I’ve never found Thomas Hardy readable at all, for example — only time in my life I used Cliffs Notes for a book rather than reading the book for English class was one of his.

    And, no, I don’t think examining the list shows what makes an author and novel popular over the years. Some of these are satire, some humor, some bleak. Many comment in some way upon society, but so do thousands he ignored.

    #242478
    Weird Jim
    Participant
    • Topics - 131
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    Did I miss? Somewhere I meant to complain that trashing a list because it doesn’t have enough female authors is sexist. (Not quite, but biased that way and therefor guilty of what the writer complai ned of.)

    There has to be something that fires a book to fame. Uncle Tom’s Cabin apparently sold 300,000 America and 1,000,000 in Britain in its first year. No television. How do you grab the public? I suspect there was more than just word of mouth that made that record. I Can’t say because of TOS.

    #242480
    ErinMH
    Moderator
    • Topics - 405
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    No, trashing a list because it doesn’t have enough female authors is not sexist. It’s saying that “Recommending mostly male authors because that’s what you grew up reading and thus what formed your opinions of what a good book is, and you’re too lazy to look beyond that, is sexist.”

    #242481
    MarFisk
    Moderator
    • Topics - 572
    • Replies - 15,626

    What Erin said and if you’re looking at sell rates, almost any big name romance novel has outsold and been read by more people than almost any book on the list. If the list curators do not look beyond their window, they are perpetuating a circumstance where traditionally marginalize authors (gender, race, genre, etc.) are kept out of the public’s eye which leads to fewer people knowing about them and then to otherwise educated persons making the statement that X type of person clearly doesn’t write Y books. It’s a self-supporting system.

    I’ll give you an example in reverse.

    I read a lot of female SF/F authors right now. I tend to cycle, and that’s where I am. I also “curate” my son’s reading by handing him books all the time. When the cries of the under-representation of women in the SF/F fields were at their most recent height, my son said that’s ridiculous. Most of the authors I read are women so clearly they dominate the SF/F market.

    Until that comment, I neither noticed the weighting (gave him male authors too) nor did I consider how it would affect his worldview.

    I give this example because it’s a blind spot. even for someone who is anthropologically and socially aware. I gave him good authors I thought he would enjoy. Gender, race, culture, etc. didn’t cross my mind.

    She remakes mechanical devices, and he dreams of becoming a steamship captain in The Steamship Chronicles. Book 1 is free in eBook.
    https://margaretmcgaffeyfisk.com/the-steamship-chronicles/

    #242462
    Michael E. Walston
    Participant
    • Topics - 38
    • Replies - 182

    I was just noticing, Brave New World and A Clockwork Orange were also on the list. Those qualify as SF in my opinion.

    I didn’t actually see Margaret Atwood on the list, but I freely admit I have a short attention span.

    I’m going to go out on a limb here and say I think ERB’s A Princess of Mars belongs on this list if Dasheil Hammet and Raymond Chandler also made the cut.

    Just saying. :)

    #242476
    Weird Jim
    Participant
    • Topics - 131
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    Frankenstein not non-fiction! Then whom did I see on the street last night.

    Yeah! I forgot about Mary.

    #242487
    Weird Jim
    Participant
    • Topics - 131
    • Replies - 420
    Michael E. Walston wrote:
    I didn’t actually see Margaret Atwood on the list, but I freely admit I have a short attention span.

    I’m going to go out on a limb here and say I think ERB’s A Princess of Mars belongs on this list if Dasheil Hammet and Raymond Chandler also made the cut.

    Surely I saw A Handmaid’s Tale on the list. Nothing belongs on the list other than those the compiler put there. My question is, “Why did he so choose?

    #242482
    Gilroy
    Participant
    • Topics - 25
    • Replies - 146

    Wasn’t this an argument that the Sad Puppies and Rabid Puppies used when arguing to “correct the SJW picks of the Hugos?” Or am I just out in left field?

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