"100 Books To Read In a Lifetime," according to Amazon

Yeah, I’ve heard he wrote his best stuff when he was older. But I’m sure you actually meant “Elizabethan” rather than “Victorian”.

(Though there’s potential in the idea of Shakespeare doing a Hob Gadling…)

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I think I have read somewhere between a quarter and a third of these, plus a few adaptations of others.

Not sure I have a great desire to read much of the remainder though - although other than To Kill a Sodding Mockingbird I did like the ones I have read.

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Yes, totally just my brain mixing terms while preparing that SUPER LONG post. Corrected now.

I think I’ve read more of your list than theirs. I don’t think Douglas Adams should be a joke selection though. Everyone should read Adams.


I’ve read 58 of them. Maybe half of those are ones I’d seriously recommend to anyone else, and there are cases and cases of books I’d put above the ones I wouldn’t. It’s all very subjective, isn’t it?

They should indeed! The joke is in the contrast with those he is listed next to, not in the choice itself. :wink:

That was comprehensive!

I’m surprised no one here has noted that the list essentially serves a commercial purpose, and only by-the-way intends to suggest important books. It’s just an advertisement with an easy way to purchase those books. My guess is the reason there are so few “classic” books in the list (i.e., written before 1930 or so) is that it’s so easy to find them elsewhere as FREE epubs. Not much reason for Amazon to include those, is there?


Aye, I’ve read all the good ones.

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I like Amazon for reviews and then I search elsewhere. For books, it’s the library.


Ahem. He said “Hemmingway”. That would be Egbert Hemmingway, the well-known Dutch author, author of For Whom The Ball Tolls. And might I add that I’m surprised they didn’t include David Coperfield or even Knickerless Knickleby, both by Edmund Wells.

I was pleased to see that they included Ethel the Aardvark goes Quantity Surveying.


Bravo! Well done.

I’m reading this thread because I’m hoping for new ideas from the link and good references from other commenters here.

But now that you’ve written that, there’s no reason for me to click on the link.


To me lists like that are purpose-built for two things:

  1. Make OCD types skim it going ‘nope, nope, yup’ to tally into a ‘how many I have read’ score, generating the sort of vague inadequacy that is solved by buying some more books from the list (and maybe even reading them!). And hopefully share it on facebook to lure other OCD types into the same trap (I got 13/100, so clearly I’ve got some Amazon buying to do for any hope of a fulfilled lifetime).

  2. Trolling people into talking about it (i.e. ‘generate buzz’) by angrily pointing out the many glaring omissions and how worthless the whole thing is, etc. This is clearly working.


Yeah, no Dante. WTF?

I think calling it incomprehensible is stretching it a bit:

The Prologue.

WHEN that Aprilis, with his showers swoot,
The drought of March hath pierced to the root,
And bathed every vein in such licour,
Of which virtue engender’d is the flower;

Granted it isn’t as easy to read as Douglas Adams but it’s far from impossible.

How about this bit:

Because that the cradle by it stood,
And wist not where she was, for it was derk;
But fair and well she crept in by the clerk,
And lay full still, and would have caught a sleep.
Within a while this John the Clerk up leap
And on this goode wife laid on full sore;
So merry a fit had she not had full yore.
He pricked hard and deep, as he were mad.

That doesn’t really explain the choices either because there are plenty of good books written after 1930. How about Dawkins’ Blind Watchmaker for instance (perhaps too likely to offend creationists)? What about Ken Macleod’s science fiction (too political perhaps)? Charles Stross’ Accelerando. Some of them even count as important.


Guns, Germs, and Steel? I say replace that with Sweetness and Power by Mintz… or some Hobsbwam… or Abu-Lughod… Something that challenges Euro-centric notions rather than further ingrains them.

Yay Eggers, Roth, Murakami, and Moneyball, boo Hunger Games and Potter. No DeLillo? No Updike? No Davids Mitchell & Foster Wallace? No Ballard? No Ballard?!

Also, wrong Cormac McCarthy choice.

Yeah, that is one writer I could not do without… I think few people had a better understanding of the modern world than Ballard.