Friday, January 19, 2007


J. Peder Zane asked 125 authors to rank the top ten books of all time and he presents their lists in his book, The Top Ten: Writers Pick Their Favorite Books. Based on the 125 lists, Zane came up with the definitive top ten books of all time. They are:

1. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
2. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
3. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
4. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
5. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
6. Hamlet by William Shakespeare
7. The Great Gatsby F. Scott Fitzgerald
8. In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust
9. The Stories of Anton Chekhov by Anton Chekhov
10. Middlemarch by George Eliot

Personally, I'm surprised Moby Dick did not make the list. On the book's website:, Zane allows you to submit your own top ten list. I'm interested in what others think about this list. What should be on or off the list?


  • To me it looks as if the writer's interviewed just chose books from their senior year, undergraduate English classes, and because of that I'm surprised Gulliver's Travels didn't make the list. Alas, such is the fate of the outspoken misogynist...

    I enjoyed reading the lists submitted by the hoi polloi. Did you see how many times Catcher in the Rye made it? Have you read that book lately? It sucks! I understand its relevance and cultural importance, but it is not one of the best books ever.

    The impression I'm left with after reading the people's selections: has anybody from Asia or Africa ever written anything important?

    By Blogger PFXM, At Wednesday, January 24, 2007  

  • Hi,

    My name is Peder Zane and I am the editor of "The Top Ten: Writers Pick Their Favorite Books."

    I asked 125 writers to give me their lists of the 10 greatest books of all time. Then we tabulated the results - giving 10 points of a first place book, one point for a 10th place pick - to produce the list you have of the ten greatest books. However, the writers named 544 separate titles on their 125 lists - including "Moby-Dick" and "Gulliver's Travels" and "The Catcher in the Rye."

    "The Top Ten" includes a description of every book mentioned, making it (I hope) the ultimate guide to great books (after all, every title is considered by at least one distinguished writer to be among the 10 greatest works of fiction ever written). Post your own list - and download a free literary screensaver - at

    - peder zane

    By Blogger J. Peder Zane, At Wednesday, January 24, 2007  

  • Hmmmm, Peder's book sounds pretty interesting. In my opinion War and Peace was a heaping pile of crap, although it proved quite useful for falling asleep at night. Vote it off the island!

    By Blogger Eva G., At Wednesday, January 24, 2007  

  • i think i would need to know who the 125 authors were before i decided whether i cared about their lists....

    it does seem kind of ridiculously slanted towards the dead white male subsection of literature

    By Blogger katie m., At Saturday, February 03, 2007  

  • I am very surprised that there were no books by Tolkien on the list considering he created a mythology that permeates out culture now almost as much as Homer's myths influenced Ancient Greece and Dante's Divine Comedy resonated throughout the latter
    Middle Ages.

    By Blogger The Compleat Librarian, At Monday, February 12, 2007  

  • I love dead white males

    By Blogger Silas, At Saturday, March 03, 2007  

  • I wonder if they ever really read Madame Bovary or Proust? I was a French major, and I couldn't bring myself to labour through them. Yuck! I gave up on Proust when I found I had been reading the same sentence for the last page-and-a-half!

    Give me Pride and Prejudice and Manon Lescaut any time.

    By Blogger val, At Wednesday, April 11, 2007  

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