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Modern Library Reading Challenge

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#1 Alopex


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Posted 29 January 2012 - 04:00 AM

The Modern Library is a list of the supposedly top 100 novels of the 20th century (though counting the series, it actually appears to be 121 novels). Like the Pulitzer Prize Challenge, this is a somewhat heavy reading list, and because of the sheer number of books on this list, there is no time limit! The challenges is simply to read as many of these as you can over whatever time frame is comfortable for you.

Post here to discuss your progress or to talk about one of the books (be sure to keep the discussion 12+). Please note that some of the books on this list may not be suitable for children.

100. Booth Tarkington, The Magnificent Ambersons
99. J.P. Donleavy, The Ginger Man
98. James M. Cain, The Postman Always Rings Twice
97. Paul Bowles, The Sheltering Sky
96. William Styron, Sophie’s Choice
95. Iris Murdoch, Under the Net
94. Jean Rhys, Wide Sargasso Sea
93. John Fowles, The Magus
92. William Kennedy, Ironweed
91. Erskine Caldwell, Tobacco Road
90. Salman Rushdie, Midnight’s Children
89. Henry Green, Loving
88. Jack London, The Call of the Wild
87. Arnold Bennett, The Old Wives’ Tale
86. E.L. Doctorow, Ragtime
85. Joseph Conrad, Lord Jim
84. Elizabeth Bowen, The Death of the Heart
83. V.S. Naipaul, A Bend in the River
82. Wallace Stegner, Angle of Repose
81. Saul Bellow, The Adventures of Augie March
80. Evelyn Waugh, Brideshead Revisited
79. E.M. Forster, A Room with a View
78. Rudyard Kipling, Kim
77. James Joyce, Finnegans Wake
76. Muriel Spark, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie
75. Evelyn Waugh, Scoop
74. Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms
73. Nathaniel West, The Day of the Locust
72. V.S. Naipaul, A House for Mr. Biswas
71. Richard Hughes, A High Wind in Jamaica
70. Lawrence Durrell, The Alexandra Quartet (Four books: Justine, Balthazar, Mountolive, Clea)
69. Edith Wharton, The House of Mirth
68. Sinclair Lewis, Main Street
67. Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness
66. W. Somerset Maugham, Of Human Bondage
65. Anthony Burgess, A Clockwork Orange
64. J.D. Salinger, A Catcher in the Rye
63. John Cheever, The Wapshot Chronicle
62. James Jones, From Here to Eternity
61. Wilia Cather, Death Comes for the Archbishop
60. Walker Percy, The Moviegoer
59. Max Beerbohm, Zulieka Dobson
58. Edith Wharton, The Age of Innocence
57. Ford Maddox Ford, Parade’s End (Four books: Some Do Not…, No More Parades, A Man Could Stand Up…, and Last Post)
56. Dashiell Hammett, The Maltese Falcon
55. Jack Kerouac, On the Road
54. William Faulkner, Light in August
53. Vladimir Nabokov, Pale Fire
52. Phillip Roth, Portnoy’s Complaint
51. Norman Mailer, The Naked and the Dead
50. Henry Miller, Tropic of Cancer
49. D.H. Lawrence, Women in Love
48. D.H. Lawrence, The Rainbow
47. Joseph Conrad, Nostromo
46. Joseph Conrad, The Secret Agent
45. Ernest Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises
44. Aldous Huxley, Point Counter Point
43. Anthony Powell, A Dance to the Music of Time (12 novels: A Question of Upbringing., A Buyer’s Market, The Acceptance World, At Lady Molly’s, Casanova’s Chinese Restaurant, The Kindly Ones, The Valley of Bones, The Soldier’s Art, The Military Philosophers, Books Do Furnish a Room, Temporary Kings, and Hearing Secret Harmonies)
42. James Dickey, Deliverance
41. William Golding, Lord of the Flies
40. Graham Greene, The Heart of the Matter
39. James Baldwin, Go Tell It On the Mountain
38. E.M. Forster, Howards End
37. Thornton Wilder, The Bridge of San Luis Rey
36. Robert Penn Warren, All the King’s Men
35. William Faulkner, As I Lay Dying
34. Evelyn Waugh, A Handful of Dust
33. Theodore Dreiser, Sister Carrie
32. Henry James, The Golden Bowl
31. George Orwell, Animal Farm
30. Ford Maddox Ford, The Good Soldier
29. James T. Farrell, Studs Lonigan (Three books: Young Lonigan, The Young Manhood of Studs Lonigan, and Judgment Day)
28. F. Scott Fitzgerald, Tender is the Night
27. Henry James, The Ambassadors
26. Henry James, The Wings of the Dove
25. E.M. Forster, A Passage to India
24. Sherwood Anderson, Winesburg, Ohio
23. John Dos Passos, USA Trilogy (Three books: The 42nd Parallel, 1919, and The Big Money)
22. John O’Hara, Appointment in Samarra
21. Saul Bellow, Henderson the Rain King
20. Richard Wright, Native Son
19. Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man
18. Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five
17. Carson McCullers, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter
16. Theodore Dreiser, An American Tragedy
15. Virginia Woolf, To the Lighthouse
14. Robert Graves, I, Claudius
13. George Orwell, 1984
12. Samuel Butler, The Way of All Flesh
11. Malcolm Lowry, Under the Volcano
10. John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath
9. D.H. Lawrence, Sons and Lovers
8. Arthur Koestler, Darkness at Noon
7. Joseph Heller, Catch-22
6. William Faulkner, The Sound and the Fury
5. Aldous Huxley, Brave New World
4. Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita
3. James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
2. F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby
1. James Joyce, Ulysses
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#2 baletgir


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Posted 29 January 2012 - 04:41 PM

Wow, I'm surprised by how many of these titles I don't recognize. I've read somewhere between 5-10 of these, and theres probably another 10 that I've wanted to read for awhile now. And there are a few more I've heard of, but that leaves over half that I don't recognize at all. I pride myself on loving to read, so this is a bit upsetting!

Usually on the lists of the top books or books you should read its mainly classics, and though I have yet to crack open most classics, I still know of them. I wonder if its because schools (at least my American Public School) focus a lot on older works. And also in conversation with other people its more impressive to talk about a classic usually.

Am I the only one who's a bit in the dark with these books?

Edited by baletgir, 29 January 2012 - 04:42 PM.

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#3 JustASimpleGirlsWorld


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Posted 18 April 2012 - 02:06 PM

I've read 5 of these

1. George Orwell, Animal Farm
2. Jack London, The Call of the Wild
3. Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five
4. George Orwell, 1984
5. Joseph Heller, Catch-22

I recognise over half of these, and I've started a good many like The lord of the flies and grapes of wrath and The Great Gatsby but haven't finished them.
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#4 ShadowedErised


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Posted 06 July 2012 - 12:17 AM

I have read these seven:

1. The Great Gatsby - F. Scott Fitzgerald
2. The Sound and the Fury - William Faulkner
3. 1984 - George Orwell
4. Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
5. Lord of the Flies - William Golding
6. Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
7. The Call of the Wind - Jack London

I only recognize a handful of others, I have found it can be pretty hit or miss for me with classics. I happened to love 1984 and The Great Gatsby, but I struggled to the very end of Heart of Darkness and The Sound and the Fury.
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#5 Violet Gryfindor

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Posted 06 July 2012 - 12:41 AM

Here are the ones I've read so far:

79. E.M. Forster, A Room with a View
78. Rudyard Kipling, Kim
77. James Joyce, Finnegans Wake (well, as much of it as a person can read)
67. Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness
56. Dashiell Hammett, The Maltese Falcon
46. Joseph Conrad, The Secret Agent
38. E.M. Forster, Howards End
15. Virginia Woolf, To the Lighthouse
6. William Faulkner, The Sound and the Fury
3. James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
2. F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby
1. James Joyce, Ulysses

Not bad with 12, but there were a good few that I either own or really want to read like those by Hemingway, Wharton, Fitzgerald, and Henry James, as well as Wide Sargasso Sea and Brideshead Revisited. If only I could count the film versions of some of the books on the list, then I'd be doing better. :p

This list is very heavy into early 20th century American literature, though I'm slightly curious as to why all of James Joyce's novels are here, but there's only one by Viriginia Woolf? Why not Mrs Dalloway,? But there's a general lack of female authors on this list, which is strange - I thought for sure that Margaret Atwood would make an appearance. I'm also noting the absence of To Kill a Mockingbird and Fahrenheit 451 - they would fit in really well with the other books on this list.

Edited by Violet Gryfindor, 06 July 2012 - 12:42 AM.

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#6 TenthWeasleyWriter


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Posted 06 July 2012 - 12:48 AM

74. Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms
13. George Orwell, 1984
6. William Faulkner, The Sound and the Fury
2. F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

Oh... that's a bit sad. :laugh: I do recognize most of these, though, and a huge chunk of them are on my to-read list. Especially Hemingway, because I adore Hemingway. :wub: And there are quite a few up there that I started and never finished, because I just cannot bring myself to read for school most of the time, and I have no idea why. But anyway. Four and counting! :)
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#7 Marzipan


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Posted 06 July 2012 - 01:17 AM

64. J.D. Salinger, A Catcher in the Rye
41. William Golding, Lord of the Flies
31. George Orwell, Animal Farm
13. George Orwell, 1984
7. Joseph Heller, Catch-22

Oof, not that great. But, like you guys, there are several others that are already on my to-read list. Hopefully will be able to put a bigger dent in this list next time I post! :happy:

Edited by Marzipan, 06 July 2012 - 01:18 AM.

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#8 xximaginairexx


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Posted 28 July 2012 - 10:56 PM

I've read one. One. Animal Farm, by George Orwell. That's sad. I intend to change that.
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#9 TheHouseElf


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Posted 04 August 2012 - 03:40 PM

In my school's library there's a surplus of older, classic books, no one touches them which is great for me :p

From this list I've read 6:
7. Joseph Heller, Catch-22
13. George Orwell, 1984
31. George Orwell, Animal Farm
39. James Baldwin, Go Tell It On the Mountain -I have this in my bedroom right now, forgot to return it to the library ;)
41. William Golding, Lord of the Flies
64. J.D. Salinger, A Catcher in the Rye

That's quite pitiful and scarily similar to Marzipan's :p Some on this list I've never heard of, but I certainly intend to change that. This has definitely given me something to do before the end of the summer holidays :)

Edited by TheHouseElf, 04 August 2012 - 03:40 PM.

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#10 teh tarik

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Posted 06 February 2013 - 10:35 AM

I don't have time to read these days :( It's either read or write.


But these are the ones that I've read:


94. Wide Sargasso Sea  - Jean Rhys

64. The Catcher in the Rye  - J. D. Salinger

45. The Sun Also Rises  - Ernest Hemmingway

41. Lord of the Flies - William Golding

31. Animal Farm - George Orwell

25. A Passage to India - E. M. Forster

18. Slaughterhouse-Five - Kurt Vonnegut

13. 1984 - George Orwell

4. Lolita  - Vladimir Nabokov


Yeah, nine. Out of the nine I've read, Wide Sargasso Sea  is my absolute favourite. I never get tired of re-reading it. I never completed A Portrait of the Artist As a Young Man :p I should probably attempt reading some Virginia Woolf sometime soon.

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#11 melian


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Posted 06 February 2013 - 10:40 PM

I've read less of these than I would have thought.


2. The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald

3. Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce

5. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

7. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

10. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

13. 1984 by George Orwell

28. Tender is the Night by F Scott Fitzgerald

31. Animal Farm by George Orwell

41. Lord of the Flies by William Golding

64. A Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger

67. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

94. Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys


So yeah, that's 12 out of 100 that I've read. Guess I'd better get on to it then.


I know a lot more of the stories, but that's because I've seen movies or mini-series of them. Kind of surprised by the list but hey, it's all subjective. I thought a lot of these books were dull as doornails to read. ;)

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#12 Debra20


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Posted 06 February 2013 - 11:03 PM

I noticed that Lolita was on the list. Does anyone recommend it, cause I've got it as a present and I was thinking of reading it. Did you like it?

Edited by Debra20, 06 February 2013 - 11:04 PM.

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#13 caoty


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Posted 08 February 2013 - 08:45 PM

^I love Lolita, but it's pretty heavy reading.


I've read ten, which isn't bad considering... well, I was going to say 'considering I'm 18' but then I realised I'm not young enough. *has existential crisis*


90. Salman Rushdie, Midnight’s Children

65. Anthony Burgess, A Clockwork Orange
64. J.D. Salinger, A Catcher in the Rye

53. Vladimir Nabokov, Pale Fire

31. George Orwell, Animal Farm

13. George Orwell, 1984

7. Joseph Heller, Catch-22

4. Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita
3. James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
2. F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby


Am I seriously the only person in this thread who's read Pale Fire and Midnight's Children? Really? Seriously, drop everything you're doing right now and read Midnight's Children.

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#14 UnluckyStar57


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Posted 11 June 2013 - 01:50 AM

I've read a total of ten... How sad.  I could've sworn that I'd read more than that...


But I've heard of a lot of these, and most of them are ones that I feel like I really need to read, so hopefully I can add to my rather pathetic list. :)

67. Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness
64. J.D. Salinger, A Catcher in the Rye
58. Edith Wharton, The Age of Innocence
41. William Golding, Lord of the Flies
31. George Orwell, Animal Farm
13. George Orwell, 1984
10. John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath
5. Aldous Huxley, Brave New World
3. James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
2. F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

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#15 -BookDinosaur-


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Posted 17 June 2013 - 04:37 PM

I tried to read The Great Gatsby, I really did. I just really didn't like it. It was too boring for me. No offense to anybody who likes it, I just didn't like it much.


64. J.D. Salinger, A Catcher in the Rye

31. George Orwell, Animal Farm

88. Jack London, The Call of the Wild


I've read three. THREE. How sad. :(

Guess I've been too caught up with the moody vampires and dystopian love triangles. Gah. I don't even like them!


Although The Secret Agent is on my clothes drawer right now. Hm. I should start reading that.

Edited by -BookDinosaur-, 17 June 2013 - 04:38 PM.

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