SCBWI's Blueboard - A Message & Chat Board

Registered Members => Book Talk => Topic started by: Betsy on May 30, 2016, 12:24 PM

Title: Best novel of all time
Post by: Betsy on May 30, 2016, 12:24 PM
I'm compiling a list for a project. What do you think is the best adult novel ever written (not necessarily in English)?

Thanks.

Literature majors--I'd especially like to hear from you, although everyone's opinion is welcome. You don't necessarily have to have read the novel you choose, but please tell me if you have.
Title: Re: Best novel of all time
Post by: LadySlipper on May 30, 2016, 12:38 PM
ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE, by Anthony Doerr, was about as perfect a novel as I've read.
Title: Re: Best novel of all time
Post by: Betsy on May 30, 2016, 01:24 PM
Yes, I liked that one too. Do you mean that you think that was the best novel ever written?
Title: Re: Best novel of all time
Post by: Vonna on May 30, 2016, 01:39 PM
Choosing just one novel as the best ever written is an impossible task. There are too many variables. But I will nominate one of my favorites: A Suitable Boy, by Vikram Seth.
Title: Re: Best novel of all time
Post by: JFriday on May 30, 2016, 01:40 PM
I still think the best novel ever written is TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD.

Title: Re: Best novel of all time
Post by: HDWestlund on May 30, 2016, 01:40 PM
THE SOLITAIRE MYSTERY by Jostein Gaarder is my all-time favorite adult novel. It combines a fantastical side story with the story of a family that has been separated for reasons that the little boy main character doesn't understand. It is one of the most beautiful treatises on love I've ever read, with all the layers exposed, and a fun bit of mystery and fantasy entwined. It's a real work of art.
Title: Re: Best novel of all time
Post by: Betsy on May 30, 2016, 01:42 PM
Thanks Vonna and LadyS (and JFriday and HD). If you can't limit it to one, than name three.

I'm creating a list--so it won't be just one in the end.
Title: Re: Best novel of all time
Post by: Marissa Doyle on May 30, 2016, 01:43 PM
I can't really separate them out, because they basic tell one story (sometimes going back to recount the same events from a different POV) even though there are four books: Paul Scott's RAJ QUARTET
Title: Re: Best novel of all time
Post by: 217mom on May 30, 2016, 01:50 PM
"Best of all time" is so daunting that I find my self paralyzed. It's not just the 'best' part, but even more, the "of all TIME" part.  :faint
Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner sits high with me.  :pickme So does Huckleberry Finn,   :pickme and I have no way of thinking of either as "better" or apply it to "all time." But they are diamonds among many Jewels.  :chest
Title: Re: Best novel of all time
Post by: Betsy on May 30, 2016, 01:50 PM
I don't you to be intimidated. This is for a list for someone who wants to read the ten greatest novels of all time this summer. I said I'd make him a list, then I realize that I'm not sure what belongs on that list and what doesn't.

Anyone want to nominate IN SEARCH OF LOST TIME, ULYSSES (by Joyce), DON QUIXOTE, HUCKLEBERRY FINN, WAR AND PEACE or any of the other old literary stand-bys? (Not that I'm trying to influence you--just curious...)

Ah, I see 217 named HUCKLEBERRY FINN. I can't remember ANGLE OF REPOSE, but I read it years ago and really liked it.
Title: Re: Best novel of all time
Post by: JennaWren on May 30, 2016, 02:31 PM
A few of my favorites:

To Kill a Mockingbird
A Prayer for Owen Meany
The Stand

One novel that blew my mind in college was If On a Winter's Night, a Traveler by Italo Calvino.

I can't say for sure if any of these are the best novel ever written, but they are some of my favorites, ones I've read a zillion times and that have stuck with me from reading one.

Title: Re: Best novel of all time
Post by: AnnH on May 30, 2016, 03:03 PM
The Book Thief
Title: Re: Best novel of all time
Post by: JulieM on May 30, 2016, 03:09 PM
Two of my all-time favorites are: The Book Thief and Cloudstreet.
Title: Re: Best novel of all time
Post by: Vijaya on May 30, 2016, 03:11 PM
Oh, gosh, this is hard, but I'll give it a shot (and I'm so glad you said we could mention three!)
Les Miserables, Jude the Obscure, Pride and Prejudice. I've read these many, many times.
I also agree with those who voted for A Suitable Boy and To Kill a Mockingbird. These will stand the test of time. I'm going to sneak in A Wrinkle in Time ::)
Vijaya

Title: Re: Best novel of all time
Post by: Betsy on May 30, 2016, 03:18 PM
Good! You've named some I'd forgotten. Keep 'em coming.

Again, not necessarily what you found the most enjoyable, but the best of the best--for someone (bright and literate) who wants to make up for a very limited education.
Title: Re: Best novel of all time
Post by: AnnH on May 30, 2016, 03:25 PM
Oh, gosh, this is hard, but I'll give it a shot (and I'm so glad you said we could mention three!)
Les Miserables, Jude the Obscure, Pride and Prejudice. I've read these many, many times.
I also agree with those who voted for A Suitable Boy and To Kill a Mockingbird. These will stand the test of time. I'm going to sneak in A Wrinkle in Time ::)
Vijaya



Oh, yes, Pride and Prejudice. And despite some issues, Gone With The Wind.
Title: Re: Best novel of all time
Post by: Betsy on May 30, 2016, 03:29 PM
Cloudstreet looks interesting, Julie. Thanks for suggesting it. I may read that one myself.

I'd totally forgotten P&P and Gone With The Wind. Do you think a guy would like those? Also, do you think those are "better" than Wuthering Heights? (I know. I know. I don't like to compare books. It's like comparing people.)
Title: Re: Best novel of all time
Post by: 217mom on May 30, 2016, 03:35 PM
There are a lot of lists like these on the Internet, and you got me curious to look at them, Ellen. Some are 100 BEST and some 50 best and so on. I realize that while I have read most and admired all on these lists, I didn't enjoy all of them. (Not a fan of Joyce's Ulysses, for example, and it's on most lists)

So the purpose is really relevant. Is it meant for educational literacy, general enjoyment of the greats, or to have what to talk about at a hoity-toity dinner party?

Some very enjoyable reads are not, and never will be, on these lists. I'm just trying to understand the question better.
Title: Re: Best novel of all time
Post by: Arona on May 30, 2016, 04:09 PM
Nothing else I've read ever replaced Tobacco Road by Erskine Caldwell as my favorite novel. I'd be surprised if any novel ever could, given TR has been my favorite for decades.



(I'd forgotten about Owen Meany! I used to love Irving. Cider House Rules was my fav of his.)
Title: Re: Best novel of all time
Post by: Betsy on May 30, 2016, 04:27 PM
217--Educational literacy. But maybe I'll give him a second list of wonderful books he might actually like, in addition to the ones he should read for educational purposes.

You're right. I've read Ulysses and it's definitely not my favorite. Can't say I really loved Moby Dick either--and I think that probably belongs on the list. I can't bear reading about the slaughter of whales, for one thing.

Whereas I LOVED Owen Meany. But is it great? I don't know.

I never read Tobacco Road, Arona. I guess I probably should.
Title: Re: Best novel of all time
Post by: 217mom on May 30, 2016, 04:39 PM
217--Educational literacy.

If that, then I would add one of the great Russian novels. Take your pick of War & Peace (how much time this person has to read?) or Anna Karenina, or the tortured but brilliant Crime and Punishment...
Title: Re: Best novel of all time
Post by: Betsy on May 30, 2016, 04:42 PM
Here's one of those lists (I'm not sure that Hamlet belongs):

http://thegreatestbooks.org/lists/44


But it's also nice to know what real people like the Blue Boarders think
Title: Re: Best novel of all time
Post by: JFriday on May 30, 2016, 04:42 PM
...add a Hemingway...

he did, after all, change the way Americans write.
Title: Re: Best novel of all time
Post by: Betsy on May 30, 2016, 04:43 PM
Which Hemingway?
Title: Re: Best novel of all time
Post by: Barbara Etlin on May 30, 2016, 04:57 PM
Quote
Which Hemingway?
*

Three of my favourites are THE GREAT GATSBY, FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS*, and CATCH 22.

Title: Re: Best novel of all time
Post by: 217mom on May 30, 2016, 04:57 PM
Which Hemingway?

Papa. That.  ;D
Title: Re: Best novel of all time
Post by: Betsy on May 30, 2016, 05:03 PM
 :wc

That's a good list, Barbara.

This is too hard. I'm going to give up.
Title: Re: Best novel of all time
Post by: LadySlipper on May 30, 2016, 05:04 PM
Best ever written, Betsy? Hmm. I think that's subjective, but I do think ALL THE LIGHT was one of the best books I've ever read.
Title: Re: Best novel of all time
Post by: Kell on May 30, 2016, 05:39 PM
For best,

BELOVED by Toni Morrison
MIDNIGHT'S CHILDREN by Salman Rushdie

Some of my all-time favorites: Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke, Possession by AS Byatt, Howl's Moving Castle by Dianna Wynne Jones.

Title: Re: Best novel of all time
Post by: JennaWren on May 30, 2016, 06:03 PM
Whereas I LOVED Owen Meany. But is it great? I don't know.


But I think this is the crux of making this kind of list. Catch-22 was mentioned and I nearly stabbed myself in the eye with that one (sorry Barb!  :hug), but LOVED The Old Man and the Sea, which has a similar effect on some readers. LOVED My Antonia, but War & Peace no no no.

It's all subjective. Some GREAT NOVELS OF ALL TIME made me want to stop reading altogether as an honors English student in high school and later as an English major. Others taught me things I didn't know and opened my world as a reader and writer.

That's why I threw in Stephen King. THE STAND is not literary or taught or on any list. But I think it is awesome and brilliant and filled with a great deal more than snobby Lit teachers noticed, and who even cares what those people think?

I think to even make a list one must define what "great" means. What makes a book Great? Who decides? How?

But I so love hearing about other folks' favorites! It reminds me how personal reading is.
Title: Re: Best novel of all time
Post by: Betsy on May 30, 2016, 06:58 PM
Jenna--Yes, I think I agree. I'm ashamed to say there are some books you guys are suggesting that I've never heard of, but now want to look into some of these titles.

Never heard of The Stand, for example.
Title: Re: Best novel of all time
Post by: Betsy on May 30, 2016, 07:02 PM
And LadyS--I totally agree about ALL THE LIGHT. The plot is gripping, and it's so beautifully written.
Title: Re: Best novel of all time
Post by: HDWestlund on May 30, 2016, 07:41 PM
One of the great, not-necessarily-enjoyable, but a leader among its era and kind and heartbreakingly eye-opening is PORTRAIT OF A LADY by Henry James. That one has stuck with me, even beyond the Realistic Lit class I read it for.
Title: Re: Best novel of all time
Post by: HDWestlund on May 30, 2016, 07:44 PM
Ooh, and then there's the "first" English novel: PAMELA by Richardson. It was written as a serial in a newspaper, but it was one of the first novel-length works in the English language. And it's actually hysterical--though not by the author's intent. Reading that and then THE HISTORY OF TOM JONES by Fielding, who wrote it as a satirical criticism of Richardson's works, can provide days' worth of amusement. I don't think I've laughed so hard at classical literature as I did in that class.
Title: Re: Best novel of all time
Post by: 217mom on May 30, 2016, 07:53 PM
Speaking of great, I was just struck by the amazing first sentence in one book by the master of first sentences, Charles Dickens.  Check out the first sentence of BLEAK HOUSE. {Hint: Hemingway did not invent one word sentences.}

Ellen/Betsy, this thread has turned out to be a delight, and it makes me want to read some of the un-read mentioned, also.
Title: Re: Best novel of all time
Post by: J-Bert on May 30, 2016, 07:58 PM
Three of my favorites:

The Optimist's Daughter by Eudora Welty
Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
Peace Like a River by Leif Enger

If short story collections count then:

A Good Man is Hard to Find by Flannery O'Connor
What We Talk About When We Talk About Love by Raymond Carver
Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri

Title: Re: Best novel of all time
Post by: Arona on May 30, 2016, 07:58 PM
Hemingway. The word I'd use to describe how I feel about Hemingway rhymes with rate.

Back in the day, I was a Faulkner girl--well, more than a Hemy one, anyway--and someone once wrote something like...the only way to get the taste of Faulkner out of your mouth is to read Hemingway. Oooooh, snap!

Wouldn't a list such as yours fare better with some sort of parameter? Example: three from one era, three from another era, three from another, and one contemporary "favorite" that isn't literary but has blown a lot of minds.

Oooooooh--Chekov! He was a favorite.  :running
Title: Re: Best novel of all time
Post by: Marissa Doyle on May 30, 2016, 08:17 PM

Some of my all-time favorites: Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke, Possession by AS Byatt, Howl's Moving Castle by Dianna Wynne Jones.

Kell, are we twins separated at birth? Jonathan Strange is one of my top three books Ever. Love the others as well though I might choose a different DWJ. Archer's Goon or Fire and Hemlock. Or Deep Secret.
Title: Re: Best novel of all time
Post by: Jayca on May 30, 2016, 08:35 PM
I'm a big Steinbeck fan and none of his have been mentioned yet. My favorite is probably East of Eden, but I also love his lesser known Winter of our Discontent.
Title: Re: Best novel of all time
Post by: Betsy on May 30, 2016, 08:36 PM
I used to be a Faulkner fan too. I loved LIGHT IN AUGUST and THE SOUND AND THE FURY. I haven't read him in years, though.

Never could get into Hemingway, although I liked THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA.

I remember that first paragraph of BLEAK HOUSE, 217. Dickens is an author I personally love, but I still don't think is one of the greats.
Title: Re: Best novel of all time
Post by: Betsy on May 30, 2016, 08:44 PM
I'm sure it would be easier if I'd limited this list, but I wanted as many people as possible to respond. It's interesting that some people are naming classics and others are naming books they really like that aren't necessarily part of the English literature canon. And that's fine. This guy is trying to get up to speed on the great books, but no reason I can't give him two lists.
Title: Re: Best novel of all time
Post by: Jayca on May 30, 2016, 09:20 PM
Casting my vote for modern works (that I think will become classics, too)...I love Ruta Sepetys' books!
Title: Re: Best novel of all time
Post by: Christine B. on May 30, 2016, 11:12 PM
Really interesting to read everyone's responses!

My first instinct was PRIDE AND PREJUDICE.

Title: Re: Best novel of all time
Post by: JennaWren on May 31, 2016, 04:34 AM
Ooo, Jess, yes, East of Eden is another one that I love!
Title: Re: Best novel of all time
Post by: LadySlipper on May 31, 2016, 04:51 AM
Hi Betsy. I see you gave us three to choose from, and yes, I have to think of the classics for the very fact that their longevity speaks to their strengths as a novel. Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice for its social commentary and wit, and, The Count of Monte Cristo still ranks as the best revenge, by Alexander Dumas. I think that fulfills my options for choosing three books. **There are so many favorites**but your parameter was "best ever written" so I'm trying to stay with that. And now, I'm sure I'll think of a dozen more!
Title: Re: Best novel of all time
Post by: koozoo on May 31, 2016, 04:52 AM
Impossible question.  :umm All depends upon taste.

It's the same as asking us to name the best children's picture book.  :bewildered

As for favorite novels....To Kill A Mockingbird was masterly. As was Lord of The Rings. And so many others.

Children's novels....The Phantom Tollbooth & The Little Prince. Both without a wasted word.

Title: Re: Best novel of all time
Post by: LadySlipper on May 31, 2016, 04:55 AM
In replying to your question, Betsy, I've read Ulysses, (best? no); Huck Finn (culturally interesting; not best) War and Peace (an excellent historic commentary on Russia and at times both, annoying and brilliant--not best; Don Quixote is superb, but sags in the middle.
Title: Re: Best novel of all time
Post by: LadySlipper on May 31, 2016, 05:02 AM
...and if you're going Russian--don't forget Solzhenitsyn's Gulag Archipelago. I wouldn't call it Summer Reading but it's quite good. And then, there's 1984 by Orwell, and Aldous Huxley's Brave New World. So maybe "best" is like the Westminster Kennel: Best In...(lay down category).
Title: Re: Best novel of all time
Post by: LadySlipper on May 31, 2016, 05:06 AM
HDWestland--Portrait of a Lady is one of James' best. It's subtle but catches you in the end. Also--TURNING OF THE SCREW for the best, all-time, ghost story...because what really happened????
Title: Re: Best novel of all time
Post by: koozoo on May 31, 2016, 05:07 AM
...and if you're going Russian--don't forget Solzhenitsyn's Gulag Archipelago. I wouldn't call it Summer Reading but it's quite good. And then, there's 1984 by Orwell, and Aldous Huxley's Brave New World. So maybe "best" is like the Westminster Kennel: Best In...(lay down category).

Oh YES YES YES to Orwell & Huxley!! Perfect novels. Animal Farm too. This thread is impossible.
Title: Re: Best novel of all time
Post by: LadySlipper on May 31, 2016, 05:08 AM
Arona: Chekov is brilliant. And funny, though it's not American-style humor. But Masha..."I'm in mourning for my life," is really quite funny in a dark comedy sort of way. (The Seagull).
Title: Re: Best novel of all time
Post by: LadySlipper on May 31, 2016, 05:12 AM
Betsy, we do have to give Dickins' A Tale of Two Cities. Another to consider is non-fiction. Your male-friend might like The Guns of August, by historian Barbara W. Tuchman. It's brilliant. (1914, WWI).
Title: Re: Best novel of all time
Post by: AnneB on May 31, 2016, 05:32 AM
Moby-Dick. Moby-Dick. Moby-Dick.
Title: Re: Best novel of all time
Post by: Vonna on May 31, 2016, 07:25 AM
If we are going back to ancient literature, the list should include the 16th century Chinese novel Journey to the West attributed to Wu Cheng'en. (Also known more recently as Monkey from Arthur Waley's abridged translation--this is the version I read.)
Title: Re: Best novel of all time
Post by: Marissa Doyle on May 31, 2016, 08:27 AM
Anne, I grew up one town over from New Bedford and worked in the Whaling Museum there, and I still haven't read Moby-Dick.  :hiding
Title: Re: Best novel of all time
Post by: Betsy on May 31, 2016, 08:31 AM
Well, I have to limit the list somewhat--it's already a pretty broad category as a number of you have noted. So, no nonfiction (at least on this thread) and no children's books or we really will go crazy as every one of us has strong feelings about that.  ::-)

Besides, my friend's an adult.

So now I have a pretty good list. Lots of people named books I'd forgotten about. Plus lots of new (to me) books that I want to read myself.

Thanks, everyone. Much appreciated.

Title: Re: Best novel of all time
Post by: Pons on May 31, 2016, 09:09 AM
Emma
Tess of the D'urbervilles
Mark Twain's short stories (especially The Man Who Corrupted Hadleyburg)
A Christmas Carol (This little book is a masterpiece. If you've only seen the play and think it's all about Tiny Tim, then you really need to read the book.)
The Great Gatsby or F. Scott Fitzgerald's short stories
Wuthering Heights
The Dickens of your choice

Title: Re: Best novel of all time
Post by: Pons on May 31, 2016, 09:12 AM
Oh dear, the books keep coming.

Dandelion Wine
The Turn of the Screw
Title: Re: Best novel of all time
Post by: Vijaya on May 31, 2016, 11:02 AM
LOL Pons. It's a great thread, Betsy! I've not read some of these and would enjoy sinking my teeth into something rich and classic.

Here's another for your friend: Iliad and it's sequel: Odyssey :)

Vijaya
Title: Re: Best novel of all time
Post by: Ree on May 31, 2016, 12:42 PM
I can't say what is the best of all time, but books that riveted me and made me think/feel anew:

The Book Thief
The Great Gatsby
Madame Bovary
The Bell Jar
Wuthering Heights
War and Peace

On the teen side:
The Outsiders

For the middle grader in all of us:
The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane

Ree


Title: Re: Best novel of all time
Post by: KatyD on May 31, 2016, 01:11 PM
I love this thread. I'm making a list of all those I haven't read. I'm a Thomas Hardy fan. MAYOR OF CASTERBRIDGE and TESS OF THE D'URBERVILLES are amazing, imo. I'm also a big JANE EYRE fan. But having said that, I'm not sure I could ever pick a "Best of All Time" novel. It would probably vary from day to day. But I didn't want these three books to go unrecognized. In a more recent time period, I might go with THE BOOK THIEF and ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE.
Title: Re: Best novel of all time
Post by: AnneB on May 31, 2016, 04:27 PM
Anne, I grew up one town over from New Bedford and worked in the Whaling Museum there, and I still haven't read Moby-Dick.  :hiding

You really do have to be in the mood, Marissa. Some of it's tedious if you're just reading for plot, but it's also a novel about a slice of history seen from many different angles. I wasn't much of a fan the first time I read it, in an American Lit class, but I've read it a couple of times as an adult and my admiration only increases.
Title: Re: Best novel of all time
Post by: AuntyBooks on May 31, 2016, 06:33 PM
Well.... For me, the one I am currently writing. It is not that I can compare to any of the authors that have been mentioned of course. It is just that when I am writing, the story is all around me. I can see the whole intricate thing. Beautiful,  three dimensional, tactile. Real. The longer I work on it, the more consumed by the magical world I become. And when I finish....it shatters. *I* shatter. I know that the book will never be as intense to a reader as it was to me while I was writing it. But I always have the hope that next time, next time, I will succeed in sharing some of this. If I never do—well, I'll write again anyway. Because I need to get back to story!

I am sure this will not help at all with your list. But if someone wants the *best* story in the world, I think they might have to write it themselves! Because it will be different for every one of us. The 'best books' are the books that capture a little bit of all of us. They can't be chosen by one person--or even one generation. It is a kind of verdict from the heart of human kind. 

So, my offering for your list will be the LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy.

:) EAB
Title: Re: Best novel of all time
Post by: Vijaya on May 31, 2016, 06:45 PM
Aunty, I loved what you said and it's so very true. :hearts  This is why some books are like friends. They hold pieces of your heart. For me this book will always be Adventures in Two Worlds by A.J. Cronin. Not a novel, but a memoir. V.

Title: Re: Best novel of all time
Post by: hairaplenty on June 01, 2016, 06:40 AM
To kill a Mockingbird.
Title: Re: Best novel of all time
Post by: Barbara Etlin on June 01, 2016, 08:10 PM
Two more that I think haven't been mentioned yet, since it's so hard to stop at three...

CRIME AND PUNISHMENT and THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME.
Title: Re: Best novel of all time
Post by: LadySlipper on June 02, 2016, 04:34 AM
Betsy--I think your friend will have a terrific start-up list--or at least, an eclectic one! Great question with an impossible answer. Cheers! :D
Title: Re: Best novel of all time
Post by: Melody on June 02, 2016, 10:47 AM
LORD OF THE FLIES.  Only wish there was some comic relief. Absolutely hate the movie versions because you really don't get to see the symbolism.
Title: Re: Best novel of all time
Post by: Larry on June 03, 2016, 12:40 PM
Of Mice and Men
In Cold Blood


Larry
Title: Re: Best novel of all time
Post by: Ree on June 03, 2016, 12:58 PM
Totally add those to my list, Larry. Great picks.

Ree
Title: Re: Best novel of all time
Post by: Larry on June 03, 2016, 01:04 PM
Thanks, Ree! That's the first time someone's agreed with me in quite a while! :stars3
Title: Re: Best novel of all time
Post by: Mark6b on June 04, 2016, 10:15 AM
Uh oh! I see a few repeats in here so let me think about this one. I guess I'll go with what I know. I doubt these are "Great Books" for most but they are for me.

IT - Stephen King. An absolutely terrifying book. One that left me with a fear of clowns ever since. The characters were the best developed I can remember. I had an idea what they would say or do before they did. And Pennywise... I'll leave him/IT be for now but what a true monster. I hear they are remaking the movie.

Ghost Rider: Travels on the Healing Road - Neil Peart. He is the drummer/lyricist for a band named Rush. In the late 90's within a 9 month period he lost his 18 year old daughter to a car wreck and then his wife to cancer. He felt he just needed to go away and he went on a motorcycle journey from Canada to Belize and Alaska and all points in-between. He writes about what he saw, who he met and how it made him feel along the way. Very emotional ups and downs which makes it an excellent book.

Watership Down - Richard Adams. Yes, it's about rabbits but it is something I think anyone should read. The characters and storyline are awesome and the ending had me reading it until I was finished. I could not put it down.

Clan of the Cave Bear - Jean M. Auel - A fascinating and detailed look at our prehistory when a clan of Neanderthals find a modern Cro-Magnon girl and take her into their own. It is a story of struggle, strength and survival in a harsh environment for the hero Ayla. She was clawed by a huge Cave Lion and she bears the scars. The Shaman of the Clan makes her spirit totem the Cave Lion and this infuriates the males of the Clan. A women cannot have such a strong totem. I don't want to give away any of the story but if you like a strong woman as the main character then you will like this book. I believe there are 3 more books in the series but this one is the best.
Title: Re: Best novel of all time
Post by: koozoo on June 04, 2016, 10:57 AM
Flowers For Algernon...heartbreakingly perfect.
Title: Re: Best novel of all time
Post by: Helen on June 04, 2016, 11:47 AM
I loved different books at different ages. They were my friends, and each one spoke to me as if they were the best novel of all time. Here's a few:

Harriet the Spy -- at age ten
Jane Eyre -- at age sixteen

As an adult, I go back to Tolkien's books for comfort and joy, especially The Hobbit. Oh, to have a round front door.
 :dogwalk
Title: Re: Best novel of all time
Post by: Vonna on June 04, 2016, 12:12 PM
Watership Down - Richard Adams. Yes, it's about rabbits but it is something I think anyone should read. The characters and storyline are awesome and the ending had me reading it until I was finished. I could not put it down.
:running YES!

Title: Re: Best novel of all time
Post by: Helen on June 04, 2016, 12:49 PM
 :bunny2 Watership Down. I loved that book, too. Headed to the library. Zoom! Zoom! Or rather...hop hop!
Title: Re: Best novel of all time
Post by: Vijaya on June 04, 2016, 01:02 PM
I loved different books at different ages. They were my friends, and each one spoke to me as if they were the best novel of all time.

And so many favorites of mine mentioned already. This is my tribe and some of you could be my twins ::) Mark, Helen, Ree ...
Title: Re: Best novel of all time
Post by: wolfie712 on June 04, 2016, 09:15 PM
In terms of adult novels, my all-time favorite is JANE EYRE.  :love4 It is followed closely by THE LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy.  :gandalf :legolas
Title: Re: Best novel of all time
Post by: HaroldU on June 05, 2016, 07:40 AM
There's an interesting debate to be had about the difference between "best" and "greatest"...

Given the project as you described it, Ellen, here are some I would consider: Dicken's Bleak House, definitely Huck Finn... and Ursula LeGuin's The Left Hand of Darkness.
Title: Re: Best novel of all time
Post by: Kell on June 05, 2016, 09:44 AM
(Aside to Marissa, I agree that Fire and Hemlock is probably "better" -- a dazzling tour de force. But I just love Howl and Sophie! )
Title: Re: Best novel of all time
Post by: fiona-scarlett on June 07, 2016, 11:33 AM
Not sure about the best of all time, but some of my all time favourites I think not already mentioned are;
THE HANDMAID'S TALE by Margaret Atwood
THE CATCHER IN THE RYE by J.D. Salinger
LORD OF THE FLIES by William Golding
THE SNAPPER by Roddy Doyle
Title: Re: Best novel of all time
Post by: JodyJS on June 07, 2016, 02:12 PM
 :goodthread
Title: Re: Best novel of all time
Post by: lee-bernstein on June 07, 2016, 10:08 PM
I love this thread! 

I'm going with books that had the greatest influence on me in my youth.  These might not be the greatest books ever written (although I think a couple of them are), but they are novels that spoke to my soul and inspired me to read more, more, MORE. 

CHARLOTTE'S WEB

THE CATCHER IN THE RYE 

STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND

GREAT EXPECTATIONS

A CHRISTMAS CAROL

DANDELION WINE

And, for me, the winner is . . . CHARLOTTE'S WEB.

I'd like to add how much I enjoyed seeing THE STAND mentioned in this thread.  I have yet to read it, and I would not have expected to see it listed here. Though recommendations from friends, THE STAND begged me to read it for years, but I ignored it.  I finally downloaded it last month. I look forward to reading it this summer.  (Something tells me I will feel I put it off reading THE STAND for far too long.)

With thanks to everyone here, I've also been inspired to read novels I've neglected . . . and to reread books I have not read in a long time--THE GRAPES OF WRATH, for example.  It's been ages.

Thank you, everyone.






Title: Re: Best novel of all time
Post by: lab on June 08, 2016, 05:37 AM
Love so many of the ones you guys have mentioned!! But, I absolutely LOVE Walden, ~Thoreau, and keep reading it over and over! But I also love Cold Sassy Tree ~Olive Burns; The Help ~Kathryn Stockett ;  The Returned ~Jason Mott and too many others!

Children's Books: A Wrinkle in Time; Charlotte's Webb; The Graveyard Book; Liesel & Po; Where The Red Fern Grows and so many more.   
Title: Re: Best novel of all time
Post by: lee-bernstein on June 08, 2016, 09:19 AM
Flowers For Algernon...heartbreakingly perfect.

Oh, yes!  I haven't thought about FLOWERS FOR ALGERNON in years.  Thank you for reminding me.  I'd like to read it again. 
Title: Re: Best novel of all time
Post by: fiona-scarlett on June 08, 2016, 11:45 AM
Absolutely adore CHARLOTTE"S WEB
Title: Re: Best novel of all time
Post by: JennaWren on June 08, 2016, 12:24 PM

IT - Stephen King. An absolutely terrifying book. One that left me with a fear of clowns ever since. The characters were the best developed I can remember. I had an idea what they would say or do before they did. And Pennywise... I'll leave him/IT be for now but what a true monster. I hear they are remaking the movie.


100% yes! One of my favorite books ever. First time I read it was in one sitting, during high school on a 25-hour bus ride from CT to FL for a competition. I love Stephen King so much!

And also Watership Down!!!  :bunny2 :love5
Title: Re: Best novel of all time
Post by: JFriday on June 08, 2016, 02:47 PM
I keep thinking about this thread and coming back and reading others' best books. This is a wonderful thread. I still stand by my all-time favorite being To Kill a Mockingbird, but I have to add another thought. For a beautiful book which moved me both as I was reading it and later, I have to add Cry, The Beloved Country by Alan Paton. When I finished it, I just wanted to sit and weep - both because it was such a moving story and because I had finished it.
Title: Re: Best novel of all time
Post by: Mark6b on June 18, 2016, 09:08 AM
100% yes! One of my favorite books ever. First time I read it was in one sitting, during high school on a 25-hour bus ride from CT to FL for a competition. I love Stephen King so much!

And also Watership Down!!!  :bunny2 :love5

I got stuck on guard duty in the Army and read it in a 24 hour period. Now I think I should have taken a break because clowns REALLY creep me out.
Title: Re: Best novel of all time
Post by: Betsy on June 18, 2016, 01:42 PM
In and effort to improve, I'm reading Charlotte's Web in French. I'd forgotten how good it is. Just got to the part where Charlotte dies, and, yep, I cried all over again.

I loved Watership Down too.

Title: Re: Best novel of all time
Post by: Vijaya on June 18, 2016, 02:05 PM
Wow Betsy! I've only read Petit Prince in the original and having to translate in my head didn't have the same impact.
Title: Re: Best novel of all time
Post by: janae-stubbs on June 18, 2016, 07:54 PM
Terry Pratchett - The Wee Free Men (actually the entire Tiffany Aching series--wow!) or Mort

Ray Bradbury - Dandelion Wine, or Fahrenheit 451

Agatha Christie - And Then There Were None

I think Persuasion (Austen, of course) is wonderful and I get something new out of Jane Eyre every time.

I feel like someone just asked me to name my one true best friend, and I didn't even just put one down! I have pages and pages of 'best book ever' so I obviously need to work on this.
Title: Re: Best novel of all time
Post by: janae-stubbs on June 18, 2016, 07:56 PM
Wow Betsy! I've only read Petit Prince in the original and having to translate in my head didn't have the same impact.

I read it in French the first time, too! Liked it, but there was the struggle of translating in my head. But it certainly made me pay attention to French literature.
Title: Re: Best novel of all time
Post by: Betsy on June 18, 2016, 08:36 PM
Well if you guys read The Little Prince, you both could probably read Charlotte's Web. It's pretty easy--not much harder, really. White has some descriptive paragraphs here and there with some words I didn't know, but then I just go to the Reverse Dictionary online and look them up. It's a great dictionary. What I like about it is that it has samples of each word used in phrases and sentences at the bottom of the page, and that really helps:

http://dictionary.reverso.net/french-english/brises

Also, you might like books by Sylvie Laine, especially this one:

https://www.amazon.com/French-Stories-Beginners-French-English-Glossaries-ebook/dp/B00DNWZEC6?ie=UTF8&qid=1466306666&ref_=la_B00CFR9VS8_1_2&s=books&sr=1-2

Also read the sequel. They're both really funny and the characters are great. Not much of a plot in either one, but the wonderful characters make up for it.

Title: Re: Best novel of all time
Post by: Vijaya on June 19, 2016, 07:22 AM
Thanks Betsy, I'll have to give it a try. I'm rusty as can be though because I never developed fluency in either French or German, even though we were there for 2 yrs. To improve, I had the usual language books but I read children's books, fairytales mostly during lunch and the other postdocs thought it most entertaining.
Title: Re: Best novel of all time
Post by: Engsis on June 19, 2016, 07:24 AM
I'm an English teacher and an avid reader and a lover of classics and this task is delightfully impossible! I have a list I tried to narrow it down to. A heads up, the list is not very narrow:

Beloved (and pretty much anything Toni Morrison has created, but this one tops the list)

Pride and Prejudice

The Great Gatsby (I hate this book actually, but think it's one of the most well-constructed books ever and the language and imagery is so powerful. I hate it because I get so wrapped up in the characters and how horribly everything ends)

Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison

Things Fall Apart

Grapes of Wrath

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

To Kill a Mockingbird

Gulliver's Travels

The Color Purple

Fahrenheit 451

 :reading
Title: Re: Best novel of all time
Post by: Vonna on June 19, 2016, 10:54 AM
I'm also going to nominate THINGS FALL APART by Chinua Achebe, even though it is probably the most depressing book I've ever read. It was riveting, and though I read it decades ago, I still think about it.
Title: Re: Best novel of all time
Post by: Betsy on June 19, 2016, 06:11 PM
Talk about depressing--I really, really don't like to read war novels, but I can't let this thread go on without mentioning ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT. I would never have read that book on my own, (too incredible depressing) but our daughter was reading it in high school, and she read passages to us. So then I really got into it. As you mentioned, Vonna, it's one I still think about.

That's a really great list, Engsis. A couple of my favorites that no one has mentioned yet.
Title: Re: Best novel of all time
Post by: Arona on June 19, 2016, 09:22 PM
I adored the man as a human being and his writing: Vonnegut. I think I have everything he ever wrote yet can't remember one stinkin' word from any of his works.  :cry2

However, Slaughterhouse Five was big in the day. Not the best ever written but perhaps noteworthy.