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Best novel of all time

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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.
#31 - May 30, 2016, 06:58 PM
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PICKY EATERS
OCTOPUSES ONE TO TEN
THE MYSTERIOUS UNIVERSE
THE BALLAD OF BOOSTER BOGG
BEASTLY BABIES
TOOLING AROUND

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And LadyS--I totally agree about ALL THE LIGHT. The plot is gripping, and it's so beautifully written.
#32 - May 30, 2016, 07:02 PM
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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.
#33 - May 30, 2016, 07:41 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.
#34 - May 30, 2016, 07:44 PM
« Last Edit: May 30, 2016, 07:55 PM by HDWestlund »

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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.
#35 - May 30, 2016, 07:53 PM
THE VOICE OF THUNDER, WiDo Publishing
THERE'S A TURKEY AT THE DOOR, Hometown520

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Jenn Bertman
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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

#36 - May 30, 2016, 07:58 PM
BOOK SCAVENGER, Christy Ottaviano Books/Henry Holt 
THE UNBREAKABLE CODE, April 2017
UNLOCK THE ROCK, 2018
jenniferchamblissbertman.com

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
#37 - May 30, 2016, 07:58 PM
Imagination is more important than knowledge. Einstein.

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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.
#38 - May 30, 2016, 08:17 PM
The Leland Sisters series: Courtship and Curses, Bewitching Season, Betraying Season (Holt BYR/Macmillan)
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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.
#39 - May 30, 2016, 08:35 PM
DREAM JOBS IN SPORTS PSYCHOLOGY (Rosen 2018)
THE GROSS SCIENCE OF BAD BREATH AND CAVITIES (Rosen 2019)

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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.
#40 - May 30, 2016, 08:36 PM
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PICKY EATERS
OCTOPUSES ONE TO TEN
THE MYSTERIOUS UNIVERSE
THE BALLAD OF BOOSTER BOGG
BEASTLY BABIES
TOOLING AROUND

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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.
#41 - May 30, 2016, 08:44 PM
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PICKY EATERS
OCTOPUSES ONE TO TEN
THE MYSTERIOUS UNIVERSE
THE BALLAD OF BOOSTER BOGG
BEASTLY BABIES
TOOLING AROUND

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Casting my vote for modern works (that I think will become classics, too)...I love Ruta Sepetys' books!
#42 - May 30, 2016, 09:20 PM
DREAM JOBS IN SPORTS PSYCHOLOGY (Rosen 2018)
THE GROSS SCIENCE OF BAD BREATH AND CAVITIES (Rosen 2019)

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Really interesting to read everyone's responses!

My first instinct was PRIDE AND PREJUDICE.

#43 - May 30, 2016, 11:12 PM

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Ooo, Jess, yes, East of Eden is another one that I love!
#44 - May 31, 2016, 04:34 AM

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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!
#45 - May 31, 2016, 04:51 AM

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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.

#46 - May 31, 2016, 04:52 AM

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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.
#47 - May 31, 2016, 04:55 AM

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...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).
#48 - May 31, 2016, 05:02 AM

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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????
#49 - May 31, 2016, 05:06 AM

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...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.
#50 - May 31, 2016, 05:07 AM

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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).
#51 - May 31, 2016, 05:08 AM

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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).
#52 - May 31, 2016, 05:12 AM

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Moby-Dick. Moby-Dick. Moby-Dick.
#53 - May 31, 2016, 05:32 AM

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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.)
#54 - May 31, 2016, 07:25 AM
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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
#55 - May 31, 2016, 08:27 AM
The Leland Sisters series: Courtship and Curses, Bewitching Season, Betraying Season (Holt BYR/Macmillan)
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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.

#56 - May 31, 2016, 08:31 AM
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THE MYSTERIOUS UNIVERSE
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BEASTLY BABIES
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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

#57 - May 31, 2016, 09:09 AM

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Oh dear, the books keep coming.

Dandelion Wine
The Turn of the Screw
#58 - May 31, 2016, 09:12 AM

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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
#59 - May 31, 2016, 11:02 AM
BOUND (Bodach Books, 2018)
TEN EASTER EGGS (Scholastic, 2015)
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Author of over 60 books and 60 magazine pieces

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


#60 - May 31, 2016, 12:42 PM

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