50 Books! a.k.a. Halfway There! a.k.a. Nap Time!


It’s a day of celebration here at The 100 Greatest Books Challenge. I just finished my 50th book off the List, marking the halfway point in my Challenge. In other words, I deserve half a trophy, and half a pie party. Preferably gold, and preferably pumpkin, respectively.

I feel obliged to acknowledge that this was the “easy” half of the List. I had read 16 of the books prior to officially undertaking the 100 Greatest Books Challenge — meaning that, since 2011, I’ve really only read 34 books from the List. (Of those, I read 16 in 2014 alone.) And while I have tackled a handful of lengthy, challenging works over the last three years (Vanity Fair; Middlemarch; Anna Karenina; all three volumes of Lord of the Rings), I have yet to touch Proust and the six volumes that make up his infamous In Search of Lost Time… except for that stint in college that still makes me shudder to this day. Over half of the books left on my List are 400+ pages in length, and several were written by James Joyce or William Faulkner, my literary archenemies.

Anyway. Let’s focus on the positive: 50 books finished, and many of them so, so Great. Here are some mini-lists about my experience pursuing literary fame and glory a slightly maniacal to-do list, each and every one created exclusively for your my entertainment:


My favorites (so far) among the 100 Greatest Books of All Time:

1. Anna Karenina

2. Beloved

3. To Kill a Mockingbird

4. Vanity Fair

5. One Hundred Years of Solitude

6. The Catcher in the Rye

7. Pride and Prejudice

8. The Age of Innocence

9. Slaughterhouse-Five

10. Dangerous Liaisons


Books that are not among my favorites, but still undeniable works of genius:

1. The Divine Comedy

2. The Canterbury Tales

3. Hamlet

4. 1984

5. To the Lighthouse


Books that made me go “Wait, why is this famous, again?”

1. The Sun Also Rises

2. A Passage to India

3. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

4. Wuthering Heights

5. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland


Easiest reads:

1. The Wind in the Willows

2. The Catcher in the Rye

3. The Call of the Wild

4. Brave New World

5. On the Road


Most difficult and/or boring reads:

1. The Grapes of Wrath 

2. The Sound and the Fury

3. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

4. Women in Love

5. Heart of Darkness


Biggest surprises:

1. Hemingway had no discernible talent. Yes, that Hemingway.

2. The Call of the Wild was incredibly interesting and not at all cloying, despite being narrated by a dog.

3. Wuthering Heights: blithering idiots.

4. Anna Karenina was a piece of cake, and a tasty one at that. I’m actually looking forward to the remaining Russian classics, as long as I can get my hands on the Pevear & Volokhonsky translations.

5. I’d be embarrassed by any personal attempt to articulate how amazing Beloved is. Even this one has left me cowering with shame.


Next up: Don Quixote, supposedly the Greatest Book of All Time. And then maybe I’ll tuck into the winter with some Proust.

8 thoughts on “50 Books! a.k.a. Halfway There! a.k.a. Nap Time!

  1. I just found your blog & it’s fascinating. Although I don’t agree with all of your reviews, I certainly appreciate them & intend to read through your archives. I reviewed the list and find that I’ve read about 70 of the books but will begin filling in the blanks. Thanks for a terrific blog for all us bibliophiles.

    • I’d love to hear your thoughts, especially since you’ve read so many of the books I’m reviewing. Thanks so much for reading — I certainly don’t think my views speak for everyone, but it’s a lot of fun to be part of the discussion and the bookish community in general!

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