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Radcliffe’s Rival 100 Best Novels

Said no book nerd ever

As I mentioned earlier this week in the Modern Library’s 100 Best Novels post, there was a bit of a book list “feud” going on in the late 90s over which 100 books should be classified as the best 100 English-language books of all time. After all, who can ever agree on just 100 books? That’s far too few, even if you do limit your literary time frame to only books published in the 20th century. So, very shortly after Modern Library published their list of 100 Best Novels in the New York Times in the summer of 1998, the Radcliffe Publishing Course released their own Rival 100 Best Novels List (at the Modern Library’s request. Sneaky book loving feudsters!).

Unlike the Modern Library’s list, the Radcliffe Rival list only features titles chosen by the board, and therefore unfortunately does not include a reader’s choice list. While the primary difference between the two lists is the order in which prominent titles appear–Ulysses is No. 1 on the Modern Library’s list vs. No. 6 on Radcliffe’s–the Radcliffe Rival list also features some titles that had been excluded from the Modern Library list. Charlotte’s Web, for instance, shows up here, as well as three works by Toni Morrison: Beloved, Song of Solomon, and Jazz.

As always, I’ve compiled the list here for your convenience, dear reader, and bolded the titles I’ve read. Which of the two rival lists do you prefer? Were there any 20th century titles that didn’t make the cut for either of the lists that you think should’ve? Discuss!

  1. The Great Gatsby~F. Scott Fitzgerald
  2. The Catcher in the Rye~J. D. Salinger
  3. The Grapes of Wrath~John Steinbeck
  4. To Kill A Mockingbird~Harper Lee
  5. The Color Purple~Alice Walker
  6. Ulysses~James Joyce
  7. Beloved~Toni Morrison
  8. The Lord of the Flies~William Golding
  9. 1984~George Orwell
  10. The Sound and the Fury~William Faulkner
  11. Lolita~Vladimir Nabokov
  12. Of Mice and Men~John Steinbeck
  13. Charlotte’s Web~E. B. White
  14. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man~James Joyce
  15. Catch-22~Joseph Heller
  16. Brave New World~Aldous Huxley
  17. Animal Farm~George Orwell
  18. The Sun Also Rises~Ernest Hemingway
  19. As I Lay Dying~William Faulkner
  20. A Farewell to Arms~Ernest Hemingway
  21. Heart of Darkness~Joseph Conrad
  22. Winnie-the-Pooh~A. A. Milne
  23. Their Eyes Were Watching God~Zora Neale Hurston
  24. Invisible Man~Ralph Ellison
  25. Song of Solomon~Toni Morrison
  26. Gone with the Wind~Margaret Mitchell
  27. Native Son~Richard Wright
  28. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest~Ken Kesey
  29. Slaughterhouse-Five~Kurt Vonnegut
  30. For Whom the Bell Tolls~Ernest Hemingway
  31. On the Road~Jack Kerouac
  32. The Old Man and the Sea~Ernest Hemingway
  33. The Call of the Wild~Jack London
  34. To the Lighthouse~Virginia Woolf
  35. Portrait of a Lady~Henry James
  36. Go Tell it on the Mountain~James Baldwin
  37. The World According to Garp~John Irving
  38. All the King’s Men~Robert Penn Warren
  39. A Room with a View~E. M. Forster
  40. The Lord of the Rings~J. R. R. Tolkien
  41. Schindler’s List~Thomas Keneally
  42. The Age of Innocence~Edith Wharton
  43. The Fountainhead~Ayn Rand
  44. Finnegans Wake~James Joyce
  45. The Jungle~Upton Sinclair
  46. Mrs. Dalloway~Virginia Woolf
  47. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz~L. Frank Baum
  48. Lady Chatterley’s Lover~D. H. Lawrence
  49. A Clockwork Orange~Anthony Burgess
  50. The Awakening~Kate Chopin
  51. My Antonia~Willa Cather
  52. Howards End~E. M. Forster
  53. In Cold Blood~Truman Capote
  54. Franny and Zooey~J. D. Salinger
  55. The Satanic Verses~Salman Rushdie
  56. Jazz~Toni Morrison
  57. Sophie’s Choice~William Styron
  58. Absalom, Absalom!~William Faulkner
  59. A Passage to India~E. M. Forster
  60. Ethan Frome~Edith Wharton
  61. A Good Man is Hard to Find~Flannery O’Connor
  62. Tender is the Night~F. Scott Fitzgerald
  63. Orlando~Virginia Woolf
  64. Sons and Lovers~D. H. Lawrence
  65. Bonfire of the Vanities~Tom Wolfe
  66. Cat’s Cradle~Kurt Vonnegut
  67. A Separate Peace~John Knowles
  68. Light in August~William Faulkner
  69. The Wings of the Dove~Henry James
  70. Things Fall Apart~Chinua Achebe
  71. Rebecca~Daphne du Maurier
  72. A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy~Douglas Adams
  73. Naked Lunch~William S. Burroughs
  74. Brideshead Revisited~Evelyn Waugh
  75. Women in Love~D. H. Lawrence
  76. Look Homeward, Angel~Thomas Wolfe
  77. In Our Time~Ernest Hemingway
  78. The Autobiography of Alice B. Tokias~Gertrude Stein
  79. The Maltese Falcon~Dashiell Hammett
  80. The Naked and the Dead~Norman Mailer
  81. Wide Sargasso Sea~Jean Rhys
  82. White Noise~Don DeLillo
  83. O Pioneers!~Willa Cather
  84. Tropic of Cancer~Henry Miller
  85. The War of the Worlds~H. G. Wells
  86. Lord Jim~Joseph Conrad
  87. The Bostonians~Henry James
  88. An American Tragedy~Theodore Dreiser
  89. Death Comes for the Archbishop
  90. The Wind in the Willows~Kenneth Grahame
  91. This Side of Paradise~F. Scott Fitzgerald
  92. Atlas Shrugged~Ayn Rand
  93. The French Lieutenant’s Woman~John Fowles
  94. Babbitt~Sinclair Lewis
  95. Kim~Rudyard Kipling
  96. The Beautiful and the Damned~F. Scott Fitzgerald
  97. Rabbit, Run~John Updike
  98. Where Angels Fear to Tread~E. M. Forster
  99. Main Street~Sinclair Lewis
  100. Midnight’s Children~Salman Rushdie
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3 thoughts on “Radcliffe’s Rival 100 Best Novels

  1. If I remember right, I seen a list back about a week ago with “Joy Luck Club” on it, and you hadn’t read it yet. I read it in high school and I remember enjoying it. Sometime in your lifetime, I suggest that one. It is something that can wait though.

    • You know, that is one that’s been on my list for forever now because everyone who’s read it has loved it, and for some reason it just keeps getting pushed aside. My reading list is completely filled up for October and November (I’m actually about to go marathon read for the rest of the day to make sure I get all my NaNoWriMo prep reading done on time haha) but I will do my best to get to it in December 🙂

  2. Pingback: Friday Funday: David Bowie’s Top 100 Books | The Bewildered 20-Something Writer

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