05 July 2012

I updated my list, but it still has a few holes

Simon made the button too. (At least I am assuming he did.)
When Simon and I had tea in last month in Oxford, I may have blamed him for exacerbating my OCD with his A Century of Books challenge. I was all set to abandon it, but I wouldn't let myself. I feel like I have to finish this list or I won't ever be able to read anything again. Sounds a little strong I know, but that is the way the mind is twirling right now.

It is clear that I won't finish all 100 years in 2012 like Simon plans to. I have only read a pitiful 29 books so far this year so it doesn't look too promising. I think I am going to remove the deadline entirely and replace it with the constraint that I can only read 20th century novels until the 100 years are all filled up. And on top of that I can only read from years that aren't already crossed off the list. This might be entirely foolish, but I seriously haven't been able to allow myself to read a pre- or post-20th century book since I opted into the challenge back in February anyway, so I might as well go along with it right?

I am not going to limit myself with the books I have listed here, but I did have fun fleshing out the list tonight. Many of the books on the list I already own so it gives me the added benefit of narrowing down my TBR pile. If some of the books look a little ominous it is because I filled in the gap with books from 1000 Books You Must Read Before You Die, and a lot of those aren't exactly pleasure reads.

I have tried to keep re-reads down to a minimum but there are a few on the list (Atwood, Brookner, Shields)

You will notice a few years are blank, perhaps you can help me fill them in. And if anyone can find an alternatively to Women in Love for 1920 I would be grateful. I am not sure I can go back to that one even though I am a 100 or so pages in. [Update: I have filled in the holes on the list with readers' suggestions, except for 1918, must have been a bad year for literature.]

I have already completed the one's that are crossed out. Those marked "ML100" are on the Modern Library's list of the top 100 novels of the 20th century, which I have been working my way through since 1997.

[List last updated 10/10/12]

1900 - Claudine at School by Collette
1901 - Claudine in Paris by Collette
1902 - The Immoralist by Andre Gide
1903 - The Riddle of the Sands by Erskine Childers
1904 - The Golden Bowl by Henry James (ML100)
1905 - The Duel by Aleksandr Kuprin
1906 - Young Torless by Robert Musil
1907 - The Secret Agent by Joseph Conrad (ML100)
1908 - Love's Shadow by Ada Leverson
1909 - Martin Eden by Jack London
1910 - Impressions of Africa by Raymond Rousse
1911 - Zuleika Dobson by Max Beerbohm (M:L 100)
1912 - The Charwoman's Daughter by James Stephens
1913 - T. Tembarom by Frances Hodgson Burnett
1914 - Dubliners by James Joyce or maybe Penrod by Booth Tarkington
1915 - The Underdogs by Mariano Azuela
1916 - Under Fire by Henri Barbusse
1917 - Gone to Earth by Mary Webb
1918 - Patricia Brent - Spinster by Herbert George Jenkins
1919 - Consequences by E.M. Delafield
1920 - Queen Lucia by E.F. Benson
1921 - Dangerous Ages by Rose Macauley
1922 - The Judge by Rebecca West or Jacob's Room by Virginia Woolf
1923 - The Ladies of Lyndon by Margaret Kennedy
1924 - Some Do Not by Ford Madox Ford (ML100)
1925 - Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
1926 - Winnie the Pooh by A.A. Milne
1927 - Rhapsody by Dorothy Edwards
1928 - Quartet by Jean Rhys
1929 - The Last September by Elizabeth Bowen
1930 - Angel Pavement by J.B. Priestly or The Deepening Stream by Dorothy Canfield
1931 - The Square Circle by Denis Mackail
1932 - Young Lonigan by James T. Farrell (ML100)
1933 - Frost in May by Antonia White or Ordinary Familes by E. Arnot Robertson
1934 - The Young Manhood of Studs Lonigan by James T. Farrell (ML100)
1935 - A House and Its Head by Ivy Compton-Burnett
1936 - Summer Will Show by Sylvia Townsend Warner or Eyeless in Gaza by Huxley
1937 - Lady Rose and Mrs. Memmary by Ruby Ferguson
1938 - Princes in the Land by Joanna Cannan
1939 - Pale Horse, Pale Rider by Katherine Anne Porter
1940 - Sapphira and the Slave Girl by Willa Cather
1941 - The Living and the Dead by Patrick White or Hangover Square by Patrick Hamilton
1942 - Clark Clifford's Body by Kenneth Fearing
1943 - Gideon Planish by Sinclair Lewis
1944 - Cluny Brown by Margery Sharp
1945 - The Pursuit of Love by Nancy Mitford
1946 - Every Good Deed by Dorothy Whipple
1947 - Under the Volcano by Malcolm Lowry (ML100) or Not Now, but Now by MFK Fisher
1948 - The Loved One by Evelyn Waugh
1949 - Love in a Cold Climate by Nancy Mitford
1950 - Our Spoons Came From Woolworths by Barbara Comyns
1951 - A Game of Hide and Seek by Elizabeth Taylor
1952 - The Far Country by Nevil Shute
1953 - Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis
1954 - Tortoise and the Hare by Elizabeth Jenkins
1955 - The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith
1956 - The Flight From the Enchanter by Iris Murdoch
1957 - Angel by Elizabeth Taylor
1958 - A Glass of Blessings by Barbara Pym
1959 - The Flame Trees of Thika by Elspeth Huxley
1960 - The Bachelors by Muriel Spark
1961 - Stephen Morris by Nevil Shute or Catch-22 by Joseph Heller (ML100)
1962 - Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov (ML100) or A Clockwork Orange by A. Burgess (ML 100)
1963 - The Old Man and Me by Elaine Dundy or An Unsuitable Attachment by Barbara Pym
1964 - Arrow of God by Chinua Achebe
1965 - August is a Wicked Month by Edna O'Brien or Everything that Rises Must Converge by Flannery O'Connor
1966 - The House on the Cliff by DE Stevenson
1967 - My Friend Says It's Bullet-Proof by Penelope Mortimer
1968 - Sarah's Cottage by D.E. Stevenson
1969 - The Waterfall by Margaret Drabble
1970 - Troubles by JG Farrell
1971 - A Meaningful Life by L.J. Davis or My Own Cape Cod by Gladys Taber
1972 - Augustus by John Williams
1973 - After Claude by Iris Owens
1974 - The Diviners by Margaret Laurence
1975 - Heat and Dust by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala and Crucial Conversations by May Sarton
1976 - The Takeover by Muriel Spark
1977 - Golden Child by Penelope Fitzgerald
1978 - The Sweet Dove Died by Barbara Pym
1979 - The Safety Net by Heinrich Boll
1980 - The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco
1981 - Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie (ML100)
1982 - Wish Her Safe at Home by Stephen Benatar
1983 - Look at Me by Anita Brookner
1984 - Hotel du Lac by Anita Brookner
1985 - Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson
1986 - Anagrams by Lorrie Moore
1987 - Postcards From the Edge by Carrie Fisher
1988 - The Temple by Stephen Spender
1989 - London Fields by Martin Amis or A Natural Curiosity by Margaret Drabble
1990 - Then She Found Me by Elinor Lipman
1991 - The Translator by Ward Just
1992 - Arcadia by Jim Crace
1993 - While England Sleeps by David Leavitt
1994 - The Longings of Women by Marge Piercy
1995 - Behind the Scenes at the Museum by Kate Atkinson
1996 - Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood
1997 - Grace Notes by Bernard MacLaverty
1998 - The Book of Lies by Felice Picano
1999 - Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson


  1. I think it is funny that all the bookish-OCD folks I know are reexamining dates and lists and challenges. I was going through this the other day. My list/goal making passion is nearly as high as my book nerd love. I'm just WAY overly optimistic with what I think I can accomplish in one year.

  2. The hardest thing about this for me has been the duplicates! Once I fill in a year, it irritates me to read a book and find out it was published in a year already filled in and therefore "doesn't count." (I'm checking years first now ... it's okay to call me a "turtle.")
    From my own TBR shelf, I have The Man With Two Left Feet by P.G. Wodehouse for 1911 (maybe a stretch -- it actually contains short stories published between 1911 and 1933), and for 1921 I have The Sunny Side by A.A. Milne. I'm going to give myself 2 years, but I don't think I can limit myself to the 20th century until I complete it...I know I am weak.
    I always find your OCD posts very comforting. Happy Reading to you!

  3. For 1911 - Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton ... or The Devil's Dictionary by Ambrose Bierce

  4. I've read one for 1911 -- Hilda Lessways, by Arnold Bennett. An unfairly neglected author IMO.

  5. What a wonderful idea. Would love to copy, if you don't mind.
    As to a book from 1920, I haven't read either of them, yet, but they are on my wishlist, both by Nobel Prize in Literature winners: Lewis Lewis "Main Street: The Story of Carol Kennicott and Sigrid Undset "Kristin Lavransdatter, volume I, The Wreath" (Norwegian: Kransen), recommended to me by a friend.

  6. And here's another one for 1918: Willa Cather "My Ántonia"

  7. I couldn't limit myself to just 20th century books, so it would take me years to complete the century - unless I could include everything I've read in the past...
    Re 1920, what Edith Wharton's The Age of Innocence?

  8. Oh, Thomas, if this was supposed to reassure me that I haven't single-handedly ruined your life, then it failed!

    But I will try to atone by coming up with some ideas. On my 'suggestions' list I had Dangerous Ages by Rose Macaulay for 1921, Queen Lucia by EF Benson for 1920 (a re-read, isn't it?) and The Secret Garden for 1911. I've yet to add it to my century, but for 1921 I read The Witchcult in Western Europe by Margaret Murray... rather specific to my research for my current chapter, and probably not one you'd be keen to seek out.

  9. Some of my suggestions have already been made - I would agree with 'My Antonia' by Willa Cather, and with Arnold Bennet - his 'The Card' was also published in 1911 and makes a light amusing start to this author. 'The Secret Garden' by Frances Hodgson Burnett is another possible book for 1911.

  10. Definitely Zuleika Dobson (Beerbohm) for 1911. It's brilliantly weird. And set in Oxford.

  11. For 1921, you could have some fun with "The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes," Doyle's final twelve short stories. Or "Alice Adams" by Booth Tarkington. Or "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" by F. Scott Fitzgerald....

    Happy reading!

  12. Amanda: A list can be wonderful until it turns into a prison. But since I am already in this particular list/prison I have fun with it.

    Susan: I totally agree on the duplicates. With 100 years you would think that wouldn't happen as often as it does.

    Glenn: I have read (and loved) Ethan Frome but I haven't read the Bierce. I will look for that one.

    Harriet: Arnold Bennett is where two OCD world's collide. The Good Wife is already on the ML100 list which I intend to finish, but it was published in a year that is already taken in this challenge. I am afraid to waste my Bennett mojo by reading something that isn't The Good Wife until after I read The Good Wife. How stupid is that?

    Marianne: Copy away. Misery likes company. :) I am a huge Lewis fan and have read most of novels including Main Street. I also love Cather and have read most of her novels as well. The Lavransdratter scares me a bit. There was a read a long a year or two ago and my impression was that it wouldn't be something I like.

    Christine: Love, love, love, Edith Wharton and have already read TAOI.

    Simon: Don't fret, doing this post has re-energized me and I am looking forward to it. Very good idea on the Macaulay. The Benson would be a re-read but I might be ready for it given my recent visit to both Tilling and Riseholme.

    Michelle Ann: I think I may have already read The Card. And I know I have read the Cather and The Secret Garden. Love both of those.

    Skiourophile: Good call. I have been meaning to read that anyway.

    Miss Bates: I do like a Booth Tarkington and he definitely captures the time about which he writes so Alice Adams would fit in well with the spirit of the thing.

    Steve: I agree. Oddly, 1908 was a really good year, but I knocked that year out months ago.

  13. Inspiring list Thomas! How about Masefield's Jim Davies which is a rattling good yarn R L Stevenson type story for 1911 and Heyer's The Black Moth -her first novel for 1921 as something completely different?

  14. I had to google books published in 1918 -- have you read The Return of the Soldier by Rebecca West? I haven't read it but I really enjoyed The Fountain Overflows.

    There's also The Marne by Edith Wharton, which I know nothing about but I LOVE Wharton. Also The Magnificent Ambersons by Booth Tarkington.

    I'm not even attempting this challenge, I have way too many Victorians on the TBR list, plus lots of contemporary stuff for my library book groups. But I do fill in my own list occasionally, just to see how my reading years are spread out.

  15. I typed "books published in 1918" into Google and came up with this Goodreads list: http://www.goodreads.com/book/popular_by_date/1918

    I hope it's helpful to you. For my part:

    I really liked My Antonia (Cather).

    I've enjoyed other books by Rebecca West and heard good things about The Return of the Soldier.

    If you're going to count children's lit, I don't see how you can go wrong with Beatrix Potter.


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