50 Must-Read Books of the 20th Century

The list may be found here.

Found via Books Inq.

And a curious collection it is too.  To put Kafka's "Metamorphosis" in a list of novels is a stunner of a start.  Follow that up with a list that conjoins Pearl Bucks The Good Earth (a book I very much enjoyed as a child and continue to enjoy in memory of that great pleasure) alongside Virginia Woolf's The Waves. Add to that Hermann Hesse's palid parable Siddhartha (every sixteen year-old's high fantasy)  and I'd say you had a pretty malformed list.  Must give us pause--it never said "best" although I had interpreted it so--it said "Must Read,"  quite a different sort of list.

Why don't we compile our own?  Leave a list of two or three must-read books of the twentieth century in the comments and we'll compile our own list of essentials.

I'll start us out, perhaps predictably with these seven:

Ulysses--Jame Joyce
Absalom, Absalom!--William Faulkner
Mrs. Dalloway--Virginia Woolf
Complete Works--Flannery O'Connor (Yes--I know that's a cheat, but her complete works are close to being shorter than one work by Tom Wolfe)
The Master of Go--Yasunari Kawabata
A Fine Balance--Rohinton Mistry
Say You're One of Them--Uwem Akpan

Later: I suppose I would also add

The Demolished Man Alfred Bester
The Stars, My Destination Alfred Bester
Dune Frank Herbert
The Murder of Roger Ackroyd Agatha Christie
Night Life of the Gods Thorne Smith (It was tough to choose only one)
The Grand Sophie Georgette Heyer

These are of a different category entirely--but no one who wants a sense of the popular culture of our time would want to be without at least a cursory knowledge of the "Genre" fields.


  1. George Bernard Shaw--St. Joan
    Henri Bergson--Creative Evolution
    Albert Camus--The Myth of Sisyphus or The Rebel
    Ernest Hemingway--The Sun Also Rises
    J. R. R. Tolkien--The Hobbit & The Lord of the Rings
    T. S. Eliot--The Wasteland & Other Poems
    Samuel Beckett--Godot, some of the novels


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