Here's the last installment, with some commentary afterward.
81. Something by Raymond Chandler. Chandler’s and Hammett’s names are synonymous with the Private Eye Detective novel, and that genre has been hugely influential on fiction and film. I recommend The Big Sleep, Chandler’s first novel.
82. Lyrical Ballads, a collection of poems by William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge. First published in 1798, later republished in 1800 and again in 1802 with material added. Generally credited with ushering in the “romantic” movement in English literature. The most famous work in the collection is “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” by Coleridge.
83. Something by Alexandre Dumas. Dumas, who died in 1870, was an early practitioner of the historical adventure novel. His stories have great zest. Best known works include The Count of Monte Cristo and The Three Musketeers.
84. Ivanhoe, by Sir Walter Scott. This was the 19th century’s “Shogun.” A huge, sprawling novel, but a great adventure. Set in 1194, after the third crusade when many knights are returning to England and Europe. It also features Robin Hood.
85. The Haunting of Hill House, by Shirley Jackson. A literary ghost story, and scary as hell. One of the very few books that scared me.
86. The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, by William Shirer. The most complete and most compelling history of Hitler’s Third Reich. The rise of fascism in the 20th century put an end to a period of rationality that had been growing in England and parts of Europe. Rationality has yet to recover.
87. Arctic Dreams, by Barry Lopez. A beautifully written ode to the great white north, and considering how rapidly the ice is receding in the summertime it’s a world that is becoming increasingly exotic.
88. Desert Solitaire, by Edward Abbey. I’m a big fan of Abbey’s. This is his nonfiction work about living in the desert. A number of books on my list are about Earth’s wild places. I love them, and I love the loners who visit them.
89. The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, as translated by Edward Fitzgerald. A collection of poems about life, drinking and love originally written in Persian.
90. The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, by Oliver Sacks. I’ve read about everything Sacks has written. It’s all good. Sacks is a medical doctor with a knack for bringing out both the humanity and the fascinating aspects of patients he’s worked with. This particular book illustrates some incredible things about the brain and how it works. Or sometimes fails to work.
91. Something by Louis L’Amour, the bestselling western writer of all time. L’Amour knew how to tell a story and combined the real and mythical wests in an appealing package. However, not all L’Amour is equally characteristic of his work. I recommend such books as: To Tame a Land, The Man Called Noon, Milo Talon, Flint, Silver Canyon, or Utah Blaine. To Tame a Land is my favorite.
92. Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, by Robert C. O’Brien. A children’s or young adult story. But it’s just wonderful and so imaginative. Loved it.
93. Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White. One of the great children’s classics.
94. The Borrowers, by Mary Norton. Imagine little people living in your walls. Imagine that the things you misplace aren’t really misplaced. They are “borrowed” by the little people. This story ignited my imagination so much as a kid that I can’t help but include it here. I was disappointed when I grew up and found there were “sequels” I’d never known about. Sigh!
95. Something in the Romance genre. People ought to be familiar with the whole range of human literature. Every genre has strengths and weaknesses. None are worthless and something like Romance, which has survived a long time and is still a force in the marketplace, deserves to be taken seriously. I’ve read a dozen or so romance novels but don’t know enough to suggest a specific book. My favorite among the ones I’ve read was The Wolf and the Dove by Kathleen Woodiwiss. Definitely an historical novel as well as a romance.
96. A book’s worth of H. P. Lovecraft. Lovecraft wrote short stories and quite a few are really good. Others are slow for modern audiences and heavy on description. I like that myself. Whatever you read by him, make sure it includes “The Color out of Space,” “The Statement of Randolph Carter,” and something from his “Dream story” sequence. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos has been a huge influence on modern fiction and film.
97. Something by Dean Koontz. Koontz’s best work is a virtual lesson in how to write a thriller. Not all his stuff is equally good, however. Stay away from his humorous stuff, but do try something from among Midnight, Lightning, Watchers, or Phantoms.
98. Night, by Elie Wiesel. I don’t always agree with the “experts” on what folks should read, but they got this account of the Nazi Death camps right.
99. Something by Tom Robbins. I recommend Jitterbug Perfume, but others are also excellent, including another personal favorite, Still Life With Woodpecker.
100. Something completely trashy. Just because you should.
There are many other good books that didn’t make my list here, although they came close: “The Turn of the Screw,” “The Name of the Rose,” “Childhood’s End,” “A Canticle for Leibowitz,” “The Postman Always Rings Twice,” “Cold in the Light,” :)
There are also many books I left off deliberately. I don’t think you need to read “On the Road,” or “The Metamorphosis,” or “Silas Marner,” or “The Catcher in the Rye.” I took the hit for you on these and I wish I had the hours back.
There are also some that might make this list, based upon their frequent recommendations on such lists, but which I’ve not read yet and can’t make a judgment: “To Kill a Mockinbird,” “Catch 22,” “Slaughterhouse Five,” “One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest.” Someday I’ll read them and then my list may change. That’s the beauty of such a list. It is forever changing, both from experience and from changing lives and personalities.
I hope you enjoyed ‘my’ list. I won’t mind if you disagree, or if you make your own. That’s also part of the fun.