Books Magazine

Ranking The First 65 Novels

By Robert Bruce @robertbruce76

It’s time for me to talk about my utterly meaningless and completely subjective rankings of the recent books I’ve read from the Time list.

If you’re new to the blog, this is a little exercise I do after every five novels. It allows me to explain why I ranked each novel where I did, with the understanding that, ultimately, ranking a list of novels like this is a pretty pointless endeavor. But I do it anyway, ’cause it’s fun.

So let’s take a look at the last 5 novels.

Book #61: A Passage To India (Current Rank: 55) The pacing in this novel is horribly slow. When I read about the plot, I expected to like it much more than I did. So I was disappointed after reading 500 pages of a novel that could have been cut in half length-wise.

Book #62: Loving (Current Rank: 54) I didn’t realize I ranked these two novels right next to each other until right now. This was another yawner for me. The only positive was the length. It was a much shorter novel, around 200 pages, than A Passage To India. Loving was Downton Abbey before Downton Abbey was cool. But I personally find Downton Abbey much more interesting.

Book #63: The Sot-Weed Factor (Current Rank: 18) With The Sot-Weed Factor, I had a completely opposite experience than the previous two novels. I didn’t expect to like this novel at all, and I actually liked it very much. It’s witty, a bit shocking, and undeniably creative. With all that, The Sot-Weed Factor was a much better novel, and I made it through its 700 pages, much faster than I expected.

Book #64: Ubik (Current Rank: 27) I’m the guy that pretty much hates science fiction novels, so when I rank Ubik at 27, which is slightly higher than middle of the pack, then that’s saying something. In other words, this was a pretty good novel. I would definitely read more of Philip K. Dick.

Book 65: Call It Sleep (Current Rank: 24) This is a sad, sad novel. But, as I’ve always said, any writer who can provoke emotion in you–even if it’s sad–is doing his job as a writer. That’s why terribly sad, depressing books can be incredible books. And Call It Sleep fits right in that mold. Henry Roth makes you just want to pick little David up and tell him everything’s going to be okay while throwing his abusive father through a window.

So that sums up the last five novels.

Agree or disagree with where I placed these five? Go here to see my full rankings.

More to come tomorrow about The Day of the Locust.

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