Books Magazine

The First 60: A Look Back

By Robert Bruce @robertbruce76

Sixty books down. I’m nearly two-thirds finished with 101 Books.

After every ten books, I take a look back on the project as a whole and re-evaluate some of my favorite and least favorite aspects of the books. So that’s what today’s about.

Let’s take a look back at the first 60 novels. I’ll explain my rankings more in-depth in a post next week.

Total pages read: 25,032

Favorite book: The Great Gatsby is still tops. Does any novel really have a chance to take the top spot from Gatsby? We’ll see. (Complete rankings.)

Least favorite book:  That would be A Dance To The Music Of Time, a novel that took a year to read and made my eyes bleed from boredom. Do yourself a favor and never read this novel, unless you’re an insomniac.

Favorite character: It’s still Yossarian from Catch 22. Who wouldn’t love to have a beer with that guy?

Least favorite characters: Humbert Humbert (Lolita) edges Clyde Griffiths (An American Tragedy) and every character in A Dance To The Music Of Time.

Favorite writer:  F. Scott Fitzgerald (The Great Gatsby) over George Orwell (1984 and Animal Farm) and James Agee (A Death In The Family).

Least favorite writer: William Gibson (Neuromancer) tops Virginia Woolf (Mrs. Dalloway) and Malcolm Lowry (Under The Volcano).

Most pleasant surprise: I, Claudius over A Death In The Family

Most difficult book: The Sound and The Fury tops Infinite Jest and Under The Volcano.

Most depressing book: So, so many depressing books. Here’s my top 5. 1) A Death In The Family 2) Never Let Me Go 3) Rabbit, Run 4The Grapes of Wrath 5) An American Tragedy

Most graphic/violent book: 1) Blood Meridian 2) A Clockwork Orange 3) Falconer

Most perverted book: Portnoy’s Complaint

Most inspirational book: Can you call To Kill A Mockingbird inspirational? I’ll give it the edge over The Bridge of San Luis Rey. 

Funniest book: It’s still Catch 22. Nothing else is even close.

Longest read:  A Dance To The Music of Time was nearly the death of me in 2012. 3,500+ pages.

Shortest read: The Bridge of San Luis Rey

Best opening line: “Ten days after the war ended, my sister Laura drove a car off a bridge.” (The Blind Assassin)

Most memorable line: Three favorites from the first 60:

1.  “Soon we shall die and all memory of those five will have left the earth, and we ourselves shall be loved for a while and forgotten. But the love will have been enough; all those impulses of love return to the love that made them. Even memory is not necessary for love. There is a land of the living and a land of the dead and the bridge is love, the only survival, the only meaning.” –Brother Juniper (The Bridge of San Luis Rey)

2.  Soon you’ll regret all that sun-tanning. Your face will look like a testicle.” – Iris Chase
(Iris Chase, The Blind Assassin)

3.  “Hate is a lack of imagination.” (The Unnamed Priest, The Power And The Glory)

Here’s to 10 more great novels! I’ll recap again after book 70.

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