Ten Greatest Books of All Time

Research of J Peder Zane

"The Top 10", a new book by J Peder Zane ranks the top books as submit by 125 of the world's greatest living authors.


This article in Time Magazine presents the top ten list, as one result of J. Peder Zane's The Top 10 (Norton; 352 pages). He had written to 125 of the world's top authors and asked them to send him their own personal Top Ten list.  Then collated and ranked the results.  So here is that Top Ten List, along with links.

Rank, Title and Author
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1 Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy - Romantic family-life drama, set in Russia.  The title character "Anna" is a married woman who becomes the mistress of an army officer.  Living openly with him, without a divorce from her husband, she is snubbed by her society friends.  Her life is ultimately tragic, although perhaps caused by her love of him, while his is not nearly as affected by the situation.  Two other couples' relationships provide contrast.
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2 Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert - Romantic family-life drama, set in France.  Emma Bovary is a woman who lives far beyond her means and has romantic affairs to try to escape the emptiness, as she sees it, of her life in the country.  Her idealistic and romantic view of life contrasts sharply with her actual conditions.  Her end is tragic as well, but this time, her husband and young daughter share equally in the result of her unfortunate decisions.
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3 War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy - Law-and-order family-life drama, set in Russia.  Following the lives of five aristocratic Russian families just before, during, and just after Napoleon's invasion of Russia.  War and Peace is an enormous book with a large cast of characters.  Not for the light reader.
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4 Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov - Dramatic Comedy ("Black Comedy"), set in the United States.  Lolita is a precocious 12-year-old girl who becomes the object of obsession for a middle-aged man Humbert.  When her mother discovers this, she decides to flee with her daughter, but is killed by a car.  Ultimately Lolita and Humbert become romantically involved. After some time, Lolita succeeds in a plan to go off with another man.  More adventures follow, with an ultimately tragic but slightly farcical ending, as intended.  Nabokov's novel, unlike the first three above is full of puns and wry asides, intended as a counterpoint to the tragedy we see unfolding on the main stage.
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5 The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
6 Hamlet by William Shakespeare  
7 The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald  
8 In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust  
9 The Stories of Anton Chekhov by Anton Chekhov  
10 Middlemarch by George Eliot