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Another interesting thing is that while Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone is there with 107 million copies sold, the second book in the series only has 60 million copies sold, so it seems that about 40% of people are not continuing on with the series after book one. I was surprised to see series there that I had to look up; Perry Mason, The Railway Series and San-Antonio, I expected to see only series that were radily familiar.
I’m going to guess that there is either a copy of a Harry Potter book or A Tale of Two Cities in your house.
We run a pretty sweet little bookish Instagram account, if we do say so ourselves (and we do). Scholar, activist, provocateur, teacher, community-builder, inspiration: No one word can span the career of bell hooks or capture how much we love her work. This classic from the 1920s makes a devastatingly eloquent argument with a simple takeaway: For a women artist to thrive, she must have space in which to work and some money for her efforts. This master work by Audre Lorde, a Caribbean American lesbian feminist writer, collects her prose from the late 70s and early 80s. How we did it (our pseudo-scientific methodology): After calling for nominations on September 9, 2011, we counted all reader picks that appeared on the Ms. Checked out the list, proud to have read a good handful of the books mentioned, but figure I’ll make it my two or three year goal to read the rest. Although I agree that Facebook is an imperfect tool for getting a balanced, representative sample! Critics Lev Grossman and Richard Lacayo pick the 100 best English-language novels published since 1923—the beginning of TIME. For the books project, Grossman and I each began by drawing up inventories of our nominees.
Written in diary form, this travelogue is perhaps the first example of modern, literary travel writing. During a 30-year conversation that unfolds in travellers’ stops and train stations across Europe, we learn about Austerlitz’s efforts to understand himself.
In 1973, Matthiessen trekked into the mountains of Nepal to study the Himalayan blue sheep and try to glimpse a snow leopard.
This journey down the Orange River by kayak interweaves the history of South Africa with white-water adventures.
After two years as a student at Nanjing University, Seth hitchhiked back to his home in New Delhi via Tibet. Newby humorously describes a badly planned attempt to scale one of Afghanistan’s most challenging peaks.
This is Bryson’s farewell journey across Britain, delivered with characteristic humour and nostalgia, while offering insights into modern society. Political history meets travelogue in this description of Orwell’s role in the Spanish Civil War. The story of a voyage up the Inside Passage from Seattle to Juneau, 1 000 miles alone in a 35-foot yacht.
In 1960, Steinbeck and his French poodle Charley set out in a converted pick-up truck to tour America.
Morris describes Venice as ‘a cheek-by-jowl, back-of-the-hand, under-the-counter, higgledypiggledy, anecdotal city … rich in piquant wrinkled things, like an assortment of bric-a-brac in the house of a wayward connoisseur, or parasites on an oyster shell’. Chatwin ventures into the desolate realm of Outback Australia to learn the meaning of the Aboriginals’ ancient ‘dreaming tracks’, paths that are transmitted down the ages in song.
If we were to add together sales of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, arguably a series, they would fit in right around the middle, with 250 million books sold. She points the way forward toward a world where women are perceived as more than vessels of chastity.
This book looks at the ways women today make sex objects of themselves, and she’s not impressed. She painstakingly refutes each insidious anti-feminist argument–for instance, that feminism is responsible for a supposed epidemic of unhappiness in women. She argues for the reclaiming of the tarnished word cunt, and discusses her personal experiences with self-protection, sex work, abortion and solidarity.
Yes Means Yes: Visions of Female Sexual Power and a World Without Rape by Jaclyn Friedman and Jessica Valenti  Find it here. The Means of Reproduction: Sex, Power, and the Future of the World by Michelle Goldberg  Find it here. America’s Women: 400 Years of Dolls, Drudges, Helpmates, and Heroines by Gail Collins  Find it here.
The Girls Who Went Away: The Hidden History of Women Who Surrendered Children for Adoption in the Decades Before Roe v. The Sacred Hoop: Recovering the Feminine in American Indian Traditions by Paula Gunn Allen  Find it here.
A Woman Speaks: The Lectures, Seminars and Interviews of Anais Nin  by Evelyn Hinz, editor  Find it here.
The Work of a Common Woman: The Collected Poetry of Judy Grahn, 1964-1977 by Judy Grahn  Find it here.
Myths of Gender: Biological Theories About Women And Men by Anne Fausto-Sterling  Find it here.
Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America by Melissa Harris-Perry  Find it here. Odd Girls and Twilight Lovers: A History of Lesbian Life in Twentieth-Century America by Lillian Faderman  Find it here. The Body Project: An Intimate History of American Girls by Joan Jacobs Brumberg  Find it here.


I suppose I missed out on the vote somehow, but what I would love would be to hear a list of texts chosen by those who founded and continue to build on the legacy of Ms. The demographic made up by Facebook excludes a huge group of women: women without computers or internet access, women without free time for social networking, older women who have no idea what the facebook is .
06, 2010Welcome to the massive, anguished, exalted undertaking that is the ALL TIME 100 books list.
Once we traded notes, it turned out that more than 80 of our separately chosen titles matched.
Having heard for years that Richard Yates’ Revolutionary Road was one of the great but underappreciated American novels, I searched it out.
In a genre that has constantly evolved since before the days of Mary Shelley, Jules Verne and H.G. Giving a nod to the pioneers is fine, but when the newest selection on your list is 15 years old, you know that it’s not a list of the best of all time.
It was written in 1922 by a survivor of the journey, Cherry-Garrard, and is justly praised for its candid treatment of the expedition and the causes of its demise. It concerns a journey in 1933-34 through the Middle East to Oxiana on the border between Afghanistan and the Soviet Union. He embodies the universal human search for identity and the struggle to impose coherence on memory. Illustrated with the author’s own photographs, it’s an evocative story of discovery about our past, ethnicity and, ultimately, the self.
This is the story of that journey and his fascinating encounters with nomadic Muslims, Chinese officials, Buddhists and fellow travellers.
It brilliantly portrays the lives of ordinary Russians in the clutches of a harsh communist regime. His inexperience proves his undoing, but along the way readers are treated to a string of entertaining episodes. His account distils the people, places, conversations, ships and history he encounters on the voyages. It recounts his departure from a sleepy Cotswolds home bound for Spain armed with little more than an adventurous spirit and his trusty violin. With rigorous observation and lyrical evocations of place, this is the best work of arguably the finest living travel writer.
He lived there for three years and recorded how villagers struggled to hang on to a way of life unchanged for centuries, encroached on every side by the tide of package tourism. This novel-cum-travelogue is a poetic meditation that offers an uplifting vision of man’s place in the world. Cos we've got enough Podcast material to keep you occupied for roughly 2 years and 147 days.
The fact that A Tale of Two Cities sits at the top of this list is fantastic and astounding and unbelieveble and gives me hope for the human race. The way that The Hobbit is selling now (top 5 on a few genres on amazon) means that it may actually be approaching the 300 million mark as a series. She reveals that simply making ends meet is a silent struggle for many Americans, especially for women with families to support. She urges all to live a feminism that finds commonality across differences and makes room for impassioned debate.
I’d highly recommend it, especially as a sort of beginner’s book (like, for new feminists and stuff)!
I have spent the months since then pressing it into the hands of anybody who will take it, including yours. Wells, science fiction novels are as much a product of the time in which they are written as the future they try to predict. I’ve never had to turn to Google so many times to figure out what an author’s vocabulary meant. This is one of the more recent novels I’ve read, but I think it deserves a place on the list. Circling a star is an artificial ring about 1 million miles wide and approximately the diameter of Earth’s orbit (which makes it about 600 million miles in circumference).
It took me years to find this gem, and it gets far less clout than it deserves, but it is one of my favorites. This choice is new, compared to most of the other selections on this list, but it does such a great job of combining the galactic and the small that I had to include it. I was already in love with sci-fi when I discovered the Moties, but Niven and Pournelle showed what could really be done by masters of science fiction and storytelling. Perhaps more of Heinlein should be on this list, but I’ll settle for just one selection. Inspired by the Vietnam War, The Forever War follows a recruit in a war against an alien foe that, due to time dilation during travel at the speed of light, lasts for thousands of years. Definitely a darker addition to this list, Bester is perhaps also one of the more forgotten authors from sci-fi’s golden age. No list would be complete without something from Asimov, and though a lot of people will rank the Foundation series higher, I prefer I, Robot.
Someone once said that Bradbury had predicted more modern technology earlier than any other writer, and few of his books demonstrate his foresight as well as Fahrenheit 451.
Where many series drop off in quality after the first book (for example, sequels to Dune and Ender’s Game are, with rare exception, not as good as the first novel), I enjoyed every novel in Hyperion Cantos. Although Herbert struggled to get Dune into publication, it stands as one of the most influential sci-fi novels of all time.


Balancing an exciting an action packed story with interesting ideas and issues, Ender’s Game in many ways typifies the modern science fiction novel, and it remains a fan favorite decades after it first appeared on the scene.
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The book is a witty account of Byron’s adventures and the architectural treasures of the region.
As he climbs, Matthiessen charts both his inner and his outer path, offering a deepening understanding of reality. The book explores a remarkable moment just before the Second World War as he travels through a Europe soon to be transformed. An essential for any enthusiast of rail travel, it features some of the world’s great trains, including the Trans-Siberian and India’s Grand Trunk Express. I also suspect that its age gives it a bit of a head start and that it is probably mandatory reading (and buying) in some parts of the British elementary school system. To judge by the final picks, issues of work, sex and intersectionality ranked highest among our reader’s feminist concerns. To break ties, we went first by whether books got votes on multiple platforms, then by Goodreads rank. Otherwise, I’m really looking forward to reading some of these, especially some of the ones that I hadn’t heard of before! There were writers we had to admit we love more for their short stories than their novels—Donald Barthelme, Annie Proulx, Flannery O’Connor, Eudora Welty. A few titles that seemed indispensable some years ago turned out on a second tasting to be, well, dispensable. Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston’s great story of a black woman surviving whatever God and man throws at her, was not part of the required reading list when I was in school.
Once I did, though, The Quantum Thief and its sequels proved to be mind-blowing, exciting and gripping storytelling.
Maybe it’s unfair to include two by Wells, but he did it first, so I think he deserves credit. More than just spaceships and interstellar colonization, it is a deep and powerful story about redemption.
Alien invasions have been done many times, but few have surpassed the Wells’ influence. 2001 was written in cooperation with Stanley Kubrick’s development of the movie by the same name. Whether it is Big Brother, omnipresent surveillance, Newspeak or thought control, it’s here. Often seen as anticipating the cyberpunk movement, Bester also prophesied the rise of mega-corporations stronger than national governments. It gave us Asimov’s laws of robotics (“A robot may not injure a human being[…]” and so on), which have permeated science fiction since. Due to Hyperion‘s structure as a collection tales by pilgrims on a common voyage, Jo Walton compares Hyperion to The Canterbury Tales, and the description is a good one. She has been one of, if not the, most foundational authors, for myself and for many other women I know (young and old), in terms of building a real feminist movement. This one is chosen by me, Richard Lacayo, and my colleague Lev Grossman, whom we sometimes cite as proof that you don’t need to be named Richard to be hired as a critic at TIME, though apparently it helps. More common was the experience I had with Saul Bellow’s Herzog, about a man coming to terms with the disappointments of midlife by directing his questions everywhere. Classic novels from the golden age of science fiction are big on ideas while modern novels tend to look to character and story, borrowing elements from other genres to become better reads. In it, man’s technological advancement appears to be prompted and initiated by an alien artifact. Not the most enjoyable read, but what it lacks in readability it more than makes up in ideas.
Set in a post-apocalyptic future, Dick’s noir examines the difference between androids and humans and was the inspiration for the movie Blade Runner.
In my estimation HG2G and Ender’s Game only get higher position because of their relative place in modern memory and because, dare I say?, they are far more enjoyable reads. Then there was the intellectual massif of Norman Mailer, indisputably one of the great writers of our time, but his supreme achievements are his headlong reconfigurations of the whole idea of non-fiction, books like Armies of the Night and The Executioner’s Song. The upshot is that today more people than ever before are reading and enjoying science fiction, largely because the books are better reading. It left its treadmarks on me even then, but this time his experienced heart spoke to me differently. The ideas are still there, but they share space on the page with thrilling descriptions, intricate plots, strange and empathetic characters and creative new settings. Powers, Mary McCarthy, Edmund White, Larry McMurtry, Katherine Ann Porter, Amy Tan, John Dos Passos, Oscar Hijuelos—we looked over our bookcases and many more than 100 names laid down a claim. Without further ado, then, here are my picks for the top 25 science fiction novels of all time.



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