My Favorite Lit-Blog Things: September 30, 2009

Best of the Millenium, Pro versus Readers. The Millions polled 48 of their “favorite writers, editors, and critics” to come up with a list of best books published on or since Jan. 1, 2000. They then polled their readers. The “Pros” chose The Corrections as best of the millenium. I cannot agree.

While I am on the Millions, if you (like me) had not noticed before now Lydia Kiesling’s absolutely excellent “Modern Library Revue”, run over and check it out. As an example, her treatment of To the Lighthouse is exceptional.

Via BrownGirl BookSpeak, the National Book Foundation is running a “People’s Choice” poll of the best National Book Award ever. The field has been narrowed to five finalists: The Stories of John Cheever, Invisible Man, The Collected Stories of William Faulkner, The Complete Stories of Flannery O’Connor, Gravity’s Rainbow, and The Collected Stories of Eudora Welty. Click over and vote for Ralph Ellison.

An interesting educational theory is posited here.

The Guardian explains why we should still read Dickens.

Via kimbofo at Reading Matters, a photography exhibit featuring readers.

And perhaps best for last, Trevor at Mookse and the Gripes submits his “most negative review yet” as part of the Giller Shadow Jury. Margaret Atwood is in his crosshairs. It is a must read.

6 Responses to My Favorite Lit-Blog Things: September 30, 2009

  1. Sarah says:

    Great negative review by Trevor. Negative reviews are hard to do without point scoring, and his is balanced and fair. Should have said that on his site, shouldn’t I?

    Interesting lists of best books published this millenium. I thought they were reasonably representative. But I don’t know how anyone would choose just one. What would you have chosen?

  2. Kerry says:

    Good question, Sarah. I maybe have not read enough (only six of twenty on the pro list, seven of twenty on the reader list), but a top five of those I have read would look like this, I think:

    1. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
    2. Atonement
    3. Middlesex
    4. Number9Dream
    5. Brick Lane

    Other possible contenders:
    The Road
    The March
    The Yiddish Policemen’s Union
    The Gravedigger’s Daughter

    Notable books that I thought were overrated:

    White Teeth
    The Corrections

    Just missing the cut via publication date: Disgrace and Motherless in Brooklyn. Oh well.

    Based on early reviews: Summertime.

    Now, please do share your own list, however tentative.

  3. Ok, here goes, in alphabetical order, my very tentative Top 10:
    John Banville, Eclipse
    Susanna Clarke, Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell
    Michel Faber, The Crimson Petal and the White
    Peter Hobbs, The Short Day Dying
    Kazuo Ishiguro, Never Let Me Go
    Andreï Makine, A Life’s Music (La musique d’une vie)
    David Mitchell, cloud atlas
    John Preston, The Dig
    Marilynne Robinson, Gilead
    Markus Zusak, The Book Thief
    Oddly enough, I now realise that there’s only one American book on it, one Irish, one French-Russian, one Australian, one Dutch/Australian/British and that the rest are from the UK. I seem to lean towards understated and underrated British novels. I would guess that no one here has heard of The Dig and The Short Day Dying.

  4. Kerry says:


    Thank you very much for sharing. You are right, I have not heard of either The Dig or The Short Day Dying. Yours is an interesting list. I am going to have to check out those titles. And Never Let Me Go now definitely joins Cloud Atlas, Austerlitz, and Fortress of Solitude near the top of my TBR.

  5. Sarah says:

    I certainly don’t feel that I have read enough to put together any sort of a list. I’ve only recently found like-minded book people to recommend good new literature, and up until then I stuck with the tried and tested classics. (Or YA. Less of a commitment if chosen unwisely.)

    Interesting that Anna includes The Book Thief. I enjoyed it very much, but suspect that I read it without due care and attention. Definitely intend to revisit soon.

    So I would include that on my list. Also Gilead, Hugo Wilcken’s Colony; and The Road & Atonement because I can think of little else I have read which is recent. I haven’t read Summertime but would be inclined to add it on faith.

    I’m sure that Austerlitz and Cloud Atlas are deserving of a place too. Haven’t read them yet, but mean to.

  6. Kerry says:


    Your reading habits sound like mine. I read more classics than new fiction precisely for the reason you state. I am trying to read some more new stuff, but there are still so many books that are known to be amazing that I still have not read. Then there are the re-reads…

    This is why I take heart whenever I am reminded that it actually is impossible to read everything worthwhile. I realize the choice is not whether to have gaps in my literary knowledge. The choice is what those gaps will be.

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