Sunday, November 10, 2013

My recommended books: The Hundred Greatest Books, Albums, and Artists (With Romantic Comedy recommendations too!)

This is a list of my recommended books. or, as I am increasingly calling it, The Hundred Greatest Books of All Time

You will also find The Hundred Greatest Albums of all time list here (in progress). I am just starting The Hundred Greatest Artists too. And a Recommended Romantic Comedy list has been added. All of this is below. 

Three brief notes before the recommendations:

1. Every (usually Red) colored title, name or sometimes word in here is a link to one of my at least somewhat relevant blog posts. 


2. Books are by genre and so may duplicate in multiple genre lists.

The Hundred Greatest Books ever written, with each individual book being the single greatest book ever written. By genre.


The Big Over Easy and The Fourth Bear by Jasper Fforde.

Coyote Waits and Sacred Clowns by Hillerman (I liked his mystery series very much, but it peaked here for me and qualified for my list).

 Straight, Proof, Whip hand by Dick Francis (and actually most of his mid career mysteries, some of the early ones, none of the late late ones)

Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night by Haddon 

Murder on the Orient Express and various Poirot by Agatha Christie

The Doorbell Rang, well, and all Nero Wolfe mysteries by Rex Stout. Yep, the whole lot of them. I suppose I could nitpick away half a dozen out of the "Love" list, but I won't.

The Big Sleep by Chandler (the whole series, though it's been awhile)

Collected Sherlock Holmes (Though possibly not after Return of Sherlock Holmes) by Arthur Conan Doyle

Young Adult/Children's:

 Catcher in the Rye by Salinger

 Wee Free Men and Hat full of Sky, Wintersmith, and I Shall Wear Midnight by Pratchett (The first four of the Tiffany Aching saga)

 The Snarkout boys and the Avocado of Death by Daniel Pinkwater

Dragonsong and Dragonsinger by Anne McCaffrey 

Blue Sword by Robin Mckinley

The Golden Compass 
and The Subtle Knife by Pullman ( but sadly, not the third one)

 The Last Dragonslayer and The Song of the Quarkbeast by Jasper Fforde   

The Adrian Mole Diaries by Townsend (I can only commit to the first two volumes, when he is still a teenager).

Sabriel and Lirael by Garth Nix

Pippi Longstocking by Lindgren

Wizard of Earthsea, Tombs of Atuan, and (maybe?) Farthest Shore by LeGuin 

Homeland, Pirate Cinema, and Little Brother by Cory Doctorow 

There's a Boy in the Girls Bathroom and all the Wayside School books (including the new one-this being noted here in 2020) by Louis Sachar 

 Danny Champion of the World  and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Dahl

The Hundred and One Dalmatians by Dodie Smith

Tomorrow When the war Began by John Marsden (and the whole "Tomorrow" series. It's about a bunch of older teens off camping in Australia when their country is invaded by Indonesia or something. They become Guerilla fighters. A more real world feel Hunger Games

The Chosen by Potok 

The Last Dragonslayer and The Song of the Quarkbeast by Jasper Fforde

The Absolutely True Story of a Part-time Indian by Sherman Alexie (the appearance of this book on this list is largely inspired by the piece here that the title links to. Let's just say for now that I like this book very much). 

Lockwood and Co., starting with The Screaming Staircase and exemplifying every quality of a multi book fantasy series done right from start to finish (I think I'd better write a post about this, so one day this should be highlighted). A five book series by Jonathan Stroud.

Harry Potter 1-3 by J.K. Rowling

Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer by Twain 

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Winnie the Pooh, and House at Pooh Corner
by A.A. Milne

Alvin's Secret Code by Clifford B. Hicks   (A book I read regularly when I was young, but not since!)

Maniac McGee by Jerry Spinelli

A Long Way From Chicago by Richard Peck

A Year Down Yonder by Richard Peck


Blue Sword by Robin Mckinley

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (nothing else of hers quite does it though)

Bridget Jones Diary by Helen Fielding

Sci Fi:

The Left Hand of Darkness, The Disposessed, The Word for World is Forest, Four Ways to Forgiveness, and a lot of the story collections by Ursula K. LeGuin

Cats Cradle, Slaughterhouse Five by Vonnegut (and I think Sirens of Titan, which I might want to reread)

The Eyre Affair and all its sequels by Jasper Fforde

Gateway by Frederik Pohl

The Long Walk by Stephen King

Star Diaries by Stanislaw Lem

Night Watch by Lukyanenko

The Rook by Daniel O'malley

Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card

The Martian by Andy Weir

The Murderbot Diaries by Martha Wells


The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde (and really, and all its sequels)

 The Last Dragonslayer and The Song of the Quarkbeast by Jasper Fforde

Witches Abroad by Terry Pratchett and a scattering of others, most of which include the witches

Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

Wise Mens' Fear by Patrick Rothfuss (sequel to above)

Blue Sword by Robin Mckinley

Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien (I don't even want to talk about the movies, feh)

The Golden Compass by Pullman (and The Subtle Knife, but sadly, not the third one)

 Sabriel and Lirael by Garth Nix

The Left Hand of Darkness by LeGuin (and large amounts of her other books, including some of the story collections, and Disposessed, Wizard of Earthsea first three)

Nightwatch by Lukyanenko 

Deadly Education by Naomi Novik

Lockwood and Co., a five book series by Jonathan Stroud, starting with The Screaming Staircase and exemplifying every quality of a multi book fantasy series done right from start to finish.

Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court by Mark Twain


Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson

Surely you're Joking Mr. Feynman by Feynman and some other guy (this actually is the exception to my rule that no good book is written by two authors, one vastly more famous that the other).

 Fishwhistle, and Uncle Boris in the Yukon by Daniel Pinkwater

 The Woman Warrior by Maxine Hong Kingston

My Family and other Animals by Gerald Durrell (the post this links to importantly qualifies this entry)

The Dog Who Wouldn't Be, The Boat that Wouldn't Float, Never Cry Wolf, People of the Deer, all by Farley Mowat

It's Only Slow Food Until you Try and Eat It by Bill Heavey

All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot

Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes

Maus by Art Spiegelman

Non Fiction: 

(See above category as well)

In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan 

Summerhill by A. S. Neill

The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test by Tom Wolfe 

Bury my Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown

The Tracker (also) by Tom Brown Jr. (honestly it probably doesn't so much belong in non fiction, but...)

 Never Cry Wolf, The Dog Who Wouldn't Be, and People of the Deer by Farley Mowat (come to think of it let's add The Boat Who Wouldn't Float which is awfully nice to spend a bit of time with)

 The Man Who Ate Everything by Steingarten 

Searching for Bobby Fischer by Fred Waitzkin

 Context by Cory Doctorow

The collected Miss Manners Books (any that are mainly compendiums of the columns) by Judith Martin 



Ship of the Line by Forester (and the whole Horatio Hornblower saga) 

Old Man and the Sea by Hemingway

The Dog Who Wouldn't Be, The Boat that Wouldn't Float, Never Cry Wolf, People of the Deer, all by Farley Mowat

Call of the Wild by Jack London

Hatchet by Gary Paulsen

A Dream in Polar Fog by Yuri Rytkheu

Just regular old Fiction:

In Watermelon Sugar by Brautigan (and a healthy bit of the poetry and Trout Fishing)

The Magic Christian by Terry Southern

 Don Quixote by Cervantes (revered literature!)

Bartleby the Scrivener by Melville (look at me with the revered literature stuff!)

Finnegans Wake by James Joyce (based on about four pages, but, still, there's something about it. Search my posts for my encounter, no, wait, go here, and here) This choice elevates the tone of my list like crazy!

Dead Souls by Gogol

King of the Schnorrers by Zangwill

Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes

Resurrection, Death of Ivan Ilyich by Tolstoy (more literature! Not for the faint of heart!)

Mice and Men, Tortilla Flat, Grapes of Wrath, In Dubious Battle, by Steinbeck

Wise Blood, Violent Bear it Away, Everything That Rises Must Converge by Flannery O'connor

Picture Books:

Dragons Love Tacos by Adam Rubin

Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg

Nanette's Baguette, Gerald and Piggie series, The Pigeon Books, and really most everything by Mo Willems

The Sleep Book, Horton Hears a Who, Horton Hatches the Egg, Green Eggs and Ham, and The Lorax by Dr. Seuss (also maybe a couple others?)

(With each album being individually the greatest album ever, so, not a ranked list)

On the Beach by Neil Young

Mustt Mustt by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan

Kind of Blue by Miles Davis

The Red Album by The Beatles

Live at the Fillmore by Lucinda Williams

World Gone Wrong by Bob Dylan (The World Gone Wrong links to the series post about that album, but watch out for the "Bob Dylan" link as it connects to a vast listing of my many, many Bob Dylan posts)

Grapesongs by Gabriel Arquilevich    (Curiously like the Bob Dylan link above this second link will link not just to a single post, but to a vast series of posts about the the person who made Grapesongs).

Blues for Allah by The Grateful Dead

Chopin's Nocturnes by Chopin as performed by Vladimir Ashkenazy

Ok Computer by Radiohead

Ladies of the Canyon by Joni Mitchell

Good Old Boys by Randy Newman

The B-52's by The B-52's

Gone Again by Patti Smith

John Prine Live by John Prine

The Kinks Album by The Kinks

Hmm, I am not even close to finished. So, more later...

The Hundred Greatest Artworks of All Time! (New)

The Deposition from the Cross by Pontormo (In Florence)

Sleeping Cupid by Caravaggio (In Florence)

Romantic Comedy Movies:

(Of all the lists here this alone is not heralded as "The Hundred Greatest". Why? Because even though I adore these movies all but a few have... imperfections? Let's leave it at that for now).

This is your starter pack: 

The Romantic Comedies (and this) I love and recommend include:

Notting Hill
Love Actually
Music and Lyrics
French Kiss
The Holiday
Tin Cup
Two Weeks Notice
Groundhog Day
New in Town
About Time
The American President 
Mamma Mia
Long Shot
My Big Fat Greek Wedding
To All the Boys I've Loved Before
Princess Switch

The Sandler/Barrymore trifecta:

Wedding Singer
50 First Dates

Coming additions: 100 Greatest Artists

last revised:

Many dozens of unnoted times until I started to list edit dates:

The Basement for this post (includes previous introductory notes and information that may find a home elsewhere in time):

This list is growing more complicated all the time, so I will try to give as brief as possible an introduction. I'll do it in list form!

 1. Important! This list has evolved into a weird collection of nearly, but not quite, random links across the several thousand post history of my blog and so is maybe a good exploration vehicle to the history (not necessarily to "The Best") of Clerkmanifesto. Every colored title or name or sometimes even word in here is a link to one of my at least somewhat relevant blog posts (even "recommended books" above is a link to a discussion of book recommendations!). So click freely on red text! It's a good way to follow what piques your interest. Short essays will explain my title choices sometimes directly, sometimes it will discuss something about the author. Sometimes it is very direct; an essay, a review, or a reference, but also it can be a complicated, idiosyncratic connection. There's only one way to find out.

2. Every one of these are books I love, but, yes, in some cases the love is a bit rusty. I may not have read some books for a long, long time, and I would maybe feel differently about them now. Still, I'll try to keep all books to ones I suspect I'd still at least kind of love if I read them now.

3. I'm listing things into Genres of all kinds. Many books may be mentioned more than once if they fit in multiple genres/categories.

4. It looks terrible I know. Sorry. It has been patched, added to, repaired, and corrected hundreds of times in its seven years, and now it looks like an ancient battered suitcase held onto for nostalgia's sake. Today, 10-9-2020 I spent several hours working on it just to get it to a state where it looks like it needs a lot of work. So just take what you can from it.


  1. I put a list like this in my library's catalog, where my patrons may refer to it. It even contains some of the same books! (Le Guin and Pratchett, at least) It makes it much easier to direct them to the list when I'm busy, and I refer to it myself when I have brain farts.

  2. So... if you feverishly await comments, you might consider commenting on the comments left, in order to give the commenters some added incentive to comment more!

    1. Before we start, I am irked to find my response will not all fit here. So, it will have to come in multiple parts:

      Part one:

      Let's see.....
      I think I have 10 responses to this. They may contradict and vary wildly. They will also get way too emotional. Will 10 responses like this be okay even if they're inconsistent?

      I hope so.

      1. Thank you for your comment.

      2. I meant to say "I feverishly await comments about how much people love clerk manifesto and how they're going to do everything in their power to tirelessly share this bit of Internet heaven with everyone they can, and how, since they have the power to put a list of books in their library catalog, they are also going to link to their favorite library blog ever (this one) prominently, in their library catalog, all just because they feel so enthusiastic, and because they feel everyone should read it!" But I was too shy to say all that and was hoping everyone would assume that's what I meant.

      3. I went through a period where I found responding to comments emotionally traumatic and so stopped. For some reason that ended, and I resumed, but it's a delicate line. Peoples' comments based on misinterpretation, or a desire to make some point that doesn't really seem to take in what I might have carefully said in the post above their comment can be sort of unsettling for me. My contrary and passionate nature makes me want to fight them, correct them, or, probably most often, satirize them. My occasional desire to be wise and have a more friendly sort of blog makes me think it would be better to be more quiet and let my blog speak for me.

      4. I sometimes fancy, in one of the many dreamworlds I inch towards, that commentators would talk among themselves entertainingly and I could dip in to that conversation on occasion. People who enthusiastically share my blog in prominent places (see point two, above) would bring throngs of new readers who could then join in this exciting commentating!

    2. The response above continues,

      Part two:

      5. I am loquacious! When I respond to my, even somewhat infrequent, comments, there is a danger that my desire to tell the whole story will lead me to writing a ten point explanation that is considerably longer and more challenging to write that one of my blog posts. I post daily and find it can be difficult enough as is to write as well as I want with the limited time I have. Spending more that two hours on one comment can really cut into this available time.

      6. I can suddenly be seized with a shyness towards strangers and sometimes by a fear of saying the wrong thing.

      7. As per your suggestion that I "might consider commenting on the comments left, in order to give the commenters some added incentive to comment more!" I think it is a good idea. I have taken it up with a passion!

      8. It may be a kind of catch 22, but when there are so few commenters, and I am very responsive, it can feel more like a discussion between me and one other person. This is a little okay, but I feel the blog is the thing, and sometimes it seems like the blog itself gets lost in that kind of back and forth that takes place in the comments.

    3. And my response concludes below with,

      Part 3:

      9. A theme I find emerging steadily here is something I talk about a lot around the edges of in my blog and will try to address more directly here, in this safe, sort of hidden corner of my blog. I love writing this blog and writing it is kind of enough. But it's murky. Because the one other thing that doesn't go away is a sustained desire for a regular, medium sized, readership. I have a small, fairly dedicated readership, maybe 25 to 60 people. Ten times this is what I think I would feel comfortable with and would ease the pain of my ambitions. The amount I have currently seems to leave me feeling compelled to throw links onto reddit, google plus (a lot!), stumble upon, etc. and I don't really love that. I scare up a modest bit of temporary, non self sustaining readership, the growth rate is geologic at best. I find it hard to just let it all alone. And yet really I just wish my blog inspired enough enthusiasm among its readers (my readers) that some people, who were willing, who were friends to this blog, would champion it a little (not that some don't, but results indicate very little of that sort of thing here). This all gives me some big Eeyore feelings (which I am expressing!). It also puts me on edge, perhaps unfortunately, when I respond to comments with suggestions or even sometimes compliments. You see, part of me is delighted to hear from you, booklady9, and I am delighted we share a taste in books. I totally know what you mean about the brain farts. When I'm out in the stacks and someone asks for a suggestion, or I want to put something on an end cap it's like my list of beloved books drops from 200 to two! I wish my list could be on our library catalog! I am happy you read my post. I am happy you commented. Twice! But another part of me, Eeyore like, lurks in the back, wondering: Do you read this blog? How often? Was this just a random interesting list of books you stumbled on or a part of all your reading on this site. Have you signed up to follow by email so you won't miss a single post, or have you been here a few times cause sometimes it's mildly interesting? And here is one of those sort of secret truths I am sometimes keen to utter on this blog, but know are usually secret because they can be strange, impolite, and way too close to the bone:
      A. If you just liked my list of books and have read pretty much nothing else on my blog, or maybe have taken a look at a couple of other things here without enthusiasm, I don't even want you here! Seriously. Get off of my blog! Don't comment! Most of the Internet is dead. This little bit breathes and bites.
      B. If you have casually read many of my blog posts and liked some of them okay, and liked my list of books, okay. Sure. I can respond to your comments. I am doing so. My enthusiasm for you is tepid, but, fine. It's okay. Actually it is a challenge for me to understand you and your bland response to my Internet Opus, but okay, I can be vaguely polite.
      C. If you read my blog regularly and really enjoy it, then, though I cannot call you my friend on a true personal level, which is a more serious business, in as much as I am the blog, and, really, after all, I am the blog, you, you are my friend. You are a friend of this blog. Yes, you are a friend of this blog and we delight to see your comment! We respond with joy and interest to what you have to say. We delight in your presence here. We labor tirelessly here, yes, for ourselves mostly, but also for our friends, like you!

      We hope you will take the responsibilities of friendship as seriously as we do.

      10. I do always think about responding to the comments here on my blog, but can be hesitant because sometimes my responding comments can be a little intense.

      Thank you again for your comments. I hope it's okay that I responded to both of yours in just this one comment. Maybe since it had to be divided into three it's okay.

  3. Hmm, I don't see the comment that I just posted. Is it perhaps waiting for review?

    1. Yes, because of spam, on posts that are older than, I think, about a week, I have to approve them. They are all approved now!

  4. OK, I guess it is. Here goes trying to remember what I wrote a few minutes ago.

    10. Your responses are not too intense. Carry on!

    9. I am an avid reader of your blog posts, and any other writing of yours that I can find. They're highly entertaining, thoughtful, and often funny.

    8. That's OK.

    7. Yes, I see that you have!

    6. Aren't we all?

    5. I appreciate the time, thought, and energy that you put into your response(s). I feel awful that I only just now noticed that you had replied. I was looking through your book list to see if anything had been added, when, Oh look! There's a reply to my comments here!!

    4. Yes, that would be nice.

    3. If you reply in a way that hurts my feelings, I will be sure to let you know.

    2. Since my catalog is in a middle school, and your blog appears to be written for adults, I won't be putting a link in there. There's nothing objectionable so far, but it would be just my luck that you'd someday write about some violent, bloody book, and then I'd be sunk! I will, however, repost your blog entries on Google+, and also on Twitter if you use that for updates.

    1. You're most welcome.

    1. I think it might be for the best if I can manage to refrain from a ten point response to your ten point response (though it's ever so tempting). But I will at least say that it is really a delight to see your thoughtful and thorough response, not least because my own walked dangerously close to the, er, edge of things. So, thank you for you calm and kind deliberation and consideration.

      I cannot resist commenting on a couple points:

      Curiously I think my bloodiest recommended books all tend to be YA books! Sabriel and Tomorrow When the War Began are plenty more gory than Bartelby, for instance, but then, secretly, I suspect that all novels are YA books, which is maybe a blog post for another time.

      It is very nice of you to speak of posting my entries on Google+ etc., though, having made a fuss, I feel slightly mortified that I did so. Still, a dream is a dream so I'm sure I'd be mortifiedly delighted to see it.

      Look at all the incentive I'm giving now! Thanks for writing and for your nice comments.

  5. How do you make the cut, per se, between the Early, Mid and Late career of Dick Francis' writing? I see that they are all late now, as he has died. Or is He the late one? Hmmm. It's a moot point I suppose, because I read all of them, so it is too late to avoid the less enjoyable bits.

    1. Oh, so glad you have picked Mr. Francis out of this sprawling collection. I feel easily most strongly about mid career Dick Francis, although as it's 1982 to 1995 it is possible that it is mid late career Dick Francis I love best: Banker to Come to Grief. There are, to me, several excellent ones before that and none among the few after. I looked over a list and found 15 novels of his I was sure I enjoyed immensely!

      Alas, he is the late one indeed then.

      I can't say I found the less enjoyable ones so bad as I have regrets, except maybe that one where his character is pretty much held in a series of mysterious captivities for most of the book.

  6. Wow, not many remember Brautigan. Thanks! You made my hour.
    You might start a new category: Hippy Esoterica.
    That is, if you can come up with a couple of other worthy tomes to add. Otherwise it's a very short list.

    1. I'm not sure it's that bad re Brautigan. We still have a few of his books on the shelves of my library which is not a bad sign. No, I think people thought he belonged to something like a Hippy Esoterica category, but I firmly believe he was for the ages in every way, a writer of timeless classics. I see though that I put him in a category called "undefined genre" with Magic Christian, Don Quixote, Bartleby, and Finnegans Wake, which, reasonably, could all be labelled Hippy Esoterica just as you like.

  7. Oh, have you ever read any C. J. Cherryh? I liked "Angel with the Sword" especially, which could be cross-categorized as Sci-Fi/Fantasy and Romance. I also liked the Cyteen Trilogy.There's also the Anne McCaffrey series about Crystal Singers (Crystal Singer and Killashandra) and the ones about disabled people who have careers as living interfaces with space craft (Can't remember any names here oooppps). The latter were kind of weird but still compelling in their own ways.

    Do you ever wonder about booklovers being allowed to work in libraries are akin to drug addicts working in the pharmacy or seriously obese people working in a candy store or as bakery? As one who is both obese and a proud bearer of a MMMA card, I should not receive a chiding for how mean I am to the so afflicted, please? I love books but would be afraid my career in a bookish profession would be cut short by my inability to keep mu hands off the merchandise.

    1. Thank you for all your comments. So, here we go on this:

      I have tried C.J. Cherryh and not gotten anywhere with it, but will keep her in mind to try again in the future.

      I am glad you mention Anne McCaffrey because I really need to add the totally splendid Dragonsinger and, possibly, Dragonsong to this list. I have read several others of her books with mixed feelings, but not the Crystal Singers ones.

      Yes, it has probably peeped its head up a few times on this voluminous blog, an analogy or two of being an alcoholic bartender vis a vis working at a library. But the environment I work in is surprisingly uncongenial to a lot of reading and only my piercing obsessiveness and eclecticism keeps me reading as much as I do- an amount that probably makes me better at my job rather than worse.

    2. Oh, and let me add, what I find so strange are all the many non-readers I work with. You are somewhat new to this blog, but one of my thousand themes is a firm belief in working half the time. So, one should probably be in an environment where they can enjoy themselves the other half.


If you were wondering, yes, you should comment. Not only does it remind me that I must write in intelligible English because someone is actually reading what I write, but it is also a pleasure for me since I am interested in anything you have to say.

I respond to pretty much every comment. It's like a free personalized blog post!

One last detail: If you are commenting on a post more than two weeks old I have to go in and approve it. It's sort of a spam protection device. Also, rarely, a comment will go to spam on its own. Give either of those a day or two and your comment will show up on the blog.