The Bucket (Book) List

Have you seen the Facebook meme about BBC’s list of 100 books? According to the reposts, the average person has only read six of the 100. The problem is, the BBC never claimed anything of the sort. Turns out that the BBC only asked Britons for their favorite book in a search for the nation’s (Great Britain’s) best-loved novel.

Funny thing about lists. Ever notice how when you stumble across something that says “The Top Five…” or “The Ten Best…” or “Six Things to…” you tend to read the list? Sort of like the Bucket List that’s also going around. “Put an X by the things you’ve done…”

Recently while reading my Facebook news feed (I actually have it set like a news aggregator), there was one list that combined both the Book List and the Bucket List. Let’s call it The Booket List. No, let’s not. That’s just cheesy.

So here is a list of books that the author of the list thinks that every man (since it was on a male-centric website) should read before he dies:

What We Talk About When We Talk About Love, by Raymond Carver
Collected Stories of John Cheever
Deliverance, by James Dickey
The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck
Blood Meridian, by Cormac McCarthy
The Brothers Karamazov, by Fyodor Dostoevsky
The Known World, by Edward P. Jones
The Good War, by Studs Terkel
American Pastoral, by Philip Roth
A Good Man Is Hard to Find and Other Stories, by Flannery O’Connor
The Things They Carried, by Tim O’Brien
A Sport and a Pastime, by James Salter
The Call of the Wild, by Jack London
Time’s Arrow, by Martin Amis
A Sense of Where You Are, by John McPhee
Hell’s Angels, by Hunter S. Thompson
Invisible Man, by Ralph Ellison
Dubliners, by James Joyce
Rabbit, Run, by John Updike
The Postman Always Rings Twice, by James M. Cain
Dog Soldiers, by Robert Stone
Winter’s Bone, by Daniel Woodrell
Legends of the Fall, by Jim Harrison
Under the Volcano, by Malcolm Lowry
The Naked and the Dead, by Norman Mailer
The Professional, by W.C. Heinz
For Whom the Bell Tolls, by Ernest Hemingway
Dispatches, by Michael Herr
Tropic of Cancer, by Henry Miller
Revolutionary Road, by Richard Yates
As I Lay Dying, by William Faulkner
The Killer Angels, by Michael Shaara
Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut
All the King’s Men, by Robert Penn Warren
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, by Ken Kesey
Sophie’s Choice, by William Styron
A Fan’s Notes, by Frederick Exley
Lucky Jim, by Kingsley Amis
The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, by Haruki Murakami
Master and Commander, by Patrick O’Brian
Plainsong, by Kent Haruf
A Confederacy of Dunces, by John Kennedy Toole (my current reading selection)
Affliction, by Russell Banks
This Boy’s Life, by Tobias Wolff
Winter’s Tale, by Mark Helprin
The Adventures of Augie March, by Saul Bellow
Women, by Charles Bukowski
Going Native, by Stephen Wright
Heart of Darkness, by Joseph Conrad
The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, by John LeCarré
The Crack-Up, by F. Scott Fitzgerald
CivilWarLand in Bad Decline, by George Saunders
War and Peace, by Leo Tolstoy
The Shining, by Stephen King
Winesburg, Ohio, by Sherwood Anderson
Moby Dick, by Herman Melville
Midnight’s Children, by Salman Rushdie
Labyrinths, by Jorge Luis Borges
The Right Stuff, by Tom Wolfe
The Sportswriter, by Richard Ford
American Tabloid, by James Ellroy
The Autobiography of Malcolm X, by Alex Haley
What It Takes, by Richard Ben Cramer
The Continental Op, by Dashiell Hammett
The Power and the Glory, by Graham Greene
So Long, See You Tomorrow, by William Maxwell
Native Son, by Richard Wright
Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, by James Agee and Walker Evans
Angle of Repose, by Wallace Stegner
The Great Bridge, by David McCullough
The Dharma Bums, by Jack Kerou
Lonesome Dove, by Larry McMurtry
Lolita, by Vladimir Nabokov
Underworld, by Don DeLillo
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain

As you can see in the above list, my 19th Century Russian literature phase has come to an end (or else is on hiatus). Goncharov and Turgenev didn’t make any list. More evidence that I really must be weird. Now my book of choice is populated with the weirdoes of New Orleans. If we’re known for the company we keep, does that apply to the company of fictional characters in our minds?


  1. Very interesting to see this take on someones (man)opinion as to what is good literature. It makes me think about what I have read coming through my life so far. As I am a constant reader and not romance novels mind you, I have accumulated a lot of reading. Some of those books have been read by me..many of the authors have been read by me but a different book than what I see in the list. I suppose it's all according to ones personal likes and dislikes. I enjoyed the list and thank you for the post. :-)

  2. "Booket", LOLLLLLL; good one!
    Yeah, this list is definitely from only a man's standpoint. I can't help but wonder where Pearl Buck's The Good Earth is, and when Arlene comes by here, she's going to agree wholeheartedly with me. Both of us this that's one of the all time best and best written books. And what about Tolstoy? Or, heck, even DH Lawrence and his used-to-be-in-the-older-days tittillating sagas? And I'll bet none of the men even realized that Alice in Wonderland, AND, Alice Through The Looking Glass was completely political. But all in all, I'm standing with Carole because she and I always agree, lol. Right, Carole? You know it's true ;)

  3. I didn't notice one female author; at least none that I could tell.

  4. I've read exactly six of 'em. Three because I had to in a class. I've seen movies made from several of them - doesn't that count? Ha!

  5. I've read a large number of these books. They vary in quality but as I get oder I guess my standards for quality have changed.

  6. 'Confed of Dunces' - absolutely. I would disagree with most of these though. No 'Lord of the Flies'? No 'Catcher'? No Jane Austen? And why 'The Shining'?