My Five-Star Books

Using the Goodreads website, I have rated every book I have ever read (the ones I can remember – I’m sure there are many missing, especially from the early years) on a scale of 1 to 5.  I’ve made a list of the books that I gave a five-star rating, which are set forth below in chronological order.

  1. The Iliad. Homer (Ancient Greece, c. 800-750 BCE) [epic poem]
  2. The Odyssey. Homer (Ancient Greece, c. 775-725 BCE) [epic poem]
  3. The Oresteia. Aeschylus (Ancient Greece, 458 BCE) [drama]
  4. The Histories. Herodotus (Ancient Greece, c. 460-420 BCE) [non-fiction: history]
  5. Antigone. Sophocles (Ancient Greece, 441 BCE) [drama]
  6. Oedipus the King. Sophocles (Ancient Greece, 429 BCE) [drama]
  7. The Bacchae. Euripides (Ancient Greece, 405 BCE) [drama]
  8. Great Dialogues of Plato. Plato. (Ed. by W.H.D. Rouse) (Ancient Greece, 400-350 BCE) [non-fiction: philosophy]
  9. Parallel Lives of the Noble Greeks and Romans. Plutarch (Ancient Rome, 120 CE) [non-fiction: history/biography]
  10. The Pillow Book. Sei Shonagon (Japan, 1002) [non-fiction: memoir/diary]
  11. The Tale of Genji. Murasaki Shikibu (Japan, 1021) [fiction: novel]
  12. The Divine Comedy. Dante Alighieri (Italy, 1308-1321] [epic poem]
  13. The Canterbury Tales. Geoffrey Chaucer (England, c. 1400) [poetry/fiction: stories]
  14. Gargantua and Pantagruel. François Rabelais (France, 1532) [fiction: novel]
  15. Essays. Michel de Montaigne (France, 1580) [non-fiction: essays]
  16. The Comedy of Errors. William Shakespeare (England, 1589) [drama]
  17. Richard III. William Shakespeare (England, 1591) [drama]
  18. Romeo and Juliet. William Shakespeare (England, 1594) [drama]
  19. Richard II. William Shakespeare (England, 1595) [drama]
  20. A Midsummer Night’s Dream. William Shakespeare (England, 1595) [drama]
  21. The Merchant of Venice. William Shakespeare (England, 1596) [drama]
  22. King Henry IV, Part 1. William Shakespeare (England, 1597) [drama]
  23. Julius Caesar. William Shakespeare (England, 1599) [drama]
  24. Twelfth Night. William Shakespeare (England, 1599) [drama]
  25. Hamlet. William Shakespeare (England, 1600) [drama]
  26. Othello. William Shakespeare (England, 1604) [drama]
  27. Macbeth. William Shakespeare (England, 1605) [drama]
  28. King Lear. William Shakespeare (England, 1605) [drama]
  29. Don Quixote. Miguel de Cervantes (Spain, 1605, 1615) [fiction: novel]
  30. Two Treatises of Government. John Locke (England, 1689) [non-fiction: political philosophy]
  31. An Essay Concerning Human Understanding. John Locke (England, 1690) [non-fiction: philosophy]
  32. Gulliver’s Travels. Jonathan Swift (Ireland, 1726) [fiction: novel]
  33. A Treatise of Human Nature. David Hume (Scotland, 1740) [non-fiction: philosophy]
  34. An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding. David Hume (Scotland, 1748) [non-fiction: philosophy]
  35. The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling. Henry Fielding (Great Britain, 1749) [fiction: novel]
  36. The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman. Laurence Sterne (Ireland, 1759) [fiction: novel]
  37. Dream of the Red Chamber (The Story of the Stone) (China, 1763-1764) – Cao Xueqin and Guo E [fiction: novel]
  38. Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics. Immanuel Kant (Germany, 1783) [non-fiction: philosophy]
  39. The Federalist Papers. Alexander Hamilton, James Madison & John Jay (US, 1787-1788) [non-fiction: political philosophy]
  40. The Complete Anti-Federalist. Herbert Storing, ed. (US, 1787-1788, pub. 1981) [non-fiction: political philosophy]
  41. Pride and Prejudice. Jane Austen (UK, 1813) [fiction: novel]
  42. Emma. Jane Austen (UK, 1815) [fiction: novel]
  43. Ivanhoe. Walter Scott (UK, 1819) [fiction: novel]
  44. The Red and the Black. Stendhal (France, 1830) [fiction: novel]
  45. Le Père Goriot. Honoré de Balzac (France, 1835) [fiction: novel]
  46. The Voyage of the Beagle. Charles Darwin (UK, 1839) [non-fiction: science/memoir]
  47. Democracy in America. Alexis de Tocqueville (France, 1835-1840) [non-fiction: journalism/political philosophy]
  48. Twice-Told Tales. Nathaniel Hawthorne (US, 1837-1842) [fiction: stories]
  49. The Overcoat and Other Short Stories. Nikolai Gogol (Russia, 1842) [fiction: stories]
  50. The Tell-Tale Heart and Other Writings. Edgar Allan Poe (US, 1843) [fiction: stories]
  51. Mosses from an Old Manse. Nathaniel Hawthorne (US, 1846) [fiction: stories]
  52. Cousin Bette. Honoré de Balzac (France, 1846) [fiction: novel]
  53. Wuthering Heights. Emily Brontë (UK, 1847) [fiction: novel]
  54. Jane Eyre. Charlotte Brontë (UK, 1847) [fiction: novel]
  55. Mardi, and a Voyage Thither. Herman Melville (US, 1849) [fiction: novel]
  56. The Prelude. William Wordsworth (UK, 1850) [poetry: narrative]
  57. Moby-Dick. Herman Melville (US, 1851) [fiction: novel]
  58. Pierre: or, the Ambiguities. Herman Melville (US, 1852) [fiction: novel]
  59. Walden, or Life in the Woods. Henry David Thoreau (US, 1854) [non-fiction: memoir/philosophy]
  60. Leaves of Grass. Walt Whitman (US, 1st ed. 1855) [poetry]
  61. Great Short Works. Herman Melville (US, 1850-1857) [fiction: stories/novellas]
  62. On the Origin of Species. Charles Darwin (UK, 1859) [non-fiction: science]
  63. Notes from Underground. Fyodor Dostoyevsky (Russia, 1861) [fiction: novel]
  64. Great Expectations. Charles Dickens (UK, 1861) [fiction: novel]
  65. Fathers and Sons. Ivan Turgenev (Russia, 1862) [fiction: novel]
  66. Crime and Punishment. Fyodor Dostoyevsky (Russia, 1866) [fiction: novel]
  67. The Last Chronicle of Barset. Anthony Trollope (UK, 1867) [fiction: novel]
  68. The Idiot. Fyodor Dostoyevsky (Russia, 1869) [fiction: novel]
  69. War and Peace. Leo Tolstoy (Russia, 1869) [fiction: novel]
  70. Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. Jules Verne (France, 1869) [fiction: novel]
  71. Middlemarch: A Study of Provincial Life. George Eliot (UK, 1871) [fiction: novel]
  72. The Birth of Tragedy. Friedrich Nietzsche (Germany, 1872) [non-fiction: philosophy]
  73. The Brothers Karamazov. Fyodor Dostoyevsky (Russia, 1878) [fiction: novel]
  74. Anna Karenina. Leo Tolstoy (Russia, 1878) [fiction: novel]
  75. The Return of the Native. Thomas Hardy (UK, 1878) [fiction: novel]
  76. Life on the Mississippi. Mark Twain (US, 1883) [non-fiction: travel/memoir]
  77. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Mark Twain (US, 1884) [fiction: novel]
  78. Beyond Good and Evil. Friedrich Nietzsche (Germany, 1886) [non-fiction: philosophy]
  79. Kidnapped. Robert Louis Stevenson (UK, 1886) [fiction: novel]
  80. The Death of Ivan Ilyich and Other Stories. Leo Tolstoy (Russia, 1886) [fiction: stories/novellas]
  81. On the Genealogy of Morals. Friedrich Nietzsche (Germany, 1887) [non-fiction: philosophy]
  82. Tess of the d’Urbervilles. Thomas Hardy (UK, 1891) [fiction: novel]
  83. The Importance of Being Earnest. Oscar Wilde (Ireland, 1894) [drama]
  84. Jude the Obscure. Thomas Hardy (UK, 1895) [fiction: novel]
  85. Dracula. Bram Stoker (Ireland, 1897) [fiction: novel]
  86. Heart of Darkness. Joseph Conrad (UK, 1899) [fiction: novella]
  87. Lord Jim. Joseph Conrad (UK, 1900) [fiction: novel]
  88. Sister Carrie. Theodore Dreiser (US, 1900) [fiction: novel]
  89. Kim. Rudyard Kipling (UK, 1901) [fiction: novel]
  90. The Wings of the Dove. Henry James (US/UK, 1901) [fiction: novel]
  91. The Ambassadors. Henry James (US/UK, 1903) [fiction: novel]
  92. Great Short Works. Leo Tolstoy (Russia, 1859-1904, pub. 1967) [fiction: novellas]
  93. The Golden Bowl. Henry James (US/UK, 1904) [fiction: novel]
  94. Nostromo. Joseph Conrad (UK, 1904) [fiction: novel]
  95. The House of Mirth. Edith Wharton (US, 1905) [fiction: novel]
  96. Dubliners. James Joyce (Ireland, 1913) [fiction: stories]
  97. The Metamorphosis and Other Stories. Franz Kafka (Czechoslovakia, 1915) [fiction: story]
  98. Sons and Lovers. D.H. Lawrence (UK, 1915) [fiction: novel]
  99. The Good Soldier. Ford Madox Ford (UK, 1915) [fiction: novel]
  100. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. James Joyce (Ireland, 1916) [fiction: novel]
  101. Demian. Hermann Hesse (Germany, 1917) [fiction: novel]
  102. The Magnificent Ambersons. Booth Tarkington (US, 1918) [fiction: novel]
  103. Winesburg, Ohio. Sherwood Anderson (US, 1919) [fiction: stories]
  104. Women in Love. D.H. Lawrence (UK, 1920) [fiction: novel]
  105. Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus. Ludwig Wittgenstein (Austria, 1921) [non-fiction: philosophy]
  106. Six Characters in Search of An Author. Luigi Pirandello (Italy, 1921) [drama]
  107. Siddhartha. Hermann Hesse (Germany, 1922) [fiction: novel]
  108. Ulysses. James Joyce (Ireland, 1922) [fiction: novel]
  109. Seven Pillars of Wisdom: A Triumph. T.E. Lawrence (UK, 1922) [non-fiction: memoir/history]
  110. Billy Budd, Sailor. Herman Melville (US, pub. 1924) [fiction: novella]
  111. The Magic Mountain. Thomas Mann (Germany, 1924) [fiction: novel]
  112. The Great Gatsby. F. Scott Fitzgerald (US, 1925) [fiction: novel]
  113. Mrs. Dalloway. Virginia Woolf (UK, 1925) [fiction: novel]
  114. The Trial. Franz Kafka (Czechoslovakia, 1925) [fiction: novel]
  115. The Castle. Franz Kafka (Czechoslovakia, 1926) [fiction: novel]
  116. Steppenwolf. Hermann Hesse (Germany, 1927) [fiction: novel]
  117. Him. E.E. Cummings (US, 1927) [drama]
  118. To the Lighthouse. Virginia Woolf (UK, 1927) [fiction: novel]
  119. Death Comes for the Archbishop. Willa Cather (US, 1927) [fiction: novel]
  120. Orlando: A Biography. Virginia Woolf (UK, 1928) [fiction: novel]
  121. Look Homeward, Angel. Thomas Wolfe (US, 1929) [fiction: novel]
  122. The Sound and the Fury. William Faulkner (US, 1929) [fiction: novel]
  123. As I Lay Dying. William Faulkner (US, 1930) [fiction: novel]
  124. Light in August. William Faulkner (US, 1932) [fiction: novel]
  125. Mutiny on the Bounty; Men Against the Sea; Pitcairn’s Island. Charles Nordhoff & James Hall (US, 1932-1934) [fiction: novels]
  126. Independent People. Halldór Laxness (Iceland, 1934) [fiction: novel]
  127. Selected Poems. T.S. Eliot (US/UK, 1934) [poetry]
  128. The Book of Disquiet. Fernando Pessoa (Portugal, 1935) [fiction: novel]
  129. Absalom, Absalom! William Faulkner (US, 1936) [fiction: novel]
  130. U.S.A. John Dos Passos (US, 1930-1936) [fiction: novels]
  131. Life Long Ago: The Story of Fossils. Carroll Lane Fenton (US, 1937) [non-fiction: science]
  132. Babylon Revisited and Other Stories. F. Scott Fitzgerald (US, 1937) [fiction: stories]
  133. The Hobbit. J.R.R. Tolkein (UK, 1937) [fiction: novel]
  134. Nausea. Jean-Paul Sartre (France, 1938) [fiction: novel]
  135. At Swim-Two-Birds. Flann O’Brien (Ireland, 1939) [fiction: novel]
  136. An Inquiry Into Meaning and Truth. Bertrand Russell (UK, 1940 [non-fiction: philosophy]
  137. American Renaissance: Art and Expression in the Age of Emerson and Whitman. F.O. Matthiessen (US, 1941) [non-fiction: literary criticism]
  138. The Glass Bead Game. Hermann Hesse (Germany, 1943) [fiction: novel]
  139. A Woman in Berlin: Eight Weeks in the Conquered City: A Diary. Anonymous (Marta Hillers) (Germany, 1945; pub. 1954) [non-fiction: diary]
  140. Hiroshima. John Hersey (US, 1946) [non-fiction: journalism]
  141. All the King’s Men. Robert Penn Warren (US, 1946) [fiction: novel]
  142. Under the Volcano. Malcolm Lowry (UK, 1947) [fiction: novel]
  143. A Field Guide to the Birds of Eastern and Central North America. Roger Tory Peterson (US, 1947) [non-fiction: birding]
  144. The American Political Tradition and the Men Who Made It. Richard Hofstadter (US, 1948) [non-fiction: history]
  145. Cry, the Beloved Country. Alan Paton (South Africa, 1948) [fiction: novel]
  146. Intruder in the Dust. William Faulkner (US, 1948) [fiction: novel]
  147. No Exit and Three Other Plays. Jean-Paul Sartre (France, 1949) [drama]
  148. The Concept of Mind. Gilbert Ryle (UK, 1949) [non-fiction: philosophy]
  149. Death of a Salesman. Arthur Miller (US, 1949) [drama]
  150. The Myth of the Eternal Return, or Cosmos and History. Mircea Eliade (Romania/UK, 1949) [non-fiction: history/religion]
  151. The Catcher in the Rye. J.D. Salinger (US, 1951) [fiction: novel]
  152. Memoirs of Hadrian. Marguerite Yourcenar (France, 1951) [fiction: novel]
  153. Invisible Man. Ralph Ellison (UK, 1952) [fiction: novel]
  154. Language, Truth and Logic. A.J. Ayer (US, 1952) [non-fiction: philosophy]
  155. Foundation; Foundation & Empire; Second Foundation. Isaac Asimov (US, 1951-1953) [fiction: novels]
  156. A Good Man is Hard to Find and Other Stories. Flannery O’Connor (US, 1953) [fiction: stories]
  157. Nine Stories. J.D. Salinger (US, 1953) [fiction: stories]
  158. Existentialism from Dostoevsky to Sartre. Walter Kaufmann, ed. (US, 1953) [non-fiction: philosophy]
  159. Molloy, Malone Dies, The Unnamable: A Trilogy. Samuel Beckett (Ireland/France, 1951-1953) [fiction: novels]
  160. Waiting for Godot. Samuel Beckett (Ireland/France, 1953) [drama]
  161. Lucky Jim. Kingsley Amis (UK, 1954) [fiction: novel]
  162. Lord of the Flies. William Golding (UK, 1954) [fiction: novel]
  163. The Lord of the Rings. J.R.R. Tolkien (UK, 1954-1955) [fiction: novels]
  164. Lolita. Vladimir Nabokov (USSR/US, 1955) [fiction: novel]
  165. Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters & Seymour: An Introduction. J.D. Salinger (US, 1955) [fiction: novellas]
  166. How to Do Things with Words. J.L. Austin (UK, 1955) [non-fiction: philosophy/linguistics]
  167. The Inheritors. William Golding (UK, 1955) [fiction: novel]
  168. The Stones of Florence. Mary McCarthy (US, 1956) [non-fiction: travel/history]
  169. Great American Short Stories. Mary Stegner, ed. (US, 1957) [fiction: stories]
  170. A Death in the Family. James Agee (US, 1957) [fiction: novel]
  171. First Love and Other Sorrows. Harold Brodkey (US, 1958) [fiction: stories]
  172. The Tin Drum. Günter Grass (Germany, 1959) [fiction: novel]
  173. The Alexandria Quartet. Lawrence Durrell (UK, 1957-1960) [fiction: novels]
  174. The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich: A History of Nazi Germany. William L. Shirer (US, 1960) [non-fiction: history]
  175. Franny and Zooey. J.D. Salinger (US, 1961) [fiction: novellas]
  176. Catch-22. Joseph Heller (US, 1961) [fiction: novel]
  177. A Clockwork Orange. Anthony Burgess (UK, 1962) [fiction: novel]
  178. The Golden Notebook. Doris Lessing (UK, 1962) [fiction: novel]
  179. Labyrinths: Selected Stories & Other Writings. Jorge Luis Borges (Argentina, 1962) [fiction: stories/non-fiction: essays]
  180. The Mentor Book of Major American Poets. Oscar Williams, ed. (US, 1962) [poetry]
  181. Cat’s Cradle. Kurt Vonnegut (US, 1963) [fiction: novel]
  182. V. Thomas Pynchon (US, 1963) [fiction: novel]
  183. Metaphysics. Richard Taylor (US, 1963) [non-fiction: philosophy]
  184. Giles Goat-Boy. John Barth (US, 1966) [fiction: novel]
  185. Fanshen: A Documentary of Revolution in a Chinese Village. William Hinton (US, 1966) [non-fiction: history]
  186. One Hundred Years of Solitude. Gabriel García Marquez (Colombia, 1967) [fiction: novel]
  187. The Double Helix. James Watson (US, 1968) [non-fiction: science]
  188. The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test. Tom Wolfe (US, 1968) [non-fiction: journalism]
  189. A Theory of Justice. John Rawls (US, 1971) [non-fiction: political philosophy]
  190. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Hunter S. Thompson (US, 1971) [non-fiction: journalism/memoir]
  191. Diet for a Small Planet. Frances Moore Lappé (US, 1971) [non-fiction: food]
  192. Invisible Cities. Italo Calvino (Italy, 1972) [fiction: novel]
  193. Complete Poems 1913-1962. E.E. Cummings (US, 1972) [poetry]
  194. Henry James: A Life (1 Vol.). Leon Edel (US/Canada, 1953-1972) [non-fiction: biography]
  195. Breakfast of Champions. Kurt Vonnegut (US, 1973) [fiction: novel]
  196. Gravity’s Rainbow. Thomas Pynchon (US, 1973) [fiction: novel]
  197. The Gulag Archipelago 1918-1956. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (USSR, 1973) [non-fiction: history]
  198. The Feminist Papers: From Adams to de Beauvoir. Alice S. Rossi, ed. (US, 1973) [non-fiction: history/sociology]
  199. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values. Robert M. Pirsig (US, 1974) [non-fiction: philosophy/memoir]
  200. All the President’s Men. Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward (US, 1974) [non-fiction: journalism/history]
  201. Pilgrim at Tinker Creek. Annie Dillard (US, 1974) [non-fiction: nature]
  202. Ragtime. E.L. Doctorow (US, 1975) [fiction: novel]
  203. The Selfish Gene. Richard Dawkins (UK, 1976) [non-fiction: science]
  204. Even Cowgirls Get the Blues. Tom Robbins (US, 1976) [fiction: novel]
  205. Song of Solomon. Toni Morrison (US, 1977) [fiction: novel]
  206. The Stories of John Cheever. John Cheever (US, 1978) [fiction: stories]
  207. The Family Crucible. Augustus Napier & Carl Whitaker (US, 1978) [non-fiction: psychology]
  208. A Sierra Club Naturalist’s Guide to Southern New England. Neil Jorgensen (US, 1978) [non-fiction: science/nature]
  209. On Human Nature. E.O. Wilson (US, 1978) [non-fiction: science]
  210. The Snow Leopard. Peter Matthiessen (US, 1978) [non-fiction: travel/science/memoir]
  211. So Long, See You Tomorrow. William Maxwell (US, 1979) [fiction: novel]
  212. If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler. Italo Calvino (Italy, 1979) [fiction: novel]
  213. Cruel Shoes. Steve Martin (US, 1979) [non-fiction: humor]
  214. A People’s History of the United States: 1492 to Present. Howard Zinn (US, 1980) [non-fiction: history]
  215. Still Life with Woodpecker. Tom Robbins (US, 1980) [fiction: novel]
  216. The Collected Stories. Eudora Welty (US, 1980) [fiction: stories]
  217. Midnight’s Children. Salman Rushdie (UK/India, 1981) [fiction: novel]
  218. What We Talk About When We Talk About Love. Raymond Carver (US, 1981) [fiction: stories]
  219. The White Hotel. D.M. Thomas (UK, 1981) [fiction: novel]
  220. The Growth of Biological Thought: Diversity, Evolution, and Inheritance. Ernst Mayr (US, 1982) [non-fiction: science/history]
  221. Philosophy in the Twentieth Century. A.J. Ayer (UK, 1982) [non-fiction: philosophy]
  222. The Glorious Cause: The American Revolution, 1763-1789. Robert Middlekauff (US, 1982) [non-fiction: history]
  223. Natural Landscaping: Designing with Native Plant Communities. John Diekelmann & Robert Schuster (US, 1982) [non-fiction: gardening/science]
  224. Love Is Hell. Matt Groening (US, 1982) [comic book]
  225. Money: A Suicide Note. Martin Amis (UK, 1984) [fiction: novel]
  226. Seven Plays. Sam Shepard. (US, 1984) [drama]
  227. The Art of Fiction: Notes on Craft for Young Writers. John Gardner (US, 1984) [non-fiction: writing]
  228. White Noise. Don DeLillo (US, 1985) [fiction: novel]
  229. Common Ground: A Turbulent Decade in the Lives of Three American Families. Anthony J. Lukas (US, 1985) [non-fiction: journalism/history]
  230. Maus, Vol. 1: My Father Bleeds History. Art Spiegelman (US, 1986) [non-fiction: graphic memoir/history]
  231. A Short History of the Movies. Gerald Mast (US, 1986) [non-fiction: film]
  232. The Making of the Atomic Bomb. Richard Rhodes (US, 1986) [non-fiction: history/science]
  233. World’s End. T.C. Boyle (US, 1987) [fiction: novel]
  234. Beloved. Toni Morrison (US, 1987) [fiction: novel]
  235. The New York Trilogy. Paul Auster (US, 1987) [fiction: novels]
  236. And the Band Played On: Politics, People, and the AIDS Epidemic. Randy Shilts (US, 1987) [non-fiction: journalism/history]
  237. Oscar and Lucinda. Peter Carey (Australia, 1988) [fiction: novel]
  238. Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era. James M. McPherson (US, 1988) [non-fiction: history]
  239. The Power of Myth. Joseph Campbell (with Bill Moyers) (US, 1988) [non-fiction: philosophy/religion]
  240. Tell Me Why: The Beatles: Album By Album, Song By Song, The Sixties and After. Tim Riley (US, 1988) [non-fiction: music]
  241. Where I’m Calling From: New and Selected Stories. Raymond Carver (US, 1988) [fiction: stories]
  242. The Complete Birder: A Guide to Better Birding. Jack Connor (US, 1988) [non-fiction: birding]
  243. Parting the Waters: America in the King Years, 1954-63. Taylor Branch (US, 1988) [non-fiction: biography/history]
  244. The Oxford History of Britain. Kenneth O. Morgan (UK, 1988) [non-fiction: history]
  245. John Kobal Presents the Top 100 Movies. John Kobal (Austria/UK, 1988) [non-fiction: film]
  246. Modern Ireland: 1600-1972. R.F. Foster (Ireland, 1989) [non-fiction: history]
  247. Art: A History of Painting, Sculpture, Architecture. Frederick Hartt (US, 1989 – 3rd Edition) [non-fiction: art history]
  248. The Things They Carried. Tim O’Brien (US, 1990) [fiction: stories]
  249. Lonely Hearts of the Cosmos: The Story of the Scientific Quest for the Secret of the Universe. Dennis Overbye (US, 1991) [non-fiction: science]
  250. Consciousness Explained. Daniel C. Dennett (US, 1991) [non-fiction: philosophy/neuroscience]
  251. Mating. Norman Rush (US, 1991) [fiction: novel]
  252. Hard Rain: A Dylan Commentary. Tim Riley (US, 1992) [non-fiction: music]
  253. The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity. Julie Cameron (US, 1992) [non-fiction: creativity]
  254. Truman. David McCullough (US, 1992) [non-fiction: biography/history]
  255. Round Up the Usual Suspects: The Making of Casablanca–Bogart, Bergman, and World War II. Aljean Harmetz (US, 1992) [non-fiction: film]
  256. Charles Darwin: Voyaging. Janet E. Browne (UK, 1995) [non-fiction: biography/science]
  257. Ship Fever: Stories. Andrea Barrett (US, 1996) [fiction: stories]
  258. Infinite Jest. David Foster Wallace (US, 1996) [fiction: novel]
  259. The God of Small Things. Arundhati Roy (India, 1997) [fiction: novel]
  260. American Pastoral. Philip Roth (US, 1997) [fiction: novel]
  261. Life: A Natural History of the First Four Billion Years of Life on Earth. Richard Fortey (UK, 1997) [non-fiction: science]
  262. We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families: Stories from Rwanda. Philip Gourevich (UK, 1998) [non-fiction: journalism/history]
  263. Annals of the Former World. John McPhee (US, 1998) [non-fiction: science/journalism]
  264. White Teeth. Zadie Smith (UK, 1999) [fiction: novel]
  265. Postwar: A History of Europe Since 1945. Tony Judt (UK, 1999) [non-fiction: history]
  266. A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. Dave Eggers (US, 2000) [non-fiction: memoir]
  267. John Adams. David McCullough (US, 2001) [non-fiction: biography/history]
  268. Peace Like a River. Leif Enger (US, 2001) [fiction: novel]
  269. Atonement. Ian McEwan (UK, 2001) [fiction: novel]
  270. Austerlitz. W.G. Sebald (Germany, 2001) [fiction: novel]
  271. Charles Darwin: The Power of Place. Janet E. Browne (UK, 2002) [non-fiction: biography/science]
  272. Middlesex. Jeffrey Eugenides (US, 2002) [fiction: novel]
  273. The Known World. Edward P. Jones (US, 2003) [fiction: novel]
  274. A Short History of Nearly Everything. Bill Bryson (US/UK, 2003) [non-fiction: science]
  275. They Marched Into Sunlight: War and Peace, Vietnam and America, October 1967. David Maraniss (US, 2003) [non-fiction: history]
  276. The Stories of English. David Crystal (UK, 2004) [non-fiction: history/linguistics]
  277. Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and bin Laden from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001. Steve Coll (US, 2004) [non-fiction: journalism/history]
  278. 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus. Charles C. Mann (US, 2005) [non-fiction: science/history]
  279. Never Let Me Go. Kazuo Ishiguro (UK, 2005) [fiction: novel]
  280. Europe Central. William T. Vollmann (US, 2005) [fiction: novel]
  281. The Rough Guide To Classical Music. Duncan Clark (US, 2005) [non-fiction: music]
  282. The Year of Magical Thinking. Joan Didion (US, 2005) [non-fiction: memoir]
  283. What Is the What. Dave Eggers (US, 2006) [fiction: novel]
  284. The Inheritance of Loss. Kiran Desai (India/US, 2006) [fiction: novel]
  285. The Road. Cormac McCarthy (US, 2006) [fiction: novel]
  286. James Tiptree, Jr.: The Double Life of Alice B. Sheldon. Julie Phillips (US, 2006) [non-fiction: biography]
  287. American Movie Critics: An Anthology From the Silents Until Now. Philip Lopate, ed. (US, 2006) [non-fiction: film]
  288. The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals. Michael Pollan (US, 2006) [non-fiction: food]
  289. Cleopatra: A Life. Stacy Schiff (US, 2006) [non-fiction: biography/history]
  290. The Lost: A Search for Six of Six Million. Daniel Mendelsohn (US, 2006) [non-fiction: history/memoir]
  291. The Rest is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century. Alex Ross (US, 2007) [non-fiction: music]
  292. The Hemingses of Monticello. Annette Gordon-Reed (US, 2008) [non-fiction: history/biography]
  293. Pictures at a Revolution: Five Movies and the Birth of the New Hollywood. Mark Harris (US, 2008) [non-fiction: film]
  294. The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration. Isabel Wilkerson (US, 2010) [non-fiction: history]
  295. There But For The. Ali Smith (UK, 2011) [fiction: novel]
  296. Lennon: The Man, the Myth, the Music – The Definitive Life. Tim Riley (US, 2011) [non-fiction: biography/music]
  297. Conversations with Scorsese. Richard Schickel (US, 2011) [non-fiction: film]
  298. Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman. Robert K. Massie (US, 2011) [non-fiction: biography/history]
  299. The Riddle of the Labyrinth: The Quest to Crack an Ancient Code. Margalit Fox (US, 2013) [non-fiction: history/archaeology]
  300. Lawrence in Arabia; War, Deceit, Imperial Folly, and the Making of the Modern Middle East. Scott Anderson (US, 2013)  [non-fiction: history/biography]
  301. Tenth of December. George Saunders (US, 2013) [fiction: stories]
  302. The Neapolitan Novels: My Brilliant Friend, The Story of a New NameThose Who Leave and Those Who Stay, and The Story of the Lost Child. Elena Ferrante (Italy, 2011-2014) [fiction: novels]
  303. Citizen: An American Lyric. Claudia Rankine (US, 2014)
  304. Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom. David W. Blight (US, 2018) [non-fiction: biography]
  305. Loving Orphaned Space: The Art and Science of Belonging to Earth. Mrill Ingram (US, 2022) [non-fiction: environmental science; art]

12 thoughts on “My Five-Star Books

  1. Pingback: A New Way of Making Lists | Make Lists, Not War

    1. beckchris

      Good question – I guess because I’ve only read one of his books so far (Kafka on the Shore) and I gave it 4/5 stars. I love his writing, though, and am looking forward to reading more.

  2. Pingback: New Appreciation for Isaac Asimov – Classics of Science Fiction

  3. jameswharris

    This is a very classical list of books, pretty much what Harold Bloom would recommend. I think it’s interesting that The Foundation Trilogy by Asimov is in the middle of it. Why do you think this is a great book? It’s a popular book, but it doesn’t seem in the same class as these others?

    1. beckchris

      I’m not sure that The Foundation Trilogy is great, but I know it is one of my favorite books. Rating every book I’ve read was an interesting exercise because it required me to go back to the time I read the book and think about how I felt about it then. The Foundation Trilogy was one of a series of books I read in my pre-teen and early teen years that were very important to me. Others included the books of Jules Verne, the Bounty Trilogy, and the works of J.D. Salinger, James Michener, J.R.R. Tolkein, Robert Heinlein and Charles Darwin. I read a lot of science fiction back then (very little in the past 30 years or so) and The Foundation Trilogy seemed the best of that genre to me – the idea of Trantor (an entire planet that is one giant city); the idea of predicting the future; the idea of something so unusual happening (the Mule) that the predictions went askew. My 12-year-old self ate it up. I have no idea what I would think of it if I read it now. If you search my posts for Books That Changed My Life, you may get more of a context to my reading history. []

      1. jameswharris

        I have been rereading books I loved as a kid. Some hold up and some don’t. When I reread Foundation I was disappointed. But I’m thinking about reading it again. I’m coming across too many people who loved it.

  4. Sam Kaplan

    Fabulous list, Chris. Has me making up (so far just in my head) a list of books I’ve liked enough to read at least twice. Right now it’s a list of the obvious – Bovary, War and Peace, Anna Karenina, the Rabbit quartet, A Farewell to Arms, The Sun Also Rises The Great Gatsby, Ulysses, Dubliners, Por trait of the Artist, Catch-22 etc. – an English major’s list. And (my apologies) scrupulously without science fiction.
    Under the motto “One List at a Time” am looking forward to the movie list.

    1. beckchris Post author

      Interesting idea for a list, Sam. I’m not sure I can remember every book I’ve read twice – there haven’t been too many in recent years. Off the top of my head: Moby Dick, Gravity’s Rainbow, Mrs. Dalloway, everything by Salinger, and quite a bit of nonfiction, including Richard Fortey’s book Life.

      1. sam kaplan

        And of course I eventually thought about an astonish-the-world list of books I’ve read at least three times. (Mrs Dalloway would be one of them, also The Right Stuff..) It’s surprisingly long and could be produced in civil court as evidence of insanity. The list would plainly mark me as an English major from the ’50s who never went straight. You must be a bit younger.

      2. Sam Kaplan

        P.S. Salinger gets on my s show-offy list via both Nine Stories and Catcher in the Rye.

      3. Sam Kaplan

        And of course it eventually dawned on me that I could make a separate astonish-the-world list of books (aka the meshuggana list) I’ve read three times or more. I believe it would include Ulysses, Anna Karenina, Bovary, Dubliners, The Right Stuff (!), Farewell to Arms, The Sun Also Rises, The Great Gatsby, The Leopard (once in Italian! – an insanely massive struggle)

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