Top Novels

I should be reading (or ironing, cleaning, or insert word *here*), but I was browsing through a load of blogs I follow, and I read Thomas’s latest posts over at My Porch in which he has analysed the books he’s read to find his top novels by women and his top novels by men. He sorted all the novels that he has rated 8 and over and listed them. We have a few titles in common, but not that many. List-geek that I am, I couldn’t resist doing a cut-down version of this for myself – Thank you Thomas!

I’ve been keeping records of my reading on a spreadsheet since around 2005, and nearly 900 books are catalogued and rated on it. So I did a quick sort to separate all those that scored a perfect 10, and the few rating a 9.5 – it came to 129 books. Adding those that got 9/10 would have added another 180 to the list.

Then I sorted them into fiction by men (67), fiction by women (34), novels for children and teens (20), and non-fiction and memoirs(8). It was no surprise to me that fiction by men outnumbered fiction by women, but the factor of two did take me back a little bit!

If you can bear to read lists, here is part one of my list, women tomorrow.  Do let me know your views on any of these!  You’ll see that several authors get two or more mentions. There are no links, some books were read pre-blog – to search out titles mentioned, use my categories look-up on the right.  Here goes …


My Top-rated Novels Written by Men (since 2005)

wasp factoryAckroyd, Peter – Hawksmoor (1985)
Auster, Paul – The New York Trilogy (1987)
Banks, Iain – The wasp factory (1984)
Bates, HE – The Darling Buds of May (1958)
Beaumont, Sebastian – Thirteen (2006) & The Juggler (2009)
Bennett, Alan – The uncommon reader (2007)
Brookmyre, Christopher – The sacred art of stealing (2002)
Bulkgakov, Mikhail – The master and Margarita (1938)
Carillo, Charles – My ride with Gus (1996)
Chbosky, Stephen – The Perks of Being a Wallflower (1999)
Connell, Evan S – Mrs Bridge (1959)
Connelly, Michael The concrete blonde (1994), The last coyote (1995), The Poet (1995)
Defoe, Gideon – The Pirates! In an adventure with Scientists (2004)
sisters brothersDeWitt, Patrick – The Sisters Brothers (2011)
Fforde, Jasper – Shades of grey (2010)
Fitzgerald, F Scott – The Great Gatsby (1925), Tender is the night (1934)
Golding, William – Lord of the Flies (1954), Rites of passage (1980)
Greene, Graham – Our man in Havana (1958)
Grey, Zane – Riders of the Purple Sage (1912)
Griffiths, Neil – Saving Caravaggio (2006)
Grossi, Pietro – Fists (2009)
Haig, Matt – The Humans (2013)
Hardy, Thomas – Tess of the D’Urbervilles (1912)
Harris, Robert – The ghost (2007)
Hornby, Nick – High fidelity (1995)
Ishiguro, Kazuo – Never let me go (2005)
Keyes, Daniel – Flowers for Algernon (1966)flowers
Larsen, Reif – The selected works of T.S. Spivet (2009)
Le Carré, John – The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (1963)
Lemaitre, Pierre – Alex (2013)
Lethem, Jonathan – Motherless Brooklyn (2000)
Magrs, Paul – Never the bride (2006)
Martin, Valerie – Property (2003)
Maupin, Armistead – Tales of the City (1979)
McCarthy, Cormac – The Road (2006)
Meek, James – The people’s act of love (2005)
Mills, Magnus – All quiet on the orient express (2000), The Scheme for Full Employment (2003), A cruel bird came to the nest and looked in (2011)
Mosley, Walter – Always outnumbered always outgunned (1997)
electricityNobbs, David – Cupid’s Dart (2007)
Paling, Chris – Newton’s Swing (2000)
Peake, Mervyn – The Titus Books (Gormenghast Trilogy) (1967)
Portis, Charles – True Grit (1968)
Preston, John – The dig (2007)
Pullman, Philip – The Good Man Jesus & the Scoundrel Christ (2010)
Roberts, Adam – Yellow Blue Tibia (2009)
Robinson, Ray – Electricity (2006), The Man Without (2008)
Saramago, Jose – Blindness (1995)
Shakespeare, William – Hamlet
Shaw, Ali – The Girl with Glass Feet (2009), The Man Who Rained (2012)
Sheriff, R C – The Hopkins Manuscript (1939)winters bone
Simenon, Georges – Dirty Snow (1948)
Siodmak, Curt – Donovan’s Brain (1942)
Smythe, James – The Explorer (2013)
Thompson, Jim – The Killer Inside Me (1952)
Waugh, Evelyn – Brideshead revisited (1945), The loved one (1948)
Woodrell, Daniel – The death of Sweet Mister (2002), Winter’s bone (2006)


15 thoughts on “Top Novels

  1. And there’s something I’ve never thought of doing! I should now have a list of books going back several years, so sooner rather than later I should do something like this….hmmm, thanks (I think!)

  2. How cool! And how organised are you with your spreadsheet – I should have done something like that, but actually every attempt at a reading list/journal I tried has failed – until I started a blog! I’ve read quite a few on your list and would agreed with many of your top ratings – Peake, Ackroyd, Fitzgerald, Bulgakov – in fact, now I want to go and re-read some of them!!

  3. Wow. That’s what I call organised!!! As well as getting you to take over the running of my blog I think I will ask you to run my whole life!! I love several of the books on your list – above all the wonderful Wasp Factory – one of the most stunning books I’ve ever read!

    • Col – I can run my blog, and my spreadsheet – but that’s about as far as it goes! 🙂
      I agree, The Wasp Factory is one of my all-time favourite novels, and it does bear re-reading as I did earlier this year.

  4. Pingback: Top Novels – part two | Annabel's House of Books

  5. I think my list would share a lot of titles with yours! I notice Sebastian Beaumont near the top of the list. You persuaded me to buy The Juggler a few years ago, but I still haven’t read it – I must push it closer to the top of the pile.

    • I think it was Scott Pack who introduced me to Sebastian Beaumont’s books, and Ray Robinson – two British authors who write edgy contemporary fiction that should be read more. I hope you enjoy The Juggler if/when you read it.

  6. I’d agree with a lot of your list but I’ve have Lonesome Dove up there too, alongside Patrick Gale’s Notes From an Exhibition. And The Razor’s Edge by Somerset Maughn which I’d never have read if it wasn’t for my book group.
    I don’t agree about The Sisters Brothers though, maybe I was expecting too much but I found it lacking something.

    • Three books I haven’t read – and three for the wishlist. The instant I started The Sisters Brothers it felt like it was Jake and Elwood i.e. The Blues Brothers in a Western setting and I adored it. However, I realise it’s not to everyone’s taste.

  7. I admire readers organized enough to have collected their stats so well! That’s a great list – quite a few I haven’t read, and some dear familiar friends. What I like is how eclectic it is too. Looking forward to the next one now.

  8. How intriguing – the books I’ve read from this list haven’t always hit the spot for me, (though I loved The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ) but no matter. I’m still keener than ever to read the ones that are on my mental must-read list, like Alex and Mrs Bridge. Btw, you have a couple of women lurking in this one – Ali Shaw and Valerie Martin might wish to hot-foot it to the other list!

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