Book Lists: Time Magazine’s Top 100 Modern English-speaking Novels

I’ve mentioned this blogger once or twice before, and again I want to shout him out: Robert Bruce over at 101 books. He is undertaking the task of reading Time‘s  Top 100 English-speaking Novels since 1923 (plus Ulysses). May his journey be blessed, and may we all take the time to read at least a few on the list that we haven’t yet.

As a Christian, an English teacher, and a bibliophile, I enjoy books lists a lot. Check out the Time List below:

Time Magazine‘s Top 100 English-Speaking Novels Since 1923
*Books in bold indicate already read.
  • The Adventures of Augie March (1953) by Saul Bellow
  • All the King’s Men (1946) by Robert Penn Warren
  • American Pastoral (1997) by Philip Roth
  • An American Tragedy (1925) by Theodore Dreiser
  • Animal Farm (1946) by George Orwell
  • Appointment in Samarra (1934) by John O’Hara
  • Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret (1970) by Judy Blume
  • The Assistant (1957) by Bernard Malamud
  • At Swim-Two-Birds (1938) Flann O’ Brien
  • Atonement (2002) by Ian McEwan
  • Beloved (1987) by Toni Morrison
  • The Berlin Stories (1946) by Christopher Isherwood
  • The Big Sleep (1939) by Raymond Chandler
  • The Blind Assassin (2000) by Margaret Atwood (College)
  • Blood Meridian (1986) by Cormac McCarthy
  • Brideshead Revisited (1946) by Evelyn Waugh
  • The Bridge of San Luis Rey (1927) by Thornton Wilder
  • Call it Sleep (1935) by Henry Roth
  • Catch 22 (1961) by Joseph Heller  (College)
  • The Catcher in the Rye (1951) by J.D. Salinger (College)
  • A Clockwork Orange (1963) by Anthony Burgess
  • The Confessions of Nat Turner (1967) by William Styron
  • The Corrections (2001) by Jonathan Franzen
  • The Crying of Lot 49 (1966) by Thomas Pynchon
  • A Dance to the Music of Time (1951) by Anthony Powell
  • The Day of the Locust (1939) by Nathanael West
  • Death Comes for the Archbishop (1927) by Willa Cather
  • A Death in the Family (1958) by James Agee
  • The Death of the Heart (1958) by Elizabeth Bowen
  • Deliverance (1970) by James Dickey
  • Dog Soldiers (1974) by Robert Stone
  • Falconer (1977) by John Cheever
  • The French Lieutenant’s (1969) by John Fowles
  • The Golden Notebook (1962) by Doris Lessing
  • Go Tell it on the Mountain (1953) by James Baldwin
  • Gone With The Wind (1936) by Margaret Mitchell
  • The Grapes of Wrath (1939) by John Steinbeck (High School)
  • Gravity’s Rainbow (1973) by Thomas Pynchon
  • The Great Gatsby (1925) by F. Scott Fitzgerald (College)
  • A Handful of Dust (1935) by Evelyn Waugh
  • The Heart is a Lonely Hunter (1940) by Carson McCullers
  • The Heart of the Matter (1948) by Graham Greene
  • Herzog (1964) by Saul Bellow
  • Housekeeping (1981) by Marilynne Robinson
  • A House for Mr. Biswas (1962) by V.S. Naipaul
  • I, Claudius (1934) by Robert Graves
  • Infinite Jest (1996) by David Foster Wallace
  • Invisible Man (1952) by Ralph Ellison
  • Light in August (1932) by William Faulkner
  • The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe (1950) by C.S. Lewis (Childhood)
  • Lolita (1955) by Vladimir Nabokov
  • Lord of the Flies (1955) by William Golding (College)
  • The Lord of the Rings (1954) by J.R.R. Tolkien (Multiple Times)
  • Loving (1945) by Henry Green
  • Lucky Jim (1954) by Kingsley Amis
  • The Man Who Loved Children (1940) by Christina Stead
  • Midnight’s Children (1981) by Salman Rushdie
  • Money (1984) by Martin Amis
  • The Moviegoer (1964) by Walker Percy
  • Mrs. Dalloway (1925) by Virginia Woolf
  • Naked Lunch (1959) by William Burroughs
  • Native Son (1940) by Richard Wright
  • Neuromancer (1984) by William Gibson
  • Never Let Me Go (2005) by Kazuo Ishiguro
  • 1984 (1948) by George Orwell (High School)
  • On the Road (1957) by Jack Kerouac
  • One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest (1962) by Ken Kesey
  • The Painted Bird (1965) by Jerzy Kosinski
  • Pale Fire (1962) by Vladimir Nabokov
  • A Passage to India (1924) by E.M. Forster
  • Play It As It Lays (1970) by Joan Didion
  • Portnoy’s Complaint (1969) by Philip Roth
  • Possession (1990) by A.S. Byatt
  • The Power and the Glory (1939) by Graham Greene
  • The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1961) by Muriel Spark
  • Rabbit, Run (1960) by John Updike
  • Ragtime (1975) E.L. Doctorow
  • The Recognitions (1955) by William Gaddis
  • Red Harvest (1929) by Dashiell Hammett
  • Revolutionary Road (1961) by Richard Yates
  • The Sheltering Sky (1949) by Paul Bowles
  • Slaughterhouse Five (1969) by Kurt Vonnegut (College)
  • Snow Crash (1992) by Neal Stephenson
  • The Sot-Weed Factor (1960) by John Barth
  • The Sound and the Fury (1929) by William Faulkner
  • The Sportswriter (1986) by Richard Ford
  • The Spy Who Came In From The Cold (1964) by John Le Carre
  • The Sun Also Rises (1926) by Ernest Hemingway
  • Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937) by Zora Neale Hurston (College)
  • Things Fall Apart (1959) by Chinua Achebe (High School)
  • To Kill A Mockingbird (1960) by Harper Lee (Nov. ’10)
  • To The Lighthouse (1927) by Virginia Woolf
  • Tropic of Cancer (1934) by Henry Miller
  • Ubik (1969) by Philip K. Dick
  • Under the Net (1954) by Iris Murdoch
  • Under the Volcano (1947) by Malcom Lowry
  • Watchmen (1986) by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons
  • White Noise (1985) by Don DeLillo
  • White Teeth (2000) by Zadie Smith
  • Wide Sargasso Sea (1966) Jean Rhys

 It would be really interesting to read these books, discern the worldview behind each, and analyzie how our contemporary culture has been shaped by these novels.


Movie Notes – Star Wars, Episode I, The Phantom Menace

Crystal and I started watching the Star Wars movies last night with Episode I. She’s never watched them before and was pretty leery about making a start at it, but she’s hooked already. We decided before we watched them that we’d look for gospel parallels, just for fun. I know, we’re dorks, but what do you expect from Star Wars fans?

Here’s what we found:


  • “Fear gives way to anger, anger to hate, hate to suffering.” Yoda says this regarding Anakin. We’re not sure if it’s God’s timeless truth, but undoubtedly these things are all connected in the mess of our sinful hearts. Relying on a sinful “chosen one” spelled suffering for the entire universe in Star Wars.
  • Anakin is the “chosen one” (or is he?) who will bring balance to the force. Jesus came and brought His followers back to Himself by living a sinless life and taking our sins upon Himself on the cross. Anakin will eventually die for the galaxy by sacrificing his busted up body as Darth Vader in Episode VI.
  • Anakin is born to no father. “The Force” spawns him, allegedly. Perhaps God the Father is the force in these movies — the insurmountable problem with this, of course, is that the Force has a dark side, and God is infinitely far from darkness.
  • There is always hope for sinners, even for Anakin, who is given much and eventually uses what he’s given for evil.
  • We leave a legacy of ourselves in those we disciple, just as Qui Gon Jin leaves a legacy in Obi Wan Kenobi. At the start of the film, Obi Wan seems to be more of a straight-and-narrow type, but by the end, after Qui Gon is dead, Obi Wan seems to be ready to step into his defiant shoes.
  • The Jedi are an elite group, and they  gain entry into the group by born qualities and demonstrated ability. Christians are part of an incredibly amazing group (God’s children), but they are invited into an eternal family based not on their performance or abilities, but rather on Christ’s.
  • Anakin, the chosen one, is sinful. And his son, Luke Skywalker, who may be the real chosen one, is also sinful. Jesus isn’t. He’s perfect.

Pray like Jesus – Gethsemane – Mark Driscoll sermon

(I tried embedding this but it didn’t work — here you go:

This sermon was a great aid to me today, and I wanted to post it here (first post in a looooong time) because of how the Lord used it to correct me and restore me. Here are some things Mark said (apologize if I missed a word here or there):

“You live in a stupid culture that tells you you can do whatever you want. You’re told from a kid that everyone gets to be president. You’re told you get to write the script of your life and everyone else will just read their part.” 

–Life is complicated, and I appreciate this reminder of that. I’ve been frustrated and disappointed and anxieated during the past two weeks by my students not doing what I want them to do. I appreciate being reminded that life is complicated and that I’m not given a director’s power. 

“Life with Jesus is not easier. It’s just not lonely.”
“You are the author and perfecter of your life… It’s a lie.”
“Sometimes prayer changes things — most of the time, it changes us.”
“Prayer didn’t get Jesus around any of it, but it got Him through it.”
“Are you despairing because of sin and its effects or because you didn’t get your way?”
May His will be done in our lives, and may we pray more like Christians.

Tim Keller Sermon Notes — Series: Arguing with Jesus — Sermon #1: Arguing about the Afterlife

Teaching is based on Matthew 22:23-33 Sadducees questioning Jesus about the afterlife

Please note that these sermon notes are provided only to encourage, and that any or all parts of the notes may contain errors or omissions, due entirely to the note-taker. Full audio of the sermon may be found at the Redeemer Sermon Store.

Jesus responds to the Sadducees (educated, liberal, upper class) with
I. A rebuke
The gospel is not a derivative or form of conservatism or liberalism, nor is it the perfect middle.

  • Conservatives like the idea of a God of justice and morality
    • Yet the God of the gospel isn’t satisfied with anyone but Jesus’ moral life and the sacrifice of Jesus alone satisfies this God’s justice
      • God is more conservative than the conservatives
  • Liberals like the idea of a God of love, compassion, and social justice
    • Yet the God of the gospel is more loving than that, offering His Son’s life as a sacrifice
      • God is more liberal than the liberals
  • In sum, Jesus rebukes everyone with this: the gospel is not like anything else.

Practical implications of this:

  • For Christians: Get used to people misunderstanding you and thinking you’re an idiot, because the Gospel is unlike anything else. People will have no grid for understanding what you’re marinating in.
  • For Seekers: Take your time. If you hear something about the gospel and really like it, it’s probably because of something you like, not the gospel. And if you hear something about the gospel and really hate it, it’s probably because of something you hate, not the gospel. It’s unlike anything else.
  • For Christians trying to show friends Christianity: Be patient. This takes time.

II. An argument
The Sadducees don’t understand the love of God or the Scriptures.

  • The scriptures: Jesus uses Scripture that the Sadducees will accept (okay, you want to talk about Moses? Let’s talk about Moses). He speaks on their terms to contend for the gospel. He points out that God speaks of Abraham and Isaac to Moses in the present tense, though they’ve been dead for centuries. This means that the relationship cannot stop.
  • The love of God: When God enters into a loving relationship with us it cannot stop. God won’t lose anything that’s precious to Him.
    • Hellfire preaching: There is an afterlife, it’s heaven or hell, so you better know God.
    • Jesus’ preaching: Know God and then you’ll know there’s an afterlife.
      • Once you start tasting the love of God, you’ll start to realize instinctually and logically that it can’t end.

III. A Promise

  • This lack of marriage in heaven doesn’t sound fun to us. We envision a bunch of platonic relationship. We envision us not being us anymore, no longer remembering our spouses.
    • We will be us. Remember, God is the God of Abraham, a person, an individual.
    • The afterlife will make the most intoxicating, intensely pleasurable moment of the best marriage in the history of the Earth look like a dew drop next to an atomic bomb.
    • St Teresa of Avila: “The first moment in the arms of Jesus is gonna make a thousand years of misery on Earth look like one night in a bad hotel.”

Tim Keller Sermon Notes — Series: “The Real Jesus” — Sermon #12: “With the Powerless” 1996-1997

The teaching is based on Luke 7:36-50, Story of woman washing Jesus’ feet with tears in Simon the Pharisee’s house.

Please note that these sermon notes are provided only to encourage, and that any or all parts of the notes may contain errors or omissions, due entirely to the note-taker. Full audio of the sermon may be found at the Redeemer Sermon Store.

In this excellent series of sermons, Keller seeks to give his congregation a biography of the life of Jesus. Prior to Christmas, the sermons focus on the incarnational stories. Following Christmas and leading up to spring, it focuses on the encounters and events of His life. Leading up to Easter, it focuses on the final week of Jesus’… well, I can’t say His life, because He’s still alive… but you know what I mean.

Tim Keller tends to relax and humble me in Christ, whereas Mark Driscoll tells to get me excited and bold in Him. Both preach the gospel and tend to teach through books of the Bible.

For me, a guy who tends to gravitate toward extremes, it is very good for me to listen to both of these men to combat my generally religious, I’ve-got-to-earn-Jesus tendencies.

I generally listen to sermons while running or driving, so these notes are far from complete–but since I try to jot down notes afterwards anyway, I might as well share. I heartily recommend purchasing Tim Keller’s sermons from his website, and heartily encourage you not to rationalize stealing them!

This sermon hit my religious bones good, hopefully crushing them a little more.

With the Powerless

(Luke 7:36-50, Story of woman washing Jesus’ feet with tears in Simon the Pharisee’s house)

  • The story is about two people–the woman and Simon
  • The story is about two seekers–Simon invited Jesus over (invitation to relationship) and the woman came to him
  • Simon had conditions: he wanted a discussion, a high-minded conversation; he didn’t want touching and weeping and letting down of hair!
  • The woman had no conditions–she came and gave her fear (letting her hair down in front of these men could have been dangerous), her money (the alabaster jar of perfume was expensive), her very livelihood and career (wearing an alabaster jar of perfume around your neck increased your sexual appeal; she was a prostitute; to pour out these jars required breaking them due to the narrow neck). Shecame to Jesus unconditionally; if He was who He said He was, she implied, He could have what little she had.
  • Aspects of Simon religion:
    • Jesus says, You don’t get it! You don’t see that you can’t make it!
    • Simon thinks he can pay the cost for the forgiveness of debt.
      • Whether a spider bite kills you are a lion rips you to shreds, you’re still dead–one person is pretty-looking dead, the other is ugly-looking dead, but both are dead. The same with our debt.
      • Forgiveness never happens without someone getting hurt–someone gets wronged, and either the person who owes it pays it or the person who deserves to get it has to absorb it. We can’t pay it, so God has to get hurt.
      • Some ppl bristle when Keller says, “If you don’t come to God through Jesus, you have an impersonal religion”
        • What did it cost your god to have that personal relationship with you. Where is the agony? Where are the thorns? Where are the nails?
          • Don’t believe all that is necessary? Well that’s exactly why you’re not weeping and letting your hair down and laying all you at the feet of Jesus! That’s the reason it’s impersonal! It cost nothing.
          • Your religion is more like Simon’s, not hers. You don’t see or know the cost.
          • If you get rid of the messenger and just have the message, there’s no weeping, no tears, no joy, no power.
    • Simon’s religion is academic.
  • Because of the two understandings:
    • Simon gets exactly what He wants–a seminar. An academic experience. And an insult, and a cold shoulder.
    • The woman gets an ability to love she didn’t have before. The reason she’s able to love now is because she sees that she’s forgiven.
      • Your ability to love people and life is completely due to how deeply you see your sin and your ability to be forgiven.
      • If you have too high a view of yourself, you’ll see yourself as undeserving of the hurt you receive, and if you have to low a view of yourself, you’ll see yourself as undeserving of forgiveness–and either way you won’t be able to forgive.
    • She didn’t just get the ability, she got a love that could fill her up.
    • She doesn’t care what anybody thinks. When everyone turns around, she lets her hair down (an outrageous action). In doing this, she showed courage. She didn’t run. By surrendering to Jesus, she got power. She found that she would never have to surrender to anyone else.
      • Your faith has saved you–past tense! In Simon religion, you never have a past tense! You’re always hoping you’re saved.
      • Jesus says, literally, “Go into peace.” The power you give to me, the more you’ll get back.
  • Do you have Simon religion?
    • Look at this woman. This is the gospel–it’s not the powerful, it’s the marginal who show you how to become a Christian.
  • Are you a believer?
    • Do you love like this woman? Do you have this kind of satisfaction in Jesus Christ? Are you having trouble loving life?
      • It’s in your power! You have forgotten your debt. You have forgotten His life.
      • Hymn: Take my love, my Lord, I pour / At Thy feet its treasure store; / Take myself, and I will be, / Ever, only, all for Thee. / Ever, only, all for Thee.