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Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Three Book Club

I discussed in my review of A Wild Sheep Chase that it was my second Murakami and I was reluctantly willing to read a third someday. That got me thinking of the comparatively small number authors that I have read three books by. There are some big names who don't make the cut: Fitzgerald (1), Nabokov (2), Dostoevsky (1), Joyce (2), etc. Obviously there is not much correlation between quantity and quality, but I thought it would be interesting to see how many authors made the cut. Here's the list, in the order in which their names came to me, along with a super objective listing of the best and worst novels I have read by each author, and the biggest omission for each.

To my female audience, I apologize for the appalling fact that there is only one woman on this list. If it's any consolation, she is number one in total books read.

Agatha Christie- 50 novels.
Best: The Murder of Roger Ackroyd
Worst: Halloween Party
Biggest Omission: Murder on the Orient Express

Kurt Vonnegut- All novels (14 in total), 1 short story collection, 2 essay collections
Best: Slaughterhouse Five
Worst: Player Piano (It's his first, give the guy a break)
Biggest Omission: Man Without a Country (essays)

John Irving- 9 novels, 2 memoirs
Best: The Hotel New Hampshire
Worst: The Fourth Hand
Biggest Omission: Setting Free the Bears

Mark Twain: 5 novels, 2 short story collections, 3 collections of short pieces
Best: Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Worst: Innocents Abroad (technically unfinished)
Biggest Omission: Either The Gilded Age or Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc

Charles Dickens: 6 novels
Best: David Copperfield
Worst: Great Expectations
Biggest Omission: The Pickwick Papers, or Nicholas Nickleby

Raymond Chandler: 4 novels, 1 story collection
Best: The Big Sleep
Worst: All are good
Biggest Omission: The Lady in the Lake

Dashiell Hammett: 3 novels
Best: Red Harvest, The Maltese Falcon and The Thin Man (All are great)
Biggest Omission: The Dain Curse

Ross MacDonald: 4 novels
Best: The Blue Hammer
Worst: The Way Some People Die
Biggest Omission: The Doomsters

Rex Stout: 6 novels
Best: And Be a Villain
Worst: Fer-de-lance
Biggest Omission: The Doorbell Rang

Richard Russo: 6 novels and 1 short story collection
Best: The Risk Pool
Worst: The Whore’s Child and Other Stories

Philip Roth: 10 novels
Best: Goodbye Columbus
Worst: I Married a Communist
Biggest Omission: Sabbath’s Theater

Arthur Conan Doyle: 4 novels and 5 short story collections (All Holmes stories)
Best: The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
Worst: A Study in Scarlet

William Shakespeare: 23 plays
Best: The Merchant of Venice or Hamlet
Worst: Love’s Labours Lost
Biggest Omission: Othello or The Tempest

Ernest Hemingway: 3 novels
Best: The Sun Also Rises
Worst: A Farewell to Arms (need to re-read, I was only 16)
Biggest Omission: For Whom the Bell Tolls

William Faulkner: 3 novels
Best: The Sound and the Fury
Worst: Go Down, Moses
Biggest Omission: Light in August

Michael Chabon: 6 novels
Best: The Adventures of Kavalier and Clay
Worst: The Final Solution
Biggest Omission: Werewolves in their Youth

E.L. Doctorow: 3 novels
Best: Ragtime
Worst: Billy Bathgate
Biggest Omission: The Book of Daniel

John Updike: 3 novels
Best: Rabbit, Run or Rabbit is Rich
Worst: Rabbit Redux
Biggest Omission: Rabbit at Rest

Cormac McCarthy: 3 novels
Best: The Road
Worst: All the Pretty Horses
Biggest Omission: Blood Meridian

Jonathan Lethem: 3 novels
Best: Motherless Brooklyn
Worst: Chronic City
Biggest Omission: Gun, With Occasional Music

J.D. Salinger: 1 novel, 3 books of collected works
Best: The Catcher in the Rye
Worst: I liked all of them

Graham Greene: 3 novels
Best: The Power and the Glory or The Quiet American
Worst: The End of the Affair
Biggest Omission: The Heart of the Matter

Roddy Doyle: 4.5 novels
Best: The Commitments
Worst: Oh, Play that Thing!
Biggest Omission: Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha

That's 21 authors in all, although I feel I may be missing a few. You can see my love of mystery novels, not just in the number of Christie titles, but in the presence also of Stout, Chandler, Hammett, MacDonald, and Conan Doyle.

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