Friday, 19 February 2016

My top 100 Books. And Top 100 Graphic Novels.

Everybody loves a good list, right?  With the passing recently of David Bowie (and nearly every other musician in their late '60's/early '70's, it would seem), we all became aware of what a loss for the music world his death is.

I wasn't the world's biggest Bowie fan.  My first ever bit of Vinyl I purchased was a Bowie single back in the day.  And, despite owning a sizeable music collection, that remains all of the Bowie I have.  I was more interested to read Bowie's Top 100 Book List however.  And, reading his list, I found that we had little in common, as far as our reading tastes went.  I can say that I have read 4 1/2 of the books on his list (I couldn't finish Madame Bovary).  His eclectic reading tastes are obvious, and it's a great insight into his mind!  I'm certainly interested in checking out a few more on his list.

Which brings me to making my own, personal Top 100 Books list, inspired by Bowie's own list.  And, given that I read an awful lot of comics and graphic novels, I felt justified in making a separate Top 100 Graphic Novels list as well.

So, how does one go about compiling a list like this?  And what kind of parameters are we talking about?  For me, the emphasis was on fiction rather than non-fiction (with one exception, The Masks of God, which is essentially a psychoanalysis of stories, so it kind of counts.  And I'm allowed to break my own rules.)  Which cut out alot of the non-fiction that I read.  But I'm good with that.  Maybe there's yet another list ther as well...? 

Also, I limited each author to one spot.  Otherwise my list would have been flooded with works from about 8 authors.  I have marked these authors with an asterix, meaning that, while I have chosen a book from their bibliography, I could have easily chosen another 10 or 20 as well.  There are a few other authors not marked, like Kim Stanley Robinson, whose works contain many books I like, and also many books I don't get into so much or haven't read.  I'm sure you have your own authors in a similar position.  Note: this only applies to the Book list.  I felt free to disregard this rule for the Graphic Novel list.  As a result, there are many Alan Moore works, because I couldn't not include them.  And others.  My lists, my rules.

This is actually true.

As far as a series of books goes, I'm happy to list a series as one book slot.  So there are a number of trilogies, series and the likes scattered through the list.  The Graphic Novels are a bit more problematic.  Many of the Vertigo series contain around 10 volumes.  Some of the manga contain over 20.  There are many very worthy contenders that are ongoing series.  I have limited myself here to runs that involve one writer, to avoid the eternal capes opera that is superhero comics.  I enjoy them, and I have read one very convincing argument in favour of considering Issues #1 - #322 of The Fantastic Four as one mega-novel, with multi-authors and artists, under various editors but with an over-riding sense of direction, and, arguably a conclusion.  I'm convinced, but as it isn't re-printed with this particular theory in mind, I reluctantly omit it (and many, many others) from my list, in favour of more accessible volumes of work.  

Finally, it should go without saying, but I must have actually read them, and personally own a copy (the only exception at this point is 'Fight Club' which I have read but don't currently own a copy.  Gotta love exceptions).  There are a number of books I own that I have no doubt will bump some books of these lists, should I ever get the time to read them.  Let's hope that we are all blessed with more time to do the things we love.  

So, the general idea was to flood the lists with anything I thought was a cracking read, then whittle them down to the essential 100.  This is way more difficult than it sounds, but is also very enjoyable to do.  So, without any further ado, and in no particular order, here's My Top 100 Books, and Top 100 Graphic Novels.  Now get cracking on your own list!

Top 100 books

Lord of the Rings /  The Silmarillion  JRR Tolkien
Dune series Frank Herbert
The Unlimited Dream Company  J G Ballard *
Cities of Red Night  William Burroughs
The Culture series  Iain M Banks *
Mars Trilogy  Kim Stanley Robinson
Swords Series  Fritz Leiber
The 47 Ronin John Allyn
The House on the Borderlands  William Hope Hodgson
Lost Worlds Volume 1  Clark Ashton Smith *
The Earthsea Quartet  Ursula Le Guin
The Illuminatus Trilogy  Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson
Don Quixote  Miguel Cervantes
Songs of Fire and Ice Series  George RR Martin
Cryptonomicon  Neal Stevenson
The King of Elfland's Daughter  Lord Dunsany
The Masks of God  Joseph Campbell
Titus Groan  Mervyn Peake
Jurgen  James Branch Cabell
Lord of Light  Roger Zelazny
Tales of the Arabian Nights  India/Iran/Iraq/Egypt
Slaughterhouse 5  Kurt Vonnegut
The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy series  Douglas Adams
A Farewell to Arms  Ernest Hemingway
Siddharta  Herman Hesse
The Name of the Rose  Umberto Eco*
Our Ancestors  Italo Calvino*
The Dictionary of the Khazars  Milorad Pavic
The Man in the High Castle  Philip K Dick *
Books of the New Sun  Gene Wolfe
Filth  Irvine Welsh
Wheels of Terror  Sven Hassel *
The Once and Future King  T H White
Haroun and the Sea of Stories  Salman Rushdie
Crime and Punishment  Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Waiting for Godot  Samuel Beckett
Animal Farm  George Orwell
Blood Meridian  Corman McCarthy
The Trial  Franz Kafka
One Hundred Years of Solitude  Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Moby Dick  Herman Melville
Catch 22 Joseph Heller
Software series  Rudy Rucker
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas  Hunter S Thompson
I am Legend  Richard Matheson
Labyrinths  Jorge Luis Borges
The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath  H P Lovecraft *
Imaginary Magnitude  Stanislaw Lem
Weaveworld  Clive Barker
Helliconia Trilogy  Brian Aldiss
Conan series  Robert E Howard
Terminal Cafe (Necroville)  Ian MacDonald
Neuromancer  William Gibson
The Forever War  Joe Haldeman
Stranger in a Strange Land  Robert A Heinlein
Rama series  Arthur C Clarke
The Life of Pi  Yann Martel
The Prestige  Christopher Priest
A Canticle for Liebowicz  Walter M Miller
War of the Worlds  H G Wells
The Compleat Traveller in Black  John Brunner
The Chinese Maze Murders  Roberk Van Gulik
Rome  Steven Saylor
Pushing Ice  Alastair Reynolds
Monkey  Wu Cheng En
Swamp Foetus  Poppy Z Brite
The Dying Earth  Jack Vance
Paintwork  Tim Maughan
The Windup Girl  Paolo Bacigalupi
Ringworld  Larry Niven
The Priest-Kings of Gor  John Norman
The Picture of Dorian Grey  Oscar Wilde
The Book of Ptath  A E Van Vogt
Looking for Jake  China Mieville
Elvissey  Jack Womack
The Travels of Sir John Mandeville  "John Mandeville"
Darkness under the Hills  Bill Scott
Elric of Melinbone (series)  Michael Moorcock
The Color of Magic / The Light Fantastic  Terry Prachett
The Beach  Alex Garland
Lord of the Flies  William Golding
Howl's Moving Castle  Diana Wynne Jones
A Clockwork Orange  Anthony Burgess
Flowers for Algernon  Daniel Keyes
Neverwhere  Neil Gaiman
The Castle of Otranto  Horace Walpole
Flatland  Edwin A. Abbott
The Odyssey  Homer
Sophie's World  Jostien Gaarder
Heart of Darkness  Joseph Conrad
Macbeth  William Shakespeare
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe  C. S. Lewis
120 Days of Sodom  The Marquis de Sade
Songs of Innocence and Experience  William Blake
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory  Roald Dahl
Memoirs of a Geisha  Arthur Golden
Speed Tribes  Karl Taro Greenfeld
Salem's Lot  Stephen King
Generation X  Douglas Copeland
Fight Club  Chuck Palahniuk

Top 100 graphic novels

Watchmen  Alan Moore, Dave Gibbons
From Hell  Alan Moore, Eddie Campbell
V For Vendeta  Alan Moore, David Lloyd
Sandman  (10 volumes) Neil Gaiman, Various Artists
Preacher  (10 volumes) Garth Ennis, Steve Dillon
Transmetropolitan (10 volumes) Warren Ellis, Darick Robertson
The Invisibles  (7 volumes) Grant Morrison, Various Artists
Scalped (10 volumes) Jason Aaron, R M Guera
The Dark Knight Returns Frank Miller, Klaus Janson, Lynn Varley
All Star Superman  Grant Morrison, Frank Quietly
Nick Fury Agent of Shield  Jim Steranko
Monster (18 volumes) Naoki Urasawa
Kozure Okami (Lone Wolf and Cub) (28 volumes) Kazuo Koike, Goseki Kojima
Saga (ongoing) Brian Vaughn, Fiona Staples
Astro City (ongoing) Kurt Buseik, Brent Anderson
Love and Rockets* (ongoing) (especially Poison River)  The Hernandez Brothers
Signal from Space  Will Eisner
A Contract With God  Will Eisner
Zot! Scott McCloud
Grendel  Matt Wagner
Usagi Yojimbo*  (ongoing)  Stan Sakai
Maus collection Art Spiegelman
Berlin  (2 volumes currently) Jason Lutes
Habibi  Craig Thompson
The Sculptor  Scott McCloud
Prince Valiant*  (12 volumes currently) Hal Foster
Flash Gordon  (3 volumes) Alex Raymond
Hate series  Pete Bagge
The Incal  Alexander Jodorowsky, Jean "Moebius" Giraud
Bolero  Milo Manara
Blueberry  Jean-Michel Charlier, Jean "Moebius" Giraud
Persepolis  Marjane Satrapi
Daredevil Born Again  Frank Miller, David Mazzucchelli
Batman Year One  Frank Miller, David Mazzucchelli
Akira  Katsuhiro Otomo
Black Hole  Charles Burns
Cerebus  (16 volumes) Dave Sim
The Smartes Kid On Earth  Chris Ware
Bone, The Great Cow Race  Jeff Smith
The Big Hoax  Carlos Trillo, Domingo Mandrafino
Nausicca of the Valley of the Wind (7 volumes) Hayao Miyazaki
Troubled Souls  Garth Ennis, John McCrea
The Walking Dead* (ongoing) Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore, Charlie Adlard
The Black Panther  Don McGregor, Rich Buckler, Billy Graham, Gil Kane
Dr & Quinches Totally Awesome Guide to Life  ALan Moore, Alan Davis
White Trash  Gordon Rennie, Martin Edmond
Sin City  Frank Miller
The Tale of One Bad Rat  Brian Talbot
The Filth  Grant Morrison, Chris Weston, Gary Erskine
Signal to Noise  Neil Gaiman, Dave McKean
Hellblazer  Dangerous Habits  Garth Ennis, Steve Dillon
Marvels  Kurt Buseik, Alex Ross
Palestine  Joe Sacco
Planetary  (4 volumes) Warren Ellis, Johhn Cassaday
Ed the Happy Clown  Chester Brown
Daredevil  Love and War  Frank Miller, Bill Sienkiewicz
Queen and Country series Greg Rucka, Various Artists
Wolverine  Weapon X  Barry Windsor Smith
Ghost World  Daniel Clowes
Arkham Asylum  Grant Morrison, Dave McKean
Indian Summer  Hugo Pratt, Milo Manara
Slaine  The Horned God  Pat Mills, Simon Bisley
The Book of Ballads  Charles Vess
Astronauts in Trouble  Larry Young, Charlie Adlard
The Ballad of Halo Jones  Alan Moore, Ian Gibson
Battle Royale  ( 12 volumes) Koushin Takami, Masayuki Taguchi
Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser Howard Chaykin, Mike Mignola, Al Williamson
Morbus Gravis  Paolo Eleuteri Serpieri
Ministry of Space  Warren Ellis, Chris Weston
Neonomicon  Alan Moore, Jacen Burrows
Kingdom Come  Mark Waid, Alex Ross
Wanted  Mark Millar, J G Jones
The 6 Voyages of Lone Sloane  Phillipe Druillet
The Complete Adventures of Cholly & Flytrap  Arthur Suydam
Cheech Wizard Volume 1  Vaughn Bode
Carload o Comics  Robert Crumb
Essential Silver Surfer  Vol 1  Stan Lee, John Buscema
Secret Wars  Jim Shooter,  Mike Zeck
Avengers Forever  Kurt Buseik, Roger Stern, Carlos Pacheco, Jesus Merino
Northlanders  (6 volumes) Brian Wood, Various Artists
Rex Mundi (6 volumes) Arvid Nelson, Various Artists
Shortcomings  Adrian Tomine
Pogo  Walt Kelly
Den  Richard Corben
Milk and Cheese  Dairy Products Gone Bad  Evan Dorkin
Tom Strong  Volume 1  Alan Moore, Chris Sprouse
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen  The Black Dossier  Alan Moore, Kevin O'Neill
The Mercenary Sea  Kel Symons, Mathew Reynolds
Shade the Changing Man  (currently 3 volumes) Peter Milligan, Chris Bachalo
Tekkon Kinkreet  Taiyo Matsumoto
Wonder Woman Chronicles  William Moulton Marsten
Batman Grendel  Matt Wagner
Hellboy  (ongoing, intermittent) Mike Mignola
Arzach  Jean "Moebius" Giraud
Aldebaran (5 volumes) Leo
Valerian and Laurelian (10 volumes currently)  Pierre Christin, Jean-Claude Mézières
Deathnote (12 volumes)  Tsugumi Ohba, Takeshi Obata
Calvin and Hobbes complete collection   Bill Watterson
Marvel Masterpiece vol 43 Doctor Strange  Stan Lee, Steve Ditko
Astroboy series  Osamu Tezuka

Agree?  Disagree?  Where's your list?