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100 Best Novels

May 24, 2002

So, the river’s down, the trees are down, the well’s down, the market’s down. What are you going to do this summer?

You have the usual options, but the atmosphere is different, what with the threat of suicide bombers and all. One could stay in town, eat at local restaurants, take care of the house, and gear down for some summer reading.

Of course, some people can feel oppressed in their homes.

I have friends and family in Sierra Vista, AZ, and while my mom seems to get a kick out of the enormous blimp that usually floats above the town, tethered many hundreds of feet above nearby Fort Huachuca, other friends don’t like it.

It is an odd thing to have in one’s sky, I’ll say that. I didn’t know it was there the first time I visited. I arrived in the dark and in the wee hours woke up to see this motionless thing in the sky. I peered at it. I fumbled for my eyeglasses and finally went outside. I couldn’t fathom why it was there, but there it was. It was a strange illusion.

The blimp holds electronic surveillance equipment to monitor low-flying airplanes along the Mexican border. Or so they say. Friends there are skeptical, suspicious, perhaps paranoid.

But it brings to mind a good summer read — The Great Gatsby. Remember the billboard with the big eyes of Dr. T.J. Eckleburg watching over the Valley of Ashes?

Some people feel the eyes of God on them everywhere. We still have U.S. money with the Eye of God on the back. Ancient Egyptians had to deal with the Eye of Ra.

But the point is to read “The Great Gatsby,” or perhaps another classic work. Many people resolve to catch up over the summer on what they “should” have read. To help you with your decision, we’ve put a link on the library web page to the Modern Library’s list of the 100 best novels.

You’ll see the Modern Library board’s list beside the Reader’s list. Interesting differences. You can also view the Modern Library’s list of the the best non-fiction books, as well.

We don’t have all the books on either list, but we can get any of them. If you’re interested in a book on these lists, please ask. We’ll beg, borrow, or buy a copy if we don’t have it here already.

We’ve also put a link on our home page for lists of “best” children’s books. But the library also has some old-fashioned printed bibliographies, for children and adults both.

The library has always carried the classic “Children’s catalog.” But we also have titles such as “Storybooks for tough times,” “How to choose good books for kids,” “For reading out loud!: a guide to sharing books with children,” and “What are little girls made of?: a guide to female role models in children’s books.”

Adult or young adult readers might look at “The best American novels of the twentieth century,” “Best novels of the nineties,” “Reading lists for college-bound students,” or the classic “Fiction catalog.”

And in case you haven’t noticed, the library supplies free copies of The Bloomsbury Review, a literary review published in Denver. It’s another source of interesting book ideas, in case reviews such as “The New York Times Book Review” have failed you.

If you have children in your lives, take note: The Summer Reading Program starts Tuesday, May 28, after Memorial Day.


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