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Newsweek's list of the 100 best books ever

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  • #31
    But a classic doesn't become a classic unless there are some people who like it, even if it's just a small group of boring academic types.
    Było smaszno, a jaszmije smukwijne...

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    • #32
      Originally posted by tandfman
      No Atwood, no Richler, no Bellow, no Davies.
      Who? :twisted:

      The reason The Bible is not on my list is because I don't consider it a 'book' per se, nor The Qur'an, Torah, etc.

      As for my lack of furriners, mine is a list of a product of an American education, a good one at that, but yes, parochial in its scope. I have read a number of 'foreign' authors, but nothing that knocked my socks off like these books. As was pointed out, my #1 book was written by a Pole who didn't learn English till almost 20.

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      • #33
        Newsweek has a list of books and Obama's book is not on it, let alone #1? Hard to believe. :wink:

        These lists are usually pretty weak and reflect the biases of the editors no matter how they try to deny it. And lumping fiction and non-fiction together makes no sense at all. Which is why the two categories have separate Best Sellers Lists.

        Karl Marx gets a higher rating than the Bible?

        Shakespeare barely cracks the Top Fifty?

        The Affluent Society by J.K Galbreath gets in, but Capitalism & Freedom by Milton Firedman does not?

        The first thing they listed in their criteria was impact. They seem to have widely missed the mark.

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        • #34
          Originally posted by Pego
          [Once upon a time I read this definition of a classic.

          "An author, everybody wants to have read, but nobody wants to read."
          Perfect...... with exceptions.

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          • #35
            Reading this thread I get the impression a lot of people missed the fact this list was an aggregate of others' lists which Newsweek compiled from various sources, presumably off the internet. I'm not persuaded many of the original lists are worth a damn or that this was a sensible exercise but they do lay out what they're doing.

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            • #36
              Originally posted by Marlow
              Originally posted by tandfman
              No Atwood, no Richler, no Bellow, no Davies.
              Who? :twisted:

              The reason The Bible is not on my list is because I don't consider it a 'book' per se, nor The Qur'an, Torah, etc.

              As for my lack of furriners, mine is a list of a product of an American education, a good one at that, but yes, parochial in its scope. I have read a number of 'foreign' authors, but nothing that knocked my socks off like these books. As was pointed out, my #1 book was written by a Pole who didn't learn English till almost 20.
              Definitely parochial in scope and that is the real problem. If students are not introduced to "furrin" ideas and literature in high school or at the univ., when will it occur? Rather than read about a (partial) sociopath in Catcher in the Rye, why not Media (Euripides), a truly frightening experience. Very large number of Americans in your top 20, and considering that such literature has been really around for 200 years or so, only, where are authors from other countries? The Great Gatsby is a good period piece, but that's about all. The Sun Also Rises? If you must include Hemingway, you can do better. The Iliad and the Odyssey - as a cultural thing yes? The former is the fountainhead of all "Western" literature, sets out the "rules" for how to tell a story, how much background, how much action, how much characterization, how much description of nature etc. If you include Eric Blair, I prefer Animal Farm over 1984.

              After 30+ years in the USA and Canada, I see how little people in general know about the rest of the world's literature. If we are to break down misunderstandings between races/countries, a good start is to be familiar with the history/geography/literature of other nations.

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              • #37
                Originally posted by catson52
                If we are to break down misunderstandings between races/countries, a good start is to be familiar with the history/geography/literature of other nations.
                The counter-argument is very powerful. If you live in the USA with Americans, you'd better get to know them first. And that takes a long time with a lot of reading!

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                • #38
                  Originally posted by Pego
                  Once upon a time I read this definition of a classic.

                  "An author, everybody wants to have read, but nobody wants to read."
                  I like that...but do believe that some "difficult" books are absolutely worth some extra effort.

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                  • #39
                    Originally posted by kuha
                    Originally posted by Pego
                    Once upon a time I read this definition of a classic.

                    "An author, everybody wants to have read, but nobody wants to read."
                    I like that...but do believe that some "difficult" books are absolutely worth some extra effort.
                    Yes. I know, you've read nearly everything ever written.
                    "A beautiful theory killed by an ugly fact."
                    by Thomas Henry Huxley

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                    • #40
                      Originally posted by Marlow
                      Originally posted by catson52
                      If we are to break down misunderstandings between races/countries, a good start is to be familiar with the history/geography/literature of other nations.
                      The counter-argument is very powerful. If you live in the USA with Americans, you'd better get to know them first. And that takes a long time with a lot of reading!
                      And what is a typical American nowadays, and what will he/she be like in 2050? For typical Americans of today, the main characters of The Great Gatsby have little relevance. Faulkner, yes to a large degree, with "values" that transcend time to an extent, Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises, A Farewell to Arms, Across the River and Into the Trees, no. (Except perhaps for where the title of the last named book comes from). I understand the difficulties with trying to educate the young of today - just retired after 37 years in academia. But limiting their horizons/visibility by the inference that good stuff originates primarily (only) in the USA, is not the way to go. One aim of the current President - to make American students competitive with the best in the world by ~2025 - is a pipe dream.

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                      • #41
                        I should have added "competitive in maths and science" in the last sentence of the above posting.

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                        • #42
                          Originally posted by catson52
                          One aim of the current President - to make American students competitive with the best in the world by ~2025 - is a pipe dream.
                          Maybe, but you have to start somewhere. There is no doubt that our education standards have fallen dramatically in my lifetime.

                          The company I work for has about 2000 employees, and the training department has to provide remedial math and English (not ESL issues) classes. I regularly receive memos/emails from upper management with numerous grammatical errors. Pathetic really . . .

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                          • #43
                            Originally posted by catson52
                            For typical Americans of today, the main characters of The Great Gatsby have little relevance.
                            On the contrary, I think most Americans of today might as well be characters in The Great Gatsby. Unrestrained self-indulgence, materialism, amorality leading to immorality ... what have I missed?

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                            • #44
                              Originally posted by bad hammy
                              Originally posted by catson52
                              One aim of the current President - to make American students competitive in maths and science with the best in the world by ~2025 - is a pipe dream.
                              Maybe, but you have to start somewhere. There is no doubt that our education standards have fallen dramatically in my lifetime.

                              The company I work for has about 2000 employees, and the training department has to provide remedial math and English (not ESL issues) classes. I regularly receive memos/emails from upper management with numerous grammatical errors. Pathetic really . . .
                              I teach science and the best students are often those right off the boat. Their English, in some cases, is still very limited but they thrive in class non the less. So while a command of English is important, one of the largest deficiencies in the student population is the inability to get to grips with relatively complex concepts.

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                              • #45
                                Originally posted by Daisy
                                So while a command of English is important, one of the largest deficiencies in the student population is the ability to get to grips with relatively complex concepts.
                                Both are important. The problems faced by those who grow up in our educational system are indicative of a dumbing down of standards starting early on, and folks never catching up.

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