Discussion Forums - Contemporary Fiction

Topic: Modern Fiction Favorites. How Many of These Have You Read?

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Date Posted: 5/22/2009 9:10 AM ET
Member Since: 8/14/2006
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I've read 18.  I have 4 on my tbr.

Oh, if we are going to count Harry Potter's as 7 then I have read 24.

Last Edited on: 5/22/09 9:12 AM ET - Total times edited: 2
Date Posted: 5/22/2009 11:01 PM ET
Member Since: 4/8/2009
Posts: 29
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I was tempted to add Case Histories to the list!

If you liked the Lovely Bones and Atonement, you will like Case Histories by Kate Atkinson. See LeeAnne's post above  ^^^^

Last Edited on: 5/22/09 11:03 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 5/23/2009 9:54 PM ET
Member Since: 1/10/2008
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Read 22 (counting HP as 7).  Some of the books belong on the list- others don't, and there are books glaringly missing.

Date Posted: 5/23/2009 10:05 PM ET
Member Since: 6/9/2006
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I've read 29 if you count Harry Potter as 1.  I can see a bit where they are coming from for many of them, some of my favorite authors are on the list.

Date Posted: 5/25/2009 11:16 AM ET
Member Since: 7/29/2006
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I'm not sure I agree that these books should be considered "critical reading" but I do think they are a good representation of today's 'better' contemporary literature. (yes, even THE DA VINCI CODE!)

I've read 15 and have 7 on my TBR list.

Date Posted: 5/27/2009 7:20 PM ET
Member Since: 12/29/2008
Posts: 182
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Counting HP series as 1, I have read 23 of them. A couple I intentionally didn't read because of the story line.

Date Posted: 5/27/2009 7:44 PM ET
Member Since: 10/17/2006
Posts: 1,427
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I join Dr. John W. in his remarks about the pretty poor overall caliber of the books listed.  And yeah, Zadie Smith is definitely one of the 'better' novelists of the last couple decades.  I really liked her debut novel White Teeth.   And I feel like LeeAnne, too, when she wrote "a few of them you couldn't pay me to read!"  (Some of those books were "fluff", or "bulk fiction".  The latter is a term I adopted to signify those books churned out by the same old, same old writers every year or eighteen months or so, until they are so numerous they clog the shelves at the book shops.)

(I have a sneaking suspicion that Wally Lamb and Nicholas Sparks noted the strong market ($$$) for "romances" and decided to get themselves a piece of the action.)

And for once, a very good novel was made into a very good movie, when Khalid Hosseini's The Kite Runner was filmed.  I thought the way the filmmakers decided to handle "the language barrier" was interesting, too, and probably added to the 'flavor' of the movie.  Hosseini is not a "one-trick pony", Dr. John, because a second novel, A Thousand Splendid Suns, has been published.  But I haven't read it yet, so I have no idea whether it solidifies Hosseini's reputation as a novelist worthy of readers' attention.

Last Edited on: 5/27/09 7:57 PM ET - Total times edited: 2
Date Posted: 5/27/2009 8:49 PM ET
Member Since: 5/25/2009
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Whoever wrote that list in Complete Idiot's Guide seemed to have raided the New York Times bestseller list from the last 10 years or so.  I wouldn't really say that any of those promote critical reading or thinking - not in comparison to so many that could (maybe should) have been on that list. 

That said, I've read 7 (if you count Harry Potter as 1 book). 

Date Posted: 5/28/2009 4:15 PM ET
Member Since: 3/27/2009
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Hosseini is not a "one-trick pony", Dr. John, because a second novel, A Thousand Splendid Suns, has been published.  But I haven't read it yet, so I have no idea whether it solidifies Hosseini's reputation as a novelist worthy of readers' attention

Hosseini is one of the few authors whose work I just had to read back to back. I am definitely interested in reading his future novels.

Kite is better than Suns but only marginally so. I am one of those readers who is absolutely starving for high quality, artistic and original figurative language and Hosseini is one of the rare ones that provides a little bit of that.

What's more, both stories are compelling, the dialogue is realistic,  and the plots keep moving which is a super plus in my HO.  When an author writes so well that I feel as if I am watching a movie in my head instead of reading, well then, he makes it onto my very short "It List."

Date Posted: 5/28/2009 9:50 PM ET
Member Since: 9/26/2005
Posts: 4,490
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I would say these are probably top sellers....since some are Oprah book club designees.....but as far as the 'best', probably not.

I have read all but one of the books on the list (Plot Against America)....some of these are good books (Life of Pi; Stones from the River) and some are doorstops (The Corrections; Bridget Jones).

Guess I better buy that last one so I can say I'm done!  LOL

Last Edited on: 5/28/09 9:51 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 6/3/2009 10:36 PM ET
Member Since: 12/31/2008
Posts: 225
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I have read 7 and have 3 in my TBR pile.

Last Edited on: 6/3/09 10:38 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 6/5/2009 4:28 PM ET
Member Since: 3/22/2009
Posts: 2,402
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I've read 9 (counting the Harry Potter series as 1). Of  those, only Memoirs of a Geisha, Cry the Beloved Country, The Harry Potter series, and possibly The Pilot's Wife are memorable to me.

I didn't care for The Five People You Meet in Heaven. Mitch Albom is an excellent writer, so I expected stronger prose from him. 


Date Posted: 6/15/2009 5:18 PM ET
Member Since: 1/12/2008
Posts: 1,356
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I've read 22 of them; no Harry Potters, just could not get into them. I agree with PPs, definitely not destined to be popular classics, these titles--I read them because a) I'll read anything and b) titles like these tend to be necessary for cocktail party chatter....I absoultely hated The Curious Incident of the Dog In the Nighttime and The Corrections, despite their popularity with the NY literati....and I think it is a telling statement about our modern society that some of our most popular titles are very basic parables about things one ordinarily teaches to children.....seems our literature has descended to that 'lowest common denominator' mentality that our prime time television has

Date Posted: 7/2/2009 12:17 PM ET
Member Since: 10/29/2005
Posts: 3,823
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I've read all but five. I haven't read any of the Harry Potter books. I would consider most of the choices as popular fiction, not great works of literature. Of course, I don't think the makers of the list were going for books of "great litrachure".

these books will likely remain imprinted on the minds of readers for years to come" (284).

Something must be wrong with my mind because I've read Bridgett Jones, but it is not imprinted in my brain. I can barely remember anything about it. I remember that she was chubby and needed a man, is that right? lol


I adore book lists. Seeing which books were chosen and which didn't make the cut is always interesting for me. I especially love the "1,001 Books You Must Read Before You Die" list and I even have the checklist downloaded to my computer. ;-)

Date Posted: 7/4/2009 9:09 PM ET
Member Since: 10/17/2006
Posts: 1,427
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Yeah!  What LeeAnne said........me, too-----you couldn't pay me to read some of those titles.   The reason I read The DaVinci Code was that people around me (including some family members) had read it and were persistently discussing it.   Another one I read only because one of my daughters read it and handed the copy on to me . . .that was The Poisonwood Bible.  I think she did it because she had heard me sound off over the years about how irritating I found proselytizers to be!

Date Posted: 7/17/2009 9:25 AM ET
Member Since: 8/9/2007
Posts: 1,385
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I have read 14--not the Davinci Code, though. I read Angels and Demons and found it so unbelievable (and not really well written) that I did not care one whit about The Davinci Code. It made an interesting movie. I guess it made the list because of the theme and the immense popularity. I have to say it did spin off a great number of books about religion and religious thought.

Someone mentioned Oprah, and I do think it is interesting how many of these books were Oprah Book Club Selections. Just because a book sold a lot of copies does not make them memorable--or even good reads.

Date Posted: 7/18/2009 1:06 PM ET
Member Since: 7/10/2009
Posts: 4
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I've read 17 (if you count Harry Potter as 7 books) and have got Alias Grace sitting on my bookshelf waiting to be read.

That seems like a fairly uneven list to me--I have no idea why The Jane Austen Book Club is sharing billing with Toni Morrison, Margaret Atwood, and Snow Falling On Cedars.


Date Posted: 7/26/2009 8:55 AM ET
Member Since: 5/18/2008
Posts: 6
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I suppose the list is probably accurate if it's supposed to be "modern favorites."  Although, the list does concern me in that these books are the ones that society loves best. 

I read about 6 of those books.

I did get through Poisonwood Bible. I didn't really care for it and was glad that I only paid 50 cents for it at a thrift store.

Date Posted: 7/29/2009 8:35 PM ET
Member Since: 7/9/2009
Posts: 186
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I've read 14, and I can't believe some of those made that list! Are these the "classics" of our day?! She's Come Undone is so bad and so is The Da Vinci Code. Give me a break. The Fourth Hand is really bad too - that's pretty much his worst novel. And I couldn't even finish Lovely Bones.

My favorite one on that list is Life of Pi and the Harry Potter series.

I often wonder which modern day writers will be considered classic. Who are our contemporary Hemingways, Fitzgeralds, Dickens, and Dostoyeskys? Certainly not Dan Brown.

I think you've given me a forum topic.

Kat (polbio) -
Date Posted: 7/31/2009 9:14 PM ET
Member Since: 10/10/2008
Posts: 3,067
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I've read six if HP is counted as 1, 12 if counted as seven separate books. My others being 5 People you Meet in Heaven, Memoirs of a Giesha, The Pilots Wife , Girl Interupted, and The Da Vinci Code.  I tend to read books before I see the movies, so each of these I read because I knew the movie was coming out. I really did not like Memoirs of a Geisha or The Pilots Wife (movies or books). Just not my kind of stories. I had a hard time getting into Da vinci Code because of the writing. But the story line was good. I LOVE the HArry Potter books, and teh movies dont compare.  I think I may havve read Generation X for a school report in college. I will have to look at it, but it sounds famiiar.

My daughter has read all the HP's and Life of Pi. She wasnt real crazy about Life of Pi.

These arent really books I would say leave an imprint. Atleast not a good one. BUt that is my taste. I dont like chit-lit or most tear jerkers or romance, nor do I like preachy religious or bizzar twisted psychological books (like Wally Lamb) So maybe i am not the best judge for this list, lol. 

ETA:  Reread the list and missed a couple. I have read all the Toni Morrison books, and i too am surprised Beloved is not on there. That was a book that leaves an imprint. *shiver*. SOng of Solomon was good too.

Last Edited on: 7/31/09 9:26 PM ET - Total times edited: 2
Date Posted: 8/4/2009 6:40 PM ET
Member Since: 7/24/2009
Posts: 229
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I've read 18 if you count Harry Potter as seven books.  I agree with some of the choices, but others (Bridget Jones?)  I really don't think will have a very lasting impact. 

Date Posted: 8/6/2009 11:20 PM ET
Member Since: 10/17/2006
Posts: 1,427
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Amen, LeeAnne!    Some of those titles you couldn't pay me to read, either!    But, as Grandma always used to remind us, "it takes all kinds to make the world" . . .  At our house, the word for that inconsequential  stuff  is "FLUFF."   And my personal coinage for some of the stuff rolling off the presses in the USA is "bulk fiction".  I mean books by those writers who churn 'em out at yearly or at year-and-a-half intervals.  I don't understand how such formulaic fiction can appeal to readers?  (Did you ever run across the term "ink hemorrhage" (for printed BLAH), and its twin "diarrhea of the mouth" for spoken BLAH?)

Date Posted: 8/20/2009 12:43 PM ET
Member Since: 11/25/2007
Posts: 87
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I've read 8 with 3 or 4 on my TBR.

As far as Bridget Jones is concerned, I think it's more to be stereotypical of the chick lit / bildungsroman genre. I took a whole class on the "chick lit" phenomenon (starting with Pride and Prejudice, up through Heartburn from the 80s, Bridget Jones for the 90s and some more "ethnically" centered ones from the 00's). The professor's point was that regardless of whether or not these stories are really "literature," they can serve as an area of study and do have common themes.

Date Posted: 9/16/2009 1:15 PM ET
Member Since: 2/25/2007
Posts: 13,991
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I've read 10 of them, plus the four listed by Toni Morrison and 3 Harry Potter books. I got through about half The Corrections (just could not finish).

But like others,  I do not agree with many of those listings. It does seem that most, if not all, were best-sellers, which does not equal great lit , in my book.

Last Edited on: 9/16/09 1:17 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Subject: who chose these?
Date Posted: 12/9/2009 6:40 AM ET
Member Since: 11/18/2009
Posts: 551
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I've read 30 of these books. I sincerely question at least a third of them even being listed. Still, it was interesting--I will definitely check out a couple of them.