The goal: to read all the novels on Wikipedia’s Great American Novel list. For the sake of simplicity, because the list is constantly changing–apparently the criteria for what makes a Great American Novel is an issue at least as contentious as Roe v. Wade or the Israeli/Palestinian conflict–I’m working from the version that was up when I started the project:
- Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter
- Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick
- Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
- F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby
- William Faulkner’s Absalom, Absalom!
- John Dos Passos’s U.S.A. trilogy:
- The 42nd Parallel
- The Big Money
- John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath
- J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye
- Saul Bellow’s The Adventures of Augie March
- Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita
- Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird
- Thomas Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow
- Jonathan Franzen’s The Corrections
Since I’ve already read them, I’m crossing Huck Finn, Gatsby, Catcher, and To Kill a Mockingbird off the list immediately. That left me with nine books to get through before I lose interest in this project (well, technically 11 since the U.S.A. trilogy is three books). At this point, I’ve finished The Scarlet Letter and Moby-Dick, and I’ll be moving on to Absalom! Absalom! as soon as I finish The Master and Margarita.
Yes, I am ashamed of the fact that I was an English major and a lifelong book nerd who’s closing in on 30 and still hasn’t made it to Steinbeck and Nabokov. And yes, I am updating my blog about books on a Saturday night.
— from February 5, 2011