Here are the top ten titles mentioned.
1: Absalom, Absalom! by William Faulkner (1936)It's interesting that the newest novel on the list is nearly 50 years old—I suspect there would be a similar result for the best American novels at-large. That is to say, it will be 50 years before some of the best novels of today are recognized as having multi-generational staying power. Or maybe not. Other than the Twain novel, all of these were written in a 31-year span. Was it a golden era that won't cycle around again for another century or more?
2: All the King's Men, by Robert Penn Warren (1946)
3: The Sound and the Fury, William Faulkner (1929)
4: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain (1885)
5: To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee (1960)
6: The Moviegoer, by Walker Percy (1961)
7: As I Lay Dying, by William Faulkner (1930)
8: Invisible Man, by Ralph Ellison (1952)
9: Wise Blood, by Flannery O'Connor (1952)
10: Their Eyes Were Watching God, by Zora Neale Hurston (1937)
Five of the ten were written before the Second World War, when Civil War veterans still roamed the Earth. Several of these were fairly predictable, though I was surprised to see Wise Blood ranked so high. Long fiction was not considered O'Connor's strong suit, and I always thought of Wise Blood as an interesting (difficult) but not monumental work. I love O'Connor, and feel moved to revisit that work. As I prepare to close out my forties, it's pretty clear to me that everything I read in my teens and twenties could be re-read now as if for the first time.
I see Drew's favorite Walker Percy novel comes in at number six. I have this on my bookshelf, and have started it twice. Will have to give it another go. I confess I knew nothing about number ten, and had to look it up after reading this list. Apparently Oprah even produced a TV movie adaptation, starring Halle Berry. I never heard of that either.
How many of these have you read?