Advertise here with Carbon Ads

This site is made possible by member support. ❤️

Big thanks to Arcustech for hosting the site and offering amazing tech support.

When you buy through links on, I may earn an affiliate commission. Thanks for supporting the site! home of fine hypertext products since 1998.

🍔  💀  📸  😭  🕳️  🤠  🎬  🥔

Yesterday the Atlantic published a list of great American novels — 136 of them. I’ve read them all! Just kidding.

Discussion  6 comments

Josh Fischel

I've read 26 of them—15 for pleasure, 3 because I was assigned to read it, and 8 that I've taught to high school students.

Benjamin Warde

I of course also had to count how many I read, and I'm posting the result here only because I have also read 26! There are also at least 5 which I have not read, but which I have sitting around the house, waiting to be read.

I love lists like this despite (because of?) the fact that they invite surprise (or outrage?) about what has not been included, so I'll throw one contender into the ring. Nothing from Tim O'Brien?

Timothy C Truxell

This is not a bad list all things considered (since it begins its focus in the 20th century). I'd have loved to see a couple more added (The Moviegoer by Walker Percy and maybe another Delillo like White Noise), but these are mere quibbles because I wouldn't know what to take out of the 60 or so I haven't read. Was super pleased to see Infinite Jest on the list.

David Pacey

Maybe they restricted themselves to one book per author, but, no Gravity's Rainbow ( no there are 2 Nabokov)? Ther would be no Infinite Jest (on the list) or House of Leaves (on the list) without GR. Also, No one is Talking About This wouldn't have made my list of 136 best books of 2021. List is sus.
Have read 35 on this list.

Ben Kelley

Yes, Gravity's Rainbow seems to be the most significant omission.

I think Toni Morrison tops the list with 3?

Reply in this thread

Meg Hourihan

Very happy to see that "Charlotte's Web" made the list and that they made a point of stating it's not a children's book. The writing is so precise, I struggle to name another book that's as rich in detail without any excess, like a beautiful steak -- well-marbled but all the fat trimmed from around the edges.

For those that haven't read it in years (or ever?!), I highly recommend revisiting it. For a superb experience, check out the audiobook, read by E.B. White himself. If you find yourself in tears, comfort yourself with the fact that White struggled to narrate Charlotte's death. Joe Berk, the audio book producer, related: "He broke down, just as I did. We did 17 takes. And I said on a number of occasions, I said would you consider taking a break? And he said I've got to do it, Joe."

Hello! In order to leave a comment, you need to be a current member. If you'd like to sign up for a membership to support the site and join the conversation, you can explore your options here.

Existing members can sign in here. If you're a former member, you can renew your membership.

Note: If you are a member and tried to log in, it didn't work, and now you're stuck in a neverending login loop of death, try disabling any ad blockers or extensions that you have installed on your browser...sometimes they can interfere with the Memberful links. Still having trouble? Email me!