Top 100 Books of All Time (Allegedly, But Probably Not) – Part Deux

If you have not already perused Part 1 please do so. We’ll leave the light on for you.

An old friend of mine once observed that I “live in a library”, and he wasn’t wrong. My humble abode boasts about ten bookcases. Having said that, allow me to drop a truth bomb: I am a fraud…kind of. One of my favorite television shows is the 90’s sitcom Frasier, and I always admired Frasier & Niles Crane. Educated. Classy. Well-dressed. Cultured. However, the truth is that I am much closer in temperament to their father Martin…just a simple guy who prefers ball games, comfy t-shirts, and iced tea to opera, tailored suits, and fine wine. Looking at lists like the one we are perusing makes me realize that I am not particularly well-read, atleast by others’ lofty standards. I am much more inclined to enjoy a great sports biography or a cultural examination of food than most of the “great” books you’ll see mentioned here. So be it. I am at a point in my life when I am unlikely to change course, which is fine.

26 Catch-22 / Joseph Heller

A catch-22 is “is a paradoxical situation from which an individual cannot escape because of contradictory rules or limitations”, or “a problematic situation for which the only solution is denied by a circumstance inherent in the problem or by a rule”. Same thing. The term was actually coined by Heller for the book, but if you want to find out the details you’ll need to read it yourself. No spoilers here, except that the story is a satire set during WWII.

27 2666 / Roberto Bolaño

I had to look this one up, and it doesn’t sound like my cup o’ tea. If you’re more familiar with the book feel free to try & change my mind.

28 The Recognitions / William Gaddis

Another book that I’d never heard a peep about in all my years on the planet. It sounds like it’d be long & boring. No thanks.

29 The Book of the New Sun / Gene Wolfe

We’re establishing a theme…supposedly great books that I’ve never heard of in my life. I’m not saying that’s an accurate metric. The older I get the more I realize just how small & meaningless my life has been. However, this whole thing is about me & my taste in books. There’s a lot of other great sci-fi that I’d love to get to eventually, so I doubt this makes the cut.

30 The Sound & The Fury / William Faulkner

Faulkner wrote a few well-regarded novels, and I’d like to get around to them eventually.

31 V / Thomas Pynchon

My initial reaction is to recall a godawful TV miniseries from the 1980s in which a race of lizard-like aliens invade Earth & disguise themselves as humans. However, the V referenced here is the 1963 debut novel of Thomas Pynchon, who has gone on to write Gravity’s Rainbow, Inherent Vice, and a few others. I think I’d lean toward giving those other works a go, and if I really get into Pynchon perhaps I’ll circle back to his first novel.

32 Journey to the End of the Night / Louis-Ferdinand Céline

I’ve never heard of it, and after reading the description I’m not the least bit interested.

33 The Catcher in the Rye / JD Salinger

I’ve read it, but I think it was too late. If I’d read it as a 16 year old boy I may have found Holden Caulfield relatable, but as a grown man I view him as an annoying kid and perceive the book as overhyped.

34 A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man / James Joyce

Joyce has snagged another spot, but I’m not sure I am as intrigued by this book as I am the others. Maybe.

35 The Book of Disquiet / Fernando Pessoa

I read a description that called it a “masterpiece beyond comparison”, which sets the bar pretty high. I won’t dismiss it out of hand, but I’m not sure it is something I’d purposely seek out.

36 Faust / Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

I find the idea of a Faustian pact, in which a person actually sells their soul to The Devil, fascinating in a disturbing kind of way. However, since I already understand the concept do I need to spend 500 pages reading about it?? Probably not.

37 The Metamorphosis / Frank Kafka

We’ve already mentioned Kafka, and this is generally considered his masterpiece. It’s actually a short story, so I’ll give it a whirl eventually.

38 Siddhartha / Hermann Hesse

I’ve seen this book mentioned in passing thru the years but had no idea what it was about. The title is a Sanskrit word that translates to “he who has found meaning”. I have nothing against deep & profound, but I’ve got to be in just the right mood. It’s a pretty short book, so perhaps I’ll grab a copy somewhere.

39 The Master & Margarita / Mikhail Bulgakov

I only heard of this book in the past year, and since I occasionally enjoy a tasty margarita the title stuck in my mind. However, I’m pretty sure there is no tequila or lime juice involved. My research indicates it is a dark satire about Satan visiting The Soviet Union, which sounds like it might be a fun read.

40 The Lord of the Rings / JRR Tolkien

You’ve probably heard of it. Full disclosure: I’ve tried a couple of times to get thru the entire trilogy & failed. I don’t think I even watched all of the critically acclaimed movies. I really love The Hobbit though.

41 The Picture of Dorian Gray / Oscar Wilde

The Faustian Pact is back, and I am intrigued. Oscar Wilde’s personal life may be more fascinating than his books though.

42 Mason & Dixon / Thomas Pynchon

Pynchon is an American and he’s still alive, so that kind of makes him an outlier amongst all the authors listed here. I guess you’d call the book historical fiction, which is kind of in my wheelhouse.

43 The Idiot / Fyodor Dostoevsky

Dostoevsky sure seems to get a lot of love from the folks on /lit/. Have a bunch of Russians infiltrated the site?? Who knows?? At any rate, my research indicates that the story deals with the protagonist’s “most intense personal ordeals, such as epilepsy & mock execution”, and “explores moral, spiritual, & philosophical themes.” Ol’ Fyodor must’ve been lots of fun at parties, huh?? 👀

44 A Confederacy of Dunces / John Kennedy Toole

What a great title!! Are we talking about stupid people during The Civil War?? Actually, no. The story is set in 1960’s New Orleans. It won the Pulitzer Prize a decade after the depressed author had committed suicide at the age of 31. He only wrote two books in his short life, with the other one (The Neon Bible) having been completed at the age of 16 but not published until two decades after his death.

45 Pale Fire / Vladimir Nabokov

Nabokov wrote this lesser known story a few years after the success of Lolita. It’s a short book, so perhaps I’ll give it a whirl someday.

46 Slaughterhouse Five / Kurt Vonnegut

I am ashamed to admit that I’ve not read it. I own it, but that’s a whole different thing. World War II seems to be a popular setting for these “great” books, which might be part of the problem. My father was really into war movies & documentaries when I was a kid, and as you might imagine I found the subject matter quite tedious. I am much more inclined to read things related to The Civil War or The Revolutionary War. I realize that doesn’t make much sense, but it is what it is.

47 Brave New World / Aldous Huxley

Much like 1984 I feel like this is a book worthy of being reread, because decades ago I had no idea how much “fiction” would seep into my reality.

48 No Longer Human / Osamu Dazai

I’ve never heard of it, but apparently it’s a Japanese novel that “presents recurring themes in the author’s life, including suicide, social alienation, and depression”. Okay, so here’s the thing…I prefer books much the same as I do movies: uplifting, fun, delightful. I stopped watching The Oscars many years ago because it seems like the only films that critics appreciate are real downers. Is it the same thing with books?? To be considered “great” does a book need to be bleak & somber?? That’s just not how I roll.

49 Paradise Lost / John Milton

I don’t know…can’t I just read my Bible?? Y’all know how I feel about epic poems at this point. I am absolutely sure we studied it in school, or atleast parts of it. That may have to suffice.

50 Les Miserables / Victor Hugo

Titling your novel The Miserables is terribly poor marketing. While I have an affinity for historical fiction as it relates to American history I am much less interested in French history, unless it traces the origins of fries, kissing, or toast. The story has been adapted multiple times into movies & stage plays, but I don’t have any interest in those either.

We’re halfway there!! Stay tuned!!

These Are a Few of My Favorite Words

Words are things, and a small drop of ink,

Falling, like dew, upon a thought produces

That which makes thousands, perhaps millions think.

Lord Byron


A photographer is fond of visual prompts like light & contrast. A musician appreciates tones, chords, & rhythm. As a writer all I have are words. But words, when used effectively, can paint a beautiful picture and sing a lovely song. Author Rudyard Kipling called words “the most powerful drug used by mankind”. Aldous Huxley…the man who wrote the dystopian masterpiece Brave New World…said that “Words can be like X-rays if you use them properly – they’ll go through anything. You read and you’re pierced.” Over the years I have developed an affinity for certain words. They don’t have to be long words with lots of letters. I am not out to impress anybody, and oftentimes the old acronym “Keep It Simple Stupid” is a really good rule to follow. However, there are certain words that just speak to my soul and express my thoughts & ideas in such a way that it warms my heart. Of course no one single word can tell a story. It really does “take a village” of phrases to complete the picture. But just like a football team looks to get off to a good start and build momentum toward an eventual victory, a great word can provide the impetus a writer needs to successfully complete the mission. So, here complete with definitions and maybe an observation or two, are a few words that this humble Potentate of Profundity likes to keep in my mind’s pantry as staple ingredients in the fun, informative, & thought-provoking recipes readers of The Manofesto enjoy on a regular basis.






composed of elements drawn from various sources, not following any one system but selecting & using what are considered the best elements of all systems

I have used this word often to describe my own personality & interests. Eclectic means a person cannot be pigeonholed or viewed thru an oversimplified prism. That’s a good thing.




vivacious, lively, sparkling, marked by high spirits or excitement

I don’t like bubbly people. Bubbly people annoy me. But I think one can be effervescent without being bubbly. It’s such a happy word. Double FF?? V?? Yes please.




the substitution of an agreeable or inoffensive expression for one that may offend or suggest something unpleasant

I use this word a lot…and I use euphemisms themselves a lot. Afterall, we wouldn’t want to offend anybody, right??




to bewilder, confound, confuse

My man Rush Limbaugh uses this word a lot. Words with “x” are an uncommon joy, so anything with a double x has to be cool.




not meant to be taken seriously or literally, joking or jesting often inappropriately

I use this word a lot in my everyday life, maybe because I try not to take things to seriously and like to joke around.




obvious & intentional exaggeration

This is a very nice way of saying “bullshit”, and that comes in handy when one is trying to be polite & professional.




stubbornly persistent in wrongdoing, resistant to persuasion or softening influences, unyielding, resistant to moral influence, persistently impenitent

I ran into this word when reading Stephen King’s 11/22/63 (a great novel). The protagonist has gone back in time to stop some bad things from happening (trust me…read the book) and feels like there is literally some sort of living force that wants to prevent him from doing so, and he often repeats “The past is obdurate…it does not want to be changed”.




characterized by or given to pretentious or conspicuous show in an attempt to impress others, marked by or fond of vainglorious display

Sure you could go with the more common obnoxious or gaudy, but why??




overabundance, excess, profusion

This is probably my very favorite word. Readers of The Manofesto have likely noticed that I make copious use of it.



nonsense, senseless chatter

Hmmm…another nice way of saying bullshit. This is instructive. We can glean two things from poppycock & hyperbole being on this list – I think a lot of people are full of crap, but I search for pleasant ways to tell them.




to think about, reflect on, weigh in the mind, appraise

I use this word a lot too, almost as much as plethora. Pondering sounds so much deeper than just thinking.




deep insight, great depth of knowledge or thought, the quality or state of being profound or deep

Well afterall, I do call myself the Potentate of Profundity!!




everyday or ordinary, commonplace or dull, matter-of-fact or unimaginative

A pre-botoxed Meg Ryan uses this term in 1998’s You’ve Got Mail (#48 of my 100 Favorite Movies). It’s a refined way of saying boring, and I must admit that the fact that it might be confusing to a good many people who have no idea what it means appeals to my dark side.




strikingly unconventional, odd, unusual, eccentric, idiosyncratic, curious, peculiar

First of all, it’s a “q” word, and those are almost always cool. I think there is something unique & mysterious about the letters Q and Z. Secondly, quirky is usually used in a positive way. If one intends a negative connotation they use weird or strange, but describing someone as quirky is generally meant as a term of endearment. I like quirky people. They march to the beat of a different drummer. They aren’t just inhabitants of The Island of Misfit Toys…they own the distinction and don’t apologize for it.




disdainfully or skeptically humorous, derisively mocking, characterized by bitter or scornful derision

Because there is so much to be scornful of & mock!!




the state of being or living alone, the quality or state of being alone or remote from society

There is a fine line between solitude & loneliness. One is positive, one is negative. Solitude is the joy of being alone…loneliness is the pain of being alone. I get lonely sometimes, but more often than not I happily embrace my solitude.




unnecessary or needless

As are most things in life, right?? Especially most of the stuff we have convinced ourselves that we just cannot live without.




calmness, peacefulness, quiet, serenity, a disposition free from stress or emotion, an untroubled state

Peace, as I have written, has a much deeper meaning than we typically utilize. So to describe the kind of worldly peace we are usually seeking or atleast trying to converse about, why not use another cool “q” word??




habitual observance of truth in speech or statement, devotion to the truth, power of conveying or perceiving truth, correctness or accuracy

Truth rocks. And why use plain ol’ accuracy when this word is so much cooler??




characterized by melancholy, longing, yearning, musingly sad

I love this word. I am, as the song says, a sentimental fool as well as someone who likes to reflect on & remember happier times. Nostalgia is cool.




the general intellectual, moral, and cultural climate of an era, the spirit of the time, the taste & outlook characteristic of a period or generation

One of the most awesome words in the English language, and criminally underutilized.




Language is wine upon the lips. – Virginia Woolf