OK, so to be honest, I never heard of “Online University Lowdown.com” before this morning, but I’m psyched that Three Percent is number 25 on their list of 50 Places to Find Literary Criticism Online. (It’s been one of those weeks. I’ll take any love I can get.)
According to Emma Roberts, who put this list together: “University of Rochester’s blog Three Percent combines reviews, news, and a bevy of fantastic insight into the world of international literature.”
“Bevy of fantastic insight” is my new motto. (Well, that and Be like Stevens.)
It really is cool to be honored on any list that includes Publishers Weekly, Complete Review, New York Review of Books, Guardian Books Blog, ReadySteadyBook, Bookslut, Maud Newton’s Blog, Salonica, and dozens of other interesting sites.
This really is a solid list of book-centric websites. Definitely worth checking out if you’re looking for new places to visit.
From The Times is this list of 10 books not to read:
9: Lord of the Rings – J R R Tolkien
The best I can say about this book is that it was a very useful tool at school for helping to choose your friends. Carrying a copy of Tolkien’s monstrous tome was the equivalent of a leper’s bell: ‘Unclean! Unclean!’ I knew I would have nothing in common with anyone who had read it. Their taste in music, clothes, television, everything was predetermined by their devotion to Gandalf. Without a shadow of a doubt, in a few years, these people would be going to Peter Gabriel gigs and reading Dune.
3: War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy
Way, way too long.
2: The Iliad — Homer
The very idea that you are somehow culturally incomplete without knowledge of Homer is ridiculous. The Iliad is one of the most boring books ever written and it’s not just a boring book, it’s a boring epic poem; all repetitive battle scenes with a lot of reproaching and challenging and utterances escaping the barrier of one’s teeth and nostrils filling with dirt and helmet plumes nodding menacingly. There’s a big fight between Achilles and Hector and that’s about it.
I unabashedly love Entertainment Weekly. (Or at least did—once my TV broke, I canceled my subscription.)
That said, the recent list of the 100 best reads from 1983 to 2008 strikes me as unbelievably provincial, and well, just plain bad.
There are a handful of great books here—out of the top 25, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, Blindness, Watchmen, Love in the Time of Cholera, all jump out at me—but there are also some terrible ones—The Da Vinci Code?! even at number 96 it severely mars this list—and a ton of mediocre to decent books—such as The Road, which was selected as the best “new classic.”
The main purpose for lists is to stir up debates, and I feel like I’m playing in to Entertainment Weekly‘s hand even by posting this, but really, what a disappointment. (I suspect there will be two comments to this post, one calling me an elitist for dissing Dan Brown, the other wondering what I really expected from EW, America’s Greatest Entertainment News Source.)
All 100 Titles can be found via the link above; here’s the Top 25:
1. The Road , Cormac McCarthy (2006)
2. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, J.K. Rowling (2000)
3. Beloved, Toni Morrison (1987)
4. The Liars’ Club, Mary Karr (1995)
5. American Pastoral, Philip Roth (1997)
6. Mystic River, Dennis Lehane (2001)
7. Maus, Art Spiegelman (1986/1991)
8. Selected Stories, Alice Munro (1996)
9. Cold Mountain, Charles Frazier (1997)
10. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, Haruki Murakami (1997)
11. Into Thin Air, Jon Krakauer (1997)
12. Blindness, José Saramago (1998)
13. Watchmen, Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons (1986-87)
14. Black Water, Joyce Carol Oates (1992)
15. A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, Dave Eggers (2000)
16. The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood (1986)
17. Love in the Time of Cholera, Gabriel García Márquez (1988)
18. Rabbit at Rest, John Updike (1990)
19. On Beauty, Zadie Smith (2005)
20. Bridget Jones’s Diary, Helen Fielding (1998)
21. On Writing, Stephen King (2000)
22. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Junot Díaz (2007)
23. The Ghost Road, Pat Barker (1996)
24. Lonesome Dove, Larry McMurtry (1985)
25. The Joy Luck Club, Amy Tan (1989)
As presaged by its title, contradiction is the theme of Peter Stamm’s novel, All Days Are Night. Gillian, a well-known television personality, remains unknowable to herself. And Hubert, a frustrated artist and Gillian’s lover, creates art through the process of. . .
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Last year, Han Kang’s The Vegetarian was an unexpected critical hit. Now, it’s just been published in the U.S. and has already received a great deal of positive critical attention. The Vegetarian was a bold book to attempt as an. . .
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Jorge Eduardo Benavides’ novel La paz de los vencidos (The Peace of the Defeated) takes the form of a diary written by a nameless Peruvian thirty-something intellectual slumming it in Santa Cruz de Tenerife in Spain’s Canary Islands. Recently relocated. . .
Anyone with any interest at all in contemporary Moroccan writing must start with Souffles. A cultural and political journal, Souffles (the French word for “breaths”) was founded in 1966 by Abdellatif Laâbi and Mostafa Nissabouri. Run by a group of. . .
Randall Jarrell once argued a point that I will now paraphrase and, in doing so, over-simplify: As a culture, we need book criticism, not book reviews. I sort of agree, but let’s not get into all of that. Having finished. . .