Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Twenty Must-Read Novels

Early in 2014 I invited colleagues across the Faculty of Humanities at the University of Chester to vote for their top twenty must-read novels. The results were collated, and then individuals agreed to write commendations for each of the books voted into our collective top twenty; their scholarly enthusiasm shines through on every page of this booklet. We also invited volunteers to produce ‘dissident’s choices’, for books that others might miss.

Any such list is bound to provoke debate. Perhaps we might produce additional lists of European, American and global authors, all of whom are massively underrepresented in the current list. We hope that our selection and advocacy might give you some useful starting points for exploring some of the greatest novels in the Western tradition. It may prompt you to return to an old favourite, or to discover outstanding work for the first time.

My thanks are due to all those who voted, and, in particular, to the tutors in the Department of English who made the time to write in critical admiration of their favourite novels: Professor Derek Alsop, Dr Ashley Chantler, Jen Davis, Dr Melissa Fegan, Dr Francesca Haig, Dr Sarah Heaton, Dr Ian Seed, Dr William Stephenson, Dr Alex Tankard, Professor Chris Walsh, Dr Sally West and Professor Deborah Wynne.

I hope these recommendations inspire you to a life enriched by great reading.

Professor Rob Warner
Faculty of Humanities
University of Chester

The Results

14th =
Albert Camus, The Outsider
F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby
Cormac McCarthy, The Road
Ian McEwan, Atonement
Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar
Mary Shelley, Frankenstein
Laurence Sterne, Tristram Shandy

10th =
Franz Kafka, The Trial
Henry James, Portrait of a Lady
George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four
Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina

4th =
Jane Austen, Persuasion
Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre
Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness
Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Crime and Punishment
Thomas Hardy, Tess of the d’Urbervilles
Emily Brontë, Wuthering Heights

2nd =
Charles Dickens, Great Expectations
James Joyce, Ulysses

1st =
George Eliot, Middlemarch

The booklet can be read here:

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