Brian J. On The Best and Worst Books of the 20th Century

The Intercollegiate Studies Institute has produced a list of the 50 Worst Books of the 20th Century and the 50 Best Books of the 20th Century.

As is my wont, I took these to be a quiz and looked to see how many of each I’ve read.

On the worst books, it’s 1.something; I read John F. Kennedy’s Profiles in Courage in middle school, and I started Paul Tillich’s The Courage To Be in 2016 but did not finish it (and have since put it back in the stacks instead of leaving it lying around).

Of the best books, I’ve only read one: Strunk and White’s Elements of Style (which, as you know, gentle reader, is one of my favorite books to give away as well–whenever I find it at a book sale, I pick it up and give it to someone).

I would double my scores on both if I I read The Autobiography of Malcolm X as it appears on both the best and the worst list.

I don’t see many on my to-read shelves from the worst list except the aforementioned books (I picked up a copy of Profiles in Courage since I borrowed Mrs. Pickering’s copy in middle school). As to the best, I have Churchill’s history of World War II and Copleston’s History of Philosophy, but these are both series of books and not single volumes. I probably have the C.S. Lewis book The Abolition of Man around in one of the omnibuses and might have the Niebuhr’s The Nature and Destiny of Man.

I don’t know what that says about me as a reader, but it does track more and more with the more modern lists.

(Link via the world-famous Ace of Spades Book Thread.)

Buy My Books!
Buy John Donnelly's Gold Buy The Courtship of Barbara Holt Buy Coffee House Memories