Courtesy of a spirited discussion over at TBogg, I see that Time has just put out a list of the Top 100 Best Novels, limited to those written in English and published since Time's founding in 1923. (It's all about Time, apparently. Egocentric bastards.)
Anyway, the list is an interesting one, full of surprises both pleasant (Allan Moore's brilliant graphic novel, The Watchmen) and disturbing (Judy Blume's Are You There God, It's Me, Margaret?). Looking over the list, I saw a lot of my own favorites -- Robert Penn Warren's All the King's Men, Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man, George Orwell's Animal Farm, etc. -- but I mostly realized that there were a lot of books there I haven't read or, worse, only read in high school or college as part of an English class. Great novels aren't meant to be crammed into your head at 2am before the midterm, while you're hopped up on more No-Doz than a trucker blaring down I-95. They shouldn't be something you force in between the rest of your schedule, a chore to be completed as quickly as possible. If anything, it should be the other way around. Great novels should be an escape from everything else in your life, a vacation in and of itself. (And yes, I realize I sound like the Reading Is Fundamental campaign.)
Anyway, take a look at the list and drop your thoughts on what's great, what's horrid, and what's missing into the comments below.