web site hit counter One Hundred Best Books: With Commentary and an Essay on Books and Reading - Ebooks PDF Online
Hot Best Seller

One Hundred Best Books: With Commentary and an Essay on Books and Reading

Availability: Ready to download

This is an EXACT reproduction of a book published before 1923. This IS NOT an OCR'd book with strange characters, introduced typographical errors, and jumbled words. This book may have occasional imperfections such as missing or blurred pages, poor pictures, errant marks, etc. that were either part of the original artifact, or were introduced by the scanning process. We be This is an EXACT reproduction of a book published before 1923. This IS NOT an OCR'd book with strange characters, introduced typographical errors, and jumbled words. This book may have occasional imperfections such as missing or blurred pages, poor pictures, errant marks, etc. that were either part of the original artifact, or were introduced by the scanning process. We believe this work is culturally important, and despite the imperfections, have elected to bring it back into print as part of our continuing commitment to the preservation of printed works worldwide. We appreciate your understanding of the imperfections in the preservation process, and hope you enjoy this valuable book.


Compare

This is an EXACT reproduction of a book published before 1923. This IS NOT an OCR'd book with strange characters, introduced typographical errors, and jumbled words. This book may have occasional imperfections such as missing or blurred pages, poor pictures, errant marks, etc. that were either part of the original artifact, or were introduced by the scanning process. We be This is an EXACT reproduction of a book published before 1923. This IS NOT an OCR'd book with strange characters, introduced typographical errors, and jumbled words. This book may have occasional imperfections such as missing or blurred pages, poor pictures, errant marks, etc. that were either part of the original artifact, or were introduced by the scanning process. We believe this work is culturally important, and despite the imperfections, have elected to bring it back into print as part of our continuing commitment to the preservation of printed works worldwide. We appreciate your understanding of the imperfections in the preservation process, and hope you enjoy this valuable book.

30 review for One Hundred Best Books: With Commentary and an Essay on Books and Reading

  1. 4 out of 5

    Heidi

    An interesting and personal list by a writer I love very dearly. Definitely one I will return to as his selections are interesting and leave me curious to read what is for me still unread. By coincidence, I was just about to read the Oliver Onions trilogy, since I've loved both The Beckoning Fair One and Widdershins and was anxious to read more of his work.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Shashank Singh

    I’ve been meaning to read Powys' novels for a few years now. I like looking through the lists on goodreads, and I also enjoy writers sharing their passion for particular books. So when I saw Powys had written a list with commentary of his favorite writers, it seemed a perfect way to get into his work and maybe be introduced to other writers I might enjoy. Occasionally someone asks me why I read so much or more specifically “why are you reading that book? [Pointing to offending book]”. I am usual I’ve been meaning to read Powys' novels for a few years now. I like looking through the lists on goodreads, and I also enjoy writers sharing their passion for particular books. So when I saw Powys had written a list with commentary of his favorite writers, it seemed a perfect way to get into his work and maybe be introduced to other writers I might enjoy. Occasionally someone asks me why I read so much or more specifically “why are you reading that book? [Pointing to offending book]”. I am usually struck dump by the absurdity of this question. Powys has an answer: “The thing[reading] is a passion; a sort of delicate madness, and like other passions, quite unintelligible to those who are outside. Persons who read for the purpose of making a success of their added erudition, or the better to adapt themselves--what a phrase!--to their "life's work," are, to my thinking, like the wretches who throw flowers into graves. What sacrilege, to trail the reluctances and coynesses, the shynesses and sweet reserves of these "furtivi amores" at the heels of a wretched ambition to be "cultivated" or learned, or to "get on" in the world!” I hate it when people make lists and try to say they are mostly objective somehow, as if it was an instruction manual on being literate. On the other hand I hate lists that are just out there with no reference to popular canons. I want lists/commentaries that are profoundly subjective in their engagement and divergence form better known works/writers. Powys does this: “Our ‘One Hundred Best Books’ need not be yours, nor yours ours; the essential thing is that in this brief interval between darkness and darkness, which we call our life, we should be thrillingly and passionately amused……The following list is frankly subjective in its choice; being indeed the selection of one individual, wandering at large and in freedom through these "realms of gold." What I enjoyed most about the small comments on authors was their straightforward passion and assessment. Some of the other reviews on goodreads seem to find just this quality dated, but I found it refreshing. Two of my favorite comments: “EMILY BRONTË. WÜTHERING HEIGHTS. Of all the books of all the Brontës, this one is the supreme masterpiece. Charlotte has genius and imagination. She has passion too. But there is a certain demonic violence about Emily which carries her work into a region of high and desperate beauty forbidden to the gentler spirit of her sister. The love of Heathcliff and Catherine breaks the bonds of ordinary sensual or sentimental relationship and hurls itself into that darker, stranger, more unearthly air, wherein one hears the voices of the great lovers; and where Sappho and Michaelangelo and Swift and Shelley and Nietzsche gasp forth their imprecations and their terrible ecstasies. Crude and rough and jagged and pitiless, the style of this astounding book seems to rend and tear, like a broken saw, at the very roots of existence. In some curious way, as in Balzac and Dostoevsky, emotions and situations which have the tone and mood of quite gross melodrama are so driven inwards by sheer diabolical intensity, that they touch the granite substratum of what is eternal in human passion. The smell of rain-drenched moors, the crying of the wind in the Scotch firs, the long lines of black rooks drifting across the twilight,--these things become, in the savage style of this extraordinary girl, the very symbols and tokens of the power that rends her spirit. CHARLES L. DODGSON. ALICE IN WONDERLAND. The creator of Alice has really done nothing but permit his absorbing worship of many demure little maids to focus and concentrate itself into an almost incredible transformation of what was the intrinsic nature of the writer into what was the intrinsic nature of the "written-about." The author of this book has indeed, so to speak, eluded the limitations of his own skin, and by the magic of his love for little girls has passed--carrying his grown-up cleverness with him--actually into the little girl's inmost consciousness. The book might be quite as witty as it is and quite as amusing but it would not carry for us that peculiar "perfume in the mention," that provocative enchantment, if it were not much more--Oh, so much more--than merely amusing. The thousand and one reactions, impressions, intimations, of a little girl's consciousness, are reproduced here with a faithfulness that is absolutely startling. What really makes the transformation complete is the absence in "Alice" of that half-comic sententious priggishness which, as soon as we have ceased to be children, we find so curiously irritating in Kingsley's "Water Babies."” Overall a great way to spend a few hours. It got me motivated to read Powys' novels and some other writers as well. What more can I ask for in under a hundred pages?

  3. 4 out of 5

    Nathan Albright

    How do you determine the best books?  What sort of criteria would you use?  In our age where people have varying opinions and definitions about what it is that makes literature (or anything) good and worth remembering, it can seem to be a bit cheeky or even presumptuous to claim to know or be able to state what is the best of something, but this book does a good job of making that accusation as harmless as possible.  A large part of this book's charm comes from the fact that although the author How do you determine the best books?  What sort of criteria would you use?  In our age where people have varying opinions and definitions about what it is that makes literature (or anything) good and worth remembering, it can seem to be a bit cheeky or even presumptuous to claim to know or be able to state what is the best of something, but this book does a good job of making that accusation as harmless as possible.  A large part of this book's charm comes from the fact that although the author is no one who is necessarily very important, he clearly has a wide appreciation of literature, at least within the canon of Western literature, and is able to respect and appreciate the Bible, Greek Philosophy, and Latin classics.  He is able to recommend novels, plays, and poems, and his taste includes some very thoughtful choices for books that were written in the contemporary period, at least some of the time showing a prescient understanding of what would still be considered to be good in the future.  And he not only recommends these books but also gives the reader a sense of how much it would cost to build a collection of these great books. The contents of this book are mercifully brief and can be divided into three parts.  The first part of the book is an essay on books and reading and it assumes that the reader is someone who is going to be interested in imagining themselves as taking one hundred books, or at least the writings of one hundred authors, on a trip to a desert island where those would be the reading materials for the rest of the reader's life.  The second part of the book then consists of short essays about the one hundred authors/books that were chosen as being the best books.  Admittedly, the author has considerable taste, including the Bible, plenty of Latin classics (which he strangely assumes the reader will be able to read in their original), a great many works in French, Italian, German, and Russian, as well as novels that were published shortly before this book was written in 1916, including the wonderful Of Human Bondage as well as the writings of Hardy and James, which are certainly well worth recommending.  The third part of the book then provides a price for these books that seems way too low given contemporary book prices and the fact that some of these books are out of print and probably have been for almost a century. I am not sure if the author was connected to the Everyman Library and their low-priced and mass-published selection of high quality literature from the 20th century, but the fact that this author so strongly recommended them more than a century ago and I still enjoy reading that series is something that I consider to be impressive and to demonstrate the worth of this collection of materials.  It would be considerably more expensive to buy the collection of book that the author talks about even if such books were readily available.  Yet the fact that the author went to the effort of expensing out the collection he recommended for readers is impressive and well worth appreciating.  The author's taste is generally sound, and is balanced enough that he even recognizes Jane Austen's greatness in showing the maternal wit and wisdom of the spinster aunt, as her books even as he celebrates works that have a variety of perspectives and approaches.  This is a truly diverse selection in the best way, and one only wishes the author were more familiar with the best of non-Western literature to add to this list.  

  4. 5 out of 5

    Avis Black

    I hate lists that consist of 'Aren't You a Good Little Boy To Read All These Literary Works, So Now Go Off And Be A Bore Forever.' I'd rather read about the books you actually liked to read, not what you were supposed to read.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Philip

    In his One Hundred Best Books, John Cowper Powys confidently selects a reading list for all humanity. Written in 1916 by a man already in his forties, it offers a selection that can be labelled as distinctly pre-war, pre-First World War, that is. Given that the author was the product of an English public school - that means private, by the way, if you are not English - and then Cambridge University, one would expect the list to be dominated by the classics, ancient and modern. And, indeed it is, In his One Hundred Best Books, John Cowper Powys confidently selects a reading list for all humanity. Written in 1916 by a man already in his forties, it offers a selection that can be labelled as distinctly pre-war, pre-First World War, that is. Given that the author was the product of an English public school - that means private, by the way, if you are not English - and then Cambridge University, one would expect the list to be dominated by the classics, ancient and modern. And, indeed it is, but there are numerous surprises. One Hundred Best Books is a short text and offers only a potted critique of the works chosen. More often than not, John Cowper Powys chooses an author rather than a work. So, for example, Sir Walter Scott manages to have three books listed, and Dostoyevsky four, while Chares Dickens manages just one. So, in fact this list is not one hundred best books, more like a hundred favourite authors. The critiques, therefore, more often than not relate to the author’s perception of the writer’s overall oeuvre, rather than to a specific work. This list might be almost a hundred years old, but it remains an enlightening and enjoyable tour of the literary perception and, to a certain extent, the bigotries of the time. Selections are often more revealing in what they omit rather than what they include and One Hundred Best Books by John Cowper Powys is no exception. Indeed, towards the end, the text appears to descend into mere advertisement, but this part can be safely skimmed or ignored. A statistic that reveals much of its time is the stark reality that only two of the hundred writers listed are women. A third woman, who chose to write under a male non de plume, George Eliot, is omitted altogether, which, given that she had died over thirty years before this list was published, is a surprise. Though the list covers ancient classics and includes works from Russia, France, Italy, Germany and the United States, there is no place for the naturalism of Emile Zola. But neither is the list merely a safety first trip through big names. A number of the French and Italians listed would not be immediately recognised by a contemporary reader. And some names, such as Gilbert Cannan, Vincent O’Sullivan and Oliver Onions have apparently almost disappeared. John Cowper Powys is not afraid, however, to describe those he has chosen in colourful terms, sometimes revealing much about prevalent ideas of the day. How many people, in the twenty-first century, would advise the following: “a few lines taken at random and learned by heart would act as a talisman in all hours to drive away the insolent pressure of the vulgar and common crowd,” especially when referring to The Odes of Horace? And today would the phrase “the greatest intellect in literature” be attached easily to Rabelais? On Nietzsche, we are advised that “To appreciate his noble and tragic distinction with the due pinch of Attic salt it is necessary to be possessed of more imagination than most persons are able to summon up.” Theodore Dreiser is lavished with praise: “There is something epic—something enormous and amorphous—like the body of an elemental giant—about each of these books… All is simple, direct, hard and healthy—a very epitome and incarnation of the life-force, as it manifests itself in America.” What literature of the Unites States in the early twenty-first century, I wonder, aspires to simplicity coupled with directness, hardness and health? If it exists, I bet it’s not fiction. Thackeray has one work included. One wonders whether John Cowper Powys really wanted it. “Without philosophy, without faith, without moral courage, the uneasy slave of conventional morality, and with a hopeless vein of sheer worldly philistinism in his book, Thackeray is yet able, by a certain unconquerable insight into the motives and impulses of mediocre people, and by a certain weight and mass of creative force, to give a convincing reality to his pictures of life, which is almost devastating in its sneering and sentimental accuracy.” Charles Dickens is nowadays credited with being a great social realist. Powys includes only Great Expectations and seems to regard Dickens as something less than real. “His world may be a world of goblins and fairies, but there cross it sometimes figures of an arresting appeal and human voices of divine imagination.” And who, today, would say this about a writer? “Mr. Shaw has found his role and his occupation very happily cut out for him in the unfailing stupidity, not untouched by a sense of humor, of our Anglo-Saxon democracy in England and America.” One Hundred Best Books by John Cowper Powys is a quick and easy read. It is always useful to remind ourselves that perhaps the way we think about the world changes our psyche as much as changes in fashion alter our appearance.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Richard S

    This book consists of a list of 100 books and also a long introduction to the list and to reading in general. The introduction - a real "joy of reading" - is fabulous, but the best thing is the actual list itself. I went through the list and read all 100 of them (my thoughts are captured under the "Powys 100" shelf of my Goodreads library), a project that took me about a year and a half. The books can be divided into groups: the usual classics: Homer, Dante, Rabelais, Shakespeare, Milton, Balzac, This book consists of a list of 100 books and also a long introduction to the list and to reading in general. The introduction - a real "joy of reading" - is fabulous, but the best thing is the actual list itself. I went through the list and read all 100 of them (my thoughts are captured under the "Powys 100" shelf of my Goodreads library), a project that took me about a year and a half. The books can be divided into groups: the usual classics: Homer, Dante, Rabelais, Shakespeare, Milton, Balzac, Goethe, Dostoyevsky, etc., some classics that are read less frequently these days than they were in 1916: Sterne, Browne, Lamb, etc. some of the 19th century greats: Conrad, Hardy, James, etc., but the greatness of the list can be found in the more obscure authors, many of which, O'Sullivan, Onions, Canaan, are as good as the others, - many of them were famous at the time, but have since faded into obscurity for reasons which are puzzling. Of the 100 books, the only ones I didn't like were Victory by Conrad and Virgin Soil by Turgenev, both late works by authors who were clearly fading (and Conrad was writing for money). Powys provides a short commentary on these books, many of which are spot on - the best paragraph summaries I've ever come across, but some of them are quite wide of the mark, almost puzzling. Powys tends to get overexcited and put too much of "himself" into his comments, he's not a Harold Bloom or other great critic, but in fact that is actually a good thing - he's putting books that he "loves" into the list. There are "themes" that run through the list, it has, overall, a Rabelasian "bent" to it, which gives the books generally a high level of fun and pleasure. For example, for George Meredith he picks the obscure title "The Adventures of Harry Richmond", which was quite wild but immensely pleasurable, and Hugo's "Toilers of the Sea". Both of these books were as good or better than his Dickens' selection, "Great Expectations." I can't recommend enough the life-changing (and life-affirming) experience of going through the entire list and reading them all, it totally changed my view of literature and to a large degree, of life. If you do not have the time or inclination, the introduction is definitely worth reading, and you might want to go through the list and see if there are any titles worth picking up. Powys came up with the list when he was about 44 years old - it is an early work of his - written after his first novel but before his great ones - but he had spent 20 years as a lecturer on literary topics. It is a book for readers.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Dan

    This book was published almost a hundred years ago. It is of limited usefulness as many of the judgments of the author have not stood the test of time. He heaps praise upon Gilbert Cannan's Round the Corner, but I ask myself why have I not heard of this book before? Vincent O'Sullivan and Oliver Onions are two more forgotten writers (contemporaries of Powys) which Mr. Powys admires. The further back in time we go, the more reliable are Mr. Powys' judgments. At the back of the book is a listing of This book was published almost a hundred years ago. It is of limited usefulness as many of the judgments of the author have not stood the test of time. He heaps praise upon Gilbert Cannan's Round the Corner, but I ask myself why have I not heard of this book before? Vincent O'Sullivan and Oliver Onions are two more forgotten writers (contemporaries of Powys) which Mr. Powys admires. The further back in time we go, the more reliable are Mr. Powys' judgments. At the back of the book is a listing of the titles with 1916 prices. Following this are a few reviews of other works by Powys with favorable editorial comment gathered from periodicals across the nation. I would probably have never read this book except it was a free download to my Kindle. Some of the titles listed by Powys aroused my interest to the point that I downloaded some to my Kindle for future reading.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Mike

  9. 4 out of 5

    Victor Couwenbergh

  10. 4 out of 5

    Karen Hood

  11. 5 out of 5

    Chris Michaelides

  12. 4 out of 5

    John

  13. 5 out of 5

    Noah

  14. 5 out of 5

    Greg Smith

  15. 5 out of 5

    John

  16. 4 out of 5

    Susan

  17. 4 out of 5

    Christopher Uren

  18. 4 out of 5

    Hope

  19. 4 out of 5

    David James

  20. 5 out of 5

    Eileen

  21. 5 out of 5

    Omar Hernandez

  22. 5 out of 5

    Ken Jones

  23. 4 out of 5

    Andrew LaBerteaux

  24. 4 out of 5

    Mhae

  25. 5 out of 5

    Laura H

  26. 4 out of 5

    Joe

  27. 5 out of 5

    Pat Johnson

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jim

  29. 4 out of 5

    Carolin

  30. 4 out of 5

    Robert Nakashima

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.