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Modern Library’s Best Novels of All Time

August 28, 2015 Hastings and Hastings

Most lawyers like to read, given the nature of their vocation. At Hastings and Hastings, we are happy to share some of our favorite novels off the Modern Library’s 100 Best Novels, and why we are so fond of them.

Ulysses, James Joyce

This book comes in at # 1 on the all-time greatest novels list (subjective, of course). Ulysses occurs over the course of a day in Dublin, Ireland. The day accounts the actions and thoughts of two major characters, Steven Daedalus and Leopold Bloom, and several other minor characters, in surprising detail, and in a surprisingly similar plot trajectory as the Odyssey. Indeed, all the major characters of Homer’s masterpiece have a foil in this modern classic. Also, James Joyce is a genius who uses more words in this novel than the entire Shakespearean cannon (greater than 30,000). His writing is cryptic and difficult to penetrate. Joyce uses anagrams, stream of consciousness, and a myriad of other writing styles to arguably create the greatest novel of all time. 

The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald

This one clocks in at #2 right behind the legendary novel, Ulysses. The Great Gatsby is the brain child of F. Scott Fitzgerald, an American author with unique abilities and a simple, universal, writing style. The two hundred page novel accurately captures the Jazz age, a golden age of American society. It also deals with the American dream turned into a waking nightmare. Although critics disagree on Fitzgerald’s motivation for writing the book, most generally consider it an essential in literary tradition, American culture, and western culture in general. 

Brave New World, Aldus Huxley

This book clocks in at #5 on the chart, but #1 in our heart. This book is the only one that made our list that was written by a foreign writer, Aldus Huxley, descendent of the royal Huxley family in England. The book forecasts a utopian future where science reigns supreme and all of humanity’s shortcomings have been virtually eliminated. However, whether or not this type of society is desirable becomes the ultimate question of the book.