Saturday, January 12, 2013

Michael Chabon's Top Ten Favorite Books

I have been reading Michael Chabon since 1988 (I just pulled my first edition copy of Chabon's debut novel The Mysteries of Pittsburgh off my shelves to check the date) and he continues to keep me entertained and make me think.  Chabon, the author, is simply an interesting man.

Back in 2007, for a book called The Top Ten: Writers Pick Their Favorite Books, Chabon picked his personal Top Ten Favorite Books:
  1. Labyrinths by Jorge Louis Borges
  2. Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov
  3. Scaramouche by Rafael Sabatini
  4. Moby-Dick by Herman Melville
  5. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
  6. Tales of Mystery and Inspiration by Edgar Allan Poe
  7. In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust
  8. Paradise Lost by John Milton
  9. Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  10. The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler
I've noticed that many of the writers have chosen books that at least somewhat resemble their own writing style or preferred themes.  That's a little harder for me to spot in this particular list because I've only read four of the titles (Numbers 4, 5, 9, and 10) myself.  

I misplaced The Top Ten at least two years ago, maybe longer, so it was a nice surprise when the little book turned up tonight.  In addition to the Author Top Tens, there are a few other interesting composite lists in the book.  Like this one:

The Top Top Ten List 
  1. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
  2. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
  3. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
  4. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
  5. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
  6. Hamlet by William Shakespeare
  7. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  8. In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust
  9. The Stories of Anton Chekhov
  10. Middlemarch by George Eliot
This list is based on the individual rankings of the 125 writers who provided Top Tens for the book.  It is ordered by allotting ten points for every first place ranking a title received, nine for second place, eight points for third, etc.  


  1. Interesting lists, both of them. I'm so glad to see Anna Karenina in that second one, because it makes me feel I am in good company. It's my own favorite novel, ever.
    And Hamlet. So nice to see Hamlet there.

  2. It's a cool little book, Cip, published in 2007. Over the years (until I lost it for two years or so) I spent a few hours flipping through the lists and drawing strange conclusions about the authors based entirely on their choices - a rather dangerous proposition, I suspect.

  3. Chabon is also on record loving The Long Ships by Frans G. Bengtsson, stating that it "stands ready, given the chance, to bring lasting pleasure to every single human being on the face of the earth."

  4. Thanks, Benjamin, for the info and link regarding The Long Ships. That's a new title to me, and I'll have to take a look. Appreciated.