Every time I see a “top five” anything, I’m reminded of Nick Hornby’s “High Fidelity,” whose hero, Rob Gordon, loves lists. His top-five lists range from his favorite films to the things he misses about his ex-girlfriend, Laura. In honor of Hornby’s protagonist, I rounded up the top five lists published on this blog.
Out of the 18 lists I’ve published so far, here are the five with the highest number of views:
#1 In Praise of the Vilified Prologue: Top 10 Novels with Prologues
In Elmore Leonard’s famous 10 rules for writing, the second rule is: Avoid prologues. “They can be annoying,” he wrote. “A prologue in a novel is back story, and you can drop it in anywhere you want.” Leonard, the author of “Get Shorty” and other best-selling crime novels, was not alone. There are many writing books and articles that say the same thing. I’ve heard the same advice in writing conferences, as well. Read more.
#2 Top 10 Underrated Novels You Should Read
Have you ever read a great book, only to find out that none of your friends have heard of it? Oprah will probably never recommend the book and Ron Howard will certainly not turn it into a film. In other words, your great discovery is underrated. It’s frustrating to see great books wilt under the overgrown shade of overrated best-sellers. For every book that has sold a million copies, there are dozens of underrated books that barely caught the attention of the reading public. I would like to shine a light on some of them. Read more.
#3 Top 9 Female Literary Characters
Some books I like for their clever plots or unexpected denouements, others for their dazzling narratives. But the books I cherish are those with memorable characters, especially heroines. I rounded up nine of the most memorable literary heroines I’ve met over the years and compared my choices with similar lists on other Web sites. I picked a couple—Lisbeth Salander and Tess Durbeyfield—not because they’re role models but because, quite simply, I can’t get them out of my head. Read more.
#4 In Praise of the Here and Now: Top 10 Present-Tense Novels
“September. It seems these luminous days will never end.” This is how James Salter’s 1967 novel, “A Sport and a Pastime,” begins. The unnamed narrator is describing Paris—in the present tense. It made me pause because countless writing workshops, articles, and panel discussions tell us the same thing: Don’t write your novel in the present tense. Read more.
#5 Top 10 Most Challenged Books Reflect Racially Diverse Authors and Content
Eighty percent of the 10 most challenged books in 2014 reflect works by authors of color and culturally diverse content, according to the American Library Association (ALA). Every year the ALA releases the “State of America’s Libraries Report,” which includes the “Top 10 Most Challenged Books.” This year’s list is based on information compiled by the ALA’s Office of Intellectual Freedom (OIF) last year. Read more.
Want to read more lists? Check these out:
Top 10 Places in Literature that will Trigger Your Wanderlust
Top 10 California Novels
Top 8 Movies Featuring Boxers and Fighters
Top 12 Historical Novels
Top 8 Novellas
Top 15 Book-to-Movie Adaptations
Top 10 Southern Novels
Top 10 Most Challenged Books in 2014
Top 10 Publishers (2014)
Top 10 Publishers (2015)
Top 20 Most Well-Read Cities (2014)
Top 20 Most Well-Read Cities (2015)
Top 5 Gifts for the Writer in Your Life