One such debate I’m always having, as a confirmed book nerd, is: what are the greatest books, greatest novels, greatest American novels, etc. Lots of cultural organizations have made such lists, from the Modern Library to the New York Times (even Entertainment Weekly). Do I have the cachet that these publications have? Of course not! (Well, maybe EW.) Did that deter me from making a list of my own? Of course not!
I got together with my good friend Luke Chamberlin, the person with whom I have most of my book debates, and we started batting around our personal opinions of the 25 best American novels (expanding the term “novel” to include collections of linked short stories). We may not work for Modern Library, but we’re both pretty dedicated lit nerds; We both have BAs in English, I have an MFA in Fiction, and he won a Fulbright Fellowship to study William Faulkner. Also, we both tend to think–misguidedly, of course–that we’re smarter than everyone else.
After several sessions of drinking beer and geeking out, we came up with something vaguely resembling a consensus, attempting to balance what we considered to be historical importance with our own personal tastes, and Luke built a website with our picks: Check it out, and let me know what you think.