Columns/Opinion, John Samsell

Reading popular again

Selection among the top 100 books was an interesting, though frustrating, endeavor. The list given had many writings that had been converted into movies and TV programs; some good, some not so good.
The time period also had to be considered. One of the top writings was “Gone With the Wind,” also a top-notch movie. But it was the book, not the film that was judged.
As for timing, take “1984,” that had a major impact when it was published during the Red Alert era. Not so much now.
I found that reading the “Grapes of Wrath” was a major John Steinbeck writing, and a movie that pretty much followed the book, according to my feeble attempt to review both versions.
Actually, it was a Steinbeck book,”The Travels With Charlie,” that I became obsessed with. It was published two years before the author’s death. It wasn’t even on the 100 book list. So much for my tastes!
As for book vs. movie, I thought the book “The Help” was better than the movie, which I had trouble following in the film.
The same goes for “Pride and Prejudice.” The book gave a better description of Elizabeth Bennett and her domination of Mr. Darcy than any film version, in my opinion.
The Alex Cross series was much better when James Patterson was writing without a co-author. His mystery aimed at teen-agers fell short of its goals, I thought. It wasn’t on the book list.
The writings of Robert B. Parker were excellent, though a co-writer wasn’t so good. His connection with Tom Selleck produced many good “Paradise” cop shows. Parker died at his desk on July 28, 2010. Two novels published after his death weren’t so good. He had a style that included mostly quotes.
“The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” by Mark Twain is high on the list and was good required reading at an early age. “Catcher in The Rye” was not, in my opinion, good required reading. Both are on the 100 list.
Some books are listed that continue to carry popularity among today’s readers. Game shows often have them as questions. One such is “Atlas Shrugged” by Ayn Rand. Another on the list is “Catch 22.”
Tony Hillerman, who wrote many Navaho police novels, is one of my favorites. is not listed in 100.
Nelson DeMille, who wrote “Lion” in 2010, should be on the list, if Nicholas Sparks is with “The Notebook.”
One more novel that should be listed but isn’t. That’s “The Horse Whisperer,” better reading than watching on TV.
Some on the list are just too old to remember. Included are: “A Separate Peace” by John Knowles, “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn,” “And Then There Were None,” by Agatha Christie, “Call of the Wild” by Jack London, “Gulliver’s Travels,” by Jonathan Swift,” “Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald.
Some that have been read more recently include “Divince Code” by Dan Brown, “Color Purple.”by Alice Walker; “Dune,” by Frank Herbert, “The Godfather,” by Mario Puzo, “Great Expectations” by Charles Dickens, (also recent TV series), “Hunt for Red October,” “Jane Eyer,” by , “Moby Dick,” by Herman Melville; “Lonesome Dove,” by Larry McMurtry.
With a 100 list and another personal list I’m bound to miss a bunch on both lists. Whatever, I have a lot of reading to do.
My personal list includes mostly current or those read over the past 60 years or so. In the 1960s and 1970s there were writings that include controversy, like one about George Washington’s false (wooden) teeth.
More recently there is the book “Hamilton,” now a popular play.