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‘We Like Lists Because We Don’t Want to Die’
Five Reasons Why I, Exhausted and Cynical in Advance of Christmas, Came to Feel That Compiling a List of My Favorite Books Made Our Culture Worse

In answer to your question of which is the best short poem I have read in the English language I can only say that I fail to see how there can be a ‘best’ poem, long or short; that is, one best in all circumstances. This attempt to appraise by comparison is, if you will allow me to say so, one of the literary vices of the time, only a little above the inquiry who is the biggest poet, novelist or prizefighter, although not quite so low down as that deepest deep of literary valuation, ‘who is the biggest seller.
From a letter by Thomas Hardy to the New York Times, 1814

The most controversial list was the Modern Library 100 best novels of the century list. The list was controversial because the selection committee was primarily a bunch of old white males and because they picked old white male books – very few by women, very few recent books and many that, frankly, are crap, though the one selected by readers, with four by the totally talentless Ayn Rand and three by the equally talentless L. Ron Hubbard, was far worse. It also seemed that the selection process was not all it should have been. Any list without Pynchon and Ballard is, frankly, not worth considering. The following are some of the articles commenting on the list:

Selection committee member, Edmund Morris in the New York Times
Ron Charles in the Christian Science Monitor
Jamie Allen, CNN
Steve Rubenstein in the San Francisco Chronicle
Francine Cunningham in the Irish Times
Katha Pollitt in The Nation
Tom Moran’s point of view
The authors reply (a witty set of e-mails from Henry James, Edith Wharton, Hemingway, etc. on the list – from Slate)
Edward Champion is reading them all (scroll down to read his essays on them – he is also reading the non-fiction ones)
As is Pam Reynolds Klocke

Other lists

Other best of lists
Worst of lists
Publishers of Works in Translation

Reading lists by theme

Fiction relating to the arts
Banned books/authors
Fiction about books/authors
Classics rewritten
Historical fiction – general
Historical fiction – specific periods
Lists of Most Difficult Books

Reading lists by location

Books set in the UK by city/area
Lists of authors and/or books by US state
Lists of authors and/or books by Canadian province