Looking for some good reads to last you through a long winter?
These are the books Amazon’s editors think everyone should read, a list of essential reads – fiction and nonfiction – spanning 200 years of literature, from Jane Austen to Kate Atkinson. Other authors on the list include F. Scott Fitzgerald, David Sedaris, Salman Rushdie, J.D. Salinger, Michael Pollan, and Shel Silverstein. Titles range from classics like “The Great Gatsby,” “Pride and Prejudice,” and George Orwell’s “1984” to more recent hits like the “Harry Potter,” “Hunger Games,” and “Lord of the Rings” series.
To put together the list, Amazon largely steered clear of its “Best Books of the Year” lists, mathematical algorithms, and other formulaic indicators. Instead, it relied simply on months of debate and deliberation from its editorial team.
“One of our tasks was to have books that don't feel like homework: 'eat your vegetables' books," Sara Nelson, editorial director of print and Kindle Books at Amazon, told CNN. "There was nothing in there except 'I loved this book when I was 12 for this reason.' We lobbied each other.
“We tried to make sure that we had a pretty good balance of fiction and nonfiction," Nelson added. "In terms of the demographic of the writers, we never sat down and said 'We need more women' or 'We need more books from different cultural groups or countries.' But overall, when I eyeball that list, it seems to have a lot of variation.”
According to Nelson, the most hotly debated book was Orwell’s “1984.”
By contrast, E.B. White’s “Charlotte’s Web” and “Seabiscuit” author Laura Hillenbrand’s “Unbroken,” a nonfiction book about World War II, were unanimous picks for the “100 List.”
That said, what’s interesting to note is what didn’t make the list, including classics like “Les Misérables” and “Moby Dick.”
And now it’s our turn: Readers can vote for favorite selections and demand missing favorites be added to the list at Goodreads. Amazon said it plans to compile a new list of Top 100 reader picks in coming weeks.
Find the full list at Amazon.
Husna Haq is a Monitor correspondent.