The Rules

1 – A book must appear on at least two lists to be included in the Master List.

2 – The Jose Saramago Rule: If an author wins the Nobel Prize for Literature, he gets a point for any specific work that is referenced by the Nobel committee. Most of the lists were assembled by English speakers for an English speaking audience, so there is a clear bias against non-English authors. Therefore, if the author wins the Nobel but none of his or her works appeared on two lists, a representative work is selected for the Master.

3 – If a list does not specify individual works by an author (i.e., The Works of…) than the most comparable works of the given author may be attributed a point (i.e. complete poems, selected prose, etc).

4 – Authors are ordered, as best as can be determined, by birth date. Works under each author are in order of popularity.

5 – The Henry James Rule: In the breaking down of centuries, some authors who were born in, and did the majority of their work in, the previous century wrote major works that were published in the following century. However, these works are often so ingrained in the culture of the previous era that it makes sense leaving the author’s oeuvre intact in one century or another.

6 – If there’s one thing English major’s hate more than math and science textbooks, it is old math and science textbooks. Any technical book largely committed to reporting formulas or physical theories (e.g., works by Euclid, Galileo, Einstein, etc.) therefore needs three votes to make the list.

7 – The Billy Pilgrim Rule: Books can be read in any order except chronological.


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