Here we have the third ten. Again, there are plenty of big names, four of which we’ve seen in earlier entries. But diversity grows as a woman author makes an appearance.
21. The Iron Heel (1908) by Jack London. London probably didn’t care that this novel is too polemical for literary greatness. His aim was didactic -- to explain his socialist worldview and show how the oligarchy crushes ordinary people. If this sounds interesting to you, go for it.
22. After Many a Summer Dies the Swan (1939) by Aldous Huxley. There’s almost nothing engaging about this concoction of lame satire, philosophical meanderings, and ridiculous characters. You can safely skip it.
23. What Makes Sammy Run? (1941) by Budd Schulberg.This novel, the preeminent insider look at the movie business, has done much to promote the idea that Hollywood is dominated by shallow hustlers. And the main character, Sammy Glick, has come to symbolize the American quest for success. You shouldn’t miss this one.
24. Cress Delahanty (1953) by Jessamyn West. What’s this? Women wrote books before 1960? Who knew? This collection of mostly amusing stories about a teenage girl won’t shatter anyone’s consciousness. But it will show how stories of this sort should be put together.
25. The Pastures of Heaven (1932) by John Steinbeck. In this collection of stories, all set in a small farming community, Steinbeck stays away from allegories and metaphors and focuses on the non-symbolic problems of ordinary people. It's another good choice for the optional Steinbeck list.
26. The Lady in the Lake (1943) by Raymond Chandler. This is another Philip Marlowe mystery, perhaps a step down from Farewell, My Lovely but still featuring the standard Chandler touches.
27. The Deer Park (1955) by Norman Mailer. Once again we have a renowned novelist striking out when writing about California. Mailer aims at the film industry but his shallow characters and muddled narrative scheme don't allow him to hit the target. You can give this one a pass.
28. The Pat Hobby Stories (1962) by F. Scott Fitzgerald. All the stories in this collection feature Pat Hobby, a fading screenwriter without either morals or talent. Most are amusing and show Fitzgerald in top form. The book is a must-read for short story aficionados.
29. Farewell, My Lovely (1940) by Raymond Chandler. This book, the second novel with detective Philip Marlowe, is just as clever and entertaining as its predecessor, The Big Sleep. Feel free to sample Chandler with this book instead.
30. Storm (1941) by George R. Stewart. Stewart puts California in global perspective as nameless functionaries scurry around trying to offset the impacts of a huge Pacific storm. It’s not your ordinary novel and definitely worth reading.
Summing up: What Makes Sammy Run and Storm are must-reads. The three short-story collections (Cress Delahanty, The Pastures of Heaven and The Pat Hobby Stories) are all excellent choices for readers who like their fiction in small chunks. Of the Chandler books, Farewell, My Lovely may be a bit sharper than The Lady in the Lake. The two remaining novels, After Many a Summer Dies the Swan and The Deer Park, should be avoided.