And finally to the trailing ten. You might think that the authors who’ve shown up with such regularity so far would be out of books worth stocking on library shelves. You would be wrong. It’s pretty much the same crowd, with only two new names making an appearance.
41. The Little Sister (1949) by Raymond Chandler. Chandler's writing is entertaining, but sometimes the narrative is sluggish and the plot incoherent. If you've been through his first four novels and want more, go for it. If not, you can safely skip it.
42. The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze (1934) by William Saroyan. This collection of twenty-six stories put Saroyan on the literary map. Although all are told with his standard sardonic folksiness, they are not consistent in setting, sentence construction and polish. Short-story fans should find the book interesting.
43. The Game (1905) by Jack London. Here we have London writing in the naturalistic mode that made him famous. The book, filled with vivid descriptions, is short, free to download, and a must-read even for those likely to find it off-putting.
44. The Big Knockover (1966) by Dashiell Hammett. This collection, a bit more extensive and slightly more varied than The Continental Op, features the same hard-nosed detective combating crime (mostly) in San Francisco during the 1920s. Feel free to read this book instead.
45. The Winning of Barbara Worth (1911) by Harold Bell Wright. Despite sluggish writing, shallow characters and excessive length, this tale of irrigation in Imperial County was once a huge best-seller. Literary antiquarians might still find it of interest; others can stay clear.
46. Blix (1899) by Frank Norris. This story of love and courtship presents a lively view of San Francisco at the turn of the nineteenth century. It's not weighty but it is fun.
47. Double Indemnity by James M. Cain (1943) Also a fun read, if you're in the femme fatale mood, is this reworking of The Postman Always Rings Twice. It’s got more characters and plot twists but ultimately delivers a weaker punch.
48. Fire by George R. Stewart (1948) A companion-piece to Storm, this novel recounts the struggle against another calamity familiar to Californians. Here the natural adversary is more limited and the story more intimate. If you liked the earlier book, you’ll probably like this too.
49. Mildred Pierce by James M. Cain (1941) Readers expecting another crime story may be surprised by this realistic but hard-edged tale of a single mother trying to get ahead in business. Even if you didn’t find his other books appealing, you might want to give this a chance.
50. Ask the Dust by John Fante (1939) This story of a fledgling writer gives a strong sense of working-class L.A. during the 1930s. The plotting is ragged, however, and the ending unsatisfying. If you want to try Fante, The Road to Los Angeles, written earlier but published much later, might be a worthier choice.
So we come to the end of the Famous Fifty. The final ten include only one must-read, Jack London’s The Game, but they don’t contain any real turkeys. (I’m exempting The Winning of Barbara Worth, which shouldn’t be judged by modern literary standards.) The trick next is to see what there is to read among the hundreds of other books that librarians don’t find as appealing -- or sometimes not appealing at all.