Amazon lists 100 books to read in a lifetime

Amazon lists 100 books to read in a lifetime
CNN
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Friday, February 7, 2014 - 2:25pm

Amazon released its newly curated list of 100 Books to Read in a Lifetime on Tuesday.

Books on the list include Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice" (1813), F. Scott Fitzgerald's "The Great Gatsby" (1925) and Kate Atkinson's "Life After Life" (2013).

The list spans 200 years of literature, along with a wide range of genres and intended audiences; authors include David Sedaris, Salman Rushdie, J.D. Salinger, Michael Pollan and Shel Silverstein.

Sara Nelson, editorial director of print and Kindle books at Amazon.com, said the list was created through taxing months of deliberation among her team, though no mathematical algorithms were used.

"One of our tasks was to have books that don't feel like homework: 'eat your vegetables' books," Nelson said. "There was nothing in there except 'I loved this book when I was 12 for this reason.' We lobbied each other."

The books are not ranked but rather are listed alphabetically to represent that "no book is more important than another," she added.

Some books that unanimously made the cut are children's books like "Charlotte's Web" by E.B. White and "Unbroken," a nonfiction book about World War II by "Seabiscuit" author Laura Hillenbrand.

Fan favorites like the first installments of the "Harry Potter," "Hunger Games" and "Lord of the Rings" series made the cut. The list also features just one of the No. 1 Amazon Best Books of the Year, Rebecca Skloot's "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks."

"We tried to make sure that we had a pretty good balance of fiction and nonfiction," Nelson said. "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."

The book most hotly debated by the editorial team was George Orwell's dystopian novel "1984. "

"It wasn't so much 'Is "1984" a great book?' but 'Should we put "1984" or "Brave New World"? Should we put "Lord of the Rings" or "The Hobbit"?' On a 100 book list, you probably can't put both," Nelson said. "We tried to find books that were iconic and that would lead to other books."

The list leaves off classics like "Les Misérables" and "Moby Dick," though some editors argued for their inclusion.

You can vote for which selections you like and suggest new ones at Goodreads. Amazon will compile a list of reader picks in the coming weeks. 

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