Skip to main content

100 One-Night Reads: A Book Lover's Guide


100 One-Night Reads: A Book Lover's Guide

If your friends know that you're a vociferous reader, they will
inevitably and regularly solicit from you a recommendation for
something to read. And you're probably more than happy to oblige.
The problem I have, however, is that when I'm asked I'm more than
likely to recommend something that I've read recently. That's fine,
but a lot of fine books go forgotten when that happens. And that's
why I've been (internally) jumping up and down for joy with the
publication of a book titled 100 ONE-NIGHT READS, which I'm going
to call indispensable even for those who only read a book or two a

The premise behind this wonderful tool is to recommend books that
are 1) worthwhile and 2) can be read in a single evening. Brothers
David C. And John S. Major succeed admirably on both counts. Sure,
there is room to quibble as to selection --- some that they
included I would have left out, and some that they left out would
be in there if I were running things --- but when it's all said and
done they did a masterful job of adhering to and fulfilling their

You won't find Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's THE GULAG ARCHIPELAGO
listed in here; worthwhile, but too long. They do however, include
listed, but DUBLINERS is. Where the real strength of this volume
lies, however, is the forgotten classics that they have included.
THE OX-BOW INCIDENT, a Western for people who would never touch
one, is listed. THE OX-BOW INCIDENT! This is a wonderful book that
I haven't thought about for 40 years. I've got a copy sitting next
to me right now and as soon as I finish prattling on here I'm going
to pick it up and read it. Tonight. They also list GUADALCANAL
DIARY and, well, a passel of other books that you may have read a
long time ago or meant to read and never got around to or that you
read once a year, because they are worthwhile and you can read them
in a night. See premise, above.

The really, really great thing about this volume, though, is that
the Bros. Major do a masterful job of summarizing each book,
telling a bit about how it came to be written and about the author,
all in two or three pages per book. You can open 100 ONE-NIGHT
READS just about anywhere and start reading and you'll get
interested in the book that's being discussed. The authors make you
want to read these books. And they're considerate too. While the
summaries are collected in alphabetical order, there is also a
thoughtful listing by genre, such as Mystery and Science and Travel
and a slew of other ones. And sure enough, no matter how well read
you are in your favorite subject, there will be at least one or two
that you haven't read or have forgotten about. The choices aren't
all obvious, and you might disagree with some, but they all

100 ONE-NIGHT READS is a book to own, to give, to use. Don't lend
it out, though, unless you've got a backup copy. You'll never get
yours back.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on January 20, 2011

100 One-Night Reads: A Book Lover's Guide
by David C. Major and John S. Major

  • Publication Date: May 29, 2001
  • Genres: Nonfiction
  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books
  • ISBN-10: 0345439945
  • ISBN-13: 9780345439949