Newsweek‘s book coverage had become a bit sporadic (also true, sadly, for most of the weeklies, with the notable exceptions of People, Entertainment Weekly and The New Yorker).
The current issue (July 13; Michael Jackson on the cover, of course) makes up for that with a feature on the 50 books that are not “best books,” but books that “open a window on the times we live in.” Who needs “another list telling you how great The Great Gatsby” is, they say (nonetheless, online, perhaps as a form of self-protection, they also provide a best list — Newsweek‘s Top 100 Books).
It’s interesting to see the mix of older and contemporary books on the list; number one is Trollope’s 1875 masterpiece, The Way we Live Now. Newsweek says,
Trollope’s satire of financial (and moral) crisis in Victorian England even has a Madoff-before-Madoff, a tragic swindler named Augustus Melmotte.
Harry Potter doesn’t make the cut, but Susan Cooper’s The Dark is Rising series does.
This list is more fun than the over-familiar “bests” lists. It would make a great book display or a reading group discussion (“What books would you choose?”)