Poll: Picking more book favorites

Last week’s poll was fun, and I promised to provide my answers to the questions. Here they are:

1) What is the most exciting adventure novel you’ve ever read? King Solomon’s Mines by H. Rider Haggard
2) What is the cleverest mystery you’ve ever read? The Poisoned Chocolates Case, by Anthony Berkeley
3) What is the scariest story you’ve ever encountered? “The Yellow Wall Paper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
4) The sexiest novel? Les Liaisons dangereuses (Dangerous Relations) by Choderlos de Laclos
5) The best western? Little Big Man, by Thomas Berger
6) The greatest romance novel? Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen
7) The finest historical novel? War and Peace, by Leo Tolstoy
8) The best biography? The Life of Samuel Johnson, by James Boswell
9) The best work of history? The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, by Edward Gibbon
10) The book you’ve reread the most? The Unquiet Grave, by Cyril Connolly

As this poll was fairly popular, I thought we might continue with another. But this time I’ll provide my answers right now:

1) Favorite writer—Stendhal
2) Novel I’d Most like to Reread Someday—The Tale of Genji, by Murasaki Shikibu
3) Most underrated contemporary American writer—Garrison Keillor
4) Four Writers Whose Work I’d like to Know Better—Sylvia Townsend Warner, Talbot Mundy, Thomas Ligotti, Edith Wharton
5) Four First-Rate Modern Writers in Danger of Being Forgotten—Anthony Burgess, Gilbert Sorrentino, Angela Carter, Donald Harington
6) Four Big Books I’d Like to Read in the Coming Year—Clarissa, by Samuel Richardson; The Old Wives’ Tale, by Arnold Bennett; Lavengro, by George Borrow; Devil’s Tor, by David Lindsay
7) Favorite poet—Baudelaire
8) Genre I’d Most Like to Explore Further: Contemporary dark fantasy, i.e. weird tales and ghost stories, especially the work of Reggie Oliver, Glen Hirshberg, R.B. Russell, Mark Valentine, John Howard, Rosalie Parker, Barbara Roden, Jeffrey Ford, and several others

That’s probably enough for now. I do hope that members of the Reading Room will chime in with their own answers to this second poll—or even suggest, with answers, some categories of their own. In fact, I originally had several others, but accidentally deleted the entire document and lost everything. That’s what happens when you’re tired or inattentive. Anyway, I hope people will all share some of their thoughts about the ones I’ve reconstructed here. Let’s all play.

— Michael Dirda

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