Thursday, October 3, 2013

The 25 Greatest Law Novels...Ever?

One of the things that nobody tells you in law school about becoming a lawyer is how much MAIL it generates. Some of it is interesting and some of it goes straight in the trash, but all of it is unsolicited. Every now and then something will catch my eye, like the August magazine cover of the ABA (American Bar Association) Magazine touting "The 25 Greatest Law Novels...Ever!" I linked you to the online article but here's the list:

25. Old Filth & The Ox-Bow Incident
24. The Fountainhead
23. Anatomy of a Murder
22. The Handmaid's Tale
21. The Count of Monte Cristo
20. The Firm
19. QB VII
18. Their Eyes Were Watching God
17. The Caine Mutiny
16. A Time to Kill
15. A Tale of Two Cities
14. The Stranger
13. Native Son
12. Bartleby the Scrivener
11. The Paper Chase
10. An American Tragedy
09. The Bonfire of the Vanities
08. The Scarlet Letter
07. Presumed Innocent
06. Billy Budd
05. Les Miserables
04. The Trial
03. Bleak House
02. Crime and Punishment
01. To Kill a Mockingbird

The bold titles are those I've read. Consider me ashamed. I'm pretty widely and well-read but there are definitely a lot of gaps. I appreciated that there was a mix of classics/popular novels and those that are more obscure.

I would say most if not all of the ones I haven't read are on my to-read list already (or are now). Of those, I'm most looking forward to The Count of Monte Cristo & Les Miserables (en français bien sûr!) and the John Grisham titles (now that I've discovered him!). The Paper Chase is considered a must see film for incoming/first year law students, but I haven't read the book. I'm curious now!

I read 3 of these novels in high school and even 10 years later consider them to be among the best books I've ever read. Confession: I was that kid who loved ALL the books we were assigned to read in school. I was a TA for Advanced American Lit for 2 years so I've read The Scarlet Letter I don't know how many times and I just love it! I know this puts me in the minority, given how many people get the shivers about it and say it was one of their most unpleasant reading experiences. I just don't get that.

I have vivid memories of being assigned Their Eyes Were Watching God as summer reading one year and not being able to put it down. For years whenever I would be asked to name off my favorite books, it made the top 5.

It makes me a huge cliche, but add me to the column of lawyers who think that To Kill a Mockingbird is pretty much the best thing ever written. It is so powerful and challenging and heartbreaking. I read it almost every year.

Have you read (or do you want to read) anything on this list? 
What would you say is a "top book" for your profession?


  1. I'm doing far worse than you. I've only read two: The Scarlet Letter and To Kill a Mockingbird. Loved them both.

    I own Their Eyes Were Watching God but haven't gotten to it yet.

    And The Handmaid's Tale has been on my to-read list forever.

  2. i've only read monte cristo & les mis. they don't make movies about my boring job. sadly, my work is much like Pam's from the office. although one day i envision myself pulling a bridget jones and saying on my way out the door "i'd rather have a job wiping Sadam Hussein's @$$ than spend one more day working for you."

  3. It makes my heart deliriously happy that two of John Grisham's novels made it onto the list.

  4. I think the only ones of these I've read are Their Eyes Were Watching God, Les Miserables, The Scarlet Letter, and To Kill a Mockingbird. Although if I was going to read any of them now, the top of my list would be The Count of Monte Cristo.

  5. I, too, love To Kill A Mockingbird! Atticus Finch is what all lawyers should be. And, Gregory Peck in a seersucker suit makes me swoon! And if I had a daughter, I'd name her Harper! Funny, I also love A Tale of Two Cities but I never thought of it as a "law" novel.


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