Monday, July 21, 2008

The Big Read

There's a meme circulating which starts

According to The Big Read, the average adult has only read 6 of the top 100 books on this list. How many have you read?

I tracked this meme backwards and couldn't find the original list anywhere. The Big Read initiative covers some of these books, but also lists some different books as "coming soon," so I think the more accurate list of top 100 books is probably this one at the BBC.

The list below contains some multiple listings - like Hamlet and Complete works of Shakespeare. Not all of these are books I would consider great literature. The Five People You Meet in Heaven shouldn't ever be on any list along with Les Miserables. And the Da Vinci Code? Give me a break.

But in the interest of playing along, I will use the list that's circulating and bold the books I have read. While I'm at it, I'll let you peruse one of my bookshelves. I've decided that now that I'm old and in the re-reading stage of my life, I deserve to really enjoy my reading experience. So I buy Everyman's Library editions. Because I'm worth it.



As far as choosing future reads, I'll probably follow the BBC list, because frankly, it has more fun Terry Pratchett books on it.

1. Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
2. The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
3. Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
4. Harry Potter Series - JK Rowling
5. To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
6. The Bible (Yes, the WHOLE thing. Several times in fact)
7. Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
8. 1984 - George Orwell
9. His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
10. Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
11. Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
12. Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13. Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14. Complete Works of Shakespeare (seriously, have people read all of them?)
15. Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16. The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
17. Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks
18. Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
19. The Time Traveller’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20. Middlemarch - George Eliot


21. Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchel
22. The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
23. Bleak House - Charles Dickens (I'm ashamed to admit I haven't read this one, and I'm a huge Dickens fan, and it's on my shelf)
24. War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25. The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
26. Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
27. Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28. Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
29. Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
30. The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
31. Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32. David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33. Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
34. Emma - Jane Austen
35. Persuasion - Jane Austen
36. The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis
37. The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
38. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39. Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
40. Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne


41. Animal Farm - George Orwell
42. The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
43. One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44. A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
45. The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46. Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
47. Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48. The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood
49. Lord of the Flies - William Golding
50. Atonement - Ian McEwan
51. Life of Pi - Yann Martel
52. Dune - Frank Herbert
53. Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54. Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55. A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56. The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57. A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
58. Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
60. Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61. Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
62. Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63. The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64. The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
65. Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66. On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67. Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68. Bridget Jones’ Diary - Helen Fielding
69. Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie
70. Moby Dick - Herman Melville
71. Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72. Dracula - Bram Stoker
73. The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
74. Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75. Ulysses - James Joyce
76. The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath


77. Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78. Germinal - Emile Zola
79. Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80. Possession - AS Byatt
81. A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
82. Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83. The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84. The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85. Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86. A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87. Charlotte’s Web - EB White
88. The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
89. Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90. The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
91. Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92. The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93. The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94. Watership Down - Richard Adams
95. A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96. A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97. The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98. Hamlet - William Shakespeare
99. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
100. Les Miserables - Victor Hugo (in progress, it's about a million pages long)


If I counted correctly, I've read 61, although I think I should get partial credit for 33 and 14 because of 36 and 98.

Does this make me 10 times more literate than the average adult? Go me.

By coincidence, I bet I have 10 times the laundry of the average adult as well. *sigh*

13 people stopped folding laundry to write:

Lidian said...

What a fun meme - I have seen it around, too.

I got the same number as you, 61, but with a few different books...Bleak House is my favorite Dickens novel, and the BBC production from 2005 is amazing too.

Your bookshelves look great, much better than the higgledy-piggledy home library we have got going on, which is not camera-ready!

standing still said...

I'm very impressed by your mack down on this list. I skimmed it, and while I consider myself somewhat well read, apparently I am Jethro Bodine. Jeesh.

Nancy said...

There are a bunch on here that I was supposed to read in High School...does that count ;)

I'm more of a trashy romance novel type of gal.

noble pig said...

I have always wanted to read Watership Down...need to do that..soon.

Kim said...

I'm just surfing around checking out fellow "Got Twins" bloggers . . . Wow! You've got a great blog here--really enjoyed reading the posts on your main page.

I've read most of the classics on the list, but then I majored in English so I better have read 'em. Need to get hopping on some of the more recent titles. And by "recent" I mean any book added since I graduated . . . if only they would add John Grisham to the list . . .

Cheryl Lage said...

I'm guessing your well-beyond 10x more literate than the average bear. :)

And since you threw the gauntlet, maybe I can challenge you to a laundry pile measure..... ;)

Cynthia said...

I'm reading your list and feeling like a great big slacker right now. But I've copied the list, put it into Excel (I'm a dork), checked off what I've read, and I'm getting to work! I should finish by the time I'm 94. But at least I'm also more literate than most so that's a start....
BTW - Pride and Prejudice is also my most-read in the collection!

kawaii crafter said...

Sigh, I've only read 11 of those books.

Smockity Frocks said...

Impressive! and I enjoy the photos of your books!

Jennifer said...

We have very similar reading tastes. My favorite classics on the lists are all Jane Austen, especially Sense and Sensibility and my favorite current book on the list is The Time Travelers Wife. Ever since I started blogging 4 months ago, I'm finding it hard to find time for novels unfortunately. Hopefully that will change.

magda said...

Some of these are really great, and others were so bad I'm actually sorry I read them (55 out of the 100 for me). I never thought about Cold Comfort Farm being a book, so I just went and requested it from the library.

Oh, and since you also like lists, you might like goodreads.com where I'm having fun keeping track of what I've read.

angie said...

I think I've read at least 70% of the list. You've got to read something of Daphne Du Maurier's. I'm brain DEAD right now, but my favorite is Frenchman's Creek. I think that's the title anyway. GO YOU!

Stacie said...

My husband actually has read every one of Shakespeare's plays including, poor man, Timon of Athens. He said that when he only had one left it seemed silly not to just slog through it. Plus, he is a Shakespeare nut. But the Compleate Works? Including all the longer poems? I certainly haven't.

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