Saturday, 28 February 2009


Croila had a post recently about a BBC article saying that out of the top 100 books, the average British citizen had read 6. I'm not quite sure what to make of that and in particular I wonder how they arrived at the "top 100", books being such a subjective and personal thing. Nonetheless I am a sucker for both lists and books, so there is no way I was going to resist this! The idea, which I have shamelessly stolen (with permission, nay encouragement from Croila) is to mark with an "x" the ones you have read. I have also noted the ones I not only genuinely intend to read but actually have in my possession in my "waiting to read" pile(s).

x Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen (read multiple times, as with all Jane Austen)
x The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien (umm, also multiple times)
x Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
x Harry Potter series - JK Rowling
x To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
x The Bible - well, some of it.
x Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
x Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
x His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
x Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
x Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
x Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
Catch 22 - Joseph Heller - In my pile, awaiting attention!
Complete Works of Shakespeare - nope, as I have already confessed. Read Macbeth and Romeo and Juliet at school, and read The Tempest to see if I liked it, but really would rather see plays performed.
x Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
x The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
x Birdsong - Sebastian Faulk
x Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger (hated it!)
x The Time Traveller’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
x Middlemarch - George Eliot
Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell (really? Is this a great book?)
The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald - on one of my piles!
x Bleak House - Charles Dickens
x War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy (more than one but miss out the last chapter or two)
x The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
x Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
x Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
x The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
x Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
x David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
x Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
x Emma - Jane Austen
x Persuasion - Jane Austen
x The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe (Isn't that part of the Chronicles above?)
x The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini (Meh)
x Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
x Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
x Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne (lots and lots of times!)
x Animal Farm - George Orwell
x The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown (see, top books? Don't think so!)
One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
x A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
x The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
x Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
x Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
x The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood
x Lord of the Flies - William Golding
Atonement - Ian McEwan
x Life of Pi - Yann Martel
x Dune - Frank Herbert
Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
x Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
x A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth (but only once - it's a BIG book!)
x The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon (and again, meh. Didn't think much of it)
x A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
x Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
x The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
x Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
x The Secret History - Donna Tartt
x The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
On The Road - Jack Kerouac
Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
x Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding
Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie
Moby Dick - Herman Melville
x Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
x Dracula - Bram Stoker (another repeat read, I have a bit of a vampire thing)
x The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
x Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
Ulysses - James Joyce (tried to read Joyce, failed, never tried again)
The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
Germinal - Emile Zola
x Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
x Possession - AS Byatt
x A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
x Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
The Color Purple - Alice Walker
x The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
x Charlotte’s Web - EB White
x The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
x Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
x The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton (Gosh I'd forgottern about those!)
Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
x The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery (in the original French, if you please!)
x The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
x Watership Down - Richard Adams
A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
Hamlet - William Shakespeare (see above!)
x Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

I make that 71. Which means that I am not the average Briton, it would appear, and also that I seem broadly to agree with the BBC about what a "top book" is. Hmmmm. I really, really don't know how I feel about that. I think I may take comfort from the fact that I have also read a fair number of books which aren't on the list and of which the Beeb would not approve!

Well, that was fun. I am off now for a cup of tea and to carry on reading a book not on the list. Feel free to join in, if you like.


  1. I've read an even 50, but I totally lost all respect for this list when I saw Da Vinci Code on it. And why Hamlet again when Complete Works of Shakespeare is already there? And what's with the Jane Austen hard-on? And Mark Haddon? Come on. And so many great authors that didn't make the list?

  2. I've just read Diane Setterfield's "The Thirteenth Tale" - utter nonsense really, but very page-turny.

  3. I've read 23 of them but I agree with xup about the quality of the list.

  4. I got 70. And I'm with xup. Except for dear, dear Jane.
    I think you stole my list, mostly, but I have read all of Shakespeare. Had to. Some nice stuff that did not make Bartlett's Quotations, but a lot of it blurs into one play after a while. Maybe you are supposed to read Hamlet twice?

  5. I am home! Did you see me wave when I flew over? Yay! Had a great time, but now we wait to see if Anneliese is going to have puppies! I will know in a month!

  6. I don't like book lists, I just read what I like. Good for you, having so many worthy books on your list. My bedside table is always full of half read books because I read several at once.

  7. The original list created by BBC was the top 100 best-loved novels as voted on by the public back in 2003. Obviously people who've been perpetuating this version of it have been tweaking the list of books as they went along -- there are 42 books on the above list that either aren't on the original list at all or are listed significantly differently on it. That's how you end up with Hamlet *and* the Complete Works of Shakespeare (Shakespeare didn't make the actual BBC list at all) or The Chronicles of Narnia *and* The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe as well as books like The DaVinci Code (which also never made it to the real BBC list) and the Bible (a best-loved novel? really?).

  8. Oooh, what book are you reading that's not on the list?

    You've got to read The Bell Jar though. Absolutely a "top book"!