Friday 1 August 2008

Top 100 Book Meme

I think something nice, calm and unpolitical was needed after the shenanigans I midwifed into the world at Socialist Unity. And what better way to relax than indulging a meme that shows off the literary capital you've accumulated through the ages. This came to me by way of Lib Dem blogger, Alix Mortimer and is apparently based on an updated version of Britain's 100 best books that saw the light of day in the BBC's 2003 Big Read (how the new list below was compiled is anyone's guess).

But anyway. This is the blurb that comes with the meme.
“The Big Read reckons that the average adult has only read 6 of the top 100 books they’ve printed.
1) Look at the list and bold those you have read.
2) Italicize those you intend to read.
3) Underline the books you love.
4) Strike out the books you have no intention of ever reading, or were forced to read at school and hated.
5) Reprint this list in your own blog so we can try and track down these people who’ve only read 6 and force books upon them
I would add that 'read' means read, not flicked through or given up half way to the end. It's cover to cover or nothing.

Here goes:

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
4 The Harry Potter Series - JK Rowling
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
6 The Bible
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - 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
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
Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
Bleak House - Charles Dickens
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
Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
34 Emma - Jane Austen
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
Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood
Lord of the Flies - William Golding
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan
Life of Pi - Yann Martel
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
Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac
Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding
69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie
Moby Dick - Herman Melville
Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
Ulysses - James Joyce
76 The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
Germinal - Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
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
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
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
The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

Gone with the Wind (painful childhood nightmares of utter boredom) and Dune (aristocrats in space? Please) thoroughly deserve to be struck off this list, but more or less everything else can stay.

So, who to tag? How about

Inveresk Street Ingrate
Jim Jay
Peoples' Republic of Teesside
Shiraz Socialist
Culture Sluts

Over to you ...


Rob said...

But Dune is awesome!

Anonymous said...

Awww... bang goes my Sunday.

Oh, just seeing Austen's Pride and Prejudice traumatises me. Memories I supressed now come to the forefront...'O' level English Lit. class. Tory sexist tosser of a teacher who told me I didn't take Austen seriously.....

Phil said...

Tory tosser you teacher may have been, but he was right about Austen That said, if we were forced to read Austen I'd probably wouldn't be favourably disposed toward her. That's why I can't stand poetry.

But I guess we were lucky, we were forced to read some good stuff at school - Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men, Robert Swindell's post-apocalyptic wrist-slashing fest, Brother in the Land, Penelope Lively's The Ghost of Thomas Kemp and Shakespeare's Julius Caesar all spring to mind.

What were other people forced to read at school?

ModernityBlog said...

The Da Vinci Code above One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez?

something's wrong.

Anonymous said...

My favourite book is Tess of the D'Urbervilles I have read it about 5 times the first time I read at age 13. I read it finished it could not bear the fact it was finished and started to read it again. I also love Roman Polanski's film Tess. I hated absolutely hated, loathed, detested Atonement by ian McEwan - WTF is that book all about? And why is Charlie & the Chocolate Factory 99 - it should be in the top ten!

Anonymous said...

Well, have done mine on blog. But did wonder, what happens if you have half read a book...and forgot to read the rest (have done many times) does that mean it is in half bold..?

Anonymous said...

Caused a bit of a furore over on the SSP Discuss - it is abit Anglo British Centric. No Robert Louis Stevenson, Lewis Grassic Gibbon, no Moliere, no Irvine Welsh. Lots of children's books left off. Why have a series of books but only one (usually the first) seperate etc. Also an outcry that Adrian Mole was not there! And I have to agree.

The highest so far is 71 read books, I have read 66.

Jim Jepps said...

I haven't read anything like 66. Blimey. Too much sci-fi not enough proper books.

At school we were given some excellent modern books to read (All Quiet on the Western Front, Catch 22, Billy Liar) so I've complaints there - probably the only thing I enjoyed at sdchool come to think of it.

Imposs1904 said...


you've read 66? I away out to buy a hat so I can take it off to you.
What can I say: I've only read 16 of the books listed. Too many of the books listed are from childhood or from school reading lists, and I was too busy reading Shoot, Record Mirror and the Broons/Oor Wullie annuals growing up.

Phil said...

66 is impressive - I thought my 50 was posing value enough, but alas, clearly not :(

greenman said...

There seem to be two lists in circulation. I have read 29 of those on Daily (Maybe) and 36 of those on here! I like this list better.
My English teacher at school encouraged me to read Zola's Germinal, which is an amazing, if ultimately very gloomy book.

Phil said...

There is two lists in circulation. Jim's are the final results of the BBC's Big Read that took place in 2003. This one is ... well, I haven't a clue where it's from. But I like it better too, mainly because I've read more on it :P

Jim Jepps said...

Your list *does* have the Three Musketeers on it - which is pretty sweet

Anonymous said...

Well you have to question the fact that "The Lion Witch & Wardrobe" is in the list AS WELL as "Chronicles of Narnia", and how on earth Enid Blyton's "Faraway Tree" gets in is totally beyond me.

ModernityBlog said...


Scanning the list, it is a little bit Anglo centric, but not especially so, within the top 20 are American authors, and peppered through it are Colombian, French, Polish, Russia writers, etc

a lot less Irish writers than I'd liked, but largely to be expected

If another country were to produce a similar list I doubt there would be even that diversity, as indicated in the Beeb's list

Anonymous said...

82 down, 18 to go! English degree *finally* begins to earn its keep. Woo-hoo!

Jo Christie-Smith said...

Oh! Who is this anonymous who has read 82 books of the list! I was feeling so pleased with myself for having done this meme back in July and achieved a count of 72!


Jo Christie-Smith said...

PS I really liked The Faraway Tree, abliet that it's nearly 30 years since I read it!

Phil said...

Lol, Jo, I know how you feel ... it's 25 years for me, sob!