Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Read with Me!

Back in 2003 the BBC conducted a poll on reader's favourite books. This list, the BBC Big Read Top 100, has been circulating the internets since it's inception in 2003. As the poll was conducted in Britain, it's no surprise that about 60 of the books are Brittish.

There are scads of "best book" lists out there, but this one had the most titles that I am honestly interested in. Maybe it's because I like British tales.

Apparently the BBC believes most people will have only read 6 of these 100 books. When I first received the list, I had read only 14 or 15. I shared the list with JB, who ticked off 35 titles himself. Goody two-shoes!

I am an avid reader but when I tried to read classics in high school, I was BORED. I preferred my detective novels, thank you. So I never gave them another try. I didn't really believe that many people actually liked these stories and that they just raved about them so that they'd look smart and trendy. You know, like people who rave about "classic" black and white movies that in reality have light plotlines and so-so acting (Gone With the Wind excluded!!).

In 7th grade I did read all 1036 pages of Gone With the Wind of my own choosing. I loved it. My English teacher, Mr. Coopes, then assigned me to read To Kill a Mockingbird, believing I'd enjoy another Southern tale. After page 3 I was dreadfully bored and refused to read it. I took an E on the assignment. Nobody tells ME what to read! After that I left everyone else to their classics while I read REAL books, like Nancy Drew.

Then when JB and I were living with Grandma and Grandpa Hunt (during the Calvin restoration) I saw To Kill a Mockingbird on one of their bookshelves. It had a cool cover and I was itching to read, so I cracked it open.

And couldn't put it down.

How had I ever thought that this book was BORING??? Probably because I was a child. I don't think that teenagers can really get most classics.

Ever since then I've been interested in classic books but as there are so many, I never knew where to start.

JB and I are working our way through this BBC list together. Only I'm the only one that has started. Then again, maybe he's just waiting for me to catch up to him.

My sister Annie has graciously lent me several of her classics from this list, dubbing it my "winter reading." Annie, I won't let you down!

Here's the full list, for any of you fellow readers who care to see where you stack up and perhaps even read along with me! (I've bolded the ones I've read. I've started several others, but they don't count until I read the last page!)

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
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

21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens
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 (JB has read this, but I shall not)
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meany - 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 Zifon
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’s 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 Inferno - Dante
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 (Mitch is too self-important, so I'm not reading this one, either.)
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 Factoy - Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo


Michigan Girl said...


Thanks for the list--its a great one! One inconsistency I noted--it has the entire works of Shakespeare as an entry, and then Hamlet as a separate entry! I've read Hamlet but not the entire Shakespeare so I only get credit for 1!

I can state I've read 22 items on this list. There are quite a few of them I really need to read that I haven't! My next recommendations for you would be "Bridget Jones Diary" for something light hearted (I've probably read it 12 times and it always makes me laugh), or "A Handmaid's Tale" for something absolutely terrifying if you're a female and scared of religious fundamentalism and losing control of your own body. I have copies of both if you wish to borrow!


Anonymous said...

Hey April,

Thanks for the list. I hadn't seen this one. Aunt Helen and I just went through to count up how many we had already read. Fun! Can't wait to finish the list.

We missed you today. Wish we could have tasted that pie...though I'm still so full.

Aunt Rhonda

Jessica said...

Good idea to read through this list this winter. I think I've read about 29 of these books. I had to have a higher number than JB just to smite him, but since I shared the number I'll bet he's reading five more to one-up me.

Tommy said...

Wait a minute, LaGraff didn't force you to read his all time favourite book ever ever ever, The Great Gatsby? I thought it was terrible and I never want to hear what "transcendentalism" is ever again. That class and specifically his abhorrent love for that book is probably one of the largest reasons I don't read books now.

Consider yourself lucky for missing out on that one. Transcendentalism, bleh!

April May said...

Oh, no, he assigned that one. I read like a chapter but faked my way through the book report and got an A. Looking back, I think I rebelled on a lot of assigned books.

Also, he made me read Nathanial Hawthorne re: transcendentalism. I made myself read the whole thing, thinking that there would be some surprise item of interest in the end.


Also, you should try reading again. You might like it.

teaglebee said...

Yeah, but see, some books are meant to be read when you're a kid, like To Kill a Mockingbird and the Catcher in the Rye. Most of the books I've read on the list were read when I was in middle school or high school. So keep that in mind, if you hate a book, maybe you're reading it at the wrong time in your life.