I get weirdly excited by another book list

I have photos of the rest of the house to show you, but I have been distracted this morning by a book list.  I cannot resist a good book list, particularly when it makes dubious claims about the nation’s literacy. 

This is a list by the BBC of  100 books they have randomly pulled out of their arse.  They claim that most people in the UK will have only read six of them. 

I have read eighty five of them, which probably means that people in all the streets round my house have been sucked of all desire to read thanks to my voracious habits, and have only read cornflake packets for the last twenty years as I have gradually and parasitically leeched their share of books on the list and made it my own.


(rendered in a mad librarian’s voice.  This is rather like the voice of a mad scientist but quieter).

I have published the list for your delectation, and so that you can surprise yourself by how literate you are.  It really is not at all clear what criteria the Beeb used when picking this list, and why they put things like the whole of the C.S. Lewis Narnia Chronicles as one entry, and then The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe as another, nor why they have made Hamlet separate from The Complete Works of Shakespeare.  It was probably the pulling names out of a hat method.

If you are as nerdy as me, the idea is that you mark in bold the books you have read in their entirety.  You italicise things you have only partially read, and you asterisk everything you have seen on television or via the medium of cinematic images.


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 May 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 Travellers 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 Berniere *

 39 Memoirs of a Geisha – William 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 – Gabrial 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 Handmaids Tale – Margaret Atwood*

 49 Lord of the Flies – William Golding *

 50 Atonement – Ian McEwan *

 51 Life of Pi – Yann Martell

 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’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 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 – Charles Mitchell

 83 The Colour 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 & the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl *

100 Les Miserables – Victor Hugo

25 responses to “I get weirdly excited by another book list

  1. Not as high a score as you had but I have read 64 including 2 that you haven’t (Dune and A town Like Alice) plus many of Shakespeare Works. Too tired to work out how many I have seen though it’s probably more than I have read. I find it hard to believe that most people will have only read 6 if they actually attended school on a regular basis. Very sad if it’s true.

  2. Sharon
    I keep meaning to try Dune. I’m not a huge sci fi fan though, but it does pop up on lots of ‘you must read this’ book lists. Jason has a copy. I might dust it down when I’ve read four trillion other more pressing things. And I would really like to read A Town Like Alice. What did you think of it?

    Yes, very sad indeed.

  3. I’d say I’ve read roughly half of this list. One strange thing is that a lot that I haven’t read, I actually have dramatic adaptations of on DVD.

  4. I have read 46 of them. Don’t bother with Dune, it was absolute rubbish; it took real determination to finish. Neville Shute is worth a try; he’s rather old fashioned and frightfully British and stiff upper lip, but some of his stories are unusual and interesting – and well written. I did like A Town Like Alice, though Round the Bend was probably my favourite (it’s a biblical allegory). I enjoyed the Lovely Bones but have not bothered with the film. Of Mice and Men is well worth reading too, and short. Both my two have had to read it at school recently.

  5. Sh*t I probably need to start reading something other than Glamour and Vanity Fair!! I’ve only read 9!!!!xxx (and most of those at School!!)

  6. Ohhh, I LOVE lists! I am, ahem, working so scrolled through twice and I have read 84 – not including the Bible or Uylsses but, unfortunately, including The Da Vinci Code. Read lots of Shakespeare at Uni, not all though…
    Surely this will give me my first A in many years. Please.

  7. Is this the same list they did a couple of years back, or bit different?

    I have read ‘The Lovely Bones’ (obviously not the only thing on the list I have read…)- it was rubbish. I was pregnant, and bored. Why is is on this list?!

    I have a copy of ‘Ulysses’ on my shelf. It was on one of the courses at Lampeter. I can tell I haven’t really read it properly, as the spine is barely creased (I am a philistine with books, according to Tony). I’m sure I wrote an essay on though…Funny, that!

    There are very few films that do justice to books – but I loved ‘The Color Purple”( especially Oprah Winfrey when she was an actress, and not just rich). And ‘The Remains of the Day’- God, how I cried!!

    Can I have extra points, miss, for reading bits of ‘War and Peace’ in Russian for ‘a’ level? Couldn’t do it now though…

  8. Pingback: Not too shabby, for an English graduate | Out of ideas

  9. I shall steal this. I HAVE stolen this. Ta muchly.

    (For full Mad Librarian points, you can do a Muttly Chuckle. At least, that’s what I do).

  10. Oooh-I do love a list!I’ve read 85 too-but I’ve never heard of Mitch Albom.I love Dune with a bit of a passion because it was the book my soon-to-be husband and I read in our twenties and both liked(he comes out in a cold sweat if you mention Kazuo Ishiguro though).I’m sure that if you’d compiled this list you would have included Elizabeth:Behind Palace Doors or The Kents:A Royal Family….

  11. As Alienne says Neville Shute is frightfully British but I read many of his books when I was at school – he wasn’t quite as old fashioned then 😉 It is worth a read I think. There was a film made in 1956 directed by Jack Lee with Virginia McKenna and Peter Finch taking the lead roles, also an Australian mini series with Bryan Brown and Helen Morse was made in 1980 which I actually watched and thought quite good.

    I liked the Dune series and read them all (as has Meccano Man) but admit to going through a sci-fi phase at the time. On a purely practical note, one of the threads in the books of the value of water and how it was gathered and stored is becoming more relevant nowadays. Worth a trial run at it when you find a few moments not occupied by other pressing needs 😉

  12. It would appear that this is, as jolafave suggests, essentially the same list as produced by The Big Read, which the BBC was making such a palaver about in 2003 (but minus a lot of the children’s books). I haven’t checked it in detail, but the voting for it probably accounts for the inconsistencies you pointed out, Katy…The giveaway for me was the inclusion of both the Magic Faraway Tree books and Dune (I enjoyed the former but remember abso zero about the latter).

    I didn’t do brilliantly well with this, totting up about 39 read and 11 part-read, but hey, that’s lists for you. I expect we could come up with a better one between us!

  13. Please PLEASE read The Time Traveller’s Wife: and go past the first little bit as this is confusing but you will either love it or hate it…I thought is was the most superb love story (and both my daughters agree, which is quite something for teenagers).

    Oh and good lucj with the house BTW, you are an angel for being polite, lots of Brownie points (ie you deserve a hearty choc brownie) x

  14. i’ve read 72 of them… and saw movie versions of about 80… lists like this only make me realize how much i still have to read. i have a little list. eleven single space typed pages. and every time i read one on the list, i manage to add three more.

  15. Loops
    I was surprised by how many I had seen as well as read.

    We had to read The Pearl instead of Mice and Men. I cannot abide Steinbeck, but I must persist. I may learn to love him in time.


    I have the Da Vinci code. I just haven’t read it yet. I can’t quite bring myself to do it. I thought the film was parlous so we shall see.

    Am liking the sound of the Mutley Chuckle. I have an interesting husky sore throat voice at the moment whihc may be perfect for it.

    The Queen: My Life in Hats. That was very good.

    I think the Dune thing is going to be a love it or hate it experience isn’t it?

    I failed to read Ulysses at university too. I believe I may also have written an essay on it there. I flogged my copy for a fiver to some gullible second year at the end of term.

    Undoubtedly our list would be brilliant and a lot more fun.

    I read TTTW and really loved it. I thought her latest one, Her Fearful Symmetry was a big steaming pile of pooh though. I was doubly disappointed because on the strength of TTTW I bought it in hardback. Gah.

    My book shelves, my Amazon Wish List and my library all do that to me too.

  16. Pingback: On another book meme. « Verbosity

  17. A bit late, but I am pinching this too. Hi! I lurk you, by the way! Well, up until now.

  18. Solnushka
    Pinch away! Happy that you unlurked!

  19. Fab stuff! I thought- a little smugly – that I had this all stitched up as I’m an English teacher, but no. I’ve only read 45 or so. Poo I seem to be steering away from “good” literature and reading mush these days . . . Do recall reading Moby Dick at uni. Had to keep prodding myself on the leg with a fork to continue through all 600+ pages. Then when I got to uni baulked at actually going to the one tutorial on it. I can however quote extensively from Winnie the Pooh, and think marmalade for breakfast is super. Might explain why I also liked Paddington Bear.
    And, The Great Gatsby, oh my, ” No amount of fire of freshness can challenge what a man may store up in his ghostly heart.” Sigh Or something like that, it’s probably wrong. . . .

    • I loved Moby Dick until I got about 100 pages in and then I lost the will to live. It could have done with some sharp editing I think. I too am gravitating more towards mush these days. I don’t like to have to think too hard anymore. It makes my brain hurt!

  20. Yes! Lots of editing! I still regretting forcing myself to read the damn thing and then NOT going to the tutorial. Agghh.

  21. So inspired I was by the list I’ve adapted your idea – hope you don’t mind- and created my own list. Thanks for being so much fun!

  22. josie
    I don’t mind a bit. I enjoyed reading your list too.x

  23. reading through the comments… someone mentioned Joyce’s Ulysses. it took me three starts and stops to actually read the whole thing straight through. i tried first in high school, which was just madness. i tried just out of college… still wasn’t able to do it. i finally managed to read it about 6 or 7 years ago. i couldn’t manage more than 60 pages a day — and most days had to re-read whole sections. but after studying comparative mythology, some theology and a bit of history, i did make it through without my brains dribbling on the floor. i must say it was totally worth it, if for no other reason than the number of people who asked me if i were studying for an advanced degree. but i was glad i finished it. i’m saving Finnegan’s Wake for my years in the old people’s home.

  24. Bronxbee
    That’s when I’ve got Finnegan’s Wake pencilled in too. It will probably make a lot more sense then.

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