Thursday, 25 November 2010


Borrowed from The Guardian's Book Blog - I'll return it soon :)
The Telegraph offered one possible 100 novels everyone should read selection for their readers to consider. This is the older list compiled by the BBC  I don't know if it was cultural significance or sales that drove the person compiling it - they were looking for the Nation's best loved work of fiction. They later said they believe the average person has read no more than 6. I was fighting off smug until I worked out how many I had read before the age of 21 and which ones came after.
If you would like to play along feel free to copy the list. Bold those books you've read from start to finish, italicize the ones you started but didn't finish or read excerpts from or the Cliffsnotes type version and underline the ones you haven't read but have seen a version adapted for film or television.  I loved all the books I finished. I very rarely don't finish what I start, these are significant failures on my part. The starred rating is - out of 5 - how much I loved the book, not only when I read it but now. I smiled back the waves of warmth just thinking about how much I loved each book.

1 Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen ***

2 The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien *** +insomnia

3 Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte ****

4 Harry Potter series – JK Rowling ***** + standing around out side book shops in the dark

5 To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee ***

6 The Bible - I read it cover to cover and the less well known gospels too

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 ** Lying by omission, is it really so bad?

13 Catch 22 – Joseph Heller

14 Complete Works of Shakespeare ***** Seriously, I carried the fat tome around

15 Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier **

16 The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien *** page 50 is a late place to get exciting

17 Birdsong – Sebastian Faulks

18 Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger ** `(

19 The Time Traveller’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger - gave in and bought it after I checked this list.

20 Middlemarch – George Eliot **

21 Gone With The Wind – Margaret Mitchell **** Frankly, I did.

22 The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald

23 Bleak House – Charles Dickens **

24 War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy *** at 15 - I missed trains home - deliberately - to read on the station platform in peace

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 Graham ***

31 Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy **** On trains

32 David Copperfield – Charles Dickens ***

33 Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis ****

34 Emma – Jane Austen **** contains my favourite individual passage in Austin's work

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 – Arthur Golden

40 Winnie the Pooh – AA Milne *****

41 Animal Farm – George Orwell *****  Chilling, when you are an imaginative 13 year-old

42 The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown ** A man who writes so you can read and get some sleep

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 *** Influential 

47 Far From The Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy ***

48 The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood *** Older influential

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 *** On my first trip to Barcelona

57 A Tale Of Two Cities – Charles Dickens ***

58 Brave New World – Aldous Huxley *** The start of my year of nothing but sci-fi

59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Mark Haddon * Started twice - I threw it out once - glad I persevered 

60 Love In The Time Of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez

61 Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck **

62 Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov <*> eerily reluctant reading

63 The Secret History – Donna Tartt

64 The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold **

65 Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas *** The Book Club aged 12 :)

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 – 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 ***** The Book Club aged 12 :)

98 Hamlet – William Shakespeare *****

99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl *****

100 Les Miserables – Victor Hugo

I liked this list much more than the one in The Telegraph.Neither claim to be the complete check list of everything, great and wonderful, ever written.

Some fear the subtext of these lists is the notion of being "well read" - a you-are-or-you-aren't list to check against - that would be superior, isolationist and wrong. There is a therapy being pioneered in Liverpool - Birkenhead, Merseyside - called Get into Reading, in this programme  reading is used as a tool to build self-esteem and as a vehicle to excise the many negative influences life, or circumstance, has inflicted on people. With their Read Yourself Better books prescribed by Ella Berthoud, 'bibliotherapist' at The School of Life, it is a Reading Circle/Group with an underlying aim. 

The large part of the success, and the joy, of reading and writing is in the sharing of ideas. Literature and Reading circles are about exploring common themes and shared experiences. It is not what you read, or write, but the enriching and rewarding effect the shared experience has on the reader or the writer. I love sharing.



  1. Happy Happy Thanksgiving!

    I saw this on another blog and am ashamed, absolutely ashamed, I have only read 11 on this list. (Although I have seen quite a few movie versions.)

    I guess I have some reading to do in the coming decades. lol.

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Hi Anne
    Happy Thanksgiving:)
    I was a well-read teen.
    I travelled seventeen miles to and from school - about an hour on a slow bus, half that on a faster train. The school was 20 minutes away from the station and I read while walking too. When my parents found out I was reading violent thrillers they took pains to direct me down different paths. I read voraciously and I had no idea other people stuck to one genre.

  4. In Portuguese:

    Hello! Good night. My name is Brad Paghanni. I had the curiosity to visit your blog. I live in Brazil and do not speak your language. However I use the translator.
    I liked the content of your blog.
    I'd like you to visit the mine too.
    Cheers, e. .. I await your visit. Post a comment if you wish. It may be in your language.


  5. Hi Brad
    I'm glad you visited, and that you like the Blog content :)

  6. Elaine, I'm impressed!!! And I agree your comment on it being an enriching experience between reader and writer. Nicely put. ;) When you have a few minutes, please drop by my blog, I have a little award for you! Happy Thanksgiving! ;)

  7. Hi Talei
    Award?! :)
    I feeling all awarded already - this is a cherry for the cake :)

  8. I counted 44 I've read. I have a lot more reading to do.

    Have a great weekend.

  9. Hi Medeia
    44 of these and thousands of others. There were so many books that didn't make it onto this list.