Friday, August 07, 2009

BBC Reading List

On Facebook, on blogs, on chat boards, all over the internet for awhile now, there is a list of books of which the BBC apparently "believes most people will have read only 6."

I searched and couldn't find the original story that sparked this list comparison phenom, so 10 points to anyone who can send me the link to the original story.

I have a poll on the left where I will post ten of the books at a time just to see how well y'all do collectively.

I grew up for the most part without a TV and got the reading habit early so I did pretty well, coming in as having read 60, but some of them were an awfully long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.

I must say, though, that I have added to my list since the last time I reviewed it. Shame must have prompted me to read Dracula, but I am glad I did, but there's honestly not too many left that I really have much desire to read. I am resigned to not ever reading Little Women :)

Here's my list:
Instructions: Look at the list and put an 'x' after those you have read.

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen (X)
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien (X)
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte (X)
4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling (X)
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee (X)
6 The Bible ( ) - gotta be cover-to-cover, no skipping or skimming the begats!
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte (X)
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell ()
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman ()
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens (X)
11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott ()
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy (X)
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller ()
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare (X) - just the plays, not the poems as well!
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier (X)
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien (X)
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulk ()
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger ()
19 The Time Traveler’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger (X)
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot (X)
21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell (X)
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald (X)
23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens (X)
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy ()
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams (X)
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky ()
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck (X)
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll (X)
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame (X)
31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy ()
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens (X)
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis (X)
34 Emma-Jane Austen (X)
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen (X)
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis (X)
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hossein ()
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres ()
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden ()
40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne (X)
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell (X)
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown (X)
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez (X)
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving ()
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins (X)
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery (X)
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy (X)
48 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood ()
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding (X)
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan ()
51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel (X)
52 Dune - Frank Herbert ()
53 Cold Comfort Farm (X)
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen (X)
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth ()
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon ()
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens (X)
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley (X)
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night - Mark Haddon (X)
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez ()
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck (X)
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov ()
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt ()
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold (X)
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas ()
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac (X)
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy ()
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding (X)
69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie ()
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville (X)
71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens (X)
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker (X)
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett (X)
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson (X)
75 Ulysses - James Joyce () - started but haven't finished
76 The Inferno – Dante ()
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome (X)
78 Germinal - Emile Zola ()
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray (X)
80 Possession - AS Byatt (X)
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens (X)
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell ()
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker ()
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro ()
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert (X)
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry ()
87 Charlotte’s Web - EB White (X)
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom (X)
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle ()
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton ()
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad (X)
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery ()
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks ()
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams (X)
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole ()
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute ()
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas (X)
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare (X)
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl (X)
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo (X)


  1. I'm curious Jane. Why don't you want to read Little Women?

  2. I have this list on my blog too - you've read more than me, though! Interesting that you've never read The Catcher in the Rye (I thought it was a rite of passage to have to read that as a teen :))

    Have you read March by Geraldine Brooks? Because having read that, I feel I ought to read Little Women.

  3. Charley - Little Women is one of those books that I think you have to read by a certain age in order to love. If you miss that window, then it just comes across as a young ladies deportment guide, at least that's the way it strikes me the two-three times I've attempted it. I think the Anne books are in the same category--if you read them when you're young and like them then you like them forever, but if you read them first as an adult, you wonder what the fuss is about. I may give LW another go someday because I do like to read perennially popular works just because they're perennially popular ...sort of from a cultural anthropology point of view. More often than not, I end up liking or at least appreciating them.

    Jezebel - I picked up Catcher in the Rye the last time I reviewed how many books on the BBC list I had read, and it's still sitting there, waiting for me to get around to it. I wish I had read it as a teen--I think I would've liked it. I'm amazed none of my older brothers gave it to me to read, actually.

    I've heard March is good, and it does appeal to me (enjoy reading Civil War fiction and non-fiction) and I like Brooks for the most part, though I didn't like the ending of Year of Wonders. Hey, thanks for stopping by!

  4. Most people will only have read 6? I would find that quite surprising, but I guess if they are averaging in people who never read at all . . .
    A lot of these books I read a very long time ago. I read LW while still in elementary school - I never did get attached to it the way many people are. Some were also required reading in school. Some I've read throughout the years many times, like all the JA ones, and some only very recently, like The Kite Runner. I didn't give myself any points for Harry Potter, only having read the first 4. But I've read all of the Arthur Ransome ones. I grew up loving British Literature.
    I'm looking forward to helping out with the poll and voting on the list so keep me posted when you update with the next 10.

  5. Jane, here is the link:
    and it's for the UK's favourite book to read (ie the nation's favourite book), which is why so many of us have read so many on the list! As opposed to say, Entertainment Weekly's list from last year that so many of us have read only some books on......I'm going to do a post on this anyway, because I think it's very interesting topic! Thanks for listing it.....

  6. Sofie - I was surprised to learn that the BBC thought most people would only have read 6 as well.
    >I grew up loving British Literature.
    Ditto! Still do :)

    Susan - thanks for the link. Here are your 10 points...use them wisely and don't spend them all in one place! I tend not to read many best-sellers, but am classics-focused so I imagine I wouldn't do nearly as well on an Entertainment Weekly list, but I'll probably test that theory.

  7. My sister read Catch 22 way back in the early 70s. She kept saying it was funnier than hell the whole time she read it. I saw the movie which came out around the same time. Yes, there were funny bits, but it emphasised some really depressing things too. I picked up the book once or twice but never got into reading it.
    I loved Tess, especially the middle part. Such beautiful writing, but I don't think I could read the last part again. Angel you fool!
    Middlemarch - I just loved the relationship between Dorothea and Ladislaw. The adaptation didn't do it justice at all.

  8. Middlemarch is one of the top 5 books in my life, and although I own the dvd, have only watched it once.

    This was the adaptation that really proved to me that adaptations provide plot points but just cannot come close to plumbing the depths of a work like Middlemarch.

  9. Hi friend.. Great post.. I have added you to my blogroll.. hope you too will add me…(

  10. I have read fifteen of the first twenty you've posted, but as my other friends will tell you, one of those fifteen was not 'Wuthering Heights'. I'm sure we all have one book we are ashamed to say we haven't read and that's mine.

  11. That's only 8 - the Wind in the Willows should be on there, and for some reason there's no 26 on the list. Can I make up a 26: One that I've read to make me look more literate? ;)

  12. Sofie - clearly I can't excuse is that I skipped Crime and Punishment when I was creating the poll, and then messed up the whole thing in trying to correct my mistake.

    I'm wondering how to create a better list as this one has some true oddities that won't survive the test of time, imo. So feel free to have write-ins, if I figure out how to add that to the poll. :)

  13. I didn't like the ending of Year of Wonders either! But the rest of the book was good (the old Headmistress of my junior school was from Eyam, and she told us the story of the plague village a few times). I liked March, I certainly preferred it to People of the Book.

    Catcher in the Rye I re-read two years ago, but I wasn't nearly as impressed. Definitely a teen book.

  14. Thanks for stopping by, Jezebel.

    >the old Headmistress of my junior school was from Eyam, and she told us the story of the plague village a few times).

    Very cool--I've heard it's a pretty interesting place to visit.

    >Catcher in the Rye I re-read two years ago...

    Hate it when that happens.