a curious list

Because it keeps showing up in my email, circulating on Facebook, what-have-you, I now concede. That’s right, I’m putting it up: the hundred books that the BBC thinks most people have only read six of, or something.

I’ve made some slight modifications to the key:

  1. Look at the list and put an ‘♦’ after those you have read.
  2. Add a ‘∞’ to the ones you’ve started but haven’t been able to finish.
  3. “◊” those you plan on reading.
  4. Put a “¿” next the those you DON’T plan on reading because you consider the author a total ponce.
  5. Put your totals at the bottom.

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 (New Testament) ♦
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 Faulk
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 Carrol ♦
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 ¿
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 ♦
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 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 – 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 ♦
98 Hamlet – William Shakespeare ♦
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl ♦
100 Les Miserables – Victor Hugo ∞

Hunh. I almost forgot that I read Bridget Jones’s Diary altogether.

After going through it, this list seems a little odd. So far as I can see, it’s not representitive anything, besides books that have been subject to adaptation, and it’s heavily weighted with the works of a few of the same authors (Austen, Dickens, Hardy). So, what does it all mean?

I’ve read thirty-nine of the hundred. Thirteen I have started but have yet to finish (which is more an example of how I will take on six books at a time – sometimes one of the group falls off and gets left behind). Eleven are on The List to read in the future. And there are only two that I wouldn’t pick up even if someone threatened to dip my head in a deep fryer (I didn’t mark most of Dickens because even though he annoys me, I don’t consider him an utter twat). So I have some kind of relationship with sixty-three of the total list.

Yay me.

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~ by A Mundi on March 13, 2009.

2 Responses to “a curious list”

  1. This is a pretty curious list. I haven’t read as many as you but I’ve definitely read more than six. I’ll have to find the article this first showed up in. Maybe it explains the list and how they came to think most people had only read six of these. Hmmm….

  2. I think the origins of the book list may have become a bit lost in the broken-telephone line of repetition. I couldn’t find the thing itself on the BBC site, but it seems to be based on the best-loved 100 books as voted by viewers. There’s nothing about people having only read six of the hundred at all. You can see the list here:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/arts/bigread/top100.shtml

    You just can’t trust random folks on the Internet anymore, can you?

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