100 Books: A short rant and a long post

A while back I noticed that the 100 Books meme was making its rounds around facebook again, and I wondered how long it would take for a friend to tag me. Well, it didn’t take long, but it has taken me a long time to respond to the tag. Normally, I don’t complete the questionnaires that circulate on facebook, but this one, since it is about books, interested me.

According to the instructions, “The BBC believes most people will have read only 6 of the 100 books listed here.” I was surprised at the number of books I’ve never heard of that some how made this list, and I was also curious about the number of American works and children’s books on the list. The list is imprecise, listing series of books as one book, and some books appear more than once. So, the skeptic in me wondered if this list really originated with the BBC; I did a little research and found that no, it did not.

PurpleCar wrote an extensive post about how memes, and specifically the 100 Books meme, start. I thought she did a great analysis and I learned a lot from the comments section too. This 100 Books list is quite similar to a list of “books you can’t live without” compiled by The Guardian in 2007. The BBC polled readers for their favorite books and compiled a list of 200 favorites; there was no condescending statement that most people have only read 6.

If you’re interested in book lists, here are some good ones: the booktrust (lists of books by genre), the Random House 100 best novels (compares popular and professional choices), and the BBC’s top 100 and 200.

Here are my results anyway, with some snarky comments thrown in for good measure. For fun, I’ve also listed the BBC’s top 100 and a friend’s list of 100 books.

100 Books Meme

Have you read more than 6 of these books? The BBC believes most people will have read only 6 of the 100 books listed here.Instructions: Copy this into your NOTES. Bold those books you’ve read in their entirety. Italicize the ones you started but didn’t finish or read only an excerpt. Tag other book nerds. Tag me as well so I can see your responses!

I have read 47 (91, including the ones that are series) and I have 5 DNFs (I don’t really believe in not finishing books).

1 Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen

2 The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien-three book series

3 Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte

4 Harry Potter series – JK Rowling-this should count as seven books, really

5 To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee

6 The Bible–does this count as one book or 66?

7 Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte

8 Nineteen Eighty Four – George Orwell

9 His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman–I only read the first book in this three book series

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--who has read the Complete Works of Shakespeare? I’ve read all the sonnets and approximately 30 of the plays. . . I think that’s pretty good!

15 Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier

16 The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien

17 Birdsong – Sebastian Faulk

18 Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger

19 The Time Traveler’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger

20 Middlemarch – George Eliot

21 Gone With The Wind – Margaret Mitchell

22 The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald

24 War and Peace -Tolstoy–I had just finished reading Anna Karenina when I started this one. I wasn’t ready for another 1000+ book. I should try again.

25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams

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–again, this is seven books

34 Emma – Jane Austen

35 Persuasion – Jane Austen

36 The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe – CS Lewis (this is part of #33)

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 – A.A. Milne (why are children’s books on this list?)

41 Animal Farm – George Orwell

42 The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown (this is random, but isn’t the title redundant– “The The Vinci Code”?)

43 One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez

44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney – John Irving

45 The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins (What about The Moonstone?)

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 (I can’t believe I’m admitting I read this. I was rather disgusted with it, for what that’s worth.)

69 Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie–I do love Salman Rushdie, but I haven’t read this one (one of his greatest works!) yet.

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–I’ve only read selections from this in literature classes

86 A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry

87 Charlotte’s Web – E.B. White

88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven – Mitch Albom

89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (also 2+ books)

90 The Faraway Tree Collection – Enid Blyton

91 Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad

92 The Little Prince – Antoine De Saint-Exupery (shouldn’t this be called Le Petit Prince? I’ve read both the French and English translation. Does that count as two?)

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 (Isn’t this part of The Complete Works of Shakespeare)

99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl

100 Les Miserables – Victor Hugo

The BBC’s Top 100

I’ve read 37 and have 3 DNF’s.

1. The Lord of the Rings, JRR Tolkien
2. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
3. His Dark Materials, Philip Pullman

4. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams
5. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, JK Rowling
6. To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
7. Winnie the Pooh, AA Milne
8. Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell
9. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, CS Lewis
10. Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë
11. Catch-22, Joseph Heller
12. Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontë
13. Birdsong, Sebastian Faulks
14. Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier
15. The Catcher in the Rye, JD Salinger
16. The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame
17. Great Expectations, Charles Dickens
18. Little Women, Louisa May Alcott
19. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, Louis de Bernieres
20. War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy
21. Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell
22. Harry Potter And The Philosopher’s Stone, JK Rowling
23. Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets, JK Rowling
24. Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban, JK Rowling
25. The Hobbit, JRR Tolkien
26. Tess Of The D’Urbervilles, Thomas Hardy
27. Middlemarch, George Eliot
28. A Prayer For Owen Meany, John Irving
29. The Grapes Of Wrath, John Steinbeck
30. Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland, Lewis Carroll
31. The Story Of Tracy Beaker, Jacqueline Wilson
32. One Hundred Years Of Solitude, Gabriel García Márquez
33. The Pillars Of The Earth, Ken Follett
34. David Copperfield, Charles Dickens
35. Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, Roald Dahl
36. Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson
37. A Town Like Alice, Nevil Shute
38. Persuasion, Jane Austen
39. Dune, Frank Herbert
40. Emma, Jane Austen
41. Anne Of Green Gables, LM Montgomery
42. Watership Down, Richard Adams
43. The Great Gatsby, F Scott Fitzgerald
44. The Count Of Monte Cristo, Alexandre Dumas
45. Brideshead Revisited, Evelyn Waugh
46. Animal Farm, George Orwell
47. A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens
48. Far From The Madding Crowd, Thomas Hardy
49. Goodnight Mister Tom, Michelle Magorian
50. The Shell Seekers, Rosamunde Pilcher

51. The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett
52. Of Mice And Men, John Steinbeck
53. The Stand, Stephen King
54. Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy
55. A Suitable Boy, Vikram Seth
56. The BFG, Roald Dahl
57. Swallows And Amazons, Arthur Ransome
58. Black Beauty, Anna Sewell
59. Artemis Fowl, Eoin Colfer
60. Crime And Punishment, Fyodor Dostoyevsky
61. Noughts And Crosses, Malorie Blackman
62. Memoirs Of A Geisha, Arthur Golden
63. A Tale Of Two Cities, Charles Dickens
64. The Thorn Birds, Colleen McCollough
65. Mort, Terry Pratchett
66. The Magic Faraway Tree, Enid Blyton
67. The Magus, John Fowles
68. Good Omens, Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
69. Guards! Guards!, Terry Pratchett
70. Lord Of The Flies, William Golding
71. Perfume, Patrick Süskind
72. The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, Robert Tressell
73. Night Watch, Terry Pratchett
74. Matilda, Roald Dahl
75. Bridget Jones’s Diary, Helen Fielding
76. The Secret History, Donna Tartt
77. The Woman In White, Wilkie Collins
78. Ulysses, James Joyce
79. Bleak House, Charles Dickens
80. Double Act, Jacqueline Wilson
81. The Twits, Roald Dahl
82. I Capture The Castle, Dodie Smith
83. Holes, Louis Sachar
84. Gormenghast, Mervyn Peake
85. The God Of Small Things, Arundhati Roy
86. Vicky Angel, Jacqueline Wilson
87. Brave New World, Aldous Huxley
88. Cold Comfort Farm, Stella Gibbons
89. Magician, Raymond E Feist
90. On The Road, Jack Kerouac
91. The Godfather, Mario Puzo
92. The Clan Of The Cave Bear, Jean M Auel
93. The Colour Of Magic, Terry Pratchett
94. The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho
95. Katherine, Anya Seton
96. Kane And Abel, Jeffrey Archer
97. Love In The Time Of Cholera, Gabriel García Márquez
98. Girls In Love, Jacqueline Wilson
99. The Princess Diaries, Meg Cabot
100. Midnight’s Children, Salman Rushdie

“Another, hopefully less arbitrary list of 100 great books” by Will Gray

I felt completely uneducated when I first read through this list, because there are some major holes in my reading, but I’ve read 50 of the books. I now have a list of 50 books that I need to read!



  1. Sophocles: The Oedipus Cycle
  2. Aeschylus: Agamemnon
  3. Shakespeare: Hamlet
  4. Shakespeare: Othello
  5. Shakespeare: King Lear
  6. Shakespeare: The Tempest
  7. Shakespeare: The Winter’s Tale
  8. Shakespeare: Measure for Measure
  9. Shakespeare: 12th Night
  10. Shakespeare: A Midsummer Night’s Dream
  11. Kyd: The Spanish Tragedy
  12. Moliere: Tartuffe
  13. Goethe: Faust
  14. Chekhov: The Cherry Orchard
  15. Ibsen: A Doll’s House
  16. Wilde: The Importance of Being Earnest
  17. Shaw: Pygmalion
  18. Sartre: No Exit
  19. Williams: The Glass Menagerie
  20. Williams: A Streetcar Named Desire
  21. Williams: Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
  22. O’Neill: Long Day’s Journey into Night
  23. Albee: Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
  24. Miller: The Crucible
  25. Beckett: Waiting for Godot
  26. Simon: The Odd Couple
  27. Stoppard: Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are Dead
  28. Shaffer: Amadeus
  29. Kushner: Angels in America
  30. Ruhl: The Clean House

FICTION (not in any order and also trying to weight toward more recent selections for you, John Ellis)

  1. Marquez: 100 Years of Solitude
  2. Borges: Ficciones
  3. Kundera: The Unbearable Lightness of Being
  4. Hawthorne: The Scarlet Letter
  5. Saramago: Blindness
  6. Coetzee: Disgrace
  7. Remarque: All Quiet on the Western Front
  8. Austen: Persuasion
  9. Vonnegut: Slaughterhouse-Five
  10. Foer: Extremely Loud & Incredible Close
  11. Ondaatje: The English Patient
  12. Hemingway: The Sun Also Rises
  13. Achebe: Things Fall Apart
  14. DeLillo: Underworld
  15. Dillard: Pilgrim at Tinker Creek
  16. Joyce: A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
  17. Joyce: Ulysses
  18. Woolf: To the Lighthouse
  19. Barnes: A History of the World in 10 ½ Chapters
  20. Hugo: Les Misérables
  21. Ishiguro: The Remains of the Day
  22. Dickens: Great Expectations
  23. Steinbeck: East of Eden
  24. Updike: In the Beauty of the Lilies
  25. Lee: To Kill a Mockingbird
  26. Goldsmith: The Vicar of Wakefield
  27. Sterne: Tristram Shandy
  28. Camus: La Peste
  29. Proust: Swann’s Way
  30. Conrad: Heart of Darkness
  31. Dickens: Oliver Twist
  32. Twain: Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
  33. Solzhenitsyn: One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich
  34. Hemingway: The Old Man and the Sea
  35. Faulkner: As I Lay Dying
  36. Forster: Howards End
  37. Dostoevsky: Crime & Punishment
  38. Wharton: The Age of Innocence
  39. Orwell: 1984
  40. Paton: Cry, the Beloved Country
  41. Lawrence: Sons and Lovers
  42. Crane: The Red Badge of Courage
  43. Capote: In Cold Blood
  44. Steinbeck: The Grapes of Wrath
  45. Tolstoy: The Death of Ivan Ilych
  46. Nabokov: Lolita
  47. Greene: The End of the Affair
  48. Cervantes: Don Quixote
  49. Shelley: Frankenstein
  50. Wilde: The Picture of Dorian Gray


  1. The Bible (OK, it’s also prose, but you get the idea)
  2. Ovid: Metamorphoses
  3. Homer: Iliad
  4. Homer: Odyssey
  5. Beowulf
  6. Dante: Divina Commedia
  7. Chaucer: The Canterbury Tales
  8. Malory: Morte D’Arthur
  9. Donne: Complete Poems
  10. Herbert: The Temple
  11. Pope: An Essay on Man
  12. Milton: Paradise Lost
  13. Wordsworth & Coleridge: Lyrical Ballads
  14. Keats: Lamia, Isabella, The Eve of St Agnes & Other Poems
  15. Blake: Songs of Innocence & Experience
  16. Tennyson: Poems, Chiefly Lyrical
  17. Whitman: Leaves of Grass
  18. Eliot: The Waste Land
  19. Neruda: Selected Poems
  20. Heaney: Opened Ground

1 thought on “100 Books: A short rant and a long post

  1. Pingback: Reading Choices | Chronicles of Natalie

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s