Arbitrary list of books


Well, I haven’t done one of these in a while, and having been tagged in a Facebook note thing with this particular variation of the meme and then seeing it come up on Reed’s blog with an interesting extra twist, I thought I would participate. 

A list of 100 books, which may or may not have come from Auntie BBC.  The idea is to put those you have read all the way through in bold, those you have read a bit of (like I read the first 1000 pages of Clarissa before giving up in sheer boredom) in italics, and put an asterisk after those you have seen adaptations of (I have included the stage as well as the variously-sized screens).

1 Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen * [Big screen and small screen.  The BBC’s version wins hands down.]
2 The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien * [Seen on screen and on stage.  The films are better than the musical.]
3 Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte *
4 Harry Potter series – JK Rowling *
5 To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
6 The Bible [I *think* I’ve read it all – I certainly did a ‘read the Bible in a year’ thing, though it took me nearly two years.  But as I can’t be certain I’ve really read every word, I went with italics.]
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 Traveler’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 Carroll *
30 The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame *
31 Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield – Charles Dickens [I’ll finish it one day.  It still has the bookmark in it, though it is back on the bookshelf.  The same fate has happened to The Count of Monte Cristo.]
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 – A.A. Milne *
41 Animal Farm – George Orwell *
42 The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown [Twice.  Why?]
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney – John Irving
45 The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins [My favourite nineteenth-century novel.  So why didn’t I get around to seeing the musical?  Because the music I heard left me cold.]
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 [This is in the mountain of Books To Be Read].
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 [Read during West Side Story rehearsals – I wasn’t needed much during dance sessions.  What a magnificent book!]
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 [I have the cast recording of the very strange musical based on the book, but that’s as far as it goes.]
71 Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens *
72 Dracula – Bram Stoker *
73 The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett *
74 Notes From A Small Island – Bill Bryson [Why haven’t I read this?  Hmmm.]
75 Ulysses – James Joyce [I’ve read Portrait…  That’s quite enough 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 * [I have seen so many adaptations.  The best one really is the Muppets one.]
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 – E.B. White *
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven – Mitch Albom [Hated this one.  Hated it.]
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle * [I think I’ve read the entire Sherlock Holmes canon, but most of it a long time ago.]
90 The Faraway Tree Collection – Enid Blyton [She was on drugs when she wrote this, surely?  Weird stuff.]
91 Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince – Antoine De Saint-Exupery [I have never seen an adaptation of this, but largely because I can’t see how you could adapt it without completely spoiling the book’s beauty.]
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 Shutwell
97 The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas *
98 Hamlet – William Shakespeare *
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl *
100 Les Miserables – Victor Hugo *

There are some puzzling things about the list – the Complete Works of Shakespeare are listed, but so is Hamlet as an individual work.  Likewise the Chronicles of Narnia and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.  But any list of 100 books will be somewhat, if not entirely, arbitrary.  How many books by the likes of Austen, Dickens and Hardy should be included?  What sort of balance between English, American and ‘foreign’ literature?  How about books written for children versus those for proper grown-up people?  How much genre fiction should be allowed in, and is there room for anything other than ‘the classics’, whatever they are?  Compiling lists of this type becomes more a question of what to leave out than what to leave in. 

So I have read just under half of the books on the list.  My reading displays, just like the last time I did something like this, surprising gaps.  Some of them are particularly shocking as they have been read by my book group, but at times when I was very busy and just skipped the books entirely.  I do very much want to read the rest of Jane Austen’s novels, as I have loved those that I have delved into.  And both Dune and Catch-22 have to be done, really.  But then, I clearly haven’t given French writers enough of a chance.  I have neither read any Hugo or Flaubert, nor finished anything by Dumas.  I’ve read quite a bit of Leroux, though.  Does that make it better?  Ultimately, I suppose, everyone likes different books.  There’s nothing wrong with Pratchett, or Jeffrey Archer, or even Mills and Boon as a choice of reading matter.  I just wish there was enough time to read everything I want to read.  Each book I finish leads to a quite agonising decision – what to read next?  Whatever I choose, there’s always a new world to explore.  You just can’t beat a good book.

    • Trish
    • November 24th, 2010

    Yikes, I am not very well read!

    I have read all the way through: Pride and Prejudice, Wuthering Heights, Great Expectations, Little Women, Gone with the Wind, Emma, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Anne of Green Gables, Lord of the Flies (I think I must have read this all the way through as I did it at school), Cold Comfort Farm, Sense and Sensibility, Brave New World (can’t remember it very well though), Of Mice and Men (also did this at school), Bridget Jones’s Diary, Oliver Twist, Far from the Madding Crowd, The Secret Garden, Notes from a Small Island, The Faraway Tree (this was brilliant!) and Hamlet.

    Dipped into: Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Bible, 1984, Complete Works of Shakespeare (have read quite a few of them but not all!), Middlemarch, The Great Gatsby, War and Peace, Hitch Hikers guide to the Galaxy, Grapes of Wrath, Wind in the Willows, Anna Karenina, David Copperfield, Chronicles of Narnia (I don’t think I’ve read them all), Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, Winnie the Pooh, Animal Farm, The Da Vinci Code, The Handmaid’s Tale, A Suitable Boy, Jude the Obscure, Swallows and Amazons, Vanity Fair, Cloud Atlas, Charlotte’s Web, Watership Down, A Town like Alice.

    The rest I haven’t read at all, though I have seen adaptions of some of them. I can’t believe that I have not read Bleak House and A Tale of Two Cities – they are now on my To be Read list 🙂

  1. I think we’ve read about the same, but I have realised that never mind badly-read, I am very poorly filmed/staged/tved when it comes to anything slightly on the quality end of viewing.

  1. November 24th, 2010
  2. November 24th, 2010
  3. November 25th, 2010

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