…this one about literature. Now with embedded commentary!
The Big Read thinks the average adult has only read six of the top 100 books they’ve printed below.
1) Look at the list and bold those you have read.
2) Italicize those you intend to read
3) Underline the books you LOVE.
4) Reprint this list in your own LJ so we can try and track down these people who’ve read only six and force books upon them.
1 Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
2 The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien A lot of folks have read this, but not read The Silmarillion. Folks, without The Silmarillion, you’re missing a lot of context.
3 Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
4 Harry Potter series – JK Rowling You know, I’ve just never been able to get into the premise or the story. I’ve seen the movies, and they make the adults all seem more or less incompetent. I want to grab Dumbledore by the neck and say “Do something!!”
5 To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee Read it during recess when I was about 12. I didn’t much like my fellow classmates.
6 The Bible Cover to cover, twice. I am firmly of the opinion that nobody can read this book, and think about what it says, and remain in any way Christian.
7 Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four – George Orwell What a stupid book. Seriously. Orwell was a Communist-hater of the first degree, and wrote mediocre books as a thin cover for Red-baiting. Seriously, how did this book get to be considered great? Mediocre characters, implausible setting, hack writing. Had it had any other name, it would never have received much attention.
9 His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations – Charles Dickens Read it for class, don’t remember a thing about it.
11 Little Women – Louisa M Alcott
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy Read it for class, don’t remember a thing about it.
13 Catch 22 – Joseph Heller OMFG this book is hysterical, in a particularly dark sorta way. I’ve read it twice, and it’s so good. I think a lot of people are put off by it because it’s always described as Serious Literature, and we all know Serious literature is boring. But this book is funny.
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare Love the tragedies, don’t care for the comedies, don’t like th poetry. But one thing you gotta say for Shakespeare: he really is very good, despite all the people who say he really is very good. I read Macbeth at recess when I was 12 as well, and can still quote long parts of Hamlet. Oh, and if oyu love Shakespeare, do give Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead (by Tom Stoppard) a whirl.
15 Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien Not as good as LoTR.
17 Birdsong – Sebastian Faulks
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 Dreck. Through and through, beginning to end. Dreck. A mediocre romance novel dressed up as Literature. Dreadful beyond reason.
22 The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald Here’s a secret: F. Scott Fitzgerald really isn’t very good, despite all the people who say he really is very good.
23 Bleak House – Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams Once again, Serious Literature doesn’t have to be boring. Scathing social commentary disguised as absurdist humor, much like Terry pratchett on a more cosmic scale.
26 Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck Read it, did a book report on it, then it went clean out of my head.
29 Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll It gets even better when you realize that Carroll (Charles Dodgson) was a mathematician with a thing for his friend’s daughter Alice Liddell and a penchant for burying hidden messages acrostically in the poetry in his books. It’s hard for modern readers to fully appreciate Jabberwocky, because many of the nonsense words he made up have become real English words. How cool is that?
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 with the utter dreck. Mainstream Christian theology clumsily adapted to a story through the misapplied use of heavy-handed and transparent metaphor.
34 Emma – Jane Austen
35 Persuasion – Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe – C.S. Lewis See above.
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 Less a story than a case study in neurosis. A charming case study in neurosis.
41 Animal Farm – George Orwell Once more with “I hate the Reds, so I’ll write a clumsy book about how much I hate the Reds.” Whatever.
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 I’ve only read this book, like, seven or eight times. I think I need to read it again. Brilliant, absolutely brilliant, beginning to end.
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 Meh.
58 Brave New World – Aldous Huxley So-so science fiction, implausible premise.
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 Read it, did the book report, very little stuck.
62 Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov In this day and age, I wouldn’t be surprised if merely mentioning this book got one arrested as a sex offender.
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’ Diary – Helen Fielding
69 Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick – Herman Melville Love, love, love this book. Herman Melville is da bomb. I’ve read it at least half a dozen times, and it keeps getting better every single time.
71 Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens
72 Dracula – Bram Stoker Meh.
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 Didn’t she stick her head in the oven or something?
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 You mean theres someone somewhere who hasn’t read this? It’s impossible to escape!
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 Read it for the first time when i was a kid. Even back then, I gotta say, I couldn’t understand why the folks who read the writing in the web assumed it was put there by the pig, and not the spider… Duh!
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven – Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Fun, if contrived.
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 He writes both science fiction (Excession, The Algebraist) and Serious Literature. His science fiction is brilliant. I haven’t read any of his Serious Literature yet.
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 Since the complete works of Shakespeare is already on the list, and Hamlet is contained within the complete works, one has to assume that someone is padding the list here…
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables – Victor Hugo