31 July 2008

Freelances and the DPA

The latest NUJ Active email (a regular containing news snippets and reminders for various union things) exhorts members to register as a "data controller" under the Data Protection Act - apparently freelances are required to do so and not registering is a criminal offence (on the basis that we have contact books full of people's phone numbers, email addresses and physical addresses). The NUJ handily includes the link to the Information Commissioner's Office to find out more info. Which would be fine if looking for said info was a tad easier than hunting for the proverbial needle in a haystack.

I spent 20 minutes struggling to find where I might learn more on whether I need to cough up £35 a year or not to be a data controller (can you guess I'm not one?). I looked in all the obvious places, including the FAQs (useless) and the site map, where I used R for register and H for how to... , to no avail. Eventually, more by chance than design, I stumbled across a Notification page. Riiiiiight! How remiss of me not to intuit that I should have been looking under N instead of R for register.

Anyway, I'm still none the wiser. The NUJ says I must, yet over on a journalism forum I use, others say no. One freelance colleague mused on whether his milkman should be registered as a data controller by dint of the fact he keeps his customers names and addresses and how much they owe in a notebook he takes on his rounds. Another said she'd actually called the ICO some months back to enquire if she had to comply and was told that as an individual, she didn't need to be on the register.

So, is the NUJ right? Or do we freelances not need to bother? I'd really like to know what others are doing and if anyone has any kind of solid guidance on this issue.

29 July 2008

Press Gazette in trouble?

Roy Greenslade of the Guardian reported this morning that the Press Gazette may go monthly and possibly be taken over. This is worrying news. PG is an essential weekly read for journalists, providing news on the state of our industry, gossip, masses of useful features for freelances and more. What possible value could a monthly edition have for us? The media is a fast-moving industry and monthly just doesn't cut it, especially when Media Guardian is updated daily.

So why support Press Gazette? True, it's not particularly cheap at a cover price of £3 (although an annual subscription works out at about a third off). But it's more focused than Media Guardian, which covers a wider range of media issues than just journalism. That narrow focus means PG covers a lot more issues related to journalism than any other media publication.

The signs that it's in trouble have been there a while. It changed hands around a year ago. Colleagues report problems with very late payment for commissioned features and the fact that a private equity company may take over the publisher indicates major financial problems.

If it goes monthly, I wonder what will happen to my subscription. It's not very long since I paid up for a year's worth of weekly editions (48 in total) starting from July. I don't want a monthly - it's not much use unless there are radical changes to the content so that there are more features (and they are less likely to date). Will subscribers be offered a partial refund? Or will we all be cancelling in droves?

Whatever, I hope PG will have the decency to tell their loyal readers asap what is going on...

28 July 2008

A pitch in time

I've just realised it's been about 2 months since I pitched anything to the press. Looking back at my email, I can see I filed a feature to a national daily in early June (which has yet to be published) and if memory serves me well, I pitched that about a week before filing.

After that, well, I was busy moving house, dealing with personal stuff and getting stuck into two major copywriting jobs and a hefty contract to write stuff for a book that will be published abroad (in which I will be just one of many contributors and have no idea if I'll get a namecheck).

Time to start pitching again...

26 July 2008

The dog's grawlix

A random bit of Saturday trivia. Ever wondered if those %*$&*!?*&@ strings of random symbols in a cartoon have a name?

Well, they do. It's called a grawlix.

My thanks to Michael Quinion's splendid World Wide Words newsletter, which featured this and a few other neologisms that brightened my day for me.

25 July 2008

Media Diet Week 30

Press: a quiet week for me until Thursday (although I did managed to blitz the 5-issue pile of Press Gazettes at some point). Then, on Thursday morning, Max Mosley won his privacy case against the News of the World and, like every other hack, I was crawling all over the internet reading the interpretations of the court ruling and what it might mean for journalism. Not a lot, really. It's another step towards a privacy law that will, I hope, stop the sleazier red-tops from invading people's private lives. And, fortunately, it won't prevent publication of genuine exposés into wrongdoing by government or corporations. I'm looking forward to the weekend press as I suspect there will be some lengthier reviews of the case.

Blogs: the blogosphere went a tad crazy yesterday after Giles Coren let rip at The Times. Film critic Andrews Collins was just one who commented. Otherwise it's been quiet out there. Must be the summer hols...

TV/radio: I'm still following Missing Top Model. In this week's episode there was a fairly robust argument between Sophie and Jessica about Jess's disability. Benefit Scrounging Scum wrote an interesting post about what happened. I was quite surprised by her take on it as I didn't see Sophie as bullying at all. Jess has ME (and a few other things too) - I can understand her struggle to have it recognised as I had ME for several years too. But Jess does use her ME as an excuse to avoid things and I think Sophie was right to challenge her about that. Yesterday, I watched The Making of Me, in which John Barrowman subjected himself to a battery of scientific tests to learn why he is gay. It was fascinating stuff and I'd have been happy to watch an hour of it. In particular, his interview with the man who cured himself of his homosexuality was way too shortand not detailed enough. I also tuned into episode 1 of Burn Up - finally, an intelligent drama that doesn't patronise or dumb down. And although it was issue-led rather than story-led, the 90 minutes slipped by almost unnoticed. I'll be watching the second half tonight.

Books: still reading Death Message. Top class, as usual!

24 July 2008

Food for thought

Restaurant critic Giles Coren is the target of much amusement in the hackosphere today. He had the temerity to fire off an abusive email to the subs desk at The Times because one of them cut a one-letter word from one of his reviews.

Giles, Giles, did no one ever tell you that having a go at the subs desk is akin to a waiter pissing in your soup after you told them it was too cold?

Most sub-editors work incredibly hard under appalling pressure to get stuff ready for publication on time. It's a thankless task and not that well paid for the most part. I have written at length about what subs do.

Coren has basically thrown all his toys out of the pram for the sake of an indefinite article, while managing to be abusive, pompous and childish. As a fellow hack pointed out, if half the subs involved didn't get the alleged joke that was "ruined", it's unlikely most of the readers would, too. It wasn't even that funny a joke, anyway, so it not going into print is no great loss.

Most journalists would greatly improve their writing skills by doing a spell on the subs desk. I spent nearly 4 years subbing in London and it made a huge difference to the quality of my writing, as well as giving me enormous insight into how much and how often the subs save the bacon of many a reputation when it comes to fact-checking and flagging up potential legal issues.

Coren is undoubtedly going to get much flak from the Times' subs in future, especially whichever poor sod is on shift when he files his copy. Let's hope they call him up to discuss every single copy change required. One by one.

And with any luck, it'll make any other celebrity writers think twice about being abusive to the skilled subs who polish their turds.

Late PM edit: Coren has been the talk of everywhere today. Someone claiming to be Giles Coren even popped up on Twitter railing against any other hack who dared to comment on his sweary tantrum (although sadly not me). Other journos dug up his winning entry for the 2005 Bad Sex in Fiction Award, to add to the embarrassment. All very distracting. It's amazing I got any work done, what with Coren, Max Mosley winning his case against the News of the World and the Facebook libel case...

21 July 2008

Roy and Pete

Thanks are due to the inestimable Roy Greenslade, for giving me yet another plug on his blog. I'm still basking in the Greenslade effect from the last mention in despatches, so I hope to see another boost to my stats! I definitely owe Roy a few drinks at the pub of his choice...

Meanwhile, Pete Picton - editor of Sun Online, mailed me to say he was sorry I don't like the Sun's revamp and mentioned that the only thing changed in the left-hand menu is the shift from graphics to readable text. I disagree - whatever they did technically does not make the menu any easier to read, in fact the opposite. He didn't comment on my points about slow page loads and poor navigation - perhaps because he secretly agrees? As I said to Pete in reply, I shall struggle womanfully on every morning, bearing in mind that I can brew a pot of tea in the time it takes Bizarre to load...

Black gold and productivity

Like most freelances, I live on my wits and coffee. I have my morning rituals and routines (essential for structuring one's day) and my pot of coffee is one of them. I usually brew up between 9 and 11am, depending on how my day will pan out. Having had tea first thing, I look forward to my coffee to get me through the morning spike.

Faced with a very heavy day today, I put the kettle on early and spooned some coffee into my cafetière. I was looking forward to a treat as I had decided to open my stash of Blue Mountain. I had a friend who was making regular trips to Jamaica at one point and he would always bring me back a couple of packets of this precious brew. I was down to my last 125g pack - I had some doubts when I opened it as it lacked aroma but I brewed up nonetheless. The resulting coffee was disappointing - it was thin and watery, didn't have that wonderful coffee smell and it tasted like wood shavings.

It pains me to admit, but I emptied the entire cafetière down the sink, and then the rest of the grounds in the canister went into the bin. So much for one of the world's most expensive coffees. I probably should have drunk it last year, but it was vacuum packed so it should have kept.

Fortunately, I still had coffee in the cupboard so I sit here now with a mugful of Columbian java, able at last to crack on with fuel beside me...

18 July 2008

Media Diet week 29

Ten shocking weeks since I last did this. Ok, ok, I have the excuse of a house move and a mountain of work, but...

Press: here we go. Not much has changed on my reading front. My daily newspaper round is still the Guardian, the Sun and BBC News Online. I hate the Sun's online revamp - you can tell it's been tweaked yet it doesn't look radically different. In fact, the left-hand menu makes it even harder to locate sections now and the whole site remains frustratingly slow when it comes to loading pages. Methinks they wasted a lot of money for nowt. Elsewhere, I have a pile of unread Press Gazettes building up. I simply haven't had time. Will try to blitz them this weekend.

Blogs: I'm enjoying Neil Baker's return to form after a long silence. He always has interesting things to say (see his post on why he never reads his work after it's been published, for example. I've also discovered the blog of a colleague who, like me, both writes and edits for a living. Check out Ms_Well.Words for her take on the news.

TV/radio: so, no more Doctor Who, the Nancys are finished, the Apprentice has been picked and the evenings are looking decidely quiet. If it wasn't for EastEnders, I'd be down the pub 7 nights a week. I toyed with watching Bonekickers, but managed to miss both the first two episodes. On the other hand, I stumbled into Britain's Missing Top Model and am really enjoying it. Usually, I find BBC3 irritating and dumbed down but for once it is screening an intelligent insight into the reality of living with a disability and the prejudices the disabled face on a daily basis. We could do with more telly like this. (I want Sophie to win, btw.)

Books: as with the press, there's not been a lot of spare reading time for books. Suffice to say I've just finished a crime novel so bad I contemplated lining the cat tray with the pages. I vaguely recall reading a review of In Cold Daylight somewhere, that insisted it was unputdownable. Au contraire. It was clichéd, badly copy-edited (I was endlessly distracted by shit punctuation) and the plot was based on conjecture in the protagonist's head. Thank gawd I have the latest Mark Billingham to get stuck into...

Revisiting the Big Read

A couple of weeks back, I posted my Big Read list. I've since stumbled across the UK version of the list, so here we go again. Let's see how I score this time...

Usual rules:
1) Bold those you have read.
2) Italicize those you intend to read.
3) [Bracket] the books you LOVE.
4) Reprint this list on your own blog.

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

Eep, only 46 out of 100 this time. Looks like I have read more US novels than I previously thought. Surprised there was still no Agatha Christie included.

Media Diet returns later tonight.

17 July 2008

Bunny boiling

Over at Getting Ink, Sally has raised some interesting questions about doing PR from a journalist's perspective. Many freelance hacks dabble in PR - when commissions are thin or you just want some regular income, it's easy enough to get writing shifts at a PR agency or take on business clients looking for PR and wanting to hire those with a solid journalistic background. A lot of journalists also shift over permanently to PR at some point in their career. After all, who better to understand what journalists want in a story than a journalist, right? Right.

Yet, it's a precarious position to be in, as Sally has discovered. I was actually quite shocked that some lazy hacks were demanding the PR bunny set up interviews with their client's rivals. Any journalist too lazy to do that really ought to be forced to spend the rest of their career covering church fêtes and court reports. (And hoping to be nominated for a Churner Prize if they honestly think asking a PR to write 800 words for their own byline is acceptable behaviour.) (But apparently these things are all normal practice, according to PRs, so maybe I shouldn't be too shocked at what colleagues get up to.) I was also quite gobsmacked that one journo could say to another (highly experienced) journo "that's not a story".

It's for all these reasons that PR is an area I tend to shy away from. I will draft the occasional press release for a client, as long as the business is not operating in an area I normally cover as a journalist, to avoid conflict of interest. Otherwise, I'd rather earn additional income from copy-editing or copywriting. It's a somehow cleaner relationship. Certainly one that makes me feel less grubby.*

*I'm not suggesting that Sally is grubby. Far from it. Because I know she's not. I'm just less comfortable about taking on PR work.

16 July 2008

You're chaving a larf, ain't ya?

Oh dear. Kerthump!

Sorry, that was me falling off the chair because I've been laughing so hard. The Fabian Society has decreed that the word "chav" must be banned. I'd like to know how they propose to do this. Quite apart from the fact that chavs themselves use the term, the case for banning it is pretty thin.

Even very offensive words, such as nigger, are not banned - they just don't get voiced in polite society. It doesn't stop some people using it, though. How would a word be banned, anyway? Would parliament have to pass a law? Would the police then be obliged to arrest anyone heard using "chav", take them down the station and charge them? Would the courts become clogged with non-chavs and chavs alike being found guilty and told to pay fines?

The hackneyed phrase "PC gone mad" springs to mind here, in terms of what the Fabian Society proposes. You cannot legislate against thoughts or words - that way lies the Unspeak of 1984.

Here in the UK, we have no overall body to determine the acceptability or otherwise of the words we speak and write, unlike in France, for example, where the Academie Francaise decrees what homegrown neologisms must be used in place of imported English words and even how words must be spelled. Thank goodness - I lived in France for a while and never quite got the point of the Academie and its rule of law. Controlling language ultimately attempts to control people's thoughts and is a form of censorship.

Chav is as much a part of the English language in this country as the words tea and cricket. And until the government does actually pass a law against its use, the Fabian Society would be better off picking a battle it can win...

07 July 2008

Disability and PR spin

I just received an email from Leonard Cheshire Disability. Or rather, their PR company: "I’m contacting you from the information you supplied on your blog. I saw you have posted about disability and I wanted to tell you about an organization in the UK you may or may not be aware of. Leonard Cheshire Disability have just unveiled six new characters (attached) from its [REMOVED] series on [REMOVED] ahead of a six week campaign to change attitudes to disability. Disabled people have the same desires and aspirations as non-disabled people, in work, education and relationships. The new animations will challenge people’s low expectations about what disabled people can do and will be broadcasted on national television over the summer. The new characters are based on the unscripted voices of real young disabled people talking about the issues that affect their lives. One animation highlights attitudes towards wheelchairs and people with a hearing impairment, while the others focus on things like sex, relationships and bullying. From reading your blog we hope you may believe in the campaign and post to your readers and debate about what it aims to achieve. Clips of the new adverts and the TV adverts from the first series can be found and be embedded from [REMOVED]. The new advert clips will include the new characters mentioned earlier, which you can see at the [REMOVED] website; along with more about the campaign, interviews with the voices behind the characters, and clips of all the current and previous adverts: [REMOVED]"

Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against Leonard Cheshire and the valuable work it does for those far more seriously disabled than myself. What I object to is their PR company cynically trying to cash in on this blog to promote the cause. Their opening lines show clearly they haven't even followed this blog properly or they would be well aware that I post regularly, if intermittently, on living with a disability and would not have sent me such a patronising plea ("I saw you have posted about disability and I wanted to tell you about an organization in the UK you may or may not be aware of").

I'm a journalist and I write about disability issues sometimes, with that added insight I have from actually being disabled (at least from an official viewpoint, as my disability is not that bad from a personal perspective). Do they honestly think as a meeja professional I would not have heard of Leonard Cheshire? More importantly, do they believe I am that gullible, buyable even, that an email would be all it takes to promote them?

I don't doubt that Nile-On (the PR company) is doing its best to promote a very worthy cause (and gawd knows, disability needs positive press coverage) but cynically trying to exploit or hijack personal blogs is not the way forward. I get very riled by these kind of approaches. It's not the first time and undoubtedly won't be the last, but boy does it raise my hackles...

I'm far more interested in Britain's Missing Top Model as a way of showing the diversity of disability.

04 July 2008

My Big Read

I'm painfully aware that this blog has been somewhat neglected over the last couple of months, what with moving house and stuff. I'm planning to post regularly again from now on.

In the meantime, thanks to Dougalfish (who got it from someone else) for the Big Read meme. It works like this. Over in the US, the National Endowment for the Arts runs a reading programme called The Big Read. Its purpose is to "restore reading to the center of American culture." They estimate that the average adult has only read 6 of the top 100 books they've printed. Here's mine...

Here's what you do:
1) Look at the list and bold those you have read.
2) Italicize those you intend to read.
3) [Bracket] the books you LOVE.
4) Reprint this list on your own blog.

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 (both versions - Torah and the King James)
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
8 [Nineteen Eighty Four] - George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens (not read this but have read quite a few others by 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 (not all, but many of the plays)
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien (vile, hated read. Yuk.)
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
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitchhiker'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's Adventures 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
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 (no way, not after abandoning Angels and Demons 3 chapters in. He can't write)
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
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
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 - A. S. 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 (Why include this when the complete works is above?)
99 [Charlie and the Chocolate Factory] - Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

My score: 50/99. Not bad. There are some odd choices on the list - it's weird to see Dan Brown up there with Jane Austen. I'm bearing in mind this is an American list - doubtless if it had originated in the UK, my score would be a lot higher to reflect that I read a lot of contemporary UK fiction (especially crime fic). My classics were mostly read at school or university and I've read few since then. I've also read some authors I didn't bold because I'd not read the books listed but did read some of their other titles (such as Dubliners by James Joyce).

No. 51 was missing. I'd love to know what it was.