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.


dougalfish said...

yes so many Hardy's - which if I had not HAD to read for my studies I would not have read. Many authors are conspicuous by their absence but I couldn't even begin to write my own top 100.
Perhaps I should write a list of books that I have WAITING to be read instead :-)

Unknown said...

Too many Hardys, too many Austens... I did Victorian industrial literature at uni - so read a lot of Dickens (Hard Times) and Gaskell (Mary Barton) among others. And why Blyton but not Agatha Christie? Surely one of the most widely read authors on the planet...

Many of my reading choices would never make it on to a list as I tend to choose crime fic and popular culture for leisure reading (especially biographies of ageing rock stars).

Still an interesting exercise though.

Anonymous said...

Number 51 is Yann Martell's "Life of Pi". The list isn't quite what it seems.

Unknown said...

Chris, thanks for the fascinating background to the meme. Very interesting. In a way, it's kind of irrelevant, though - for me the intrigue was the "set list" of books and seeing how many I'd read (I'd already noted the inconsistencies) compared with other people I know. I try to track my reading anyway, ever since my spell at uni obliged us to hand over our reading lists to a tutor every term. So I like these sorts of things (normally, I avoid memes like the plague!), especially when so many on the list are classics that we are supposed to have read or feel we ought to read.