Book Meme

From Dammerung’s recent post:

These are the National Education Association’s Top 100 books, part of NEA’s “The Big Read” program. To play along:

Look at the list and bold those we have read.
Italicize those we intend to read.
Underline the books we LOVE.

I’ve also put a footnote anchor by incomplete reads, with notes at the bottom.

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
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 [1]
15 Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien

17 Birdsong – Sebastian Faulks
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 [2]
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
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
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez [3]
44 A Prayer for Owen Meany – 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 [5] (Currently reading this.)
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 (No, but I read Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, and that was enough for me!! 😛 )
76 The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath
77 Swallows and Amazons – Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal – Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession – AS Byatt [6]
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 [7]
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
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl

100 Les Miserables – Victor Hugo

[1] I certainly haven’t read all the plays, though we read a bunch in my Lit classes in school, of course.

[2] This was the last book for AP English my senior year of high school, and we’d spent so much time on the other stuff before it, we only had about a week to cover it.  I don’t think anyone finished it!

[3] I’ve read 3/4 of this, and I honestly have no idea why I ever put it down, as it is some of the most gorgeous writing I’ve ever read.  I am in love with Gabriel Garcia-Marquez!

[4] Same thing — I loved the first 2/3 (read it on a train to Chicago), but lost track of the book at one point, and have always meant to pick it up again.

[5] Like I said, I’m currently reading this.  As things stand now, it will not be underlined when I’m done.

[6] I tried.  I really tried.  I could not get through it though.

[7] I have read some of these stories, but have never sat down with the complete works.

Other notes —

Dammy also mentions which ones he wished he hadn’t bothered with.  For me, the standout is The Da Vinci Code, which was a steaming pile of crap, in my opinion.  I also disliked Germinal, but read it for a Lit class in college, so really had no choice.  I didn’t enjoy either Great Expectations or Heart of Darkness while actually reading them, but after I’d finished reading them, I somehow liked them more.  I’ve always meant to go  back and read them again to see if they were cases where because I was reading them for a class, I wasn’t enjoying myself.

As for books I have no desire to read and likely never will read… hmm.  Never say never?  I’ll read almost anything, really.  But, I think the ones I’d probably put to the back of the list are Ulysses, The Five People You Meet In Heaven, and most of the Dickens stuff.  I think if I reread Great Expectations and enjoyed it, I might give other Dickens another go, but I remember his stuff boring the pants off me in school.  I read Hard Times in college, and … yeah.  No thanks.  Mr. Ess tells me I should give Tale of Two Cities a try, and it is currently on my nightstand. We’ll see.

To my great surprise, my favorite book of all time is not on the list!  If you haven’t already, go read Steinbeck’s East of Eden.  I heart Steinbeck and will one day make a pilgrimage to Monterey.  Mah Favorite!! ❤ !!!

If I had to choose an all-time favorite from this list, I would have to choose To Kill a Mockingbird.  An English teacher in high school told us that this is one of those books that you can essentially read every ten years and pull something new out of it, given how different your perspective on life is.  The way that the plots and subplots are woven, there are different things (and even different themes) you’ll identify with.  It is amazing.

[Ok, back to WoW stuff soon!]


4 responses

  1. Great blog! Of course, by now you have probably discovered that this is not the National Education Association’s Big Read, but one compiled in the U.K. by the BBC. The National Endowment for the Arts (not the Nat’l Education Association) has a Big Read and gives grants to communities across the U.S. The communities then choose from a few dozen (not 100) books and then provide free resoruces for book group and classroom discussions. Just thought the NEA ( and all those communities should get their just due!

  2. Thanks for your comment, Susan. In my follow-up entry yesterday, I posted exactly that after some internet searching for the real list, including links to the real NEA Big Read program that you mention.

    There were too many things suspicious about this list. I’d appreciate a link to the real BBC list, too, if you have it handy. I’m still wondering why Hamlet is separate from the Complete Works of Shakespeare, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is not part of the Chronicles of Narnia, and so forth. I don’t think I’ll be convinced this list is genuine until I see the original publication. 🙂

  3. Ess, just wanted to drop you a line to comment about your note #4. John Irving is my favorite author and I’ve read everything he’s written that I can get my hands on, with A Prayer for Owen Meany being my second favorite of them all. (The World According to Garp was the first book of his I read in college and will always be my favorite).

    Anyways, if you’ve only read the first two thirds of this book than you have truly missed the best part. It only gets better as it builds up to the ending. Took me a long time to get through the book as I read it when I was also writting a thesis paper in my last year of college, but when I got to the last few chapters, I couldn’t put it down. I’d recommend finishing it if you can.

    — Fikkle

  4. One more thing, inspired by this post, I decided to read The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger and it is amazing. It has instantly become one of my three favorite books. I definately recommend adding it to your list of things to read in the future.

    — Fikkle

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