Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Book List

At the end of the twentieth century, a number of book lists came out with titles like 100 Best Novels of the Twentieth Century and such. These lists are all highly subjective and entertaining to peruse. You can feel all self-satisfied if you've read some of listed books (or at least more of the books than your significant other has read!), you can quibble with choices and rankings, and you can use the lists for suggested reading.

Or, if you're a masochist, you can use the snootier book lists to feel really bad about yourself for not even recognizing four-fifths of the titles on them. I don't really recommend that, though.

Most of the lists that came out in 2000 focused only on the twentieth century, and we've already established in this essay that the twentieth century didn't produce my favorite works of literature. My favorites are mostly really really old and were written when the word eek meant also, not yikes, a spider!

Eek, I am geek.

Anyway, I came across the following list on FaceBook and liked it a lot...and not just because I've read so many of the books on it, though I confess that is part of the reason. Mainly, this list appeals to me because it has lots of different sorts of novels from earlier times and also children's novels. It's not a snooty list at all. It includes The Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, for heaven's sake. I also really like the fact that James Joyce isn't number one or number two on it. His novel Ulysses is number 78.

For the record, I have read Ulysses and thoroughly enjoyed it. It truly is a great novel, perhaps the best ever written. It is, however, an acquired taste, a bit like red wine. If you're used to drinking light, crisp, chilled pinot grigio and someone hands you a glass of room-temperature cabernet, your taste buds will balk at the complexity and big, fruity chewiness of the wine. That describes a first encounter with Ulysses, too. The complexity and mental chewiness of it are revolutionary, and you need to have acclimated your brain to that sort of thing before drinking its full glass with pleasure.

This book list, supposedly from the BBC (but you know could be from anywhere), includes lots of different literature for those with varied taste. Check out number one and number two on this list. It's not often Tolkien and Austen end up side by side, now, is it?

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

How many of these have you read? Which one is your favorite? Which ones might you like to read? Please do share!


  1. Oh, do I need to get busy reading!! I found A Prayer for Owen Meaney at the used book store for a dollar!!! Now the time to read.....

  2. Love this list, with all it's variety. I can cross the majority of them off - except (and I'm guessing it is a big except?) I have never been drawn to either Bronte or Austen. Can't explain it, have tried and even tried watching a movie to whet the appetite but to no avail.
    I like that Matilda and BFG are on there, my daughter is reading them at the moment. I have had A Suitable Boy on the coffee table the whole time I have been organising my cousin's wedding - now that I am nearly done with that I can get into reading it! Like the idea of the Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, will have to check that one out too.. thanks for sharing Susan.

  3. Well, I was pretty impressed with myself as I can check off 14 on that list. And I have to say some of my favorites are on it (which, BTW, I have read MANY times. Those read more than once:

    JRR Tolkien: Started that "series" at age 9. borrowed the Hobbit from my piano teacher. Got more out of the book than the lessons

    Little Women! I still cry
    Tale of Two Cities: Each time I read it, I pick up something new
    Winnie the Pooh....How can one NOT read and learn from Winnie the Pooh?!
    The Count of Monte Cristo (right up there with the Three Musketeers!)
    Black Beauty: Cry over that one too
    Catcher in the Rye: Read it young, had to re read it to get more out of it

  4. I've read a lot of these! But I don't know how much I trust a list that doesn't have Middlemarch in the top slot, closely followed by Emma, Pride and Prejudice, and Sense and Sensibility. And somewhere near the top should be The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy. Can you tell I like 18th- and 19th-century British lit?

  5. I like this list...mostly because I have read about 3/4 of it and have them in my current library. In this list, my faves are The Lord of the Rings [series], The Clan of the Cavebear [series], Pillars of the Earth and The Stand. My tattered copies have been re-read at least each decade since my teens.
    Thanks for sharing this list, it'll help me plan some future book purchases.

  6. Wow, I have read 25 of these, and I don't consider myself a reader. My favorite on this list is Rebecca. It is one book that I pull out and re-read every few years. I was surprised to see The Stand on the list because I like Stephen King. I read it when it came out, and had to buy it again when the longer version came out. I consider it his best work. I requested The Hitchhikers Guide for my 42nd birthday. ;-) There are a number of books on this list which I would like to read. Mostly, they are the 'classics' which I missed reading in high school.

  7. Love the list! Thanks for sharing! I have read many on the list, and there are a few I have started and need to yet finish, and a few of my favorite authors didn't even make the list. :( That being said, I smiled when I saw #4. The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy! Of the list, I believe this is the only one I have read more than once. There are a few, like Little Women, that I would like to revisit, but the ones that I haven't had a chance to tackle, or finish seem to get in the way of starting new ones. I keep seeing Dune on different lists, I have not read it, my husband has, and by the way he describes it, I have no interest in it, but it keeps popping up so I may need to pull it off our book shelf and finally give it a try!

  8. Oh, you've got to read "Perfume" by Patrick Süskind. Very unusual, strange, fascinating.

    Two others I like, which aren't on the list, are Mists of Avalon and The Handmaid's Tale.

  9. Hmm, I've actually read quite a few of these. Although I confess, most of that was when it was required reading. A few of these are more my 'genre', but honestly - they don't impress me much. Never could read Tolkien (even though I tried several times) nor could I read Dune (and I tried *that* several times as well).
    What can I say? I guess I'm just contrary! :D

  10. That's a brilliant list. I have read quite a number have heard of pretty well all of them, which is unusual. My daughter will be so pleased to hear most of the Roald Dahl titles are there, they are a big hit in this house hold.

  11. "The Hitchhiker's Guide"!!!! I am so happy! I was also highly amused to see "Clan of the Cave Bear". I read that years ago and remember it as being basically prehistorical romance (ie: trashy). Yay!

  12. This is a very interesting list, have seen it before and am surprised at the choices but I think there is no snobbery here just a lot of popular favourites of course this means people enjoy reading them which is wonderful. I've actually read about half but feel as if I've read many more as I've seen the films (which is nearly always a mistake).
    I think my next book will be my favourite but 'Birdsong' made me cry, so did 'Of Mice and Men' and 'Little women'. 'Gormenghast' was so word rich and heavy going I gave up, which I regret and will try again at some stage. I always promised myself I would have ago at War and peace, I tend to read in bed and it's a bit heavy, it would knock me out if I fell asleep reading it, that's not funny:{
    Great post Susan, I agree with Cyndy, love the list and definitely need to get some and revisit some:0) xx

  13. I am one of the few who does not do FaceBook so appreciate you sharing the list; it couldn't have come at a better time, I am getting ready to have surgery on my foot and will be housebound for about four weeks.

  14. Love the list- thanks for sharing, Susan. I was surprised at how many I have actually read and how many both of my children read or I read to them! Has anyone read the books by Terry Pratchett? I think I'm going to head to the library on my next day off.

  15. I have read 46 of these books, (seen the movies of a few others!) My favourites -I can always read A Tale of Two Cities, Cold Comfort Farm, and I still have and read my set of Tolkeins from the 70s (dating myself here, I know!:) I have read and enjoyed Ulysses, Susan, but then, I'm a big fan of red wine! My husband hasn't read a book since God knows when, but I did entice him to Pillars of the Earth, as he's fascinated with Cathedral architecture.

  16. Whow, I am really impressed to see a german book on this list (#71 Perfume by Patrick Süßkind). My teacher would be shocked that this is the only one - and that even a Stephen King get onto it, but no book from Goethe or Brecht or Mann ;-)

    I read several books of this list, I love Stephen King ( the Stand is really one of his best) but my absolute favourite is the Lords of the Rings series...

    seems that I have to go to the library soon... Some books are missing in my collection...


  17. I have read 28 of these. If I recall, the list definitely does NOT come from the BBC, but it's a fun and interesting list.

    I am partial to the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Harry Potter. Strangely, there are a lot of Terry Pratchett books on the list. He's a very enjoyable read, but you can overdose on him and have to take long breaks.

    I adore the Narnia books and absolutely loved the Philip Pullman trilogy.

    The Secret History I really liked.
    Thomas Hardy makes me want to stick forks in my eyes.

    The Secret Garden and Anne of Green Gables are simply wonderful.

    I think I have answered your least partially :)


Thanks so much for taking time to comment!