Monday, November 22, 2010

Ecclesiastes 12:12 - Again

..for the writing of many books is 
(carrying on being) 

Indeed so. The BBC reckons that the average reader won't have read more than six of these, which list has been floating around on the Net since the Guardian article marking World Book day in 2007.

Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
Harry Potter series - JK Rowling
To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
6 The Bible (all of it)
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
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
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 - A.A. Milne
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell
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
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 Inferno - Dante
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
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 - E.B. 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
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl 
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

I'm less interested in sharing how many I've read - I don't really think that you get an A* for quantity; I'm much more interested in finding out how the selection was made and in the intervening three years, would any new kids on the block have the literary muscle to displace any of the current postholders on this (rather wobbly) ladder of fame.
I think this rather longer list is much better however, as long as I have a few years left crawling the earth like a superannuated cockroach waiting for the end. Alternatively a long prison sentence would provide me with about the right length of time to get through them all.
The image is of a Gutenberg Bible. 
[Stupid link: Johannes Gutenberg is credited with marketing a periscope, so the faithful could see over the crowds at religious festivals. In 1430 something. Which was so long ago that nobody cares; perhaps this is why nothing on the list except Shakespeare and the Bible is more than two hundred years old. Shame, really]


  1. It would also be interesting to check weither one has seen more movie adaptations or read the actual books
    I scored poorly, much to my shame.
    For my defence, I read the best of several centuries of french literature, mostly between 10 and 18 (hence my perfect french spelling and grammar-In My Own Arrogance) then there was a 25 years tunnel when I too often fell exhausted at night on my bed thinking how much pleasure it would be to read again when I am retired...before I could tell, I realised I needed reading glasses...yikes...
    In the mean time, Internet was invented, such a lazier way to spend sleepless nights, full of zillion vain non-information but also a galaxy of lonely insomniacs writers
    Any chance with posting :
    "female insomniac would happily share large comfy pillows with reading male and exchange grunts of pleasure reading all the books from the list
    (except Bridget Jones, Harry Potter and the Vinci Code cause I want to start a Facebook Group called:
    "I didn't read The Vinci Code or Harry Potter, fell asleep in front of both movies and am actually proud of it")


  2. Of course you get an A* for quantity. At least I think I deserve one. I've read most of them, and I'd add "The History of Civilization" (Will & Ariel Durant) to the list and remove 'Bridget Jones' and 'Da Vinci Code.' Somebody had wasta for those two to get on the list.

    I'm with Gipsy. I plan to remain one of the few individuals in the world who did not see ANY part of 'Titanic.' One simply has to draw the line somewhere.


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