the BBC’s top 100 books

About a month ago, The Written Nerd posted a list of the BBC’s Top 100 books. The instructions are as follows:

Copy this into your NOTES. Bold those books you’ve read in their entirety, italicize the ones you started but didn’t finish or read an excerpt. Tag other book nerds. Tag me as well so I can see your responses …

The Bookish Miss just couldn’t resist seeing how she stacked up, especially since her friend Elizabeth, over at Travels With Books, did it too.

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 (all)

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

15. Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier

16. The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien

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 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 Berniere (this one is actually on my current to-read list!)

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 (wish I hadn’t!)

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 Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath

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 – 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

99. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl

100. Les Miserables – Victor Hugo

Not too shabby, if I do say so myself.

This list includes some of the greatest books in the English (or any other) language — and if you haven’t read them, you should. Unfortunately, it also includes Dan Brown, who I wouldn’t even trust to write, let alone proofread, a menu.

However, I was surprised to see that nothing by Eudora Welty or Toni Morrison made the list. Welty I can sort of understand since she specialized in short stories (although her novel, The Optimist’s Daughter, won a Pulitzer in 1973), but I’ve always considered Morrison to be one of the best writers of the twentieth century. Morrison’s work, especially Song of Solomon and Beloved, rank right up there with others on this list. Both she and Welty are stupendous writers; their characters are real, and they deal with themes that stretch far beyond their stories’ plots. Both make the reader feel like they are part of the story.

Not sure why they didn’t make the cut and Dan Brown did, but I, personally, think both should have. For that matter, where are Katherine Anne Porter, Guy de Maupassant, Mary Shelley, O. Henry and Edgar Allan Poe?

What other books were left off? Are there books you think shouldn’t have made the list?

4 thoughts on “the BBC’s top 100 books”

  1. That’s impressive, Bookish Miss — you’ve been reading! Apparently the list was a survey of Britain’s favorite books, so bestseller status and recent memory probably played a part. The very favorite one was: The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien (with Pride and Prejudice in second place).

    1. I’m always reading! In fact, I’ve been reading so long I don’t really recall learning to read — learning new words, yes, but not how to read.

      As for how the list was determined, well, figures. I imagine that a top 100 books (of all time maybe?) list would be more varied — and not include Dan Brown! No problem with his story, per se, just his writing.
      *shudders*

  2. Hey, great post. Great blog. It is fresh and to the point. I just read literally dozens of blogs, because I can’t sleep, and yours is by far the best quality. You know it is rare to find decent content on these things… Most of them are cheap and spammy.

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