Posted by: Rob | June 30, 2008

The Big Read

In response to Annie’s post about this:

The Big Read, an initiative by the National Endowment for the Arts, estimates that the average adult has read 6 of the top 100 books they’ve printed. How about you?

1) Look at the list and bold those you have read.
2) Italicize those you intend to read.
3) Underline the books you LOVE.

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
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 (Tried to read this once. Too boring.)
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
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
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 (I did read Shute’s “On the Beach” – boring ass sci-fi)
97 – The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas
98 – Hamlet – William Shakespeare
99 – Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl
100 – Les Miserables – Victor Hugo

Quite frankly, this is a disappointing list. And I don’t say that because I have only read about 15 of the hundred. (You may also note that I have italicized none; I do not intend to read any of these as fiction isn’t really my thing anymore.)

Notable (at least to me) omissions from this list:

Mark Twain:- “Tom Sawyer”, “The Adventures of Huck Finn”

Isaac Asimov:- The Foundation Trilogy (which has expanded and, granted, is not everyone’s cup of tea)

Ray Bradbury:- “Fahrenheit 451”, “Something Wicked This Way Comes” – both good books.

A classic I’ve tried to find again is: “Two Years Before the Mast” by Richard Henry Dana, Jr. – a great book I read in high school.

How about Arthur C. Clarke’s “Childhood’s End”?

And there are many, many more.

On the surface, the fact that I’ve read only 15 of the above list would indicate that I’m a non-reader, when nothing could be further from the truth. I just don’t need someone or some group of someones to tell me what I should and shouldn’t be reading. I’ll read what I’m interested in and won’t waste my time reading something I consider tripe just because some snooty asshole has deemed it a classic.

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Responses

  1. I’m so with you… yep, i had 15-ish on this list that i have read. and truly surprised that some of those were on that list, while others (many of which you mentioned) were missing.

    and “snooty asshole” would be a great name for a punk rock band…

  2. gnukid: The world is too diverse a place these days to be pigeon-holed by these “lists” which seem, at times, to be little more than popularity contests.

    If you’re figuring on starting a punk rock band, feel free to use that name. I won’t even expect royalties. 🙂


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