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100 Books Meme 1 Year Later

April 29, 2010

Or rather, a year and some change later.

In February and March of last year, a meme was going around the internet – possibly started on Facebook – that the BBC had compiled a list of 100 great books.  The meme was that your average British citizen had read only 6 of the books on the list.  I did a little fact-checking before writing up this post (I wanted to link to the original list, if it existed), and it appears the meme was mostly fictional (i.e. there was never a list of 100 great books that most people hadn’t read; instead there was a list of 100 most popular books in Britain, which implies rather that these are books that have been read by quite a good many people).

By the time the list made it to Dear Wife and I, it had undergone several changes, rather like a game of Telephone.  The idea was to see how many of the books you had read (and whether you had read more than the supposed average of 6 books).

Over the weekend, Dear Wife uncovered the e-mail we had sent back-and-forth on the subject; she thought it would make an amusing post, and I concurred.  Here is the list as we received it, with books I have read in blue, books Dear Wife has read in crimson, and books we both have read in purple, with my commentary on the side.:

  1. Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
  2. The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien – Tolkien intended it to be a single book, so it still counts as one book, in my book
  3. Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
  4. Harry Potter series – JK Rowling – The makers of the list must realize of course, that this is 7 books, total 
  5. To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
  6. The Bible – I’ve actually read two different translations in their entirety
  7. Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte – This is on Dear Wife’s list
  8. Nineteen Eighty Four – George Orwell
  9. His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman – But we did listen to the first third on Audio Book… just never got around to finishing it
  10. Great Expectations – Charles Dickens – I had great expectations for this book… nyuk nyuk nyuk; but seriously, it was a pretty enoyable read
  11. Little Women – Louisa M Alcott
  12. Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy
  13. Catch 22 – Joseph Heller
  14. Complete Works of Shakespeare – Has anyone read the complete works of Shakespeare?  I don’t know, but I’ve read several of his plays…
  15. Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier
  16. The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien – This and Lord of the Rings are both on my top-ten list… so there you go.
  17. Birdsong – Sebastian Faulk
  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 – Seriously, Dear Wife says she read this…
  28. Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck
  29. Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll
  30. The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame – I was thinking of it at the time, but this could easily have fit on my top-ten list, or at least earned an honorable mention…
  31. Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy
  32. David Copperfield – Charles Dickens
  33. Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis – There like 7 of these, too, you know…
  34. Emma – Jane Austen
  35. Persuasion – Jane Austen
  36. The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe – CS Lewis – Is this somehow not covered in “The Chronicles of Narnia”?  Still, Dear Wife has read this, but not the others in the series…
  37. The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini – No, but I did read his second novel, A Thousand Splendid Suns
  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 – Yeah, I actually made it through High School without having to read this, I think because of the move mid-school.  My sisters did have to read it.
  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 And yet I don’t recall most of it; it was not as memorable as others of Dickens’ books
  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 Tart
  64. The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold
  65. Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas – No, but the movie was fantastic, in my opinion
  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 – Perhaps the finest morality tale ever penned.
  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 – But I’ve seen the old animated movie so many times the story is still etched into my childhood.
  88. The Five People You Meet In Heaven – Mitch Albom
  89. Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Which adventure of Sherlock Holmes?  I’ve read several, though I don’t recall which ones specifically.
  90. The Faraway Tree Collection – Enid Blyton
  91. Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad
  92. The Little Prince – Antoine De Saint Exupery – For my part, in the native French, specifically, a feat I don’t think I could repeat today, since my French reading and speaking skills have atrophied from disuse.
  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 – Because goodness knows you never include Hamlet in a list of the Complete Works of William Shakespeare.
  99. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl
  100. Les Miserables – Victor Hugo – Oh, but I tried, I really did – I read the first third of the book, but it was just so densely written, I eventually gave up. 

So… There’s your regular dose of internet necromancy.  LIVE AGAIN, o meme of the 100 books, LIVE!

Or not…

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10 Comments leave one →
  1. Dorothy permalink
    April 29, 2010 11:31 am

    And so of course I had to comment on the ones I have read. Dear Brother. For Brevity’s sake, I’ll only include the one’s I’ve read.
    1. Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
    2. The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien – Actually no, but I did read the Silmarillion, if I spelled that correctly. I hated it. It read like a history book, which of course, it is.
    3. Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
    4. Harry Potter series – JK Rowling –
    5. To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee –I really, really hated this book. It’s dead depressing.
    6. The Bible – I’ve only read one translation in its entirety, but it was enough for me
    7. Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte –
    8. Nineteen Eighty Four – George Orwell
    9. Great Expectations – Charles Dickens – I, however, hated it
    10. Little Women – Louisa M Alcott
    11. Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy
    12. Catch 22 – Joseph Heller
    13. Complete Works of Shakespeare – There are several books titles “complete works of Shakespeare” I have read some of one of them. Not sure if this actually counts, probably not.
    14. Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger
    15. Middlemarch – George Eliot
    16. The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald
    17. Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck
    18. Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll
    19. Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis –
    20. Emma – Jane Austen
    21. Persuasion – Jane Austen
    22. The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe – CS Lewis –
    23. Winnie the Pooh – AA Milne –This is also a series, I have read several.
    24. Animal Farm – George Orwell – As you mentioned that your sisters did have to read it. Not a bad book, the second time around.
    25. Anne of Green Gables – LM Montgomery
    26. Dune – Frank Herbert
    27. Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen—by this time you realize if it’s by Jane Austen, I’ve probably read it. If not, it’s on my list.
    28. A Tale Of Two Cities – Charles Dickens – [And yet I don’t recall most of it; it was not as memorable as others of Dickens’ books ] in response to yours…I rather found most of his books easily forgotten.
    29. Love In The Time Of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez –Read this for a contemporary Fiction class. I much prefer his short stories.
    30. Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck –I started it, hated it, didn’t finish.
    31. Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov –My boyfriend told me I’d like…he lied.
    32. Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas – Read this for a class four or five years ago
    33. Moby Dick – Herman Melville –read a children’s version, not sure if this counts but I’m counting it.
    34. Dracula – Bram Stoker –I am currently reading this
    35. The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett
    36. Ulysses – James Joyce
    37. Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray
    38. A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens
    39. Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert
    40. Charlotte’s Web – EB White – You do realize, of course, that we also had the book?
    41. Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad
    42. The Little Prince – Antoine De Saint Exupery – I’ve read it in French and English, French was far more enjoyable.
    43. Watership Down – Richard Adams
    44. A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole
    45. Hamlet – William Shakespeare – Not only read it, but have seen several adaptations. I’ll be seeing at the Met Simulcast this weekend
    46. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl
    47. Les Miserables – Victor Hugo – Again, read it for a class, I’m beginning to think that being an English major makes me read a lot that I wouldn’t have chosen myself.

    • April 29, 2010 11:56 am

      You’ve read Dune? I’m impressed… even I haven’t gotten around to reading Dune yet. I know it’s enormously popular, I just haven’t had the opportunity.

      Also, anyone who tells you you’ll enjoy Lolita is lying. It’s about a child molester, from his point of view. I read two or three paragraphs and felt sick and dirty for reading that.

      Ulysses, I’ve read in several other places, is completely unreadable. So I’m impressed by that, as well.

      In general, I’m duly impressed by how many you’ve read… but surprised at how many you hated.

      • Dorothy permalink
        April 30, 2010 2:08 pm

        Yep, I read _Dune_ during that summer I took off of school between VSU and Val Tech. I know what Lolita is about as I’ve read it. As for _Ulysses_, I didn’t say that I enjoyed it. I read it for a class in English, as it was a required course I didn’t have much choice–His _Heart of Darkness_ is much better.

      • April 30, 2010 2:19 pm

        The point about Lolita was as much for everyone else as for you. That, and for the irony of basically saying “of course you didn’t like it… because it’s about something that can’t be liked!” I don’t think Heart of Darkness and Ulysses are by the same person. Ulysses is by James Joyce, Heart of Darkness by Conrad. Though since I’ve read neither, that distinction matters little to me, at present.

      • Dorothy permalink
        April 30, 2010 2:13 pm

        Also, commenting on Watership Down. I haven’t read the book, but dad bought the dvd and I watched it. It’s pretty good. But until I read this I didn’t realize it was a book.

  2. April 29, 2010 12:03 pm

    I’ll bite too.

    1. Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen (If it’s Jane Austen, I’ve read it)
    2. The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien
    3. To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
    4. The Bible – I think I have. Not all at once though.
    5. Great Expectations – Charles Dickens
    6. Catch 22 – Joseph Heller
    7. The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien
    8. The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
    9. Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll
    10. The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame
    11. Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis
    12. Emma – Jane Austen
    13. Persuasion – Jane Austen
    14. The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe – CS Lewis
    15. Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden
    16. Winnie the Pooh – AA Milne
    17. Anne of Green Gables – LM Montgomery
    18. Lord of the Flies – William Golding
    19. Life of Pi – Yann Martel
    20. Dune – Frank Herbert
    21. Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen
    22. Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck
    23. Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas
    24. The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett
    25. Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray
    26. Charlotte’s Web – EB White
    27. Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad
    28. Watership Down – Richard Ada
    29. The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas
    30. Hamlet – William Shakespeare
    31. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl
    32. Les Miserables – Victor Hugo – Does it count if I watched the Broadway play, and a stage production entirely in Greek?

    • April 29, 2010 12:12 pm

      Re: Les Mise; I think the broadway play is basically the same story, except they leave out the boring and unnecessary part (like a whole chapter on some event that occurred during some Napoleonic battle or other, but which took place long before the story takes place, has no actual identifiable characters, and exists primarily to describe changes in the landscape since then, setting the stage for a scene in which we spend only a very few supposedly crucial moments. That was a little over-the-top…)

      Since you’ve read Watership Down, would you mind sharing your thoughts on that one? All I know of it is that it’s one of those anthropomorphized fantasies in which the main characters are rabbits… kind of like “The Secret of Nimh” or something. Just wondering if it should be on my to read list.

      • April 29, 2010 12:58 pm

        It’s actually one of my favorites and I still have my original copy on my bookshelf. I’ve been meaning to do a re-read of it. I think it’s a book that would appeal to adults despite the the fact that the main characters are rabbits. I do recommend it!

      • April 29, 2010 1:51 pm

        I wouldn’t worry about whether it would normally appeal to adults if you’re recommending something to me… I’m still a huge fan of cartoons (and don’t think I get enough in my diet as it is, right now, what with my never watching TV).

        Thanks for the recommend; I’ll have to add it to my list now.

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