Me and the BBC and all the classic books I haven’t read

I finally decided to play along with this Facebook meme–but here on my blog, so it won’t get lost in the mists of Facebook time (instead it will get lost in the mists of my blog archives).  I filled out the form a couple of weeks ago, and probably the reason I hadn’t posted it yet is because it’s embarrassing that I’m not actually very well-read.  It even makes me want to write a little essay about why I’m not actually very well-read.  Maybe I’ll write that essay in my next post.  Anyway, here’s the meme:

Have you read more than 6 of these books? The BBC believes most people will have read only 6 of the 100 books listed here. [I have never seen anyone post this meme who hadn’t read at least 25 of the books, and most have read many more than that.  I guess all those 6-book-readers just aren’t that rabid to do this meme.]

Instructions: 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 only an excerpt. [I also added notes after any titles I felt like adding notes to.]

Tag other book nerds. Tag me as well so I can see your responses! Feel free to add comments 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

5 To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee

6 The Bible –Pretty sure I’ve read the entire NT. Have tried several times to read the O.T., and right now have made it to Exodus by pretending to myself that I’m reading blog posts.

7 Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte

8 Nineteen Eighty Four – George Orwell –Probably never read this b/c with part-time homeschool I only did one year of high school English, and missed a lot of required reading.

9 His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman — Not interested. Heard it’s icky, from someone whose tastes I usually agree with.

10 Great Expectations – Charles Dickens

11 Little Women – Louisa M Alcott

12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy

13 Catch 22 – Joseph Heller  —Another I missed by not taking high school English classes.  I did use the expression “Catch-22” today.

14 Complete Works of Shakespeare –Who reads the complete works of Shakespeare? Those are some pretty impressive readers. I do want to dig my Riverside out of the basement.  It’s not  in the basement because of my not liking Shakespeare, it’s because Dean’s been acquiring so many YA series for himself and the kids that to make room we had to put all our grown-up books in the basement until we can to get more bookshelves.  Which I hope will be soon; my favorite books have been banished for I think more than two years now.  I should definitely get partial credit for Shakespeare, though, because today on Twitter somebody quoted a Lord of the Rings poem that starts “All that is gold does not glitter,” and I said, “All this time I thought that was from Shakespeare,” and she said, “It is, it’s from the Merchant of Venice.”

15 Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier–Seen the movie.  Actually, now that I think about it, pretty sure I also read the book.

16 The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien

17 Birdsong – Sebastian Faulk

18 Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger–but I’m not a huge fan.  I like his short stories and Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters better.

19 The Time Traveller’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger–Returned it to Costco after skimming and deciding it wasn’t my cuppa.

20 Middlemarch – George Eliot

21 Gone With The Wind – Margaret Mitchell –I had left this one as unread, but suddenly remembered that I probably did read this.  Otherwise I wouldn’t have memories of seeing the characters’ names in small print, right?  I wish I’d kept better records of my reading back when I read prolifically.

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 –I have definitely been meaning to correct this gap in my cultural education.

29 Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll

30 The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame

31 Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy

32 David Copperfield – Charles Dickens Possibly I read the whole thing.

33 Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis –Several times over. These books are knit into my being.  Srsly.

34 Emma – Jane Austen

35 Persuasion – Jane Austen  –But I LOVE the movie version with Ciaran Hinds

36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe – CS Lewis –Huh? This is separate from #33? (Oh, I get it, it’s so people can get partial credit.)

37 The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini  Seen the movie, and my brother says it’s pretty faithful to the book.

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 — Meh. No desire to read. This is again based on someone else’s trusted opinion.

43 One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez

44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney – John Irving —Another one I think I read as a teen but can’t remember.

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 —The very dull movie convinced me the books aren’t for me.  I do remember the sand worm from the movie, and people wearing colored contacts.

53 Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons —The made-for-TV movie is excellent.

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 —Been meaning to read this.

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–I think I’ve only seen various film versions.  (Are there various film versions?)

66 On The Road – Jack Kerouac –Meh. No interest.

67 Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy

68 Bridget Jones’s Diary – Helen Fielding —Just the movie.

69 Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie

70 Moby Dick – Herman Melville –My reason for not having read this is frail.  I had a descriptive-grammar professor who had switched from the study of literature to the more-scientific study of language after he watched a grad student give a thesis defense in which she’d charted the sightings of the Great Whale in the book, and claimed they made the sign of Aquarius, which she took to be a reference to the Age of Aquarius.  This is a great story, but a silly reason not to read a great book.

71 Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens

72 Dracula – Bram Stoker –I’m assuming the whole Twilight series doesn’t count?  I want those years days of my life back.

73 The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett

74 Notes From A Small Island – Bill Bryson

75 Ulysses – James Joyce –I’m pretty sure I had to read at least parts of this in college.  Or even all of it, maybe. That was another long year day.

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 – Kazu Ishiguro —Movie.

85 Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert–I think I might have read this in French. Gonna look it up and see if it’s familiar.  Okay, I looked it up and I’m still not sure. I guess it’s hard to retain things read in another language.

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 –recorded versions make great listening for road trips

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 —Might have read the whole thing.  Not sure.

98 Hamlet – William Shakespeare

99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl

100 Les Miserables – Victor Hugo

So, my grand total is 40/100.

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16 Responses to Me and the BBC and all the classic books I haven’t read

  1. Mrs. Organic says:

    Not Germinal? I think it’s French (also a movie, but I don’t remember if it’s good or not). How many french novels have you read? I think all that required reading is why I dropped AP French.

    • zstitches says:

      I can’t remember which French novels I’ve read! That’s part of the problem. 🙂 But I’m pretty sure I passed the AP French test. And then I didn’t go very far with my French in college, which is another story. (Basically the story is that I mistakenly thought my academic scholarship at BYU would only cover 128 credit hours, so I graduated with 128.5 credit hours, and later realized they’d have continued to cover my tuition up to 160 hours, and I could have gotten a French minor. But I was also kind of tired of school by then, so I guess it’s all good.)

      I do remember reading L’Étranger and then later realizing that the Cure’s song “Killing an Arab” was based on it.

  2. Jason says:

    There are tricks to reading the OT all the way through:
    1) Give yourself permission to skim.
    2) Give yourself permission to only scan the begats and sections about how many Levites are placed at the east gate of the king’s house.
    3) Read the Psalms in a rhythm.
    4) Look for familiar verses in the non-narrative, Judah and Israel are harlots and shall be destroyed and scattered, but then gathered, parts.
    5) Take one or two marathon reads, especially through Jeremiah and Ezekiel.

    It might also help to read it on the year that it’s the subject of study in Sunday School.

    I offer these in commiseration.

    • zstitches says:

      Thanks for the tips. The Sunday School one should have worked for me last year, but didn’t–I missed quite a bit of Sunday School sitting with Hazel in the nursery before she was old enough to be left there alone, or home with sick kids. And now I attend Primary Sharing Time, so I guess it doesn’t really matter what they’re doing in Sunday School. Which is fine since I don’t really want to wait another three years to make my attempt on the Old Testament, and being in Primary will help me not to notice I’m out of sync with everyone who’s moved on to the New Testament.

  3. Jen says:

    I think it’s funny that you think you are not well read. I didn’t count, but I would bet you have read more than I have. Every time I read that list of 100, there are variations. I think some people doctor it with their favorite books to make themselves look more well-read.

    • zstitches says:

      My friend who posted this had read, I think, over 75 of these. But she’s an extremely prolific reader. I bet my mom would have a high count (although I think Facebook is cutting into even her reading, these days).

      I love your idea of doctoring the list–wish I’d thought of that!

      There are so many different lists, and they can be so arbitrary.

      David McCullough once put up his own list of 100 favorites/must-reads (at least, he did if I’m remembering this right) and my mom had read many of them, and she was also happy that the list included some of her more obscure favorites. (Like I said, my mom is *very* well-read.)

  4. Lili says:

    A mere 32.
    I’m trying to find the origin of this supposed BBC list… I think this list might be apocryphal, in that I’m not sure it’s BBC that released it? I swear that this list is different that than other “BBC list”s I’ve seen…

    If you ask me, it gives Jane Eyre, Hardy and a few others too many titles (I had only read 2 of the Eyre titles, and none of the Hardy titles they listed, though I’ve read other ones… and I constantly feel guilty for having read almost no Dickens)
    Ok, this bbc list is a little bit similar–it’s a list of Brit’s most beloved books (which explains the large Hardy/Dickens/Eyre ratio… it’s _English_ literature, after all…)

    In looking for the origins, I’m finding other blog entries that question the origin of the BBC list. Here’s one woman’s(?– I didn’t bother to find out for sure, but seeing as it’s called “rantchick”) rant that kind of goes along with your recent personal progress blog post:

  5. OhSusanna says:

    I’ve read ALMOST ALL of those books, for reals. And I can’t remember a lot of them very well, and don’t have anything intelligent to say about the rest of them.

  6. Jbug says:

    I’ve only read 11,but have heard of 42.Some of them is from this website( out of print clothing) that I found in one of mommy’s magazines.

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