The “BBC” 100 list

Thanks to Nadia at A Bookish Way of Life for reminding me of this idea.

The story is that the BBC has published a list of 100 books, predicting that most of us will have only read 6 of them. What’s funny is that I can’t find the BBC’s association with this list anywhere through the BBC, although quite a few blogs and librarything, etc., credit it thusly. So the truth is that I don’t know where this concept got started, or whose list it is originally, but I like the game and am going to play along.

Below is a list of 100 books that we should all probably try to read at some point; they’re classics by most people’s definition. I have marked them:

Bold = I’ve read it
Italicized = I’ve started the book, but never finished
neither = I haven’t picked it up.

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 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
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 – 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 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

I came out with 47 books read, which I’m comfortable with. I should be able to make 50 pretty easily from there. 🙂 The funnier thing is that I have started and failed to finish only one! And that, not a book but a series (Harry Potter), of which I read one book in its completion and never started another. Does this make me a great finisher of books? (I have only recently really become comfortable with the concept, as my library volunteer Anne puts it, that I’m an adult now and don’t HAVE to finish a book if I don’t want to!) Or does it mean that most of these books are easily finishable because they’re so good? I remember A Tale of Two Cities from high school as being difficult to finish, but I did because I had to. At any rate, I appreciate this list even if it didn’t come from the BBC; somebody had a fine idea and I’d play along again with a different list anyone cares to compose for me! Maybe I should compose a list of my all-time 100 for you to play along with. Hmm…


Here is my list of 100!


14 Responses

  1. Do you get a lot of call for The Time Traveler’s Wife at work? I definitely recommend it — it takes a concept that’s almost always treated science fictionally and makes it wholly about the human element.

    And apropos of nothing, I also recommend Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn. It’s a strange, wonderful book. I reviewed it a billion years ago here. (Sorry about the lack of spaces between paragraphs; I don’t remember it being formatted that way last time I looked!)

  2. Okay, thanks for the tip!

    Yes I do get a fair amount of interest in Time Traveler. It’s on my list, too, but boy is it a long list…

  3. Interesting list …. here are the ones I have read…. Not sure how many that is

    1 Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen

    2 The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien
    
3 Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte

    5 To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
    
7 Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte

    8 Nineteen Eighty Four – George Orwell
    
10 Great Expectations – Charles Dickens

    11 Little Women – Louisa M Alcott

    14 Complete Works of Shakespeare
    
16 The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien

    18 Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger

    21 Gone With The Wind – Margaret Mitchell
    
22 The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald

    24 War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy

    25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams

    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

    33 Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis

    36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, CS Lewis
    
37 The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini

    40 Winnie the Pooh – AA Milne

    41 Animal Farm – George Orwell

    42 The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown

    49 Lord of the Flies – William Golding
    
51 Life of Pi – Yann Martel

    52 Dune – Frank Herbert
    
54 Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen

    57 A Tale Of Two Cities – Charles Dickens

    58 Brave New World – Aldous Huxley

    61 Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck
    
65 Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas
    
70 Moby Dick – Herman Melville
    
71 Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens
    
72 Dracula – Bram Stoker

    73 The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett
    
81 A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens
    
83 The Color Purple – Alice Walker

    87 Charlotte’s Web – EB White
    
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

    91 Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad
    
94 Watership Down – Richard Adams
    
97 The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas
    
98 Hamlet – William Shakespeare
    
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl

    100 Les Miserables – Victor Hugo

  4. 48! good job Karma! how do you like Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky? pretty intimidating. I do have a copy of War and Peace on the shelf at home…

    • Read War and Peace in High School, it was an epic marathon. Not one of the more social periods in my life……..

      Ken Follett actually reminds me a bit of Tolstoy with the character development through day to day interactions of multiple families without great embellishment (which I did not expect in a 1500 page book). The key difference being that Follet writes novels that span decades and whereas Tolstoy’s war and peace spans 10-15 years (I dont recall exactly). By no means am I implying that Follett is on Tolstoy’s level as a master, but it does speak to why I enjoy the tales spun by Follett.

      Crime and Punishment was a college read; a much more social period in my life. I dont recall enjoying it as much as War and Peace … could be sheer volume of beer from 1992-1993 for me.

      • btw Karma, I’m looking at read-alike authors for Sharon Kay Penman on one of my favorite resources, NoveList (available through Houston Public Library’s page with your library card number, also at most large public library systems)… and Follett is recommended. makes sense, with all the intricacies and deep characters.

  5. yea. those sound epic. maybe someday. I am, of course, involved in a 750-pager right now, but it’s so easy… and that’s barely half the length of W&P!

  6. Thanks so much for stopping by my blog, Julia. I envy you being a librarian—what a pleasure to be around books all day! This is a very intriguing list here—great variety. I only counted 26 that I’ve read, but many of the others are on my list of Books to be Read Someday. The Little Prince is a favorite of mine—I used to read it to my children. It has one of my favorite lines ever: “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.” I love that.

  7. Just met a very interesting gentleman that immigrated to Brazil from Russia as a child after WW2. We spoke of War and Peace, Crime and Punishment and another piece of literature I was not previously familiar with – The Quiet Don by Mikhail Aleksandrovich Sholokov. Its going on the short list of things to read.

    • Wow Karma, the Russian lit really baffles me. I’ve read 4-5 by Nabokov (Lolita is still the masterpiece!) but that’s about it.

      Beth, glad you made it by! It’s a good list and yes, me too, a number of them are TBR. Not all librarians get to be around books all day, these days, but I have a pretty pleasurably bookish job. 🙂

  8. […] you know, The 100 Best Books of All Time or 100 Great Classics or 100 Books Everyone Should Read. We’ve done this before. It’s not so much that I take major issue with the list as whole – there are lots of […]

  9. With all of the books I’ve read… I’ve only read 7 on this list. One of which, ‘the great gatsby’ I refuse to ever read again, what a waste of time. I tried reading ‘lord of the rings’ but it just prattles on page after page before anything happens.Guess it’s good to not be British if this is their idea of fine reading.

    • Well, don’t throw all the Brits under the bus just for this list. 🙂 I daresay their reading tastes are as diverse as those of any other demographic we could name. And I adore Tolkein; but, case in point, we don’t all have to like the same things! What would make your list?

  10. […] the 100 greatest books of all time?? (I’ve wondered before.) I always have to refer back to that BBC list. I think it’s fun to look at what rates, and how it changes. Of course we shall never all […]

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