BBC’s Top 100 Books

Via Loth (who I came to via her comment in XUP‘s blog), I came across the BBC’s top 100 books, a survey from April 2003 to determine the nation’s best-loved novel (the nation being the UK, of course). The initial survey resulted in a top 200 list, a top 100 list, a top 21 list, and a final single winner, The Lord of the Rings. A total of approximately 750,000 votes were received over the course of the search for the top book.  (Note: this survey is not to be mistaken for the Guardian’s Top 100 Books of All Time from 2002 or subsequent surveys by other groups.) 

The list below comes directly from the BBC page — some of the entries vary slightly from those in Loth’s post and the books are in a slightly different order, but otherwise are essentially the same. She says (quoting the post that inspired hers) that “The BBC say the average adult has only read 6 of the top 100 books on their list.” but I haven’t yet come across a news article that actually says that. The original BBC page linked to above certainly doesn’t mention it and none of the people perpetuating this meme link to any source page. Unless otherwise corrected, I’m going to presume that the originator of the meme made up the statistic out of whole cloth, as it reads like your typical email meme.

Anyhoo, the idea is to put an “x” next to books that you’ve actually read. Thought I’d play along as well.

  1. x The Lord of the Rings, JRR Tolkien
  2. x Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
  3. His Dark Materials, Philip Pullman (own but haven’t yet found the time to read; liked the movie The Golden Compass, despite the fact that it featured Nicole Kidman)
  4. x The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams
  5. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, JK Rowling (saw the movie, though)
  6. x To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
  7. x Winnie the Pooh, AA Milne
  8. Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell
  9. x The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, CS Lewis
  10. x Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë
  11. x Catch-22, Joseph Heller
  12. x Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontë
  13. Birdsong, Sebastian Faulks
  14. x Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier
  15. x The Catcher in the Rye, JD Salinger
  16. The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame
  17. Great Expectations, Charles Dickens
  18. x Little Women, Louisa May Alcott
  19. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, Louis de Bernieres
  20. War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy
  21. Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell
  22. x Harry Potter And The Philosopher’s Stone, JK Rowling
  23. Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets, JK Rowling
  24. Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban, JK Rowling
  25. x The Hobbit, JRR Tolkien
  26. Tess Of The D’Urbervilles, Thomas Hardy
  27. Middlemarch, George Eliot
  28. A Prayer For Owen Meany, John Irving
  29. The Grapes Of Wrath, John Steinbeck (I really don’t like Steinbeck despite being forced to read some of his other stuff in high school — have no desire to read this one)
  30. x Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland, Lewis Carroll
  31. The Story Of Tracy Beaker, Jacqueline Wilson
  32. One Hundred Years Of Solitude, Gabriel García Márquez
  33. The Pillars Of The Earth, Ken Follett
  34. x David Copperfield, Charles Dickens
  35. x Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, Roald Dahl
  36. x Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson
  37. A Town Like Alice, Nevil Shute (I own and have watched the movie, though)
  38. Persuasion, Jane Austen
  39. Dune, Frank Herbert (started to read it, got about 2/3 of the way through and was so absolutely bored out of my skull that I put it down and never finished it. It’s still around here, though)
  40. x Emma, Jane Austen
  41. x Anne Of Green Gables, LM Montgomery
  42. x Watership Down, Richard Adams (also loved the animated movie, and Art Garfunkel’s “Bright Eyes” remains one of my favourite songs of all time)
  43. The Great Gatsby, F Scott Fitzgerald
  44. The Count Of Monte Cristo, Alexandre Dumas
  45. Brideshead Revisited, Evelyn Waugh
  46. Animal Farm, George Orwell
  47. A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens (I’ve seen the various movies several times, does that count?)
  48. Far From The Madding Crowd, Thomas Hardy
  49. Goodnight Mister Tom, Michelle Magorian
  50. The Shell Seekers, Rosamunde Pilcher
  51. The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett (again, I’ve seen the movies but haven’t read the book)
  52. Of Mice And Men, John Steinbeck (ick, poo, John Steinbeck)
  53. x The Stand, Stephen King
  54. Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy
  55. A Suitable Boy, Vikram Seth
  56. The BFG, Roald Dahl
  57. Swallows And Amazons, Arthur Ransome
  58. Black Beauty, Anna Sewell
  59. Artemis Fowl, Eoin Colfer
  60. Crime And Punishment, Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  61. Noughts And Crosses, Malorie Blackman
  62. Memoirs Of A Geisha, Arthur Golden (saw the movie, though)
  63. x A Tale Of Two Cities, Charles Dickens
  64. The Thorn Birds, Colleen McCollough (have seen parts of the mini-series)
  65. Mort, Terry Pratchett
  66. The Magic Faraway Tree, Enid Blyton
  67. The Magus, John Fowles
  68. x Good Omens, Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
  69. Guards! Guards!, Terry Pratchett
  70. Lord Of The Flies, William Golding
  71. Perfume, Patrick Süskind
  72. The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, Robert Tressell
  73. Night Watch, Terry Pratchett
  74. Matilda, Roald Dahl (saw the movie)
  75. Bridget Jones’s Diary, Helen Fielding (saw the movie)
  76. The Secret History, Donna Tartt
  77. The Woman In White, Wilkie Collins
  78. Ulysses, James Joyce
  79. Bleak House, Charles Dickens
  80. Double Act, Jacqueline Wilson
  81. The Twits, Roald Dahl
  82. I Capture The Castle, Dodie Smith
  83. Holes, Louis Sachar
  84. Gormenghast, Mervyn Peake (want to read)
  85. The God Of Small Things, Arundhati Roy
  86. Vicky Angel, Jacqueline Wilson
  87. Brave New World, Aldous Huxley
  88. Cold Comfort Farm, Stella Gibbons
  89. Magician, Raymond E Feist
  90. On The Road, Jack Kerouac
  91. The Godfather, Mario Puzo
  92. x The Clan Of The Cave Bear, Jean M Auel
  93. The Colour Of Magic, Terry Pratchett
  94. The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho
  95. Katherine, Anya Seton
  96. Kane And Abel, Jeffrey Archer
  97. Love In The Time Of Cholera, Gabriel García Márquez
  98. Girls In Love, Jacqueline Wilson
  99. The Princess Diaries, Meg Cabot (saw the movie)
  100. Midnight’s Children, Salman Rushdie

So, I guess I’ve only read 25 of the 100 all the way through. Many of the others I feel no particular urge to read. Others I’ve read parts of and/or have a copy around somewhere (which may or may not be noted above) and so should really get around to reading. (Hey, reading all the books that I own is on my Bucket List.)

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4 thoughts on “BBC’s Top 100 Books

  1. As you already know if you’ve read Loth’s post, I’ve read exactly half of these and have some serious issues with some others of these even being on any book list, let alone this one – DaVinci code tops that group

    • Any “best” or “favourite” book list is going to be subjective. Some of my favourite books are downright trashy and, since I know I’m not that unusual, that is how you end up with books like The DaVinci Code in the list. Hey, at least it was an actual vote/survey instead of a list compiled by one lone BBC staffer in some dark backroom office. Still subjective but more broadly inclusive than a list generated by a much smaller sampling or single person would be.

      In any case, The DaVinci Code never made it to the real list. There are quite a few differences between the actual BBC list above and the one being used in the various recent posts by people perpetuating the meme.

  2. I loved your comment against Of Mice and Men, my all time hated book. I studied it at school and hated it, studied it with my son and then again with my daughter and, guess what, next year my younger one does it at school too. How much punishment can one woman take? I’ve been well and truly Steinbecked!

    However, you’ve missed some cracking reads on that list. Shell Seekers, Prayer For Owen Meany, Persuasion and The Secret History are all fantastic books in completely different ways. All feature very highly in my list of best reads ever. I also recommend the film version of Persuasion with Amanda Root and Ciaran Hinds which is one of those rare adaptations that can never be improved upon.

    Happy reading

    Laura Essendine
    The Accidental Guru Blog

  3. Pingback: BBC Top 100 Books, revisited « Life Begins at 41…or maybe 43

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