BBC Top 100 Books, revisited

After really looking at the list of books as shown in Loth’s post and the original book list, I decided to do a comparison. Both lists share 58 of their 100 books. The other 42 differ significantly. The original list was the top 100 best-loved novels — seeing the Bible show up in the meme list amuses me to no end. I mean, *I* consider it to be a novel but I’m sure that wasn’t the intention of the person who decided to add it to the meme before passing it on. 😉

Books that only appear in the meme list:

  1. A Confederacy of Dunces
  2. A Fine Balance
  3. Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
  4. Atonement
  5. Charlotte’s Web
  6. Chronicles of Narnia
  7. Cloud Atlas
  8. Complete Works of Shakespeare
  9. Count of Monte Cristo
  10. Dracula
  11. Germinal
  12. Grapes of Wrath
  13. Hamlet
  14. Harry Potter series (appears as 4 separate books in the BBC list)
  15. Heart of Darkness
  16. Jude the Obscure
  17. Les Miserables
  18. Life of Pi
  19. Lolita
  20. Madame Bovary
  21. Moby Dick
  22. Notes From A Small Island
  23. Oliver Twist
  24. Possession
  25. Sense and Sensibility
  26. The Bell Jar
  27. The Bible
  28. The Color Purple
  29. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time
  30. The Da Vinci Code
  31. The Faraway Tree Collection (appears as a single book in the BBC list)
  32. The Five People You Meet In Heaven
  33. The Handmaid’s Tale
  34. The Kite Runner
  35. The Little Prince
  36. The Lovely Bones
  37. The Remains of the Day
  38. The Shadow of the Wind
  39. The Three Musketeers
  40. The Time Traveller’s Wife
  41. The Wasp Factory
  42. Vanity Fair

Books that only appear in the real BBC list:

  1. Artemis Fowl
  2. Black Beauty
  3. Double Act
  4. Girls In Love
  5. Good Omens
  6. Goodnight Mister Tom
  7. Gormenghast
  8. Guards! Guards!
  9. Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets  (appears as the series in a single entry in the meme list)
  10. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire  (appears as the series in a single entry in the meme list)
  11. Harry Potter And The Philosopher’s Stone  (appears as the series in a single entry in the meme list)
  12. Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban  (appears as the series in a single entry in the meme list)
  13. Holes
  14. I Capture The Castle
  15. Kane And Abel
  16. Katherine
  17. Magician
  18. Matilda
  19. Mort
  20. Night Watch
  21. Noughts And Crosses
  22. Perfume
  23. The Alchemist
  24. The BFG
  25. The Clan Of The Cave Bear
  26. The Colour Of Magic
  27. The Count Of Monte Cristo
  28. The God Of Small Things
  29. The Godfather
  30. The Grapes Of Wrath
  31. The Magic Faraway Tree (appears as the collection in the meme list)
  32. The Magus
  33. The Pillars Of The Earth
  34. The Princess Diaries
  35. The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists
  36. The Shell Seekers
  37. The Stand
  38. The Story Of Tracy Beaker
  39. The Thorn Birds
  40. The Twits
  41. Treasure Island
  42. Vicky Angel

My books read count would increase if I used the meme list. So, if you’ve done the meme list yourself, try checking the real BBC list and see how many of those books you’ve read.


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. Continue reading “BBC’s Top 100 Books”

Have a happy, happy, HAPPY period!!!11!!!!

A friend forwarded a letter supposedly sent by a woman to Procter and Gamble, the makers of Always pads. The letter allegedly was “PC Magazine’s 2007 editors’ choice for best webmail-award-winning letter.”

Dear Mr. Thatcher,

I have been a loyal user of your Always maxi pads for over 20 years, and I appreciate many of their features. Why, without the LeakGuard Coreℱ or Dri-Weaveℱ absorbency, I’d probably never go horseback riding or salsa dancing, and I’d certainly steer clear of running up and down the beach in tight, white shorts. But my favorite feature has to be your revolutionary Flexi-Wings. Kudos on being the only company smart enough to realize how crucial it is that maxi pads be aerodynamic. I can’t tell you how safe and secure I feel each month knowing there’s a little F-16 in my pants.

Have you ever had a menstrual period, Mr. Thatcher? Ever suffered from “the curse”? I’m guessing you haven’t. Well, my “time of the month” is starting right now. As I type, I can already feel hormonal forces violently surging through my body. Just a few minutes from now, my body will adjust and I’ll be transformed into what my husband likes to call “an inbred hillbilly with knife skills.” Isn’t the human body amazing?

As brand manager in the feminine-hygiene division, you’ve no doubt seen quite a bit of research on what exactly happens during your customers’ monthly visits from Aunt Flo. Therefore, you must know about the bloating, puffiness, and cramping we endure, and about our intense mood swings, crying jags, and out-of-control behavior. You surely realize it’s a tough time for most women. In fact, only last week, my friend Jennifer fought the violent urge to shove her boyfriend’s testicles into a George Foreman Grill just because he told her he thought Grey’s Anatomy was written by drunken chimps. Crazy! The point is, sir, you of all people must realize that America is just crawling with homicidal maniacs in capri pants. Which brings me to the reason for my letter.

Last month, while in the throes of cramping so painful I wanted to reach inside my body and yank out my uterus, I opened an Always maxi pad, and there, printed on the adhesive backing, were these words: “Have a Happy Period.”

Are you fucking kidding me?

What I mean is, does any part of your tiny middle-manager brain really think happiness—actual smiling, laughing happiness—is possible during a menstrual period? Did anything mentioned above sound the least bit pleasurable? Well, did it, James? FYI, unless you’re some kind of sick S&M freak girl, there will never be anything “happy” about a day in which you have to jack yourself up on Motrin and KahlĂșa and lock yourself in your house just so you don’t march down to the local Walgreens armed with a hunting rifle and a sketchy plan to end your life in a blaze of glory. For the love of God, pull your head out, man. If you just have to slap a moronic message on a maxi pad, wouldn’t it make more sense to say something that’s actually pertinent, like “Put Down the Hammer” or “Vehicular Manslaughter Is Wrong”? Or are you just picking on us?

Sir, please inform your accounting department that, effective immediately, there will be an $8 drop in monthly profits, for I have chosen to take my maxi-pad business elsewhere. And though I will certainly miss your Flexi-Wings, I will not for one minute miss your brand of condescending bullshit. And that’s a promise I will keep. Always.


Wendi Aarons
Austin , TX

As always, I like to know the actual origins of interesting e-mail memes that get sent to me, and this was no different. From Wendi Aarons‘ own blog (tip: do yourself a favour and add her to your weekly rounds), it appears that the rant originally hit the Internet on February 6, 2007, as an open letter on . As fun a read as it is, there’s no way it ever actually got a PC Magazine Editors’ Choice designation since those are given to products the magazine reviews. After a blog post about the letter got a mention in the Austin Chronicle, Wendi posted the following comment:

Love the Column; Thanks for the Mention
Hey Stephen, I was just reading your column [“After a Fashion,” Arts, Dec. 7] and was shocked to see a link to my Always Maxi Pad letter. Also shocked to see that it supposedly won PC Magazine’s editors’ choice award 
 I think they forgot to tell me. Anyway, I wrote this last February as a humor piece for, and it’s taken on a life of its own. The good news is that Proctor & Gamble no longer puts “Have a Happy Period” on their adhesive strips. I’m taking full credit for that one. Love the column and thanks for the mention!

A couple of people wrote replies to that comment indicating that they were a little disappointed to find out that it wasn’t really an angry letter sent to Proctor and Gamble. *That* surprises me. It reads like a good humour piece. How could you think it was anything but? I’m not sure that anyone actually writing in anger about the words “Have a happy period” on their pads would waste the biting sense of humour evident in Wendi’s missive on a letter that only one person would read. To me, it read like a letter to the editor, which (in effect) it was. And it was brilliant. If you like the tone, check out McSweeney’s continuing series of open letters.

There’s a September 2006 photo of the offending piece of paper on Flickr. I have to admit, I don’t remember seeing that little charmer on Canadian Always products. Then again, I’m usually not in the mood to read it at the time, if you get me. I know that they are definitely not using it now — we just have a visual aid to making full use of the Flexiwings. Nowhere on the packaging is there a reference to “Having a happy period” but rest assured, you can get your daily affirmation on the Always Web site, along with “fun stuff for making the most of it“, including a lovely way to “tell a friend to have a happy period” with a HAHP card. Go ahead! Try it out on your BFF the next time she has her period and then tell us how that worked for you. If you can talk with the breathing tubes in.