Wednesday, February 22, 2012

A List of Great Books

There are many lists of the “greatest books ever published.” The entries vary, depending on the person or organization compiling the list.

Apparently a list  by BBC made the rounds on Facebook a few years ago. It carried a note  saying it’s believed most people had read only 6 of the 100 books.

Instructions to Facebook users were to copy the list into NOTES, bold the titles you’d read in its entirety and italicize the ones you started but didn't finish.

It’s an interesting list. Most titles I’m familiar with, some I’m not; some I’ve read, some I own but never got around to reading; some I started and never finished.

A list of 100 is a long one, but I’m going to include it here. Not for us to look at and feel badly because there are so many we haven’t read, but hopefully to jog our memories and cause us to search out a classic we never got around to or to reread an old favorite.

I don’t know about you, but there are several here I want to read. In a future post I will talk about free e-books to be found online and downloaded. These are books whose copyrights have expired. Many on the list below fall into that category.
This list spans a large spectrum -- all the way from Shakespeare to Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code! So be it. There's something here for everyone ..
Are some of your favorites on the list? I'm glad to see that mine, The Great Gatsby, made it, as it does onto most “greatest” lists. Others I really like include To Kill a Mockingbird, Rebecca, Alice in Wonderland.
Do you  have a special memory associated with any of the books? I do, with The Catcher in the Rye.On the first day of school when I was a senior in high school, our English teacher gave out the semester extra reading list, which included The Catcher in the Rye. The following day she asked us to mark that one off the list, as it had been deemed inappropriate." Naturally, every student who hadn't already, rushed out to buy and read it.
(Ironic, isn't it, since the book is about 16-year-old Holden Caufield.)

Looking forward to hearing from you about your favorites and what you might now be inspired to read:
So, the list

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. The Divine Comedy - Dante Alighieri
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 Faulks
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 Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adam
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 Berniere
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 Collin
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


  1. It just shows how much free time I had in my youth, that I have read most of these selections. Of the ones I haven't read, I have started many of them, but I think that life is too short (at this point for me) to finish them all. Usually reading the selection leads to reading the whole series. Which is why it's probable that the compiler of the list hadn't read the whole list for pleasure. (Anyone who reads The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes knows that those stories only make sense after reading the first Sherlock Holmes Book, A Study in Scarlet.) And I must admit that there are Shakespeare plays that I would not have finished if I hadn't been in college with friends and Professors wanting to discuss them. So it looks to me like this list is more to round out a reader's "experience" with literature, while avoiding things that are not well written (which would be why the Twilight Series was not listed) or just plain fun (like Janet Evanovich or Carl Hiasen).

    1. Beryl, how wonderful that you've read most. Yes, I too believe the list is to provide readers a well-rounded experience with various types of literature, but staying within the bounds of the well-written. I raised eyebrows at a few, including The Da Vinci Code (while extremely enjoyable, is it great literature?)Thanks so much for your insights!!

  2. Glad someone else agree's about the suspect Da Vinci Code + JK Rowlings.

    Your experience with the 'Catcher in the Rye' (which I have not read) is the same as 'Lady Chatterley's Lover ' over here it was a banned book and we girls could not get our hands on a copy!!

    Have read all Jane Austin's books,the Bronte sisters..they were a required reading for a classical education back in the 50/60s..sadly now have been turned into light chic flick horror's!

    'The womens Room' had a great effect on me same with 'To Kill a Mockingbird'.

    Have just finished reading 'Tender is the Night' by Scott Fitzgerald interesting fairly light read.

    Many excellent writers' are not sure we could make up another list.

    Thank you for an interesting post. Ida

    1. The Womens Room is one I haven't read. Yes, many excellent books are missing. One other list I found was Esquire Magazine's 75 best books and it included many missing here. Every list is different. There are so many wonderful books, so little time!

  3. Most of these books I read before I was 20. (Measuring "most" in terms of pages.) The one book I have studiously avoided is Cold Comfort Farm, since it is already my favorite movie, and I would hate to find out that it was made from an inferior book, or that it should have been a much better movie. "Favorite" hardly does it justice, since I can't even count the number of times my daughter and I have watched it!
    I totally agree with you about how silly it is to include The Da Vinci Code as great literature. But Memoirs of a Geisha is the one book I feel the most cheated by. Arthur Golden's female voice was the most inauthentic since The Bridges of Madison County. At least The Da Vinci Code was honest about being fiction (although I did have a Jewish friend who hilariously thought it was real), and wasn't just written to tap into the American subconcious and incorrect preconceptions. Plus I had already read the first in the series, (Angels and Demons), so was even more in tune with the "James Bond does the Vatican as Einstein would" style of Dan Brown.

    1. Wow, you are well-read person!I read Cold Comfort Farm some years ago. Had noticed from your blog that it was your favorite movie. I have not seen the movie! There are numerous books on this list I haven't read, but many are on my TO READ list!.


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