How to Score 100 Books

Each morning, after the multi-stage marathon that is feeding my children breakfast, I grab my first, and most desperately needed,  cup of tea and stumble, bleary-eyed, to the computer to check what the rest of the world is up to. Usually, not a lot. It’s too early for some and too late for others. 

One recent morning, I woke to an interesting question: “Have you read more than 6 of these books?”. 

What followed was a list of 100 works, apparently compiled by the BBC, the suggestion being that the average person would not have read more than six of them. (Don’t ask me what evidence this bold assertion is based upon. Sounds to me like a fourth pint declaration. But let’s go with it..)

The instructions were to go through the list, bold the books you’ve read, italicise the ones you’ve partly read and mark with an asterisk the ones you own. Then count how many you’ve read, post the marked up list on facebook and invite your book-nerd friends to do the same.

Pointless? Hell yes. But, as far as Facebook memes go, interesting and, for me, irresistible. You get to measure your reading achievements against a random list compiled by anonymous strangers according to ill-defined guidelines and, from that, work out if you’re up to scratch in the committed reader stakes. And you get to nose into your friends’ reading lists.

Of course I did it.

For the record, I scored 53, not counting the Bible and “The collected works of Shakespeare”, which I have counted as incomplete because I can’t be absolutely sure I’ve read the lot. Not too shabby – until you find out the scores of nearly everyone else I know!

But here’s the thing. It’s an odd list. I mean, Jane Austen gets four separate listings and Shakespeare only “the collected works”. Where’s the logic in that?

And the omissions, well, I won’t go into which books I thought should have made it onto the list lest you realise what an unsophisticated, tasteless clod I really am. (Oh, you knew already? Shhh..)

Here’s the list. Have a look for yourself and let me know what you think. If nothing else, it might prod you into reading some excellent books that you might not have remembered or looked for otherwise.

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 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 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 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 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 Goldman

50 Atonement – Ian McEwan

51 Life of Pi – Yann Martel

52 Dune – Frank Herbert

53 Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbon

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

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2 Responses to How to Score 100 Books

  1. ainslie says:

    Carina, I totally agree – the list was sorely lacking in some important or just popular books and was far too weighted towards a classical, populist British library – it was a shame…. and no matter how un-put-downable it was, what on earth was a Time Traveller’s Wife doing on the list when Trainspotting or The Godfather were not there and were cultural icons in their day and wonderful books – to name two in a large shortfall. My hubby and I have been debating the list all day and were considering coming up with a list that was more reflective of our reading list – we wont as we have too much to do, but thanks because you created a great conversation by starting it in fb.

    Happy reading!
    ps – I thought your list was pretty good at 53! Don’t forget lots of mine were italicized, not bold as I start way more books than I ever get round to reading…!

  2. sarajschmidt says:

    I completely agree with both of you here! I love doing memes like this because they’re just fun, but it was a heavily one-sided list, and it even had repeats on it (both Hamlet and The Complete Works of Shakespeare?). So many amazing books weren’t even on the list.

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