Thursday, April 16, 2009

100 Books, the ones I've read and some thoughts pertaining to them

My friend Christine tagged me on a list of books purported to be put together by the BBC. This list of 100 books included the note that the BBC claimed most people had only read six books on the list. I started looking at it more carefully and thought that was weird, since books like "The Bible" and "all the Harry Potter" books were listed.

A little research revealed that it was actually a list put together by the Guardian via poll of "people's favorite books" which explains both the eclectic selections and the fact that there are both excellent and TERRIBLE AWFUL books listed. It would also explain why many of my favorite books aren't listed.... because of the Philistines responding to the poll.

Here's the list, with the original instructions and my commentary included:

The BBC believes most people will have read only 6 of the 100 books listed here. How do your reading habits stack up? Share with your fellow readers.

Copy, edit, and paste into a note of your own.

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen – Yeah. Why is this book number 1?

2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien – But of course.

3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte – Yeah. It’s hard to express how much I dislike the Brontes and their ilk (yes, I’m looking at you Jane Austen).

4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling – Right here I start to wonder if this whole list is a scam. The BBC think that people have only read 6 of the listed books? Every kid in America has read all SEVEN of these. I would hate to have to row to England to research if this is real, but I’ll do it if I have to.

5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee – I loved this book. And the movie.

6 The Bible – Yes, yes.

7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte – Yup. *spoiler* they die.

8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell – They don’t call me “Big Brother” for nothing, home slice.

9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman – Yeah. First book, great. Second book, okay. Third book… complete

unexpected pile of steaming poo.

10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens – Be amazed to discover I’ve only read one Dickens book. Read on to discover it (oh the excitement).

11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott – I don’t think so.

12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy -- Yeah

13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller – About halfway through I wanted out as bad as the characters so I threw the book

into the ocean.

14 Complete Works of Shakespeare – Hello, English major here. Of course.

15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier – Nope. I never read books named after people.

16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien – Yeah, several times. When I was like six.

17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulk – Never heard of this book.

18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger – Loved it.

19 The Time Traveller’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger – nope.

20 Middlemarch - George Eliot – No.

21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchel – saw the movie.

22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald – Sure. It was okay.

23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens – No.

24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy – Yes. So thankful for the cast of characters list in the back.

25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams – Yeah. Don’t panic.

26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh – Nope.

27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky – No.

29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll – Yeah.

30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame –Parts of it. And I rode the ride at Disneyland.

31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy -- No.

32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens-- No.

33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis – Yeah.

34 Emma - Jane Austen -- Yup.

35 Persuasion - Jane Austen – Yup. I took a class in college. I read all this crap.

36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis – Yeah, of course. Were you not listening to number 33?

37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini – Sitting on the shelf in my room. Everyone tells me it’s good but I can’t

get up the guts to read it.

38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres Mais – Saw the movie. Vague memory of Nicholas Cage goofing around on the beach with some topless women. Never felt compelled to seek out the book for some reason. Hmmmm.

39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden – No.

40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne – OF COURSE!

41 Animal Farm - George Orwell – Yes. 1984 with animals. Classic.

42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown – Sadly, yes. So sad that I have read this. It’s like having an albatross around my neck.

43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez – Love it.

44 A Prayer for Owen Meany - John Irving – Yup. It was fine.

45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins – No.

46 Anne of Green Gables – No. How many times do I have to see that mini-series for it to count?

47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy -- No.

48 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood – Yes. I liked it, as I recall. Krista is not a fan.

49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding – Love it! C.S. Lewis called the vivid writing in this book “hallucinogenic.” I think that’s right. A great book.

50 Atonement - Ian McEwan – No. Someone once told me I write like McEwan, though, and I took that as a big compliment. Might have been referring to my handwriting, I guess.

51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel – Yes. Book = good. Author and author notes = pretentious.

52 Dune - Frank Herbert – Yeah. Classic sci-fi. Just don’t eat the Spice, you don’t know what that stuff is made out of.

53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons – Nope.

54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen – Unfortunately I slogged through this in college. Or is it bad manners to say “slogged”? I forget.

55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth – Never heard of this book.

56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon – this book is unknown to me.

57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens – No. But I hear it is the best of books and the worst of books.

58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley – Of course. Don’t you get forced to read this in college at some point? I preferred 1984 overall.

59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night – Yeah. It was interesting. I enjoyed it.

60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez-- Yup. I’m a fan.

61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck – Yes. Thanks to my wife I’ve now read every word Steinbeck ever wrote (minus grocery lists).

62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov – No.

63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt Yes. Had some great moments but devolved rapidly.

64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold - No

65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas No. I’ve seen a painting, though.

66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac No. But I’ve often written notes to myself without editing them, too.

67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy No.

68 Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding – No. And if the movie is even remotely related to the book I would

gladly lob a Molotov cocktail at this book.

69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie No. But I like Rushdie pretty well so I’ll probably get around to it eventually.

70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville No. But it’s on my to-do list as one I think I would love forever.

71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens – No. Because I am lame.

72 Dracula - Bram Stoker Yes. Then I did a book report on it where I fashioned a cardboard coffin and put a stuffed penguin inside.

73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett – No.

74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson What the heck kind of list is this? Is it like a love letter to Britain or something? Haven’t read it.

75 Ulysses - James Joyce Unfortunately, yes. This thing is a monstrosity designed to make critics and scholars have something to do with their time.

76 The Inferno - Dante Yes, yes, I know all about the nine circles.

77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome Never heard of it. Title sounds promising.

78 Germinal - Emile Zola NO

79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray NO

80 Possession - AS Byatt As a matter of fact I read it and found it interesting. I liked the ending better than the whole rest of the book.

81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens – Yes, I’ve read it.

82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell Another I’ve never heard of.

83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker I think I purposely avoided this movie. Whoopie Goldberg has no eyebrows. Creepy.

84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro I think I fell asleep in the movie, though.

85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert Nope.

86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry Another I’ve never heard of.

87 Charlotte’s Web - EB White - *Spoiler* the spider dies.

88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom – Dear God, NO!

89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle – Of course.

90 Imaginary Jesus -- Matt Mikalatos -- I love this book so much. It's the greatest. I laughed until I puked.

91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad No. Go ahead, say that I suck. Say it!

92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery – Nope.

93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks I’ve read some Banks but not this one.

94 Watership Down - Richard Adams – Yup. Love books with rabbit prophets in them. This is the only one I know of that fits that description.

95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole Started it. Several times. My friend Roland loves it. Me… not so much. I’m pretty slow to abandon a book but this one has been abandoned several times.

96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute I haven’t even heard of this one.

97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas -- No. My sister loves this book, though. Loves it.

98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare - Of course, of course. I do have a vivid memory of watching the Mel Gibson version (!) with my buddy Chris during high school and then beating each other up afterward.

99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl - Dahl must be read. It's essential.

100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo -- Yes, of course. And I know the soundtrack to the musical I have never seen. Go figure.


  1. Dude - why such hatred for things Austen? Are you just so miserable because you are repressing your inner Mr. Darcy? I guess it's not everyone's cup of tea but I love those works.

  2. Anonymous7:57 AM

    dude. haha. more than half of the time i am reading your blog i am dissolving in laughter. thanks for sharing brother. always a pleasure. and i, too, will never understand your hatred for austen. :)

  3. What about Robinson Caruso? Who are these people and where did the survey people dig them up?

  4. I will reveal all about my hatred of Eyre and the Brontes in a future post. I promise.

  5. Question: How do Emma and Alice in Wonderland not count as books named after people?? (see #15.) Just wondering.

    ps - i'm on stint in berlin, in case you were wondering. :)

  6. I can't believe you have not read the Time Traveler's Wife. I think you would enjoy it. Mom

    PS Dad is the one who does not know how to spell Robinson Crusoe

  7. OK, 1. It kind of freaks me out that I posted about books I've read today too.

    2. I pretty much agreed with everything you wrote except for Jane Eyre, of course, and The Color Purple. But I forgive you because you're not a woman.

  8. Ive read 15 of those books. How did they get 6. I had to read at least 10 of them for high school.

  9. I;ve read at least 30 of them and some of them are on my shelf to be read. I tried Catch 22 but couldn't stand it, so I stopped. Heart of Darkness is o.k. but a little hard to get through the stream of thought writing.

  10. Matt, if you liked Lord of the Flies, you may enjoy Swallows and Amazons -- Golding had it in mind when he wrote LOTF.
    But great job, English major and writer! You've put away quite a few good novels!

  11. Of course you have read way more of these than me. But... take #37 off your shelf and read it NOW! And #27 is one of my all-time favs.

    Don't understand this list btw. Like would not #98 but included in #14?