100 book meme

July 27, 2008

An interesting meme is going around which presents a list of 100 books. If you have read one then you show the title in bold, if you have started but not finished then in italics. There is also an obligation to explain the unbelievable and make the odd comment. I made a decision with these memes some time ago to ignore most, and refuse to pass them on in all cases. This one was too tempting to ignore and if anyone else wants to take up the meme you can find the html for the table here. The meme seems to have lost the origin of its list. There is some overlap with the list from Time (of which I have read less)

Title Author Comments
1 Pride and Prejudice Jane Austen About the only Austin I enjoyed reading
2 The Lord of the Rings JRR Tolkien At least once a year until I left University in order to win silly competitions (can you remember the name of the first Elf Frodo met and where?
3 Jane Eyre Charlotte Bronte An obligation rather than a pleasure, but then I went back to it after reading Jasper Fforde with new eyes
4 Harry Potter series JK Rowling Of course, why would anyone who grew up on Jennings and Derbyshire ignore the sequel?
5 To Kill a Mockingbird Harper Lee The archetypal Bildungsroman and still not beaten
6 The Bible (disputed) My mother was an agnostic but read us the whole of The Bible designed to be read as Literature so that we would understand European Literature. I also read the whole of the King James version cover to cover as a naive & ostentatious convert at the age of 17 and while embarrassed by that period I don’t regret it.
7 Wuthering Heights Emily Bronte Still the best of the Bronte girls, although all readers of Cold Comfort Farm will know that it was really written by Bramwell
8 Nineteen Eighty Four George Orwell Not the best of the utopian novels either. I put Darkness at Noon and Brave New World ahead of this
9 His Dark Materials Philip Pullman Wonderful, wonderful series that took me back to Milton (how can he not be on the list). I just hope the deadwood of American conservative evangelism does not prevent the remaining episodes of the film being produced. A contrast with the saccharine and platitudes and downright cruelty of the Narnia sequence
10 Great Expectations Charles Dickens I really hate Dickens (with the exception of A Tale of Two Cities and possibly Bleak House) but I did the obligation-reads when young
11 Little Women Louisa M Alcott Aloud in class in the fifth form against my better judgement as narrator and surprised myself by rather liking it
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles Thomas Hardy That final scene as the execution takes place is incredibly moving
13 Catch 22 Joseph Heller How could anyone called Snowden avoid it! A classic, but a one book author, the remainder was tedious
14 Complete Works Shakespeare That mother again, but it was worth it, I just wish I had a better memory
15 Rebecca Daphne Du Maurier Tedious, oh how tedious
16 The Hobbit JRR Tolkien Many times and really looking forward to the film
17 Birdsong Sebastian Faulks I suppose I should, but it never appealed
18 Catcher in the Rye JD Salinger Of course, but you have to read this during the trauma of puberty to understand it
19 The Time Traveller’s Wife Audrey Niffenegger Never heard of it, is it worth it
20 Middlemarch George Eliot Realism personified, Eliot is so much better than her contemporaries
21 Gone With The Wind Margaret Mitchell No, despite my confederate sympathies and every attempt I have made to watch the film as resulted in sleep
22 The Great Gatsby F Scott Fitzgerald Never rally liked the period and the film didn’t encourage me
23 Bleak House Charles Dickens Dickens as Kafka but without the bite, the BBC series was good, removed the dross
24 War and Peace Leo Tolstoy Several times and I love Russian Novels, rather like Trollope (the only English equivalent) they unfold in multiple waves of meaning, rather like Wagner if you want an operatic equivalent
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Douglas Adams Best as a radio series (its original milieu) as a novel Dirk Gently is better
26 Brideshead Revisited Evelyn Waugh I am not sure how this novel will survive a generation removed from war time experience (mine had it through our parents). A Dance to the Music of Time by Anthony Powell is much better of its type, but without the religious theme which is understated but constantly present. From what I hear the film is not a patch on the BBC serialisation
27 Crime and Punishment Fyodor Dostoyevsky My first entry into Dostoyevsky and a basic teaching text on any decent ethics course. I am surprised not to see his greatest novel The Brothers Karamazov in the list
28 Grapes of Wrath John Steinbeck Should be compulsory reading for any politician and how the Steinbeck museum in Monterey can sanitise out his socialism I do not understand
29 Alice in Wonderland Lewis Carroll to be honest I enjoyed this much more as an adult
30 The Wind in the Willows Kenneth Grahame Probably one of the best books for a child ever written, and not bad for an adult. I have an early childhood memory of being hysterical with laughter as my mother read the door scraperscene from the Wild Wood. Too many adaptations miss out Pan’s Island as well which is a pity as it is central to the book
31 Anna Karenina Leo Tolstoy Of course, its russian and its a damn good read
32 David Copperfield Charles Dickens (sigh)
33 Chronicles of Narnia CS Lewis Yes and then kept it away from my own children, this stuff is evil Manichean rubbish
34 Emma Jane Austen Why so much Jane Austin in this list?
35 Persuasion Jane Austen The best of Austin and the only one worth of a list
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe CS Lewis see above
37 The Kite Runner Khaled Hosseini Hopefully will be seen as a classic, and the film was authentic
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin Louis De Bernieres I keep meaning to, its in the pile
39 Memoirs of a Geisha Arthur Golden Its in the pile, awaiting
40 Winnie the Pooh AA Milne Ruined by Disney, still wonderful in the original. My younger sister used to be able to recite from memory and I still remember her If this continues we will be entirely surrounded by water from her push chair when I was being picked up from primary school in a thunderstorm
40 Animal Farm George Orwell Bedtime reading at the age of 5 ….
41 The Da Vinci Code Dan Brown Whiled away a couple of hours with this, and anything that is against Opus Dei must have something going for it
42 One Hundred Years of Solitude Gabriel Garcia Marquez I keep picking it up, then finding something else to do …
43 A Prayer for Owen Meany John Irving Is it special?
45 The Woman in White Wilkie Collins After this all other mystery stories fade
46 Anne of Green Gables LM Montgomery We had to in school, dire, tedious, truly truly terrible
47 Far From The Madding Crowd Thomas Hardy I fell in love with Bathsheba as a teenager
48 The Handmaid’s Tale Margaret Atwood A classic and getting closer to reality each day that passes
49 Lord of the Flies William Golding My O level text book and I loved it, the 1963 film versio by Peter Brook has the most incredible opening sequence for anyone whose childhood was over shadowed by the Cuban Missile Crisis
50 Atonement Ian McEwan One of his best and the film (surprisingly) was authentic
51 Life of Pi Yann Martel Enjoyable but I was surprised at its popularity
52 Dune Frank Herbert One of the classics of science fiction fell off a bit on the third sequel but recovered with chapter House Dune. Film terrible, although Sting was good, Television adaption much better
53 Cold Comfort Farm Stella Gibbons An exemplar of English comic writing. The use of stars to alert the reader to especially well written text is a delight and then that wonderful, wonderful line and did the goat die?
54 Sense and Sensibility Jane Austen What is this? A Jane Austen appreciation society?
55 A Suitable Boy Vikram Seth Greatest of the Anglo-Indian novels and his greatest work. Up there with Trollope in my cannon or writers
56 The Shadow of the Wind Carlos Ruiz Zafon Never heard of it
57 A Tale Of Two Cities Charles Dickens and the only book by Dickens that I ever read more than once
58 Brave New World Aldous Huxley One of the all time classics, and one that is more apposite today than it was at the time of writing
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime Mark Haddon One of the best ever first novels, really puts you in the mind of the hero
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera Gabriel Garcia Marquez I keep meaning to …
61 Of Mice and Men John Steinbeck If you don’t cry you are not human
62 Lolita Vladimir Nabokov Never had the inclination
63 The Secret History Donna Tartt Never heard of it
64 The Lovely Bones Alice Sebold No, but I like the author so should look this up
65 Count of Monte Cristo Alexandre Dumas A classic adventure story, not sure I would want to read it again however
66 On The Road Jack Kerouac Not my period, culture or geography
67 Jude the Obscure Thomas Hardy Moving, way ahead of its time (you can see why the good Bishop burnt it) and the reception resulted in Hardy only writing poetry thereafter. But what a last novel
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary Helen Fielding I read it in the Independent as it came out, great newspaper column, poor book
69 Midnight’s Children Salman Rushdie Confession time – its the only think I had read by Rushdie and I don’t see what all the fuss is about, source of many an argument with my mother when she was alive
70 Moby Dick Herman Melville One of those novels that everyone should read, the language alone makes it worth while
71 Oliver Twist Charles Dickens The book for which the word schmaltz was invented and an apologia for capitalism
72 Dracula Bram Stoker I could never get into horror other than in the form of films
73 The Secret Garden Frances Hodgson Burnett Not until I read it my daughter and I must admit I rather fell for it
74 Notes From A Small Island Bill Bryson I have never understood his appeal
75 Ulysses James Joyce Oh yes, and done the ~Bloom’s Day walk.
76 The Bell Jar Sylvia Plath To my shame no, as I lover her poetry but I have just ordered it
77 Swallows and Amazons Arthur Ransome An essential part of my childhood and my sister and I mapped Bala Lake in our kayak Tarka in imitation. I bought a full replica of the first edition and read them again over a couple of weeks and they are still as good at 54 as they were at a much earlier age
78 Germinal Emile Zola I know I should
79 Vanity Fair William Makepeace Thackeray Becky Sharp is a delight in this wonderful antidote to A Pilgrim’s Progress
80 Possession AS Byatt I should have, have ordered the film from Amazon this morning
81 A Christmas Carol Charles Dickens Please, please take this away, burn it or at least ban all reference at Christmas. Tiny Tim should be sent to the workhouse
82 Cloud Atlas David Mitchell It just got to the top of the pile and it will occupy me this week. Looking forward to it
83 The Color Purple Alice Walker Loved the film, keep meaning to read the book
85 The Remains of the Day Kazuo Ishiguro This is one of the greatest novels by one of the greatest living authors. Pity about the film
85 Madame Bovary Gustave Flaubert Yes, but did not enjoy, many of the books it influence
d are better it is a classic
86 A Fine Balance Rohinton Mistry I loved this, but there again the whole of the Anglo-Indian cannon of work is a playground of delights, but this is one of the best
87 Charlotte’s Web EB White No intention
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven Mitch Albom Not even thought of it. Should I?
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes Sir Arthur Conan Doyle All of them as a teenager, and they are still fun. First read Hound of the Baskerville’s in a tent on holiday when very young and did not sleep
90 The Faraway Tree Collection Enid Blyton The only suitable use of anything by this author is satire
91 Heart of Darkness Joseph Conrad One of those books, painful as it is, that any intelligent person has to read
92 The Little Prince Antoine De Saint-Exupery I did but I never rally saw the attraction, other than the pictures
93 The Wasp Factory Iain Banks Another great first novel although its not an easy read, it is a great book
94 Watership Down Richard Adams Fun, but the author lost it completely in the truly dire Plague Dogs
95 A Confederacy of Dunces John Kennedy Toole Its in the pile awaiting reading
96 A Town Like Alice Nevil Shute Surprising given the subject area, this is a gentle book which occupies but does not challenge the mind
97 The Three Musketeers Alexandre Dumas Loads of fun, but most of the film versions are better
98 Hamlet William Shakespeare I always wished we had done this for O Level rather than Macbeth
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Roald Dahl I think he is one of the worst of children’s authors, no challenge, dumbing down
100 Les Miserables Victor Hugo I keep meaning to, and plan one of these days to get to the musical

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