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Tuesday, August 12, 2008


The Big Read is an NEA program designed to encourage community reading initiatives. They've come up with this list of the top 100 books, using criteria they don't explain, and they estimate that the average adult has only read 6 of these.So, we are encouraged to:

So, we are encouraged to:

1) Look at the list and bold those we have read. (I had to underline them in order to get them to stand out)

2) Italicize those we intend to read.

3) Underline the books we LOVE

4) Reprint this list in our own blogs and share!

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 (almost… minus a few)

15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier

16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien

17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks

18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger

19 The Time Traveler'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 (yes, I actually read the entire thing... aren't you proud of me?)

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 Bernieres

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 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 (no, but I've read Frankenstein... does that count?)

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 (no, but I've read two Toni Morrison books... who I think was my generations 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 (I even read it in French... so there NEA!)

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

So… I have only read (or can only remember reading) 23 of the 100 (though I feel a little like I’m cheating with that, since Hamlet is a part of the complete works of William Shakespeare… and the truth is I don’t think I’ve ever read Cymbeline, a few of the histories or some of his sonnets). It certainly gives me a whole list of books to go look for at the library. I didn't italicize those I want to read because until I've read the descriptions of them, how will I know (though just by the titles Love In The Time Of Cholera and The Five People You Meet In Heaven are intriguing)? Plus, shouldn't a part of me (the academic part at least) want to read all of them?

And I want to know where are Fahrenheit 451 (which is one of the NEA Big Read sponsored books!**) and Hunchback of Notre Dame (one of the few books I was required to read in high school that I really enjoyed… there is just something truly rambling and wonderful about Hugo). And for that matter, where is Red Badge of Courage or The Scarlet Letter (both of which I would have to only half-bold because I read parts of them… enough to pass the tests in MA Block, sorry Mrs. Singleton).

(this list courtesy of both my mother’s blog, AliceDsThoughts, and Merrilee’s blog, Merrilee’s Musings, on the side)

(**Thank you to the first comment for pointing out the disparities between the list and the "One Book/One Community" program... I, in fact, know about the latter due to the fact that our theatre department was granted a NEA Big Read grant last year and we did an entire year of programming focused on Fahrenheit 451, including producing the play as our last show of the spring season... we also gave out over three hundred free copies of the book to individuals here in the San Luis Valley and had forums on censorship, a banned movie series, etc. In no way were my remarks above intended to belittle the NEA. I think some of their grants and sponsorships are very noble endeavors).


spcoleman said...

Great blog! Of course, you've probably already discovered by now that this list is from the U.K. and compiled by the BBC. In the National Endowment for the Arts' Big Read, the NEA gives grants to communities for "one book, one community" programs. The communities then choose from a few dozen (not these 100) books selected by the NEA. Just thought NEA and the Big Read communities should get their just due!

Merrilee said...

Yay, you're home!
Other missing books:
Anything ancient! Hello, where is Homer??? Aesop? Virgil?

Ok, I think we can all agree that this list is missing just a few good books but does contain some excellent ones.

Alice said...

Ok, now we just have to get your father and sister to go over this list and by the time we all see what we have and have not read we much just prove what a family of geeks really looks like!

Jamie said...

Well, I knew we were all readers, but I can only believe that most people have only read 6. Like I mentioned in Alice's blog, if you actually read the books you were supposed to for high school english you would have met the quota.
I am personally a little concerned that the only books seemingly involving wizards on the list is Harry Potter. I just had to get my shot in there for the fantasy genre.
Jenna- Glad you made it home, have fun getting ready for the school year.

Anonymous said...

What? NO Kerouac? Did I miss "On the Road" or "Dharma Bums"? Bummer man - two of my fav. books...