The Big Read

Like a lot of people I’m always looking for something good to read. I often ask friends and associates for recommendations but that hasn’t been very successful. Possibly because I have a policy of killing anyone who suggests a book that I end up hating. Lately I’ve been downloading a lot of books off of the Amazon Top 100 ebooks  and Top 100 Free eBooks lists but that has been very hit or miss.  I’ve read some that I like but quite often I get a quarter to half way through a book and quit in disgust. But one thing I noticed on the free list is there are usually a lot of classics available. A part of my brain kept nagging me that people must still be reading them for a reason and that if I want something good to read there they are right in front of me. But to be honest I found the idea of reading a lot of them intimidating. And then one day while surfing the web I came across a list of the United Kingdom’s 200 “best-loved” novels. It was call The Big Read.

According to Wikipedia:
The Big Read was a survey on books carried out by the BBC in the United Kingdom in 2003, where over three quarters of a million votes were received from the British public to find the nation’s best-loved novel of all time.

I noticed right off that many of the books were the same ones I was seeing for free on Amazon and either the serendipitous synergy of that or the bourbon I was drinking at the time have spurred me to begin this project.  I have decided, in a moment that I am bound to regret. to read every book on the list. I’ve already read some of them, about 20 that I remember. I’ve marked those with an *. I may or may not reread them as part of this, but at the very least I will a make post for them and leave a comment or two.  I originally intended to go down the list in order but I’ve only just begun and already broken that rule. I just finished reading Pride and Prejudice and after enjoying that one I’ve started on Emma. So I will let one book lead me to another but when nothing presents itself I will jump back to where I left off.

I see seven or eight other books that I started and did not finish. I’ve marked those with a ~. I’m not looking forward to reading those but will give them another chance and comment why I didn’t finish them in the first place.

I will make a new post for each book. As I said I’ve just finished Pride and Prejudice so I will start there. In the future I will start a post when I begin a book and updating it as I go. I am not going to attempt to do any kind of review. I read enough reviews to know it is an actual craft and that I am the farthest thing from a literary critic. I will make up the scoring system as I go along and it will almost certainly change from book to book.

Edited to add. The scoring system I’ve settled on is giving each book a rank from 1-10 in each of three categories; Writing, Characters and Story. So each book can have a combined score between 3 and 30. In the list of books below the number in parenthesis after the authors name is the score.

And finally. Flowers in the Attic? Really Britain? I hate you all so much right now. With any luck I will die before I ever get to the end of the list. Thank God this poll was done before 2005 so there are no Twilight books or 50 Shades of Grey.

  1. *The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien (27)
  2. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (23)
  3. His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman
  4. *The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
  5. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J. K. Rowling
  6. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  7. Winnie-the-Pooh by A. A. Milne (27)
  8. *Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell
  9. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis
  10. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë (22)
  11. *Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
  12. Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
  13. Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks
  14. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
  15. The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger
  16. The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
  17. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
  18. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (25.5)
  19. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernières
  20. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
  21. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
  22. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J. K. Rowling (21)
  23. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J. K. Rowling (21)
  24. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J. K. Rowling (21)
  25. *The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien
  26. Tess of the d’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
  27. Middlemarch by George Eliot
  28. A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
  29. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
  30. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
  31. The Story of Tracy Beaker by Jacqueline Wilson
  32. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez
  33. The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
  34. David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
  35. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
  36. Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson (24)
  37. A Town Like Alice by Nevil Shute
  38. Persuasion by Jane Austen
  39. *Dune by Frank Herbert
  40. Emma by Jane Austen (10)
  41. Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery (30)
  42. *Watership Down by Richard Adams
  43. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  44. ~The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
  45. Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh
  46. Animal Farm by George Orwell
  47. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens (28)
  48. Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy
  49. Goodnight Mister Tom by Michelle Magorian
  50. The Shell Seekers by Rosamunde Pilcher
  51. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett (26)
  52. *Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
  53. ~The Stand by Stephen King
  54. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
  55. A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth
  56. The BFG by Roald Dahl
  57. Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome
  58. Black Beauty by Anna Sewell (8)
  59. Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer (20)
  60. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky
  61. Noughts & Crosses by Malorie Blackman
  62. Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden
  63. *A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
  64. The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough
  65. Mort by Terry Pratchett
  66. The Magic Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton
  67. The Magus by John Fowles
  68. *Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett
  69. Guards! Guards! by Terry Pratchett
  70. Lord of the Flies by William Golding
  71. Perfume by Patrick Süskind
  72. The Ragged-Trousered Philanthropists by Robert Tressell
  73. Night Watch by Terry Pratchett
  74. Matilda by Roald Dahl
  75. Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding
  76. The Secret History by Donna Tartt
  77. The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
  78. Ulysses by James Joyce
  79. Bleak House by Charles Dickens
  80. Double Act by Jacqueline Wilson
  81. The Twits by Roald Dahl (9)
  82. I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
  83. *Holes by Louis Sachar
  84. Gormenghast by Mervyn Peake
  85. The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
  86. Vicky Angel by Jacqueline Wilson
  87. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
  88. Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons
  89. Magician by Raymond E. Feist
  90. On the Road by Jack Kerouac
  91. The Godfather by Mario Puzo (23)
  92. *The Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean M. Auel
  93. The Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett
  94. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
  95. Katherine by Anya Seton
  96. Kane and Abel by Jeffrey Archer
  97. Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez
  98. Girls in Love by Jacqueline Wilson
  99. The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot
  100. Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie
  101. ~Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome
  102. Small Gods by Terry Pratchett
  103. The Beach by Alex Garland
  104. ~Dracula by Bram Stoker
  105. Point Blanc by Anthony Horowitz
  106. The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens
  107. Stormbreaker by Anthony Horowitz
  108. The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks
  109. *The Day of the Jackal by Frederick Forsyth
  110. The Illustrated Mum by Jacqueline Wilson
  111. Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy
  112. The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Aged 13¾ by Sue Townsend
  113. The Cruel Sea by Nicholas Monsarrat
  114. Les Misérables by Victor Hugo
  115. The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy
  116. The Dare Game by Jacqueline Wilson
  117. Bad Girls by Jacqueline Wilson
  118. ~The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
  119. ~Shogun by James Clavell
  120. The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham
  121. Lola Rose by Jacqueline Wilson
  122. Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray
  123. The Forsyte Saga by John Galsworthy
  124. House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski
  125. The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
  126. Reaper Man by Terry Pratchett
  127. Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging by Louise Rennison
  128. *The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle (22)
  129. Possession: A Romance by A. S. Byatt
  130. The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
  131. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
  132. Danny, the Champion of the World by Roald Dahl
  133. East of Eden by John Steinbeck
  134. George’s Marvellous Medicine by Roald Dahl
  135. Wyrd Sisters by Terry Pratchett
  136. The Color Purple by Alice Walker
  137. Hogfather by Terry Pratchett
  138. The Thirty-nine Steps by John Buchan
  139. Girls in Tears by Jacqueline Wilson
  140. Sleepovers by Jacqueline Wilson
  141. All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque
  142. Behind the Scenes at the Museum by Kate Atkinson
  143. High Fidelity by Nick Hornby
  144. It by Stephen King
  145. James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
  146. The Green Mile by Stephen King
  147. *Papillon by Henri Charrière
  148. Men at Arms by Terry Pratchett
  149. Master and Commander by Patrick O’Brian
  150. Skeleton Key by Anthony Horowitz
  151. Soul Music by Terry Pratchett
  152. Thief of Time by Terry Pratchett
  153. The Fifth Elephant by Terry Pratchett
  154. Atonement by Ian McEwan
  155. Secrets by Jacqueline Wilson
  156. The Silver Sword by Ian Serraillier
  157. *One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey
  158. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
  159. Kim by Rudyard Kipling
  160. Cross Stitch by Diana Gabaldon
  161. ~Moby-Dick by Herman Melville
  162. River God by Wilbur Smith
  163. Sunset Song by Lewis Grassic Gibbon
  164. The Shipping News by E. Annie Proulx
  165. *The World According to Garp by John Irving
  166. Lorna Doone by R. D. Blackmore
  167. Girls Out Late by Jacqueline Wilson
  168. The Far Pavilions by M. M. Kaye
  169. The Witches by Roald Dahl
  170. *Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White
  171. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
  172. They Used to Play on Grass by Terry Venables and Gordon Williams
  173. The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
  174. The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco
  175. Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder
  176. Dustbin Baby by Jacqueline Wilson
  177. Fantastic Mr. Fox by Roald Dahl
  178. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
  179. *Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach
  180. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
  181. The Suitcase Kid by Jacqueline Wilson
  182. Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
  183. The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay
  184. Silas Marner by George Eliot
  185. American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis
  186. Diary of a Nobody by George and Weedon Grossmith
  187. Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh
  188. Goosebumps by R. L. Stine
  189. Heidi by Johanna Spyri
  190. Sons and Lovers by D. H. Lawrence
  191. The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera
  192. Man and Boy by Tony Parsons
  193. The Truth by Terry Pratchett
  194. The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells
  195. The Horse Whisperer by Nicholas Evans
  196. A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry
  197. Witches Abroad by Terry Pratchett
  198. *The Once and Future King by T. H. White
  199. The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
  200. Flowers in the Attic by V. C. Andrews