No time to blog. I'm knitting!
See you in a week!

Beachy and not-so-beachy books

I've bought my beach books, and because I didn't have anything on the go after finishing Eragon (I will not read the rest of the series--too much description...) I started the trashiest of them, The Other Boleyn Girl.  It's meh.  Good enough to read on the subway and to put me to sleep, but not all that great.  It'll be good for the beach.

I have said this before, but it's still true: Graduate school killed my love of reading.  I still read a lot at work every day, mostly policies and collective agreements, and I find it hard to read anything that challenges me in the evenings because I'm tired and want to zone out.  I'm working on it. 

I picked up Strong Poison by Dorothy Sayer, on Juno's recommendation and plan to have my feet in the sand and a Corona in my hand when I start that.  I'm also bringing along a review copy of Knitting The Threads of Time: Casting Back to the Heart of Our Craft which sounds really interesting.  I doubt I'll have time to get through them all with the kids to snorkel with and sun to soak in, but there's no harm in trying. 

A friend put up this list which I thought was interesting.  It's a meme, but only if you want.  My total=32.  I find this list a bit Dickens heavy.  What about Toni Morrison or DH Lawrence or E.M. Forester instead?  Like all these lists, it's a statement about what is considered worth reading (for me, NOT The DaVinci Code).


The Big Read ( said that, on average, adults have only read six books on this list. So ... copy this list, remove my yeses and nos, and add your comments (favourable or otherwise) about the ones you have read. Don't forget to include a total. 

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen - 10 times at least.
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien – Started a few times.  Probably will never read it
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte - YES
4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling – YES
5. To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee - YES
6 The Bible – I went to Catholic School, so have read parts of it.  No interest in it now.
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte - YES
8 1984 - George Orwell - YES
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman -
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens -
11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott - YES (and everything else she wrote--some neat trashy stuff)
12 Tess of the D'Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy – YES
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller – YES
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare – (Only what I had to read in high school--not because I didn't like it, just because I never got back to it.)
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier -
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien -
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks -
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger - YES
19 The Time Traveller's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger -
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot- On my TO READ list
21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell - YES
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald - YES
23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens-
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy -
25 The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams - YES
26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh -
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky -
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll - YES
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame -
31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy - YES
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens - why so much Dickens?
33 The Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis -
34 Emma - Jane Austen - YES
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen - YES (one of my favourites)
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - YES
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 -YES
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown - Never will
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 - YES (20 times at least--one of my favourites)
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy -
48 The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood - YES
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding - YES
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan - YES (liked it but preferred Amsterdam)
51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel - on my nightstand
52 Dune - Frank Herbert- YES
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons -
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen - YES
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 - YES
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 - YES
69 Midnight's Children - Salman Rushdie -
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville -
71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens -
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker - YES
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 - Have it.  Need to read it
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker -YES
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro -
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert -
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry - YES (excellent book)
87 Charlotte's Web - EB White - YES
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 - YES
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupe – YES
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 – Shakespeare – YES

99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl - Working on it with Emma
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo -


That was kind of neat going through the list, I've read 46 not including the ones I haven't finished :) And of course there are some on my "to read" list.

I think it's safe to say you're not missing anything in making the decision to never read The DaVinci Code, I read it in a deal making session with a 13 year old and can't remember the story :)

You didn't miss a thing skipping the DaVinci Code - I regret the brain cells I lost over that one.
I've read 48 of them. I think they could have condensed a few things into "anything by... Dickens, Dumas, Austen, Thackery, etc". This is an interesting list, but I'm working my way through the banned books list at the moment.

That's kind of fun, but you're right that it's a completely random list. I've read 35 and a few halves, but I got "points" for a lot of fluffy ones (like, yes, The Da Vinci Code. The man can't write a sentence to save his life, but he has a gift for plot).

I've been reading more since I stopped picking up books by people who share my privileges, though I make some exceptions (Canadian lit of all sorts is still OK because I'm trying to catch up on my cultural literacy here). Somehow, a book set in Zambia or Singapore or Bangladesh that's written by someone whose family is actually from Zambia or Singapore or Bangladesh stands a much better chance of holding my attention than one more indistinguishable white-dude thriller set in Delaware, you know?

Hi, I've enjoyed reading your blog for a while now and have never commented before, but here goes.

As you say, these lists are always representative of a particular formation of 'cultural value' ... but I think it's interesting that you seem to be miffed about the Dickens quotient, and I couldn't help doing a quick comparison with another major 19thC author who has multiple novels on this list. So, Austen wrote 6 novels in her life, the last of which was unfinished at her death, and 4 of these are on the list. Dickens wrote 16 (if you include A Christmas Carol but none of the other Christmas books, and Edwin Drood, which was also unfinished at his death), and there are 6 on the list. Also, you've read all of the Austen and none of the Dickens. ;)

Full disclosure: I'm a Victorianist writing a thesis on authors like Dickens, Elizabeth Gaskell, and Anthony Trollope. And of course, I wish that Gaskell was on this list; she's awesome too!

I SO sympathize. Law school killed my love of reading. I can take audiobooks, but that's about it.

55, not counting books I started but never finished. I don't read much heavy stuff these days either, but I can't blame grad school. I will blame a demanding job and the interwebs for providing me with cheap and easy entertainment.

You must read The Shadow of the Wind. It's incredible.

Yes, WHAT about DH LAWRENCE!???!! Haven't ventured over to your blog in awhile (cause I haven't been knitting much, too busy with my new wine hobby) but this was delightful to read, needed reminder of the great literature I haven't read yet. I've read 35 on the list, and I'm a geeky tech business major (just trying to point out that I'm not in the 'arts') and always try to stay well rounded.

Enjoyed this post!!!!

ah, yes....the loss of reading-love via grad school.....I think that's a pretty common malady.

Try 'the Disappearing Act of Esme Lennox'...not the most litierary, but truly a gripping read, especially for the beach.

Now I must go back to reading the 70-odd page "focused" (HA!) update of the AHA's position on heart attack management.

Even the DaVinci Code sounds like a better option...........

Urgh...I think I counted 19 going through the list quickly. I need to do better for sure. Have fun with you beach reading!

I've read about 46. MUST READS are "A Suitable Boy" - very long but you become absorbed in it's world and "the Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime". My grandson has Asperger's, as does the narrator of the book- and it is absulutely dead on, as well as extremely funny.

I just finished a short book that is really a masterpiece ( and I don't say that lightly)- it's "the Road" by Cormac McCarthy. It's very grim but life-affirming at the same time and the author's use of language is sublime.

I feel bad that I haven't read that many books on the list. Way more than the 6 that is a suggested average, but not as good as 32.

I consider myself a reader and I have started tons of them, but I don't finish nearly half of the books I've read. Usually I read drivel or brain candy. Most of those books never make it onto a list like that. And what is up with listing the Chronicles of Narnia and the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. I'd rather reread the Screwtape Letters or Until We Have Faces and give double billing to the Chronicles.

Hi there, I found your site via a link and I love your projects. You have read a lot of books. I agree with you. What happened to all the modern great authors. The list left off Joyce Caroll Oats. One of my favorite.

I whole heartedly recommend The Time Traveller's Wife. The first chapter is slightly cheesy, but if you can get past it, you'll be hooked. Have fun in the sun!

Interesting list. I wonder at the light lit on it too - Da Vinci was on the best seller list for years but I managed to avoid it.

No Hemingway? Several of his are better than many on the list - perhaps he is #101. I agree with you that DH Lawrence and EM Forster deserve a spot or 2 too

I love Dickens. Try David Copperfield (on the list) or Oliver Twist (not). He is certainly description heavy but he is pure poetry.

My number is 78 (father was an English teacher - it rubbed off!)


Who compiled this list and where did you find it?
(I had 50- no DaVinci Code)

Try an MFA at a school inclined toward the avant-garde, if you want to deliver a body-blow to your love of reading. Mercifully, I have to run a book group and teach a Women's Lit course, so I wasn't able to go into total withdrawal. What saved me was discovering Terry Pratchett, the over-educated woman's chocolate mousse. He even comes in different flavors, the Witch books having a slightly different taste than the City Watch books. Try A Hat Full of Sky with your kids.

Well, I got to 51 thanks largely to the Dickens and Jane Austen. Three or four of my NO's were ones, I started but was too bored to finish (Middlemarch? zzzzzzzz...)

i seem to have "read" 38. i say it that way because some of the more ponderous ones (moby dick) were listened to on audio. it works,lol.

that and jane austen. cool list

FYI: that is not American Big Read list at the site you. It is from the British radio BBC's The Big Read (at <>
It is a list that was initially created by votes sent in by BBC listeners for "favourite books" . This would explain the presence of so many British authors, and the inclusion of several popular modern best-sellers. It would be fun to see an American version of the same list, but as we do not have a widely-poulare national broadcaster, it is unlikely to happen.

Great fun...though it's true the list is a little random....I've read 56 and some halves. I have a hard time slogging through something I don't like, such as Ian McEwan (for some reason his work just doesn't speak to me, though I seem to be in the minority). I second the opinion that there should definitely be some Elizabeth Gaskell on this list! If you love Austen, try Gaskell's _Wives and Daughters_ (unfinished but recently published in an inexpensive Barnes and Nobel edition). I also loved _North and South_. She's great.

The comments to this entry are closed.