my ultimate big read

Lists are fun.

Well, at least they’re fun for a list-o-maniac like me. A while ago, I embarked on a quest to find the best books that the human race has given birth to. That for two main reasons: in order to expand my to-read-list and to proudly add to my great-books-I HAVE READ-list.

My world wide web journey has taken me to quite a few lists. Out of these,  one of my favourites was BBC’s Big Read Top 100. I’ve read a number of books they had on that list and want to read more. I wasn’t impressed by the fact that the list contained too many Terry Pratchett books – even one is too many for me, the book snob. Disclaimer: my contempt for Terry Pratchett is completely unjustified, so I’ll have to read a book of his one day to form a more objective opinion on his writing. Please don’t take my remark at face value.

The Guardian offers a Top 100 Books of All Time, that was slightly too sophisticated for my taste.  The Harvard Book Store Top 100 Books was impressive. Because it has pictures, of course. The All Time 100 Novels seemed somehow inaccurate, meaning that I’ve never heard of most of the books they had on their list. Subjective is my middle name.

My quest has resumed at The Best 100 Novels and here is what I believe to be the most accurate and comprehensive list:

  1. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  2. 1984 by George Orwell
  3. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
  4. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
  5. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
  6. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  7. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky
  8. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
  9. Animal Farm by George Orwell
  10. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
  11. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
  12. The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky
  13. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
  14. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
  15. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
  16. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
  17. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
  18. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
  19. Lord of the Flies by William Golding
  20. Ulysses by James Joyce
  21. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
  22. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
  23. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
  24. Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
  25. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
  26. East of Eden by John Steinbeck
  27. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  28. Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling
  29. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
  30. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
  31. Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes
  32. Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
  33. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
  34. The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand
  35. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
  36. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
  37. The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
  38. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
  39. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
  40. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
  41. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
  42. The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
  43. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey
  44. Moby Dick by Herman Melville
  45. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
  46. The Stranger by Albert Camus
  47. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
  48. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce
  49. The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
  50. Watership Down by Richard Adams
  51. His Dark Materials by Phillip Pullman
  52. The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
  53. On the Road by Jack Kerouac
  54. Dracula by Bram Stoker
  55. The Stand by Stephen King
  56. The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown
  57. The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
  58. The Road by Cormac McCarthy
  59. Dune by Frank Herbert
  60. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
  61. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
  62. Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
  63. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
  64. Life of Pi by Yann Martel
  65. Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden
  66. Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  67. David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
  68. A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
  69. A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway
  70. Middlemarch by George Eliot
  71. For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway
  72. Remembrance of Things Past by Marcel Proust
  73. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
  74. The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera
  75. Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk
  76. Absalom, Absalom! by William Faulkner
  77. The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoevsky
  78. Persuasion by Jane Austen
  79. Of Human Bondage by W. Somerset Maugham
  80. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
  81. To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf
  82. The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco
  83. A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
  84. As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
  85. The Trial by Franz Kafka
  86. The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas
  87. The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
  88. Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy
  89. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
  90. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
  91. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
  92. Emma by Jane Austen
  93. A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
  94. Siddharta by Hermann Hesse
  95. The Twilight Saga by Stephenie Meyer
  96. Atonement by Ian McEwan
  97. Beloved by Toni Morrison
  98. The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
  99. Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut
  100.  The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

On this list, these are the ones I’ve already read: To Kill a Mockingbird (most excellent book), Little Women, 1984 (skipped most of the second „torture” half), The Catcher in the Rye, One Hundred Years of Solitude (it felt like it took a hundred years to finish it – magical realism’s not my thing), Anne of Green Gables, Life of Pi (would re-read it) , The Chronicles of Narnia (read all 7 books in a breath),  The Old Man and the Sea (probably my favourite short story of all time), The Da Vinci Code (what’s the big fuss all about?), The Alchemist, Great Expectations, David Copperfield (turns out I’ve read a couple of Dickens books), The Picture of Dorian Gray and Jane Eyre (liked the first more than the second), Persuasion, Pride and Prejudice (beautiful Jane Austen English).

This makes 17 books out of 100.

A little disappointing for a self-professed book worm. I’ve read the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn as a kid, so I didn’t count that. I’ve also read the last book in the Harry Potter series – didn’t count that, either. I must say that I’ve seen the Lord of the Rings, Twilight and Madame Bovary movies.

Right. I’ll stop trying to convince myself that I’ve read more than I did. I guess I have a lot of catching up reading to do, although I don’t plan to read all the books on this list – just so you know.

How are you faring? How many books on this list have you read?

photo by horia valran

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22 thoughts on “my ultimate big read

  1. hm.. I often find myself searching for good books, and what I’ve discovered is that so called top 100’s are never in my taste.. it is probably because I don’t enjoy fiction too much 🙂
    But in case you are interested with non-fiction, then I can contribute with my list 😛

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  2. I have only read 6 of the books.. and If I finish “The Old Man and the Sea” (probably the shortest book on this list) I will then have only 93 books to go. 🙂

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      1. I did. As you know I own an Audible account and have a lot of books on it. I’m still working on The Old Man and the Sea, but I’d like to share my thoughts on it soon when I finish reading it. I like that the comments are enabled on the blog, it’s great.

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      2. I’m thinking of maybe having different people post their own Top 10 must-reads as guest-posts – wouldn’t that be fun? I’m looking forward to having a guest-post from you – hint hint 🙂

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  3. So I’ve read 24, thanks for literature must reads in high school. I do count those! I have never and will never read either Twilight series or Harry Potter. Just because everyone buys it doesn’t mean it is great literature. So then I’m blasted for blasting it after never reading it….well, there are also things that I want to put into my mind as a Christian and things I don’t want to put into my mind. These land on the don’t list. My favorite on the list “To Kill a Mockingbird”, which I have reread since high school.

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    1. Nancy, so far you’re the leading bookworm! 24 books is great – and I do agree with the fact that not all the books on this list are worth reading. I started reading A Clockwork Orange in school and I put it down after a few pages – don’t think I want to ever pick it up again. To Kill A Mockingbird is one of my favs, too.

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  4. I love your blog! Please keep it alive!

    I love observing people reading. It is something our culture forgot in the past.

    I looked through the list, I have 7 books read from 100. but many movies seen. I am reading the Process, F.Kafka. I’ve read a half of it and still can’t figure out what Process Kafka is writing about.

    Next book on my list is Ulysses. I remember from Literature class that it is a very special book. The teacher promised a 10 to any pupil who would read it. I’m gonna get my grade!

    It is nice to see others suffering of the same disease. =D

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    1. Vika – thanks for your comment – made my day 🙂

      Kafka and James Joyce – that’s heady stuff you have on your reading list – you’re one brave bookworm!

      I’ve come across a few reviews of Ulysses, you can check them out:

      http://bit.ly/noprqH

      and

      http://bit.ly/dkq5Ps

      I’m afraid they don’t sound too promising, but they do sound like quite a challenge. If you do start reading it, please keep me posted!

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    1. hey, thanks!

      have skimmed through your list – you have some good books there.
      Saw a few Jules Verne books – I’ve read quite a lot of Jules Verne myself. There’s some books you’ve read I’d like to read someday, too. Thanks for sharing.

      AND good to be friends with you on goodreads – I don’t have that many friends there, so the few I have are appreciated 🙂

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  5. Looking back at this now, I added a few more books:

    Ender’s Game, by Scott Orson Card
    Dune, Frank Herbert
    The Hobbit, J.R.R.Tolkien
    The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams

    – this makes it 21 books out of 100 so far.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Btw, i printed out the list of books for my 100 book challenge as well. In october 2014, i was having 9 books only, now i am at 16 books on the list. Looking forward to have half books read by the end of the year or more maybe 🙂

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  7. Latest update, as of June 2015 – I read 25 books on this list.
    Added:

    The Time Traveler’s Wife,Audrey Niffenegger
    The Name of the Rose, Umberto Eco
    Watership Down, Richard Adams
    Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand

    Liked by 1 person

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