List love 3.1: BBC’s Big Read list, books 1-50 (Updated 23 April 2013)

In 2003, the BBC held a public voting to determine which were Britain’s best loved books. The result was a list of 200 books: a mixture of enduring old classics, modern books - some on their way to becoming classics - and some recent bestsellers that may or may not endure. If and when they do this again, it will be interesting to compare the lists and see which books enjoyed continuing popularity through the intervening years.

As might be expected, I, as an average reader who is not involved in the book trade, not a librarian, a professional reviewer or teacher of literature, and not particularly highbrow in my reading choices, found I had read a considerable number of these books.

I am breaking this down into 4 parts to make the posts shorter, and I am posting the books in order of popularity.

Green means I have read it.
Blue means I plan to read it.
The others I am either not interested in or simply don’t know enough about them to decide if I am interested in reading them.

Status abbreviations:
PC = it’s in my Permanent Collection
WL = it’s on my Wish List
  1. The Lord of the Rings: by JRR Tolkien. Status: PC
  2. Pride and Prejudice: by Jane Austen. Status: PC
  3. His Dark Materials: by Philip Pullman. Status: PC
  4. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: by Douglas Adams. Status: PC
  5. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: by JK Rowling. Status: WL
  6. To Kill a Mockingbird: by Harper Lee. Status: PC
  7. Winnie the Pooh: by A.A. Milne. Status: I read it so long ago that I remember next to nothing about it (and that gets mixed up in my head with the disneyfied version), so I am counting it as unread.
  8. Nineteen Eighty-Four: by George Orwell. 
  9. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe: by CS Lewis. Status: PC
  10. Jane Eyre: by Charlotte Brontë. Status: PC; it has been ages since I read it, I am planning to reread it one of these days.
  11. Catch-22: by Joseph Heller. 
  12. Wuthering Heights: by Emily Brontë. 
  13. Birdsong: by Sebastian Faulks. 
  14. Rebecca: by Daphne du Maurier. Status: Owned
  15. The Catcher in the Rye: by JD Salinger. Status: I listened to most of it when it was read on the radio when I was a teenager. Even then I thought Holden was a whiny little prick.
  16. The Wind in the Willows: by Kenneth Grahame. Status: WL
  17. Great Expectations: by Charles Dickens. 
  18. Little Women: by Louisa May Alcott. Status: I am reading this
  19. Captain Corelli's Mandolin: by Louis de Bernieres. 
  20. War and Peace: by Leo Tolstoy. Status: This is on my "when I am old and gray" list.
  21. Gone with the Wind: by Margaret Mitchell. Status: I read it such a long time ago that I really should count it as unread.
  22. Harry Potter And The Philosopher's Stone: by JK Rowling. Status: WL (I think my brother is planning to get rid of his, in which case I get them all)
  23. Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets: by JK Rowling. Status: WL
  24. Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban: by JK Rowling. Status: WL
  25. The Hobbit: by JRR Tolkien. Status: PC
  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. Status: Owned
  30. Alice's Adventures In Wonderland: by Lewis Carroll. Status: PC
  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. Status: I know the story, but have never actually read the book. I plan to remedy this.
  37. A Town Like Alice: by Nevil Shute. 
  38. Persuasion: by Jane Austen. Status: PC
  39. Dune: by Frank Herbert. Status: I may read this, but then again I may not.
  40. Emma: by Jane Austen. Status: PC
  41. Anne Of Green Gables: by LM Montgomery. Status: PC
  42. Watership Down: by Richard Adams. 
  43. The Great Gatsby: by F Scott Fitzgerald. 
  44. The Count Of Monte Cristo: by Alexandre Dumas. Status: Owned, need to re-read to see if I want to keep it
  45. Brideshead Revisited: by Evelyn Waugh. 
  46. Animal Farm: by George Orwell. 
  47. A Christmas Carol: by Charles Dickens. Status: PC
  48. Far From The Madding Crowd: by Thomas Hardy. 
  49. Goodnight Mister Tom: by Michelle Magorian. 
  50. The Shell Seekers: by Rosamunde Pilcher. 

That makes 30 out of the first 50 that I have read, and 3 more I plan to read.

I would be interested to hear what you think of this list and how many of the books you have read or want to read. If you want to, you can also leave a comment telling me why I should consider reading the rest.


Maxine said…
I very much enjoyed Middlemarch but it is long. It is very well written, and I particularly liked the independent protagonist Dorothea, and also the portrait of a "crank" (theorist), which rings very true even today! There is a BBC TV version which in my opinion misses most of the point of the book.

I read David Copperfield as a young girl and enjoyed it then, it's like most of Dickens so you can predict its appeal (or non appeal). I read Great Expectations a long while ago and recently listened to it on a (non-abridged) audio book and enjoyed it again. I like Dickens very much.

Far From The Madding Crowd is a book I enjoyed a lot, I studied it at school for "O" level (as GCSEs were then called) but had read it anyway. It has some of Hardy's trademark fatalism and sexism, but it is a great story and also lovely portrait of the countryside and ways of life then. (The "humorous" workmen are pretty awful though.)

Tracy Beaker is a kids' book written far too recently for me to have read it, but my daughters liked it. It's very popular over here in the UK. It is about a girl who grows up in a children's home and has spawned sequels, a TV series, a magazine, etc. Jaqueline Wilson is a massively popular author with young children and teenagers, she writes about "real life" issues such as someone's mother being a drug addict, from the child's point of view, with humour and lots of illustrations. She's more popular with children than she is with primary school teachers and some parents!
Bibliophile said…
Thanks for the comments, Maxine. I'll take a closer look at the classics you mention and see if they spark my interest.
George said…
I had the exact same reaction to Holden Caulfield! I've read 45 of these books. I haven't read BIRDSONG, CAPTAIN CORELLI'S MANDOLIN, A TOWN LIKE ALICE (although I have read other Nevil Shute books), THE STORY OF TRACY BREAKER, and GOODNIGHT MISTER TOM. You'll like TREASURE ISLAND. I suspect the 51-100 titles might be a bit more adventurous.
Dorte H said…
I have only read 21, and most of these you have read already.

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