The BBC's Big Read

Back in 2003, the BBC compiled a list of the nation's best-loved books.  Although I'd already read a lot of them, many I hadn't and I decided I'd make it a personal challenge to read them all.  I know that there are people who aren't fans of lists such as this, who think reading should be enjoyed for reading's sake, not in order to say you've read a whole list, and I can see that viewpoint, but for me it's more about discovering new books and authors, as well as a sense of achievement!  It's also quite interesting to consider the year, and what books were popular around that time.  If people were asked today what their best-loved book is, would they answer differently?  My favourite book of all time, A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth (number 55 on the list) I only read as a consequence of this list, and in the past 10 years I haven't read a book I've enjoyed more.  But what about in another ten years or so?

This list was compiled over a decade ago now, and I still haven't read all 100! So, for my records, here's the top 100.  Can I read a few more by the end of this year?!  I'll add here that I am a very fast reader (I went on a speed-reading course at university and my starting speed was above the range of their average speed at the end of the course!) and so I often read a book and then later on can't remember much about it.  I think sometimes I just read for the sake of reading!

1. The Lord of the Rings, JRR Tolkein
Have to say I really didn't get very far with this: it's not my cup of tea at all!
2.  Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
Loved it! Although I'm less keen on her other novels.
3.  His Dark Materials, Philip Pullman
Despite saying I don't like fantasy, this trilogy I did really enjoy reading
4.  The Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams
I just didn't *get* it.
5.  Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, JK Rowling
Loved the whole series.
6.  To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
Absolutely brilliant.  In my opinion, it should be compulsory reading.
7.  Winnie the Pooh, AA Milne
Read when a child, and again as an adult.  Ah, I love Tigger.
8.  Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell
Actually quite scary. But very good nonetheless.
9.  The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, CS Lewis
Couldn't stand it.
10.  Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte
I didn't enjoy it, definitely not a classic I'll go back to.
11.  Catch-22, Joseph Heller
A housemate of mine loves this book, but it's another one I just skimmed through.  Did I miss something?
12.  Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte
Had to study it at A level.  Oh my goodness I did not enjoy it!
13.  Birdsong, Sebastian Faulks
Loved it, although I haven't enjoyed quite as much his other books.
14.  Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier
I really enjoyed this too.
15.  The Catcher in the Rye, JD Salinger
A quick read, but not one that's stayed with me
16.  The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame
Really enjoyable
17.  Great Expectations, Charles Dickens
Definitely not my favourite by Dickens
18.  Little Women, Louisa May Alcott
Not my cup of tea
19.  Captain Corelli's Mandolin, Louis de Bernieres
So much better than the film! Glad I read the book first.
20.  War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy
I loved the chapters about people and social life, less so the chapters about battles
21.  Gone With the Wind, Margaret Mitchell
Brilliant.  Loved it.
22-4.  Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Chamber of Secrets, Prisoner of Azkaban, JK Rowling
I enjoyed the whole series.
25.  The Hobbit, JRR Tolkein
No, just no.
26.  Tess of the D'Urbervilles, Thomas Hardy
Brilliant, but so depressing.
27.  Middlemarch, George Eliot
Definitely read it, but can't remember a thing about it.
28.  A Prayer for Owen Meany, John Irving
Brilliant.  I've since read a lot of Irving's work, which I may not have done without this list
29.  The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck
Very emotional and very well-written.
30.  Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll
Bizarre.  With very odd illustrations in my copy!
31.  The Story of Tracy Beaker, Jacqueline Wilson
32.  One Hundred Years of Solitude, Gabriel Garcia Marquez
I don't like this style of writing, although I didn't mind so much his Latin American trilogy
33.  The Pillars of the Earth, Ken Follett
Brilliant.  A true epic!
34.  David Copperfield, Charles Dickens
My favourite Dickens.  Loved the scene when David gets drunk for the first time.
35.  Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Roald Dahl
I love of all Roald Dahl's books
36.  Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson
This was aimed at children?!
37.  A Town Like Alice, Nevil Shute
Couldn't stand this.  Another book I definitely skim-read!
38.  Persuasion, Jane Austen
39.  Dune, Frank Herbert
40.  Emma, Jane Austen
41.  Anne of Green Gables, LM Montgomery
A children's book which I think is even better when read as an adult.
42.  Watership Down, Richard Adams
43.  The Great Gatsby, F Scott Fitzgerald
Good, but I enjoyed Tender is the Night more
44.  The Counte of Monte Cristo, Alexandre Dumas
45.  Brideshead Revisted, Evelyn Waugh
46.  Animal Farm, George Orwell
Very good.
47.  A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens
A must-read for Christmas
48.  Far From the Madding Crowd, Thomas Hardy
Again, depressing, but well-written
49.  Goodnight Mister Tom, Michelle Magorian
50.  The Shell Seekers, Rosamunde Pilcher
Couldn't stand it.
51.  The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett
A very lovely story
52.  Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck
Emotional and powerful
53.  The Stand, Stephen King
54.  Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy
Loved it.  Definitely my favourite Russian novel, book so much better than film adaptations
55.  A Suitable Boy, Vikram Seth
A magnificent epic
56.  The BFG, Roald Dalh
My second favourite Roald Dahl book
57.  Swallows and Amazons, Arthur Ransome
58.  Black Beauty, Anna Sewell
I don't like horses and I didn't like this book
59.  Artemis Fowl, Eoin Colfer
A friend recommended these books to me, and I think they're excellent
60.  Crime and Punishment, Fyodor Dostoyevsky
I enjoyed this more than I thought I would
61.  Noughts and Crosses, Malorie Blackman
Really, really good. Very thought-provoking
62.  Memoirs of a Geisha, Arthur Golden
One of my favourite books on this list
63. A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens
I didn't really like this
64.  The Thorn Birds, Coileen McCollough
65.  Mort, Terry Pratchett
66.  The Magic Faraway Tree, Enid Blyton
Ah, I love Enid Blyton
67.  The Magus, John Fowles
68.  Good Omens, Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
69.  Guards!  Guards!, Terry Pratchett
70.  Lord of the Flies, William Golding
Very good, but kind of glad I didn't read it at school where every line would have been analysed
71.  Perfume, Patrick Suskin
So much better than the film
72.  The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, Robert Tressell
73.  Night Watch, Terry Pratchett
74.  Matilda, Roald Dahl
My absolute favourite Roald Dahl book
75.  Bridget Jones's Diary, Helen Fielding
A quick read
76.  The Secret History, Donna Tartt
Very good indeed
77.  The Woman in White, Wilkie Collins
I found this book far too long and it failed to hold my attention.
78.  Ulysses, James Joyce
79.  Bleak House, Charles Dickens
80.  Double Act, Jacqueline Wilson
81.  The Twits, Roald Dahl
Not one of my favourites by him
82.  I Capture the Castle, Dodie Smith
Another book I enjoyed but probably wouldn't have read were it not for this list
83.  Holes, Louis Sachar
Recommended by many primary school teachers, this is a really good, well-written book.
84.  Gormenghast, Mervyn Peake
85.  The God of Small Things, Arundhati Roy
A book a housemate of mine loved, but I didn't see what she saw
86.  Vicky Angel, Jacqueline Wilson
87.  Brave New World, Aldous Huxley
Recommended by my A level Sociology teacher, a must-read
88.  Cold Comfort Farm, Stella Gibbons
I think I enjoyed it, but I can't really remember
89.  Magician, Raymond E Feist
90. On the Road, Jack Kerouac
91.  The Godfather, Mario Puzo
92.  The Clan of the Cave Bear, Jean M Auel
Again, really not my cup of tea
93.  The Colour of Magic, Terry Pratchett
94.  The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho
95.  Katherine, Anya Seton
96.  Kane and Abel, Jeffrey Archer
97.  Love in the Time of Cholera, Gabriel Garcia Marquez
I can see it's well-written, but I didn't enjoy it
98.  Girls in Love, Jacqueline Wilson
99.  The Princess Diaries, Meg Cabot
100.  Midnight's Children, Salman Rushdie
My favourite book by Rushdie


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