bookstore.jpg Sonja posted a list, saying “This is from something called The Big Read from the National Endowment for the Arts. They came up with a list of their top 100 books, and they estimate that the average adult has only read 6 of these books.” Odd, I couldn’t find the list on their website… who really came up with this? I’m not the only doubter, but I’ll play along.

Bold: Read the Book
Italic: Book is in my Library
(M): Saw the Movie
(T): Saw Television Version
(S): Saw Stage Production

1 Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
2 The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien (M)
3 Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
4 Harry Potter series – JK Rowling (M)
5 To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
6 The Bible
7 Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four – George Orwell (M)
9 His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations – Charles Dickens
11 Little Women – Louisa M Alcott
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy (M)
13 Catch 22 – Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare
15 Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien
17 Birdsong – Sebastian Faulks1
8 Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveler’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch – George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind – Margaret Mitchell (M)
22 The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald
23 Bleak House – Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
26 Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck
29 Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll
30 The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield – Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis
34 Emma – Jane Austen
35 Persuasion – Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe – CS Lewis (M/S)
37 The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis De Bernieres (M)
39 Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh – AA Milne (M/T)
41 Animal Farm – George Orwell (M)
42 The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown (M)
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
47 Far From The Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood (M)
49 Lord of the Flies – William Golding (M)
50 Atonement – Ian McEwan (M)
51 Life of Pi – Yann Martel
52 Dune – Frank Herbert (M)
53 Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen
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
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 (M)
62 Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History – Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas (M)
66 On The Road – Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary – Helen Fielding (M)
69 Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick – Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens (M)
72 Dracula – Bram Stoker (M)
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 (M)
82 Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple – Alice Walker (M)
84 The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro (M)
85 Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte’s Web – EB White (S)
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven – Mitch Albom (M)
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (T)
90 The Faraway Tree Collection – Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince – Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory – Iain Banks
94 Watership Down – Richard Adams (M)
95 A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice – Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas (M)
98 Hamlet – William Shakespeare (M/S)
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl (M)
100 Les Miserables – Victor Hugo (M/S)

Lenient grading by counting all formats gives me 36% with each title scored only once, regardless of the number of formats, and no score for just having it in my library. I point out, however, that The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is a duplicate with the Narnia Chronicles (keep the series, reject the single title), as is Hamlet with Shakespeare’s Complete Works (keep the single title reject the series — I mean, come on!). Who made this list, anyway?

I wish I’d finished reading Moby Dick, but I’ve read 20 of them, so I guess I’m a bit over three times more well-read than the average adult. I think I want to bump some of the one I haven’t read and slide in some alternates:

Tuesdays with Morrie – Mitch Albom
A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich – Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
The Murder of Roger Ackroyd – Agatha Christie
The Merchant of Venice – William Shakespeare
A Passage to India – E.M. Forster (M)
The Godfather – Mario Puzzo (M)
Slaughterhouse-Five – Kurt Vonnegut (M)
The Pearl – John Steinbeck
City of Joy – Dominique Lappierre (M)
The Invisible Man – H.G. Wells
Anne Frank, The Diary of a Young Girl – Anne Frank (M/S)
Beowulf – (transl. Seamus Heaney)
In His Steps – Charles Sheldon
The Power of One – Bryce Courtenay (M)
Dances with Wolves – Michael Blake (M)
Helter Skelter – Curt Gentry & Vincent Bugliosi
The Oregon Trail – Francis Parkman
The Cluetrain Manifesto – Locke, Levine, Searls, & Weinberger
Lost on Everest – Peter Firstbrook
Lost in the Barrens – Farley Mowat (M)
The Hardy Boys – Franklin W. Dixon
Animal Stories – Thornton W. Burgess

This alone will bump me up to 41 that I’ve read, so I’m going to go around saying I’m seven times more well-read than the average adult. We could also simply change the question and make it ask what books you’ve read that are part of popular culture or represent some of the better parts of literature. Pulp fiction doesn’t count, nor do your 462 books on Christian living and the emerging church. Children’s lit is in provided it’s got chapters. An extended series (e.g., Hardy Boys) counts if you’ve read a credible percentage of it, but only for one entry and not for every title. And if you think your list is too short, you might just head to a bookstore.

Share This

Share this post with your friends!