a book meme!

Woo hoo! I’ve been tagged with a book meme!

The rules: boldface the books on this list that you’ve read, and italicize books you started but never finished.

Okay. . .

1 Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
2 The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte~
4 Harry Potter series – JK Rowling
5 To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
6 The Bible – I think I’ve read over 75% of this, so I’m going with it. The begats don’t count.
7 Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four – George Orwell
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
13 Catch 22 – Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare – Oh, come on. How many people have read “Two Gentlemen of Verona?”
15 Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien

17 Birdsong – Sebastian Faulks – dude, I’ve never even heard of this!
18 Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveller’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch – George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind – Margaret Mitchell
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

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
42 The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez

44 A Prayer for Owen Meany – 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
49 Lord of the Flies – William Golding~
50 Atonement – Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi – Yann Martel
52 Dune – Frank Herbert

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~
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
69 Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick – Herman Melville~
71 Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens~
72 Dracula – Bram Stoker
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
83 The Color Purple – Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte’s Web – EB White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven – Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle – didn’t manage the whole collection – about 50% at most.
90 The Faraway Tree Collection
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
95 A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice – Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet – William Shakespeare~
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl

100 Les Miserables – Victor Hugo

That’s just over half the list that I’ve completed.

According to Scibling Chad, there’s a somewhat doubtful claim that the average American has read only 6 of these books! I find that hard to believe, but who knows.

A clever monkey makes the excellent point, ” A lot of this stuff is canon reading for the educational years. Not so anymore perhaps?” Actually, not so much for me – I’ve tagged those books that I was required to read for a class (high school or college) with a tilda (~). Don’t ask why I read War and Peace when I wasn’t required to do so. . . I’m a fruit loop, okay? But my point is, I read very few of these for class – and I have a BA in English. These just weren’t the books we happened to be assigned!

A further aspect of the original meme was placing an asterisk by those books you enjoyed. . . I decided not to, because enjoying a book is not the same as learning from a book or admiring a book. I can detest the book itself, but value the experience of slogging through it, or respect it as a creative object. My favorite book, Pride and Prejudice, tops the list anyway. 🙂

Now, whom shall I torture with this meme? I’m going to go drop a few tags in the blogosphere. . . put your lists on your blogs or in the comments here!


  1. #1 John McKay
    July 24, 2008

    What a weird list. It’s like a mixture of the basic college canon and the best sellers from a few years ago. And what’s with the repetitions: the complete works of Shakespeare and Hamlet, the Chronicles of Narnia and The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe? Anyway, I managed a meager fifteen.

  2. #2 Pam
    July 24, 2008

    Wow. What a cool idea. P.S. You need to read Catcher in the Rye, stat.

  3. #3 mordicai
    July 24, 2008

    I’ve seen this list before & it grosses me out. I heard somewhere that it was from one of those book-blogging sites? Some of the books are great, others of them are just insulting bestsellers. I get out with 22, 1 unfinished, but really, most of them are things I’d avoid rather than gaps.

  4. #4 BikeMonkey
    July 24, 2008

    What? No Owen Meany? Put that on top of Kite Runner and place on the top of your pile….

  5. #5 Jessica Palmer
    July 24, 2008

    This is what always happens with these lists – people get freaked out that you haven’t read something or other quite profound, and that your life is incomplete. Sigh. 😉

    I have no doubt you’re right and I should read Owen Meany and Catcher in the Rye, but geez, life is so short. . . I can barely plow through a book a month. And you should see my to-read pile already. . . I know, you don’t have any sympathy for my excuses, do you? 😉

  6. #6 Laelaps
    July 24, 2008

    I would fill out the list but my showing has been utterly pitiful. I think I just might construct a list of the 100 books that I’ve read that I have enjoyed most/found most important.

  7. #7 Jessica Palmer
    July 24, 2008

    Laelaps – seriously, you should start a new meme: if not the top 100 books, maybe even the top 10? It would say a lot about people – more than this list does!

  8. #8 Laelaps
    July 24, 2008

    Maybe I will…. 100 might be a bit much, it’s true. Once I got past 50 it would probably only say “These are books in my library.” I will comment here when I’ve got everything together.

  9. #9 Clare
    July 24, 2008

    “14 Complete Works of Shakespeare – Oh, come on. How many people have read “Two Gentlemen of Verona?””

    ::raises hand::

    I haven’t read most of the histories, though… they’re just not as fun as his other plays. So I haven’t actually read the Complete Works, but I think I’ve read nearly all of the tragedies and comedies.

    I did this meme (or a similar version) a while ago but didn’t count how many I’d actually read…

  10. #10 Wunx~
    July 24, 2008

    Cool Meme, Jess. Thanks for tagging me.

    52 read, 11 partially read, several I’ve been meaning to read. I did a lot of the reading when I was a kid and reading a book a day, though.

    I agree with a couple of your commenters, it’s an oddly assorted list of books.

  11. #11 sbh
    July 24, 2008

    I did a quick run-through and concluded that I have read between 44 and 52 of them–though both numbers include two duplicates (Hamlet and Shakespeare’s works; The Lion etc and Chronicles of Narnia). I agree with John McKay above that this is a weird list. Several of them are favorites of mine: Cold Comfort Farm (!), Alice’s Adventures, Emma. There are at least two that I detest: Lord of the Flies and Gone with the Wind. “Books” like the complete works of Shakespeare, the Bible, or the Adventures of Sherlock Holmes are puzzling–are we to include Edward III and The Passionate Pilgrim (Shakespeare), Judith and Enoch (the Bible), all Sherlock Holmes stories or just the twelve in the Adventures of Sherlock Holmes? As it happens I’m covered on each of those no matter how you count, having gone through periods of enthusiasm for Shakespeare, the Bible, and Sherlock Holmes in my youth. I am assuming, however, that Dune means only the book by that title (which I have read), not the various sequels (which I haven’t).

  12. #12 mdvlist
    July 24, 2008

    Far from hounding you about the holes in your literary background, I would like to volunteer that it makes me happy to see some of the things that you’ve obviously chosen to pass up. I find it especially satisfying that you apparently never picked up The Bell Jar, despite that fact that you’ve read far more poetry (from the past 100 years, at least) than I have. There have been many moments when I’ve felt that I should give Sylvia Plath a shot, but every time I see one of her poems in isolation somewhere, I think, “Nah.”

  13. #13 Jessica Palmer
    July 24, 2008

    Yes, I think that anyone who has read more than six books on this list has a bone to pick with A) the duplicates, B) the poorly defined collective entries, and C) the content of the list itself. . .

    The thing is, it’s an arbitrary list. One could have a very good education without having read more than a handful of books on this list. Consider the following: Oedipus, The Aeneid, Beowulf, The Canterbury Tales, Ivanhoe, The Scarlet Letter, Bartleby the Scrivener, The Age of Innocence, The Turn of the Screw, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Sun Also Rises, This Side of Paradise, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, The Metamorphosis, Notes From Underground, The Daughter of Time, The French Lieutenant’s Woman, The Call of the Wild, Cold Mountain, I Capture the Castle, The End of the Affair, V, Watership Down, The Autobiography of Malcolm X, The Name of the Rose, A Wrinkle in Time, Stranger in a Strange Land, Love Medicine, Flowers for Algernon, The Wizard of Oz . . .?

    I may have made a boo boo or two, but I think that’s thirty more reasonable prospects not on the original list that I’ve also read.

    Yay that there are so many good books in the world.

  14. #14 Brian
    July 24, 2008

    I wonder if Ulysses is ever not italicized? People who have actually read James Joyce scare me.

  15. #15 Laelaps
    July 25, 2008


  16. #16 Bing McGhandi
    July 25, 2008

    You need to read Midnight’s Children. Seriously.


  17. #17 Jessica Palmer
    July 25, 2008

    Not a problem – I’m reading Midnight’s Children now for book club next month. But I haven’t finished it, nor started and abandoned it, so it didn’t get bolded or italicized. 🙂

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