Evolving Thoughts

BBC 100 Book Meme

I can’t not do this, because I want to display to the world how nerdish and little of a life I have…

Later note: The link above is crap. Instead I’m replacing it with the actual BBC Book list.


1) Look at the list and put an ‘x’ after those you have read.

2) Add a ‘+’ to the ones you LOVE.

3) Star (*) those you plan on reading.

4) Tally your total.

1. The Lord of the Rings, JRR Tolkien x+
2. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen x
3. His Dark Materials, Philip Pullman x
4. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams x+
5. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, JK Rowling x
6. To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee x+
7. Winnie the Pooh, AA Milne x+
8. Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell x+ (first novel I ever read)
9. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, CS Lewis x
10. Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë x
11. Catch-22, Joseph Heller x
12. Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontë x
13. Birdsong, Sebastian Faulks
14. Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier x
15. The Catcher in the Rye, JD Salinger x
16. The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame x
17. Great Expectations, Charles Dickens x
18. Little Women, Louisa May Alcott
19. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, Louis de Bernieres
20. War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy x
21. Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell
22. Harry Potter And The Philosopher’s Stone, JK Rowling x
23. Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets, JK Rowling x
24. Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban, JK Rowling x
25. The Hobbit, JRR Tolkien x+
26. Tess Of The D’Urbervilles, Thomas Hardy x
27. Middlemarch, George Eliot
28. A Prayer For Owen Meany, John Irving
29. The Grapes Of Wrath, John Steinbeck x
30. Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland, Lewis Carroll x+
31. The Story Of Tracy Beaker, Jacqueline Wilson
32. One Hundred Years Of Solitude, Gabriel García Márquez x
33. The Pillars Of The Earth, Ken Follett
34. David Copperfield, Charles Dickens
35. Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, Roald Dahl
36. Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson x
37. A Town Like Alice, Nevil Shute x
38. Persuasion, Jane Austen x
39. Dune, Frank Herbert x
40. Emma, Jane Austen x
41. Anne Of Green Gables, LM Montgomery
42. Watership Down, Richard Adams x
43. The Great Gatsby, F Scott Fitzgerald x
44. The Count Of Monte Cristo, Alexandre Dumas x
45. Brideshead Revisited, Evelyn Waugh x++
46. Animal Farm, George Orwell x
47. A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens x
48. Far From The Madding Crowd, Thomas Hardy x
49. Goodnight Mister Tom, Michelle Magorian
50. The Shell Seekers, Rosamunde Pilcher
51. The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett x
52. Of Mice And Men, John Steinbeck x
53. The Stand, Stephen King
54. Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy x
55. A Suitable Boy, Vikram Seth
56. The BFG, Roald Dahl x
57. Swallows And Amazons, Arthur Ransome
58. Black Beauty, Anna Sewell x
59. Artemis Fowl, Eoin Colfer x
60. Crime And Punishment, Fyodor Dostoyevsky x
61. Noughts And Crosses, Malorie Blackman
62. Memoirs Of A Geisha, Arthur Golden x
63. A Tale Of Two Cities, Charles Dickens x
64. The Thorn Birds, Colleen McCollough
65. Mort, Terry Pratchett x++
66. The Magic Faraway Tree, Enid Blyton x
67. The Magus, John Fowles x
68. Good Omens, Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman x++
69. Guards! Guards!, Terry Pratchett x+
70. Lord Of The Flies, William Golding x
71. Perfume, Patrick Süskind
72. The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, Robert Tressell
73. Night Watch, Terry Pratchett x+
74. Matilda, Roald Dahl x
75. Bridget Jones’s Diary, Helen Fielding x
76. The Secret History, Donna Tartt
77. The Woman In White, Wilkie Collins x
78. Ulysses, James Joyce x [I read it – I didn’t read it out loud, as I should have]
79. Bleak House, Charles Dickens
80. Double Act, Jacqueline Wilson
81. The Twits, Roald Dahl x
82. I Capture The Castle, Dodie Smith
83. Holes, Louis Sachar x
84. Gormenghast, Mervyn Peake x+
85. The God Of Small Things, Arundhati Roy
86. Vicky Angel, Jacqueline Wilson
87. Brave New World, Aldous Huxley x (Second novel I ever read. Oy)
88. Cold Comfort Farm, Stella Gibbons
89. Magician, Raymond E Feist x
90. On The Road, Jack Kerouac
91. The Godfather, Mario Puzo x
92. The Clan Of The Cave Bear, Jean M Auel x
93. The Colour Of Magic, Terry Pratchett x+
94. The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho
95. Katherine, Anya Seton
96. Kane And Abel, Jeffrey Archer
97. Love In The Time Of Cholera, Gabriel García Márquez x
98. Girls In Love, Jacqueline Wilson
99. The Princess Diaries, Meg Cabot
100. Midnight’s Children, Salman Rushdie

Oh gods, I still really don’t have a life, do I? Maybe if someone published a book about it…

Hat tip to Sciencewoman


  1. #1 sbh
    February 23, 2009

    I saw this list (or something very like it) go by a while ago and blogged on that. I mainly remember it for the odd double listings (Hamlet and the Complete works of William Shakespeare; The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and The Chronicles of Narnia), and the (to my mind anyway) unusual inclusion of one of my favorite books of all time, Cold Comfort Farm. I personally take issue with the inclusion of the “Bible” without saying which bible they had in mind–the Puritan Bible (without the Apocrypha), the Protestant Bible (with the Apocrypha), the Orthodox Bible (with the expanded Old Testament), or what?

    Also, I see you didn’t “love” any of them. While some of the books on the list (the da Vinci Code, Gone with the Wind, Lord of the Flies) are utter trash, wasn’t at least one of the books on this list worthy of your “love”?

  2. #2 stephenk
    February 23, 2009

    It doesn’t seem to be exactly the same list as on the actual BBC site:


    hence the double ups, I suppose, from someone making their own “BBC list”.

  3. #3 Dorid
    February 23, 2009

    I have to agree with Stephen. And I like the actual BBC list so much better. Just the presence of so much Pratchett makes it worth while.

  4. #4 John S. Wilkins
    February 23, 2009

    You’re absolutely right. I’ll replace it.

  5. #5 sbh
    February 24, 2009

    My comments above applied to the list as originally posted, not to this corrected version. Incidentally, I don’t feel that the corrected version is much of an improvement, except for losing The Da Vinci Code, the Bible, and the various duplicates. In place of the Dan Brown book we get King’s interminable The Stand, Auel’s childish Clan of the Cave Bear, and Puzo’s awful The Godfather, all books that wasted hours of my life I can never get back. On the other hand some excellent books–Moby Dick, The Bell Jar–have disappeared.

    By the way, I’m with you on Lord of the Rings, Hitchhiker’s Guide, To Kill a Mockingbird, and Alice’s Adventures. Gormenghast, on the other hand, always inspires me with the urge to parody.

  6. #6 John S. Wilkins
    February 24, 2009

    What do you suppose Gormenghast is? I recognise many places I have worked in that book…

  7. #7 Thony C.
    February 24, 2009

    The Aussi Anthropoid wrote:

    8. Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell x+ (first novel I ever read)

    So where did the first bomb fall, Mr Wilkins?

  8. #8 PZ Myers
    February 24, 2009

    Too much Rowling in that list. If you’ve read one of them, haven’t you read them all?

  9. #9 Susan Silberstein
    February 24, 2009

    PZ, you lumper. I found all the HP books delightful, each one standing on its own.

    I did not see the first list and admit I have only read 47 books on the second, if you count that I found C.S. Lewis too damn religious and soon put it down thinking, “I’m not reading any more of this Christian stuff.”

    Okay, I only read 46 of the books.

  10. #10 John S. Wilkins
    February 24, 2009

    Whent he first Rowling came out I remarked on a forum this was the beginning of a major children’s classic series. I was increasingly disappointed as they went on, but here’s the interesting thing – my kids, who unlike me don’t read much, read each one with exactly the same interest and devotion, no matter how wordy or flabby the volume was. This suggests that parents are not the best evaluators of children’s fiction…

    I read Lewis when I was Christian. Now, I find it unreadable, excepting the Perelandra series.

  11. #11 Allen Hazen
    February 24, 2009

    About C.S. Lewis (whose books I also read long ago in my Christian youth)… I re-read the Perelandra series (“Out of the Silent Planet,” “Perelandra,” “That Hideous Strength”) a few years back, found the way Lewis treated acceptance of traditional gender roles (particularly in the last volume), and even the English class system, as intrinsic to good Christianity VERY hard to stomach.
    … I think his explicitly Christian “fantasies” (“Screwtape Letters” for example) might be more fun — I’m re-reading “The Great Divorce” now (wanted to identify a quotation, got started…) after close to 50 years, and finding I enjoy it!

  12. #12 John S. Wilkins
    February 24, 2009

    But in its time (and I am nearly old enough to remember those) it was not really any different from the bulk of science fiction. Read War of the Worlds again sometime. I do think the Screwtape Letters are well done, but not on a par with, say, Pilgrim’s Progress or Paradise Lost, which is what he was self-consciously emulating. Actually I find Lewis very shallow these days. Apart from Till we Have Faces, his telling of the Cupid and Psyche myth, he was predictable. [Late note: Hell, I have a first edition! I wonder if ti’s worth anything?]

  13. #13 Susan Silberstein
    February 25, 2009
  14. #14 Alan Kellogg
    February 25, 2009

    The Harry Potter books worked for children because they did repeat things. Children need the familiar to feel secure and give them the confidence they need to explore the new. With HP you got the known, the already explained which the reader could then use as a point of reference when the new and unknown appeared. I’ve never met Rowling, but I’d say she understands kids.

  15. #15 Allen Hazen
    February 25, 2009

    Lewis, “self-consciously emulating” Pilgrim’s Progress? You shock me! I always thought the similarity of the latter title to Lewis’s “Pilgrim’s Regress” was a coincidence. (Grin!)

    Point taken about the contemporary standard of sexism in science fiction: I get annoyed when other people criticize past writers for (sex/rac)ism without taking into account the historical context… but when I reread “That Hideous Strength” a few years back i found it impossible to ignore and it spoiled the enjoyment.

    As for finding him “shallow”… He was a serious amateur philosopher (wanted at one stage to be a professional, applied for philosophy jobs, but by the 1920s the market for orthodox Absolute Idealists had collapsed) and there are occasional ideas that are interesting. But literarily, yes. He wrote his stories a lot faster and with a lot less effort than Tolkien wrote his: Tolkien was apparently quite annoyed with Lewis’s facile productions. … Of the other Inklings, I haven’t looked at Charles Williams since I was in high school and don’t know what I’d think now: at the time I though his novels were the best of bunch.

  16. #16 John S. Wilkins
    February 25, 2009

    I forget who it was, but it may have been Williams, who famously said to Tolkein, “Not more fucking elves!” when that worthy read out some of the LotR. It can’t have been Lewis, that prude.

    Lewis was emulating Milton and Bunyan in nearly all his fiction writing. It gets very wearing. Where’s the friggin’ Dante?

  17. #17 Scott Hatfield, OM
    February 25, 2009

    Maybe if someone published a book about it…

    How about if YOU published your books on species concepts? I mean, seriously, John, you have to be the top blogger on the world on the topic and given the rareified nature of the topic, that makes you probably on the short list of the truly expert. You get them in print, and I’ll hype it to high heaven with all of my usual gusto….Scott

  18. #18 John S. Wilkins
    February 25, 2009

    My books will be published this year:

    2009. Species: a history of the idea, Species and Systematics. Berkeley: University of California Press.

    2009. Defining Species: a sourcebook from antiquity to today. New York: Peter Lang.

    I am also working on essentialism in biology, discovering more and more that it is a phantom that never existed until recently.

  19. #19 jeff
    February 26, 2009

    “Not more fucking elves!”

    Ha! Not for the average tastes, but I’m one of the few who actually enjoyed the silmarillion and it’s complex mythology.

    The HP books were delightful, but more so with the earlier books. The same is true of the movies, with the superb musical scoring by John Williams very much a contributing factor.

  20. #20 Kristjan Wager
    March 1, 2009

    I wrote a post about the book meme where I noticed that it wasn’t really a BBC list, and it’s fast becoming my most read post ever. Maybe I should start specializing in debunking facebook memes?

    Anyway, some of my kind commenters pointed out that the list came from the Guardian and was based on a poll done for World Book Day in 2007.

  21. #21 Jud
    March 4, 2009

    Based on the books you’ve marked above as having especially enjoyed, I don’t know if you’d like it, but as much as anything because it’s a departure from your previous fare, I’d suggest a look at “On the Road.”

  22. #22 John S. Wilkins
    March 4, 2009

    I read Kerouac as a teenager. I can’t remember much about it now, though.

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