Musings on children's and YA literature, the academy, and the relationship between them, from an English professor and mother.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Books you can't live without: the top 100

I saw this on Mother Reader, and I'm such a sucker for a list, I had to play. The list is from a while ago (spring of 2007), but I doubt the rankings have changed much. As explained in The Guardian, 2000 people were asked to name ten books they couldn't live without; these are the top 100. I'll bold those I've read; I actually did a version of the survey myself, so while I'm at it I'll note any overlap. And, like Mother Reader, I'll mark those I really love with an asterisk. And by "really love," I mean, have read more than once and expect to read again, and look forward to reading again. I re-read so much, professionally, that I lose my love sometimes, or I start to flirt with other books. So the asterisks here are used relatively sparingly, for books that I cannot imagine never reading again, with pleasure. For example, to take one at almost random, I like The Woman in White a lot, but I think if I never got to read it again I'd be ok with that. Not so Alice in Wonderland. (This is why I switched from specializing in Victorian lit to specializing in children's lit, by the way.)

1 Pride and Prejudice* Jane Austen (I listed Persuasion instead, though if I could cheat and have all six of her novels bound as one, I'd choose them all)

2 The Lord of the Rings JRR Tolkien

3 Jane Eyre* Charlotte Bronte (also on my list at #4)

4 Harry Potter series* JK Rowling

5 To Kill a Mockingbird Harper Lee

6 The Bible (also on my list, though I can't claim to have read the whole thing)

7 Wuthering Heights Emily Bronte

=8 Nineteen Eighty-Four George Orwell

=8 His Dark Materials* Philip Pullman (also on my list at #8)

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 William Shakespeare (I'm pretty sure there are one or two I've missed, but I'm close)

15 Rebecca Daphne Du Maurier

16 The Hobbit JRR Tolkien

17 Birdsong Sebastian Faulks (OK, so if you're counting, I got to #17 before there was one I hadn't read)

18 Catcher in the Rye JD Salinger

19 The Time Traveler's Wife Audrey Niffenegger

20 Middlemarch* George Eliot (on my list at #6)

21 Gone With The Wind* Margaret Mitchell (I know, it's embarrassing, but there it is...

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 (is it possible that I've never read this? There was a period when everyone I know was reading it, so I probably at least opened it, but I have zero recollection of it, really.)

26 Brideshead Revisited Evelyn Waugh (I love funny Waugh, but never read got into the whole Brideshead thing...)

27 Crime and Punishment Fyodor Dostoyevsky

28 Grapes of Wrath John Steinbeck

29 Alice in Wonderland* Lewis Carroll (on my list at #5)

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 (on my list at #1, though now that I think about it I'm not sure my list was ranked...)

36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe CS Lewis

37 The Kite Runner Khaled Hosseini

38 Captain Corelli's Mandolin Louis de Bernières

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 (this is the first one on the list that I have no intention of ever reading; I may not get to the others, but I'm not ruling them out.)

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

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 (and can I just say that Dune followed by Cold Comfort Farm is my favorite juxtaposition on this list?)

54 Sense and Sensibility* Jane Austen

55 A Suitable Boy Vikram Seth

56 The Shadow of the Wind Carlos Ruiz Zafon (this is the first one I haven't even heard of!)

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 (another one that I've probably at least tried to read...)

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

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

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 Misérables Victor Hugo

OK, so I have read 75 out of the 100, a perfectly respectable percentage. I'm terrible on French literature, though, aren't I? Maybe that's what I'll remedy on my next sabbatical...

No comments:

Post a Comment