Thursday, December 23, 2010

100 Best Beloved (or not) Books

So my new friend Donna Weaver did this post on her blog last week (which was a copy from several other blogs) and it was such a good idea, I’m stealing it. This is not a chain blog post, but, well, you’re free to steal, too.

The rumor is that the average person has only read 6 of the following 100 “Most Beloved Books.” I’ve read 32, which makes me feel all sorts of cool, but there are 40 that I haven’t even heard of, so, as a writer and voracious reader, I’m feeling a bit guilty about that.

In the interests of full disclosure, I’ve color-coded the list as follows, and put the number of books that fall into each category so you can easily see what a slacker reader I am. (Have I mentioned I’ve read over 130 books already this year? What more do you want from me?)

Which of these have you read? Which of the ones I’ve never heard of would you recommend? Which ones should be a priority? Why is Terry Pratchett on the list so much?

Read it for Fun: 26
Read it for School… and liked it / loved it: 4
Read it for School… and didn’t love it: 2
Feel Guilty that I Haven’t Read it… and plan to… someday…: 8
Feel Guilty that I Haven’t Read it… but still don’t really plan to: 13
Haven’t Read it, Don’t Even Feel Guilty: 7
Never heard of it: 40

26+4+2+8+13+7+40=100 (Yes! I can count!)

1. The Lord of the Rings, JRR Tolkien
2. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
3. His Dark Materials, Philip Pullman
4. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams
5. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, JK Rowling
6. To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
7. Winnie the Pooh, AA Milne
8. Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell
9. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, CS Lewis
10. Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë
11. Catch-22, Joseph Heller
12. Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontë
13. Birdsong, Sebastian Faulks
14. Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier
15. The Catcher in the Rye, JD Salinger
16. The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame
17. Great Expectations, Charles Dickens
18. Little Women, Louisa May Alcott
19. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, Louis de Bernieres
20. War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy
21. Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell
22. Harry Potter And The Philosopher’s Stone, JK Rowling
23. Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets, JK Rowling
24. Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban, JK Rowling
25. The Hobbit, JRR Tolkien
26. Tess Of The D’Urbervilles, Thomas Hardy
27. Middlemarch, George Eliot
28. A Prayer For Owen Meany, John Irving
29. The Grapes Of Wrath, John Steinbeck
30. Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland, Lewis Carroll
31. The Story Of Tracy Beaker, Jacqueline Wilson
32. One Hundred Years Of Solitude, Gabriel García Márquez
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
37. A Town Like Alice, Nevil Shute
38. Persuasion, Jane Austen
39. Dune, Frank Herbert
40. Emma, Jane Austen
41. Anne Of Green Gables, LM Montgomery
42. Watership Down, Richard Adams
43. The Great Gatsby, F Scott Fitzgerald
44. The Count Of Monte Cristo, Alexandre Dumas
45. Brideshead Revisited, Evelyn Waugh
46. Animal Farm, George Orwell
47. A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens
48. Far From The Madding Crowd, Thomas Hardy
49. Goodnight Mister Tom, Michelle Magorian
50. The Shell Seekers, Rosamunde Pilcher
51. The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett
52. Of Mice And Men, John Steinbeck
53. The Stand, Stephen King
54. Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy
55. A Suitable Boy, Vikram Seth
56. The BFG, Roald Dahl
57. Swallows And Amazons, Arthur Ransome
58. Black Beauty, Anna Sewell
59. Artemis Fowl, Eoin Colfer
60. Crime And Punishment, Fyodor Dostoyevsky
61. Noughts And Crosses, Malorie Blackman
62. Memoirs Of A Geisha, Arthur Golden
63. A Tale Of Two Cities, Charles Dickens
64. The Thorn Birds, Colleen McCollough
65. Mort, Terry Pratchett
66. The Magic Faraway Tree, 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
71. Perfume, Patrick Süskind
72. The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, Robert Tressell
73. Night Watch, Terry Pratchett
74. Matilda, Roald Dahl
75. Bridget Jones’s Diary, Helen Fielding
76. The Secret History, Donna Tartt
77. The Woman In White, Wilkie Collins
78. Ulysses, James Joyce
79. Bleak House, Charles Dickens
80. Double Act, Jacqueline Wilson
81. The Twits, Roald Dahl
82. I Capture The Castle, Dodie Smith
83. Holes, Louis Sachar
84. Gormenghast, Mervyn Peake
85. The God Of Small Things, Arundhati Roy
86. Vicky Angel, Jacqueline Wilson
87. Brave New World, Aldous Huxley
88. Cold Comfort Farm, Stella Gibbons
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
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 García Márquez
98. Girls In Love, Jacqueline Wilson
99. The Princess Diaries, Meg Cabot
100. Midnight’s Children, Salman Rushdie


  1. I love your color coding! Now that's an attorney for you! I shouldn't talk, since I tend to color code, too.

    I noticed you've never read "The Shell Seekers". It was recommended to me by one of the librarians when I was making a long commute, and I fell in love with most of what Pilcher writes, but "The Shell Seekers" is my favorite. Hallmark even made a TV movie of it staring Angela Lansbury but they butchered the story. It was one of those--did you even get what the story was about??? kind of adaptations.

    I've never read anything by Pratchett either, but his books keep coming up in one of the forums I mod, so I'm aware of his works and have thought about picking one up.

    P.S. I love everything by Brandon Sanderson, too, and I've gotten to talk with him twice. He lives in the city next to mine, and he came to our library for The Big Read events this fall.

  2. Donn--There are no words to describe how much I love Brandon Sanderson's books. Mostly because he's already used them all up! :)

    I'll have to read Shell Seekers. It's not sad or "literary" is it? Dare I ask if it's fantasy?

    Pratchett is also on my list. I really ought to at least try each of those books. (Hm.)

    As for the color coding, organizing information is one of my great loves. Organizing my house, however....

  3. The only problem I have with this list and others similar lists that I have seen lately is that it contains a lot of Modern novels but does not include many of the great early 20th century books that were written and some of the less popular classical authors.

    From those on the list.

    I am not certain if I have read Rebecca but the movie was great

    I read Dune once and couldn't follow it, I have just recently listened to it as a book on tape and liked it a lot better. I wouldn't recommend any of the Dune books the follow.

    I love David Copperfield by Charles Dickens

    I of course love Tolkien, JK Rowlings, Dumas, and Jane Austen

    Books that I have read that I feel should be on the list but are not

    Atlas Shrugged (Sp) by Ann Rand - I don't agree with some of the message but it is still a well written book.

    Our Mutual Friend - Charles Dickens (this has become my favorite Dickens book)

    The Three Musketeers - Dumas

    Arundel and Rabble in Arms by Kenneth Roberts (Great Great historical fiction about the revolutionary war; Reading them will give you a whole new perspective on Benedict Arnold)

    Ivanhoe by Scott (Scotts story Kenilworth is also a great book)

    The Mutiny on the Bounty by I don't remember

  4. Mortense--don't even get me started on the books that should be on the list! :) I have no idea where they got this list, but I'm assuming there was some fancy statistical magic trick involved somewhere. Like, if you got a few thousand people together and had them list their favorite books, these would be the top 100?

    I can't argue, since I wouldn't even know where to start answering that kind of question!

  5. I can only guess that's probably what happened--getting people together and asking which books they loved. My friend Donna Hosie ( said she's seen a similar (but not exact list) floating around.

    Robin, "The Shell Seekers" follows Penelope Keeling's story from the days of WWII through the time it was written. It deals with love, loss, and survival, telling not just Penelope's story (though she's the main character and the glue that holds everything else together) but that of her children. It goes back and forth timewise as it tells the backstory of various characters.

    Very satisfying ending. There's another book "September" that continues the story of one of her children. I guess I'm kind of dense because it wasn't until I read "September" the 3rd time that I realized the most compelling storyline for me was Penelope's son's tale and gave a good resolution to him that "The Shell Seekers" didn't. Oh, and the title of the book is a famous painting done by Penelope's father.

    Mortense, I love "Dune" but I'm with you on any subsequent books in the series. A complete waste of reading time, imho. A friend recommended "Dune" to me but I took a couple of years to actually pick it up when I was in college, and I ended up cutting classes to finish reading it.

  6. Okay, if you want recommendations on the ones you've never heard of: Pick up anything by Terry Pratchett. He has a slightly off-kilter (but not off-color) sense of humor. For example: the Disc World actually does rest on the back of four elephants. And it is flat. The Librarian at the Unseen University is an orangutan. Get the picture. Any of those listed is good, although I'd probably pick up either GUARDS! GUARDS! or THE NIGHTWATCH (I can't remember which is first, chronologically). But that's probably because I just love Carrot (the six-foot-tall dwarf).
    Or, if you want to stay with YA, pick up one of the Tiffany Aching books set in the same world.

  7. Oh gawd these always make me look like the most ill-read 3-year-old. lol

    And now I can't even get through the first chapter of an "adult" book anymore! :D

    Surfed here from your comment on Danyelle Leafty's blog - nice to meet you!

  8. 52 Faces--nice to meet you, too! Danyelle is awesome.

    If you're having trouble with finishing "adult" books, you haven't read I Am Not a Serial Killer, by Dan Wells. I've been snooping on your site and I think you'd like it.... No reason.... Just a hunch....

    YA is the best genre, though. You are very wise to prefer it.

    Oh, except anyone on Team Jacob is delusional. Just sayin.

    I get along well with wise and delusional people, so welcome!