BBC’s ‘The Big Read’ – the best loved novels of all time

There is nothing like a dame, Jane…with a lengthy book list’…  ‘Hear, hear, Elizabeth…’

Thanks to Clare’s recent posting on A Little Blog of Books, I learnt that tonight is World Book Night, celebrating reading and sharing good reads with people who don’t read on a regular basis. Seemed like a very appropriate day to highlight a rather long list of novels that have given so much pleasure for so long.

2003 does seem like light years behind us, so maybe a new survey may come along in the not too distant to see what has changed since the Great British public dipped its toes into the water back then to test out the best loved books ever written.

In the meantime, after plunging headlong recently into some of the ongoing book prizes and literary awards’ lists I hope to make inroads into, I thought it would be good to stop treading water and see what happened when over 750,000 readers voted their best reads just a decade ago.

It’s quite a list, but where there’s a will there’s a way – and if you fancy ticking boxes, you can log onto List Challenges and see how many novels you have tucked under your belts thus far.

Deep breath, here goes :

  1. “The Fellowship of the Ring” by J.R.R. Tolkien – to read
  2. “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen – read, 10/10
  3. “His Dark Materials” by Philip Pullman – to read
  4. “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” by Douglas Adams – read, 8/10
  5. “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” by J.K. Rowling – read, 9/10
  6. “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee – read, 10/10
  7. “Winnie the Pooh” by A.A. Milne – read, 7/10
  8. “Nineteen Eighty Four” by George Orwell – read, 10/10
  9. “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” by C.S. Lewis – read, 10/10
  10. “Jane Eyre” by Charlotte Brontë – read, 10/10
  11. “Catch 22” by Joseph Heller – to read
  12. “Wuthering Heights” by Emily Brontë – read, 10/10
  13. “Birdsong” by Sebastian Faulks – read, 10/10
  14. Rebecca” by Daphne du Maurier – read, 10/10
  15. “The Catcher in the Rye” by J.D. Salinger – read, 10/10
  16. “The Wind in the Willows” by Kenneth Grahame” – read, 7/10
  17. “Great Expectations” by Charles Dickens – read, 10/10
  18. “Little Women” by Louisa M. Alcott – read, 10/10
  19. “Captain Corelli’s Mandolin” by Louis de Bernières – read, 10/10
  20. War and Peace” by Leo Tolstoy – read, 10/10
  21. “Gone with the Wind” by Margaret Mitchell – read, 10/10
  22. “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” by J.K. Rowling – read, 10/10
  23. “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets” by J.K. Rowling – read, 10/10
  24. “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” by J.K. Rowling – read, 9/10
  25. “The Hobbit” by J.R.R. Tolkien – read, 10/10
  26. “Tess of the d’Urbervilles” by Thomas Hardy – read, 10/10
  27. Middlemarch” by George Eliot – read, 10/10
  28. “A Prayer for Owen Meany” by John Irving – to read
  29. “The Grapes of Wrath” by John Steinbeck – to read
  30. “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” by Lewis Carroll – read, 9/10
  31. “The Story of Tracey Beaker” by Jacqueline Wilson – to read
  32. “One Hundred Years of Solitude” by Gabriel Garcia Marquez – read, 3/10
  33. “The Pillars of the Earth” by Ken Follett – read, 8/10
  34. “David Copperfield” by Charles Dickens – read, 10/10
  35. “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” by Roald Dahl – read, 8/10
  36. “Treasure Island” by Robert Louis Stevenson – to read
  37. “A Town Like Alice” by Nevil Shute – read, 10/10
  38. “Persuasion” by Jane Austen – read, 8/10
  39. “Dune” by Frank Herbert – to read
  40. “Emma” by Jane Austen – read, 10/10
  41. “Anne of Green Gables” by L.M. Montgomery – read, 10/10
  42. “Watership Down” by Richard Adams – read, 6/10
  43. “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald – read, 10/10
  44. “The Count of Monte Cristo” by Alexandre Dumas – to read
  45. “Brideshead Revisited” by Evelyn Waugh – read, 10/10
  46. “Animal Farm” by George Orwell – read, 8/10
  47. “A Christmas Tale” by Charles Dickens – read, 10/10
  48. “Far From the Madding Crowd” by Thomas Hardy – read, 9/10
  49. “Goodnight Mister Tom” by Michelle Magorian – read, 10/10
  50. “The Shell Seekers” by Rosamunde Pilcher – to read
  51. “The Secret Garden” by F. Hodgson Burnett – read, 8/10
  52. “Of Mice and Men” by John Steinbeck – read, 10/10
  53. “The Stand” by Stephen King – to read
  54. “Anna Karenina” by Leo Tolstoy – read, 10/10
  55. “A Suitable Boy” by Vikram Seth – read, 8/10
  56. “The BFG” by Roald Dahl – to read
  57. “Swallows and Amazons” by Arthur Ransome – read, 5/10
  58. “Black Beauty” by Anna Sewell – read, 8/10
  59. “Artemis Fowl” by Eoin Colfer – to read
  60. “Crime and Punishment” by Fyodor Dostoevsky – to read
  61. “Noughts and Crosses” by Malorie Blackman – to read
  62. “Memoirs of a Geisha” by Arthur Golden – read, 8/10
  63. “A Tale of Two Cities” by Charles Dickens – to read
  64. “The Thorn Birds” by Colleen McCullough – read, 7/10
  65. “Mort” by Terry Pratchett – to read
  66. “The Magic Faraway Tree” by Enid Blyton – read, 10/10
  67. “The Magus” by John Fowles – read, 10/10
  68. “Good Omens” by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman – to read
  69. “Guards! Guards!” by Terry Pratchett – to read
  70. “Lord of the Flies” by William Golding – read, 8/10
  71. “Perfume” by Patrick Süskind – read, 8/10
  72. “The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists” by Robert Tressell – to read
  73. “Night Watch” by Terry Pratchett – to read
  74. “Matilda” by Roald Dahl – read, 8/10
  75. “Bridget Jones’s Diary” by Helen Fielding – read, 10/10
  76. “The Secret History” by Donna Tartt – read, 7/10
  77. “The Woman in White” by Wilkie Collins – to read
  78. “Ulysses” by James Joyce – to read
  79. “Bleak House” by Charles Dickens – read, 9/10
  80. “Double Act” by Jacqueline Wilson – to read
  81. “The Twits” by Roald Dahl – read, 6/10
  82. “I Capture the Castle” by Dodie Smith – read, 8/10
  83. “Holes” by Louis Sachar – read, 10/10
  84. “Gormenghast” by Mervyn Peake – to read
  85. “The God of Small Things” by Arundhati Roy – read, 7/10
  86. “Vicky Angel” by Jacqueline Wilson – to read
  87. “Brave New World” by Aldous Huxley – read, 10/10
  88. “Cold Comfort Farm” by Stella Gibbons – to read
  89. “Magician” by Raymond E. Feist – to read
  90. “On the Road” by Jack Kerouac – to read
  91. “The Godfather” by Mario Puzo – to read
  92. “The Clan of the Cave Bear” by Jean M. Auel – read, 10/10
  93. “The Colour of Magic” by Terry Pratchett – to read
  94. “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho – to read
  95. “Katherine” by Anya Seton – to read
  96. “Kane and Abel” by Jeffrey Archer – to read
  97. Love in the Time of Cholera” by Gabriel Garcia Marquez – read, 10/10
  98. “Girls in Love” by Jacqueline Wilson – to read
  99. “The Princess Diaries” by Meg Cabot – to read
  100. “Midnight’s Children” by Salman Rushdie – to read.

Phew, that will sort the men out from the boys. Where has Terry Pratchett been all my life? And who had heard of the Ragged Trousered Philanthropists? Actually, it looks like young people were casting their votes as well as the grown ups, so not sure I can promise to stretch to all one hundred tomes… It’s a whole brave new world out there, with 41% still to go… (and “Middlemarch” appearing on yet another ‘best ever’ list). The gauntlet is once again thrown down for the forthcoming months.

Read to date = 62, Still to read = 38 …

Image taken from here.
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5 Responses to BBC’s ‘The Big Read’ – the best loved novels of all time

  1. lsalak says:

    Wow! I think the French would be offended by that list. . . the only French author I saw was Dumas. I am so befuddled by this fact; perhaps the antiFrench slant has to do with 1066 as I see that the survey was mainly (exclusively?) filled out by British folk?. Not even “Mme Bovary”? People love “War and Peace” more than “Mme Bovary”? “Ulysses”? A better read than “Hadrian’s Memoirs”? Well, actually, I wouldn’t know since I can’t get very far into “Ulysses” before I give up. In fact it’s on my Kindle now, purchased (well, downloaded for free) with high hopes, but only a bit of Chapter 1 read before I had to move on to “The Pale King” by David Foster Wallace, the ultimate in depressing, but with humour!)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi, the Magna Carta has a lot to answer for! It is a very British list, isn’t it. Not sure what the criteria were, and maybe next time they should stipulate ‘books from across the Channel(s) included’… or not… Hate to think of any French effrontery going on – and one of these days could be interesting to get everyone to compile their own current Best Loved List.
    Thanks for the mention for “The Pale King” and what sounds like a very interesting read. Going onto the Wish List, xx


  3. Kay says:

    Am I the last to know that you can find a lot of classic books in audio form on you tube – I am going to bed at night having pride and predudice read to me – good way to stop the pile next to the bed getting any bigger !

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: “Love, Nina: Despatches from Family Life” by Nina Stibbe (2013) – book review | Literary ramblings etc

  5. Pingback: Wish List 2016: New Year’s Resolutions, plus The BBC’s 100 Greatest British Novels | Literary ramblings etc

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