Wish List 2016: New Year’s Resolutions, plus The BBC’s 100 Greatest British Novels

Well, it wouldn’t feel right to end the year without a nosy at what everyone is deeming the best reads of the year. The New York Times includes Elena Ferrante’s twin protagonists and Helen Macdonald’s in its 10 Best Books of 2015, then opens up a whacking great can of worms with its 100 Notable Books: of its 50 fiction works, there are less than a dozen that seem familiar, so am clearly way off the mark and hideously out of touch with what is what in the Big Apple. Feel too overwhelmed to even take a pot shot at any challenges with this little lot…

Treading back into more familiar territory, Marta Bausells from The Guardian sums up the ten books favoured by The Guardian readers from last year, and there is quite a lot here that does feel more achievable and desirable on the To Read/Tick That Box front.


  1. A Little Life” by Hanya Yanagihara – now read, 10/10
  2. “The Story of a Lost Child” by Elena Ferrante, now read, 10/10
  3. A God in Ruins” by Kate Atkinson – 10/10
  4. “A Brief History of Seven Killings” by Marlon James
  5. A Spool of Blue Thread” by Anne Tyler – 9/10
  6. “Purity” by Jonathan Franzen
  7. “The Buried Giant” by Kazuo Ishiguro
  8. “The Shepherd’s Crown” by Terry Pratchett
  9. “Common Ground” by Rob Cowen
  10. “Last Man Off” by Rob Lewis.

Still have 4 of their Top Ten from last year to complete, but most of the ones I did read were cracking yarns (“The Goldfinch“, “Do No Harm“, “We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves” to name but a handful), so am sure the same will be true of this new batch.

There will hopefully be plenty more of these ‘best of’ lists flying around, but would be good for Yours Truly to keep the blinkers on and not get carried away biting off more than I can digest this end for the next few months – guilty as charged, m’lud, of not ending the year with a clean sweep and quite some catching up still to do on the reading challenge fronts:

 End of year ‘school’ report – “could do better” …

The Classics Club ambles gently along, but oh to break with the tedious habit of always having the same unfulfilled New Year’s Resolutions (lose weight, do more exercise, blah blah blah) and actually manage to finish the other three reading challenges before this time next year.

Read-into-2016As the clock strikes at midnight on the 31st, I may or may not have turned the very last page (720) of “A Little Life” – thanks to Karen at BookerTalk for suggesting we share our reads that take us sailing into the New Year – this book has certainly been quite a strong one to close the old year on, and am still not sure whether I can’t wait for it to end, or not, and what I will feel about it when I finally place it gently on the “Read” pile. It’s pretty unputdownable, but a punch in the gut comes with nearly every page – so much for reading something Christmassy over the festive period…

In the meantime, though, thrilled to share Charley’s Books and Bakes 1 blog joy at the BBC conducting a poll with book critics outside the UK to produce a magnificent list of the 100 Greatest British Novels to “give an outsider’s perspective on the best in British literature” and to end the year in style. Quite a lot naturally overlaps with their earlier Big Read selection, but this one is smack up to date and includes Ali and Zadie Smith and Sarah Waters – what a blast.

100. The Code of the Woosters (PG Wodehouse, 1938)
99. There but for the (Ali Smith, 2011)
98. Under the Volcano (Malcolm Lowry,1947)
97. The Chronicles of Narnia (CS Lewis, 1949-1954), 10/10
96. Memoirs of a Survivor (Doris Lessing, 1974)
95. The Buddha of Suburbia (Hanif Kureishi, 1990)
94. The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner (James Hogg, 1824)
93. Lord of the Flies (William Golding, 1954), 8/10
92. Cold Comfort Farm (Stella Gibbons, 1932)
91. The Forsyte Saga (John Galsworthy, 1922)
90. The Woman in White (Wilkie Collins, 1859)
89. The Horse’s Mouth (Joyce Cary, 1944)
88. The Death of the Heart (Elizabeth Bowen, 1938)
87. The Old Wives’ Tale (Arnold Bennett,1908)
86. A Legacy (Sybille Bedford, 1956)
85. Regeneration Trilogy (Pat Barker, 1991-1995), 10/10
84. Scoop (Evelyn Waugh, 1938)
83. Barchester Towers (Anthony Trollope, 1857)
82. The Patrick Melrose Novels (Edward St Aubyn, 1992-2012), 9/10
81. The Jewel in the Crown (Paul Scott, 1966)
80. Excellent Women (Barbara Pym, 1952), 10/10
79. His Dark Materials (Philip Pullman, 1995-2000)
78. A House for Mr Biswas (VS Naipaul, 1961)
77. Of Human Bondage (W Somerset Maugham, 1915)
76. Small Island (Andrea Levy, 2004), 10/10
75. Women in Love (DH Lawrence, 1920)
74. The Mayor of Casterbridge (Thomas Hardy, 1886)
73. The Blue Flower (Penelope Fitzgerald, 1995)
72. The Heart of the Matter (Graham Greene, 1948)
71. Old Filth (Jane Gardam, 2004)
70. Daniel Deronda (George Eliot, 1876)
69. Nostromo (Joseph Conrad, 1904)
68. A Clockwork Orange (Anthony Burgess, 1962)
67. Crash (JG  Ballard 1973)
66. Sense and Sensibility (Jane Austen, 1811), 10/10
65. Orlando (Virginia Woolf, 1928)
64. The Way We Live Now (Anthony Trollope, 1875)
63. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (Muriel Spark, 1961), 10/10
62. Animal Farm (George Orwell, 1945), 8/10
61. The Sea, The Sea (Iris Murdoch, 1978)
60. Sons and Lovers (DH Lawrence, 1913)
59. The Line of Beauty (Alan Hollinghurst, 2004), now read, 7/10
58. Loving (Henry Green, 1945)
57. Parade’s End (Ford Madox Ford, 1924-1928)
56. Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit (Jeanette Winterson, 1985), 7/10
55. Gulliver’s Travels (Jonathan Swift, 1726)
54. NW (Zadie Smith, 2012), 10/10
53. Wide Sargasso Sea (Jean Rhys, 1966), 7/10
52. New Grub Street (George Gissing, 1891)
51. Tess of the d’Urbervilles (Thomas Hardy, 1891), 10/10
50. A Passage to India (EM Forster, 1924)
49. Possession (AS Byatt, 1990)
48. Lucky Jim (Kingsley Amis, 1954)
47. The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman (Laurence Sterne, 1759)
46. Midnight’s Children (Salman Rushdie, 1981)
45. The Little Stranger  (Sarah Waters, 2009), 10/10
44. Wolf Hall (Hilary Mantel, 2009), 7/10
43. The Swimming Pool Library (Alan Hollinghurst, 1988)
42. Brighton Rock (Graham Greene, 1938), 9/10
41. Dombey and Son (Charles Dickens, 1848)
40. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (Lewis Carroll, 1865), 9/10
39. The Sense of an Ending (Julian Barnes, 2011), 10/10
38. The Passion (Jeanette Winterson, 1987)
37. Decline and Fall (Evelyn Waugh, 1928)
36. A Dance to the Music of Time (Anthony Powell, 1951-1975)
35. Remainder (Tom McCarthy, 2005)
34. Never Let Me Go (Kazuo Ishiguro, 2005), 8/10
33. The Wind in the Willows (Kenneth Grahame, 1908), 8/10
32. A Room with a View (EM Forster, 1908), 8/10
31. The End of the Affair (Graham Greene, 1951), 10/10
30. Moll Flanders (Daniel Defoe, 1722)
29. Brick Lane (Monica Ali, 2003), 10/10
28. Villette (Charlotte Brontë, 1853)
27. Robinson Crusoe (Daniel Defoe, 1719)
26. The Lord of the Rings (JRR Tolkien, 1954)
25. White Teeth (Zadie Smith, 2000), 10/10
24. The Golden Notebook (Doris Lessing, 1962)
23. Jude the Obscure (Thomas Hardy, 1895)
22. The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling (Henry Fielding, 1749)
21. Heart of Darkness (Joseph Conrad, 1899)
20. Persuasion (Jane Austen, 1817), now read, 8/10
19. Emma (Jane Austen, 1815), 10/10
18. The Remains of the Day (Kazuo Ishiguro, 1989), 10/10
17. Howards End (EM Forster, 1910)
16. The Waves (Virginia Woolf, 1931)
15. Atonement (Ian McEwan, 2001), 10/10
14. Clarissa (Samuel Richardson,1748)
13. The Good Soldier (Ford Madox Ford, 1915), 5/10
12. Nineteen Eighty-Four (George Orwell, 1949), 10/10
11. Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen, 1813), 10/10
10. Vanity Fair (William Makepeace Thackeray, 1848)
9. Frankenstein (Mary Shelley, 1818)
8. David Copperfield (Charles Dickens, 1850), 10/10
7. Wuthering Heights (Emily Brontë, 1847), 10/10
6. Bleak House (Charles Dickens, 1853), 10/10
5. Jane Eyre (Charlotte Brontë, 1847), 10/10
4. Great Expectations (Charles Dickens, 1861), 10/10
3. Mrs. Dalloway (Virginia Woolf, 1925), 7/10 (am heathen)
2. To the Lighthouse (Virginia Woolf, 1927)
1. Middlemarch (George Eliot, 1874), 10/10.

Of the 100, have read but 37, so I guess there’s only one way to go – add to the To Be Read list yet again…

  • BBC 100 Greatest British Novels update – 36 read, 64 to go.
  • BBC Big Reads – 59 read, 41 to go.

Surely the overlapping left, right and centre has got to be the way to go – here’s to wishing you all some storming reads in 2016 and beyond… and a truly Happy New Year to one and all.

Images taken from here and here and here.
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20 Responses to Wish List 2016: New Year’s Resolutions, plus The BBC’s 100 Greatest British Novels

  1. Rachel says:

    Thank you for all your interesting posts – my resolution for 2016 is to make more time to Read and you are a source of inspiration. Hoping that your brilliant writing style will be more widely appreciated in 2016. Happy New Year xx

    Liked by 2 people

  2. alison41 says:

    Loved your post. I’m a sucker for lists, so this had my name written all over it. When I reached the end, was impressed and depressed – at the number of books I could have/should have and did not, read. Time, oh time … Agree with you on the NYT LIST. As for the Guardian list – have only read 2 : the Tyler (over-rated) the Ishiguoro (pedestrian and boring); Want TR off the list are ‘Little Life” ; I have mixed feelings about Frantzen (all that neurotic American angst!!) and hesitate on the Marlon James – I don’t like dialogue in patois. I own the BBC Big Reads book – a wonderful source book.
    I’m impressed with your Bailey’s challenge progress, and awed aty yo9ur courage re the Classics Challenge.
    My 2016 Reading Goals are: (1) to read 1 bk per month from my TBR pile and (2) to tackle “Middlemarch”.. That’s enough!
    Have a wonderful 2016, brimming with terrific books!

    Liked by 2 people

    • You too, Alison – your goals sound spot on, actually, and I hope you enjoy “Middlemarch” as much as I did, coming to it just last year in the end after a false start a few years back. Agree with your comments above, so we will be able to compare as next year rolls out. Here’s to it! x

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Fascinating post! The list had more books on it that I genuinely enjoyed than they do normally – and of course anything that ranks Middlemarch first gets my vote 🙂 Happy New Year!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Happy New Year to you too and really look forward to seeing what you add to your quip of reading matter next year! x


  5. TimPa59 says:

    Happy New Year Nicola. May 2016 bring lots more literary joy and many new readers of your wonderful blog!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. And a very Happy New Year to you too! Here’s to a great 2016 xx


  7. BookerTalk says:

    I had the same reaction to that NY Times 100 list – I found 10 titles I had heard of but hadn’t read a single one. Some I don’t plan to read – Karl Ove Knausgaard has no appeal to me whatsoever – but I did pick up some titles I have added to my wish list which at my current rate I might get around to reading in about 10 years time

    Liked by 1 person

    • A good friend has given me the first K.O.K. so will tuck that into this year, I hope, and see how I get on. See that he has yet another addition due out in March, so that will no doubt cause a bit of a stir. Glad to read you felt the same way about the Notables list…


  8. Donna says:

    I love books lists, you can never have enough. Reading your posts, I realized I haven’t read as much as I wanted in 2015, but here’s a new year so time to get some new priorities! I’m new to challenges but I’m really excited to try and expand my reading.
    Happy New Year 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Happy new year – thank you for sharing such exciting lists (I’m someone else who finds lists extremely exciting) and also for the NY reading this year! Let me know if you think of any more Geographically based reading lists for 2016!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. You are way ahead of me, have more on the TBR pile than the Tick that Box pile of this series… am thinking that may do a French literature push in the autumn, as I am getting very lazy about reading these books with so many other temptations along the way. Making a note to self!


  11. Pingback: “A Little Life” by Hanya Yanagihara (2015) – taking repeated deep breaths | Literary ramblings etc

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