“literacy” list

The biggest annoyance I have1 is when I tell someone I’m a PhD student in English and they assume I have read every canonical text there is, even after I explain that I study rhetoric and composition. Via Dennis, here’s a Facebook (now blogging — perhaps it was blogging first?) “meme”:

BBC Book List

Apparently the BBC reckons most people will have only read 6 of the 100 books here.
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.

1 Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
2 The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien X
3 Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
4 Harry Potter series – JK Rowling X
5 To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee * (I’ve read 1/3 of it but never finished it)
6 The Bible (I’ve read at least a majority of it, I think, but alas, not all)
7 Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four – George Orwell X
9 His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman X+
10 Great Expectations – Charles Dickens X
11 Little Women – Louisa M Alcott X
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 – Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare (Why does Shakespeare get his complete works here?)
15 Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien X
17 Birdsong – Sebastian Faulks
18 Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger X
19 The Time Traveller’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch – George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind – Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald X+
23 Bleak House – Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
26 Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck
29 Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll
30 The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield – Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis X
34 Emma – Jane Austen
35 Persuasion – Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe – CS Lewis X (now why is this on here with #33?)
37 The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini *
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis De Berniere
39 Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden X
40 Winnie the Pooh – AA Milne (I am not sure which Winnie this refers to… Weren’t there multiple Winnie books?)
41 Animal Farm – George Orwell X+
42 The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez X+
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 X
49 Lord of the Flies – William Golding X
50 Atonement – Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi – Yann Martel
52 Dune – Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities – Charles Dickens (I read the first paragraph when I was in high school and was turned off by the run-on sentence at the beginning. I was such a snobby formalist!)
58 Brave New World – Aldous Huxley X
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Mark Haddon X
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez X
61 Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck X
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
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 X
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 X
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 X
82 Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple – Alice Walker X
84 The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert X
86 A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte’s Web – EB White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven – Mitch Alborn X (Why isn’t there a symbol for books you detest?)
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection – Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad X
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 X
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl X+
100 Les Miserables – Victor Hugo

Total read: 29

Total I plan to read: 2 (I don’t read much fiction anymore, and not much of what I do read is canonical. I also stress “planned” here instead of “want.” I want to read more of these, but don’t really plan on it.)

So I’ve read more than this un-sourced claim that the average person has read six of these…

1 Not true. There are bigger annoyances.

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7 Responses to “literacy” list

  1. k8 says:

    I highly recommend Alice in Wonderland – and Through The Looking Glass, too. I know, big surprise coming from me, but they are fun. And, they are short! And please, read some more Roald Dahl. Again, short and fun!

    I’ll go through these and make my marks. If I’ve missed out on something good, let me know!

  2. Adam says:

    I’ve seen this before, I think, but it’s still a really bizarre list in a lot of ways. Also, you should read Le Petit Prince!

  3. Ira Socol says:

    I was amazed to find that I had read 36 of a somewhat different Guardian 100 list – one without Dan Brown (yes, mostly by listening) – That made me feel pretty literate. Of course I’ll tell you to read Ulysses – but listen to it – I firmly believe that Irish Fiction is, essentially, oral – and should be approached that way (one of the ways Irish Fiction differs from English and American fiction, and from Irish-American fiction). Also, listen to On The Road, there’s a great new reading by Matt Dillon. Again – this is oral literature. The other one I’d push might be Catch 22, and yes, I’ll agree on Le Petit Prince.

    But, c’mon: English PhD without Joyce? Really now…

  4. Michael says:

    I might get around to Joyce someday, but I don’t find the whole “English PhD without Joyce” prompt too persuasive — esp. since I’m of the school that English departments need to rethink their literature-centric focus.

    (Another note: I doubt I’ll get to On the Road soon… I found Dharm Bums off-putting)

  5. Dennis says:

    FWIW, I loved On the Road and yet couldn’t finish Dharma Bums.

  6. Vicki says:

    Middlemarch is my nominee for best novel of all time, but it’s not for everyone. I’ve read 56 on the list, thanks in part to a requirement to take comps in two literary areas as well as Rhet/Comp. Where are the great 18th century British novels? At least Tristran Shandy!!!

  7. Michael says:

    Vicki, I think this list was generated in part by readers, from what I read elsewhere, so the 18th century probably got neglected quite a bit. I haven’t read Middlemarch, though I’ve heard good things, and I’ve read a few pages of Tristran Shandy — and so want to finish it some day!

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