Aug 9, 2009  •  In Books, Web

The BBC 100 Books Meme, And Why I Am a Book Nerd

I read on That Wife today that the BBC believes most people have only read 6 books of the 100 in the list below. Although I had seen the meme on Facebook before, I was intrigued, because earlier today I had spent $100 on new books and was thinking that I need to get over this addiction called “reading.”

According to the instructions, you are supposed to put an ‘X’ after those you have read. Let’s see how I stack up…

  1. Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen X
  2. The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien X
  3. Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte X
  4. Harry Potter series – JK Rowling X
  5. To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee X
  6. The Bible (most of it yes, but never cover to cover)
  7. Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte X
  8. Nineteen Eighty Four – George Orwell X
  9. His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman
  10. Great Expectations – Charles Dickens X
  11. Little Women – Louisa M Alcott X
  12. Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy X
  13. Catch-22 – Joseph Heller X
  14. Complete Works of Shakespeare
  15. Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier
  16. The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien X
  17. Birdsong – Sebastian Faulk
  18. Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger X
  19. The Time Traveler’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger
  20. Middlemarch – George Eliot
  21. Gone With The Wind – Margaret Mitchell X
  22. The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald X
  23. Bleak House – Charles Dickens
  24. War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy X
  25. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams X
  26. Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh
  27. Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky X
  28. Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck X
  29. Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll X
  30. The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame
  31. Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy X
  32. David Copperfield – Charles Dickens X
  33. Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis X
  34. Emma – Jane Austen X
  35. Persuasion – Jane Austen
  36. The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe – CS Lewis X
  37. The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini X
  38. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis De Bernieres
  39. Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden X
  40. Winnie the Pooh – AA Milne X
  41. Animal Farm – George Orwell X
  42. The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown X
  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 X
  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 X
  52. Dune – Frank Herbert X
  53. Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons
  54. Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen X
  55. A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth
  56. The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon
  57. A Tale Of Two Cities – Charles Dickens X
  58. Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
  59. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime – 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 X
  63. The Secret History – Donna Tartt
  64. The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold X
  65. Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas X
  66. On The Road – Jack Kerouac
  67. Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy
  68. Bridget Jones’s Diary – Helen Fielding X
  69. Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie
  70. Moby Dick – Herman Melville X
  71. Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens X
  72. Dracula – Bram Stoker X
  73. The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett X
  74. Notes From A Small Island – Bill Bryson
  75. Ulysses – James Joyce X
  76. The Inferno – Dante 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
  86. A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry
  87. Charlotte’s Web – EB White X
  88. The Five People You Meet In Heaven – Mitch Albom X
  89. Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle X
  90. The Faraway Tree Collection – Enid Blyton
  91. Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad X
  92. The Little Prince – Antoine De Saint-Exupery X
  93. The Wasp Factory – Iain Banks
  94. Watership Down – Richard Adams X
  95. A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole
  96. A Town Like Alice – Nevil Shute
  97. The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas X
  98. Hamlet – William Shakespeare X
  99. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl X
  100. 100 Les Miserables – Victor Hugo X

My total is 62. I also decided to bold my favorites on the list.

To be completely honest I was a bit disappointed in myself, until I did a fast Google and Facebook search and saw that my number was way above the average. What can I say? I love reading.

During my Google search I also found an interesting tidbit of informaton: the BBC never seems to have compiled such a list, or made such a claim. Pro-Science claims that the closest list he could find was the BBC’s The Big Read Top 100, and after doing some research this seems to be true. In fact, the list above is actually compiled by The Guardian – they are the top 100 books from an online poll taken in 2007 in celebration of World Book Day.

Here is my BBC list (I’ve again bolded my favorites):

  1. The Lord of the Rings, JRR Tolkien X
  2. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen X
  3. His Dark Materials, Philip Pullman
  4. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams X
  5. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, JK Rowling X
  6. To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee X
  7. Winnie the Pooh, AA Milne X
  8. Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell X
  9. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, CS Lewis X
  10. Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë X
  11. Catch-22, Joseph Heller X
  12. Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontë X
  13. Birdsong, Sebastian Faulks
  14. Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier
  15. The Catcher in the Rye, JD Salinger X
  16. The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame
  17. Great Expectations, Charles Dickens X
  18. Little Women, Louisa May Alcott X
  19. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, Louis de Bernieres
  20. War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy X
  21. Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell X
  22. Harry Potter And The Philosopher’s Stone, JK Rowling X
  23. Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets, JK Rowling X
  24. Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban, JK Rowling X
  25. The Hobbit, JRR Tolkien X
  26. Tess Of The D’Urbervilles, Thomas Hardy X
  27. Middlemarch, George Eliot
  28. A Prayer For Owen Meany, John Irving
  29. The Grapes Of Wrath, John Steinbeck X
  30. Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland, Lewis Carroll X
  31. The Story Of Tracy Beaker, Jacqueline Wilson
  32. One Hundred Years Of Solitude, Gabriel García Márquez X
  33. The Pillars Of The Earth, Ken Follett
  34. David Copperfield, Charles Dickens X
  35. Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, Roald Dahl X
  36. Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson X
  37. A Town Like Alice, Nevil Shute
  38. Persuasion, Jane Austen
  39. Dune, Frank Herbert X
  40. Emma, Jane Austen X
  41. Anne Of Green Gables, LM Montgomery X
  42. Watership Down, Richard Adams X
  43. The Great Gatsby, F Scott Fitzgerald X
  44. The Count Of Monte Cristo, Alexandre Dumas X
  45. Brideshead Revisited, Evelyn Waugh
  46. Animal Farm, George Orwell X
  47. A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens X
  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 X
  52. Of Mice And Men, John Steinbeck X
  53. The Stand, Stephen King X
  54. Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy X
  55. A Suitable Boy, Vikram Seth
  56. The BFG, Roald Dahl X
  57. Swallows And Amazons, Arthur Ransome
  58. Black Beauty, Anna Sewell X
  59. Artemis Fowl, Eoin Colfer X
  60. Crime And Punishment, Fyodor Dostoyevsky X
  61. Noughts And Crosses, Malorie Blackman
  62. Memoirs Of A Geisha, Arthur Golden X
  63. A Tale Of Two Cities, Charles Dickens X
  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 X
  69. Guards! Guards!, Terry Pratchett
  70. Lord Of The Flies, William Golding X
  71. Perfume, Patrick Süskind
  72. The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, Robert Tressell
  73. Night Watch, Terry Pratchett
  74. Matilda, Roald Dahl X
  75. Bridget Jones’s Diary, Helen Fielding X
  76. The Secret History, Donna Tartt
  77. The Woman In White, Wilkie Collins
  78. Ulysses, James Joyce X
  79. Bleak House, Charles Dickens
  80. Double Act, Jacqueline Wilson
  81. The Twits, Roald Dahl X
  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 X
  92. The Clan Of The Cave Bear, Jean M Auel X
  93. The Colour Of Magic, Terry Pratchett X
  94. The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho X
  95. Katherine, Anya Seton
  96. Kane And Abel, Jeffrey Archer
  97. Love In The Time Of Cholera, Gabriel García Márquez X
  98. Girls In Love, Jacqueline Wilson
  99. The Princess Diaries, Meg Cabot X
  100. Midnight’s Children, Salman Rushdie

I did slightly worse on this list, having only read 57.

How many have you read?

After having purchased today’s books, I updated my Facebook status with:

Hyojin Jenny Hwang just spent $100 on books…AGAIN. I really need to get over this addiction called “reading.”

Several people asked why I just don’t get a library card. The answer is simple: I just love books too much. I responded,

Unfortunately I’m a weirdo who likes forming “intimate relationships” with my books (folding pages over, marking passages, making notes in the margins, etc). I LOVE interacting with new books and “breaking them in” so that they become a part of me. Some of my favorite books are so worn and dog-eared that they look like they should be thrown away, but I love them because I made them that way. Yes, I’m a huge book nerd.

And this is precisely the reason I would never get a Kindle or another e-reader. A Kindle would be more convenient, sure. But I long for the dry rustling pages between your fingers. The rich texture of leather-bound copies. The smell of newly inked books. The smell of old, musty books. And what is printed on those pages? Oh, my.

I love, and need my books.