The BBC Book List Challenge

I came across an annoying fact last night… apparently the BBC believes most people have not read more than six of the following books… I may not be the most well-read person in the world, but I still feel a bit outraged at this! And apparently the average GoodReads user has read twenty-three…

[‘Read’ books in bold]

1 Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
2 The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
4 Harry Potter series – J.K. Rowling
5 To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
6 The Bible
7 Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four – George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations – Charles Dickens
11 Little Women – Louisa M Alcott
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 – Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare
15 Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien
17 Birdsong – Sebastian Faulks
18 Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger
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
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 (I’ve read The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe)
34 Emma – Jane Austen
35 Persuasion – Jane Austen
36 The Alchemist – Paulo Coelho
37 The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh – AA Milne
41 Animal Farm – George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
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
49 Lord of the Flies – William Golding
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
58 Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck
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
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
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
82 Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple – Alice Walker
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
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven – Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (I’ve read The Sign of Four and Hound of the Baskervilles)
90 The Faraway Tree Collection – Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad
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
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables – Victor Hugo

So yeah… I’ve read thirty-five (because I refuse to count series of seven as single book!), a respectable score I think… Definitely more than six!

So how many have you read? Are you equally outraged that the BBC seems to think we’re all unread fools?

D x

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17 thoughts on “The BBC Book List Challenge

  1. I have a problem with lists like this. It’s a bit snooty to look down on people for not reading a certain list of books. I read approximately 60 – 70 books per year and most of them won’t be mainstream or literary, so do the BBC think less of me for it? It’s a bit silly of them to think that a lot of people would be interested in all of those books as we all have different tastes. It would be more informative to look at how many books the average person reads and celebrate literacy than try to make us all feel like uneducated lumps.

    I think that it’s great to have a list if a person is interested in reading them, but I will only be able to read a certain amount of books in my lifetime and I don’t want to waste precious time reading books that I don’t find interesting.

  2. I’m not the greatest reader but I can say I’ve done all of Harry Potter and all of Philip Pullman’s Dark Materials, Time Travellers Wife, Horse Whisper…(was that there?) The Hobbit, Birdsong, David Copperfield (at school) Middlemarch,The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Alice in Wonderland, The Wind in the Willows, Chronicles of Narnia,Winnie the Pooh, Animal Farm, The Da Vinci Code (and the rest) Lord of the Flies,Emma,Oliver Twist, Midnight Garden,Swallows and Amazons, All the Adventures by Enid Blyton, (not on list) had Watership Down but never read it…Charlie and the Chocolate Factory…. and loads more, even I hadn’t realised I’d read that many! How weird that I’m on the ‘right list’ because I haven’t read, gone with the wind! (I mean, the film was so long I don’t think I’ve actually sat through all of it!
    I read some where that Joseph Heller was going to call his book Catch 18 and not Catch 22…. just think of the changes in our language that would’ve made!

  3. I’ve read 62 of these, & there are more I want to read from the remaining ones, but I do agree that these types of lists are biased and often feature the same novels, just in a different order! I wonder how well-read the compilers at the BBC are, as they don’t seem to realise that Hamlet (98) is included in the Complete Works of Shakespeare (14)?

    • Hahaa I didn’t even notice that! And I should give myself a couple of extra points for the couple of Shakespeares I’ve read… There are books on this list that I really, really wouldn’t consider ‘must reads’, but then there are others I love… it’s all a matter of taste I guess. I’d be more outraged if they said that most people have only read six books in their whole life. That would shock me.

  4. I have read 49 (counting the series books as one) in full with 5 additional books that I “attempted” and abandoned. A few questions: why are the complete works of Shakespeare and Hamlet listed separately, and is this list what the BBC considers the “greatest books of all time” because I take issue with a few of its selections.

    • This list was generated a few years ago… the BBC went in search of the nation’s best loved book, and these were the top hundred. The offensive statistics came later BUT I think in all fairness we need to blame the nation for counting Hamlet and the complete works of Shakespeare as two different books, not the BBC itself.

  5. Aw i have not read many classics, i just read whatever takes my fancy on amazon. I’ve read quite a few this year. Going to pick a couple from Richard and Judy’s book club challenge. I love that you love your books so much. I only discovered the joy of reading a year or two. I was never a child who read books, wish I was!! thx for the comment, you really should do an inside you bag post… do it! would love to see. xx

  6. Thank you for the lovely comment on my blog, Daire – always delighted to find another reader! Haha I misread the first part of the post, I thought it said that the BBC had done a survey that concluded that most people had only read six books, ever. Was all ready to rant! I’ve counted and I’ve read…19 but I counted the series’ as one. So probably almost 30? And some Shakespeare!

  7. A somewhat odd collection of books. I mean, I could understand better if it were all classics or something, but it seems like one person’s idea of a must-read list. Anyhoo…if I count the series as “one book” I’ve read 14, but individual books it’s about 25 (I never finished reading the Harry Potter series). Overall, though, great list of books to work from to get some great reads…thanks so much for sharing. Peace to your heart, Sara

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