Category Archives: The List

Is this your final answer?

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It’s amusing how things develop in the wild. The list I saw on Facebook was subtly different to the original World Book Day list (from 2007) – numbers 23 and 26 had vanished (Bleak House and Brideshead Revisited respectively), and number 76 had mysteriously changed from The Bell Jar to Dante’s Inferno. Wanting to reassure myself that the list was vaguely credible, I looked up some other, similar, top 100’s.

The most obvious one I found was the BBC’s Big Read list of the UK’s favourite books (2003), which I at first thought was the origin of the Facebook list. Also from the UK, the Daily Telegraph posted a list of 100 novels everyone should read (2009). Finally, the site Best 100 Lists has several top 100’s based on popular vote (2009).

A bit of scripting in Python allowed me to easily tidy and collate these four lists. Encouragingly, more than 80 books appeared on more than one list. The total number was about 250, though, which was a bit unwieldy. To keep it to about 100, I added to the original list any book that appeared more than once in the others, and removed a couple of entries (The Bible and The Complete Works of Shakespeare – both of which I have read at least some of already; and The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, as the complete Chronicles of Narnia were already listed). This gave me my final list:

  1. 1984, George Orwell
  2. A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens
  3. A Confederacy of Dunces, John Kennedy Toole
  4. A Fine Balance, Rohinton Mistry
  5. A Prayer for Owen Meany, John Irving
  6. A Suitable Boy, Vikram Seth
  7. A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens
  8. A Town Like Alice, Nevil Shute
  9. Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (12 short stories)
  10. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll
  11. All Quiet on the Western Front, Erich Maria Remarque
  12. Animal Farm, George Orwell
  13. Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy
  14. Anne of Green Gables, LM Montgomery
  15. Atonement, Ian McEwan
  16. Beloved, Toni Morrison
  17. Birdsong, Sebastian Faulks
  18. Bleak House, Charles Dickens
  19. Brave New World, Aldous Huxley
  20. Brideshead Revisited, Evelyn Waugh
  21. Bridget Jones’s Diary, Helen Fielding
  22. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, Louis de Bernieres
  23. Catch-22, Joseph Heller
  24. Catcher in the Rye, JD Salinger
  25. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Roald Dahl
  26. Charlotte’s Web, EB White
  27. Chronicles of Narnia, CS Lewis (7 books)
  28. Cloud Atlas, David Mitchell
  29. Cold Comfort Farm, Stella Gibbons
  30. Crime and Punishment, Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  31. David Copperfield, Charles Dickens
  32. Don Quixote, Miguel de Cervantes
  33. Dracula, Bram Stoker
  34. Dune, Frank Herbert
  35. Emma, Jane Austen
  36. Far From The Madding Crowd, Thomas Hardy
  37. Frankenstein, Mary Shelley
  38. Germinal, Emile Zola
  39. Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell
  40. Great Expectations, Charles Dickens
  41. Hamlet, William Shakespeare
  42. Harry Potter Series, JK Rowling (7 books)
  43. Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad
  44. His Dark Materials, Phillip Pullman (3 books)
  45. Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte
  46. Jude the Obscure, Thomas Hardy
  47. Les Miserables, Victor Hugo
  48. Life of Pi, Yann Martel
  49. Little Women, Louisa May Alcott
  50. Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov
  51. Lord of the Flies, William Golding
  52. Love in the Time of Cholera, Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  53. Madame Bovary, Gustave Flaubert
  54. Memoirs of a Geisha, Arthur Golden
  55. Middlemarch, George Eliot
  56. Midnight’s Children, Salman Rushdie
  57. Moby Dick, Herman Melville
  58. Notes From A Small Island, Bill Bryson
  59. Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck
  60. Oliver Twist, Charles Dickens
  61. On the Road, Jack Kerouac
  62. One Hundred Years of Solitude, Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  63. Persuasion, Jane Austen
  64. Possession, AS Byatt
  65. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
  66. Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier
  67. Sense and Sensibility, Jane Austen
  68. Swallows and Amazons, Arthur Ransome
  69. Tess of the D’Urbervilles, Thomas Hardy
  70. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain
  71. The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath
  72. The Color Purple, Alice Walker
  73. The Count of Monte Cristo, Alexandre Dumas
  74. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, Mark Haddon
  75. The Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown
  76. The Faraway Tree Collection, Enid Blyton (3 books)
  77. The Five People You Meet In Heaven, Mitch Albom
  78. The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck
  79. The Great Gatsby, F Scott Fitzgerald
  80. The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood
  81. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams (I’m assuming just the first book)
  82. The Hobbit, JRR Tolkien
  83. The Inferno, Dante
  84. The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini
  85. The Little Prince, Antoine De Saint-Exupery
  86. The Lord of the Rings, JRR Tolkien (3 books)
  87. The Lovely Bones, Alice Sebold
  88. The Name of the Rose, Umberto Eco
  89. The Remains of the Day, Kazuo Ishiguro
  90. The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett
  91. The Secret History, Donna Tartt
  92. The Shadow of the Wind, Carlos Ruiz Zafon
  93. The Stand, Stephen King
  94. The Stranger, Albert Camus
  95. The Three Musketeers, Alexandre Dumas
  96. The Time Traveller’s Wife, Audrey Niffenegger
  97. The Trial, Franz Kafka
  98. The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Milan Kundera
  99. The Wasp Factory, Iain Banks
  100. The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame
  101. The Woman in White, Wilkie Collins
  102. To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
  103. Ulysses, James Joyce
  104. Vanity Fair, William Makepeace Thackeray
  105. War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy
  106. Watership Down, Richard Adams
  107. Winnie the Pooh, AA Milne
  108. Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte

Note that the list above is in alphabetical order. I will be reading them in a randomised order (to keep things interesting).


Posted by on April 2, 2010 in The List