Not too shabby, for an English graduate

I boldly marched up and half-inched this off Katyboo’s blog. What are fellow bloggers for, if not inspiration?

This is a meme that has been doing the rounds (I am so Out Of Touch). The BBC spent a while working out which were the best or best-beloved books in Britain, and is now of the opinion that most people will have read about six of the following works. Allegedly. I can’t find a link to a BBC page stating this, possibly because I’m not looking very hard, what with being bone-fucking-idle at the best of times.

Anyway, the idea is, one should mark in Bold all books one has really cross-heart-pinky-swear read, and italicize all those one has read a bit of/not quite finished/did an essay on based on the York Notes. And then one can asterisk everything one has seen on the big screen. Or small screen. Or heard on Radio 4. And then count everything up and if more than six are bold, glow smugly.

  1. Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen*
  2. The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien* (Anyone looking at the bookshelves in here, and seeing I own three copies, one illustrated by Alan Lee, also two Hobbits, a Silmarillion, an Unfinished Tales, the Peter Jackson Movies and the BBC Radio version (where Ian Holmes was Frodo, brilliantly. Take that baby-face Woods), will realise that I should not only have bolded this, but put it in 64-point and ornamented it with curlicues. Sorry).
  3. Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte*
  4. Harry Potter series – JK Rowling*
  5. To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee*
  6. The Bible (and an asterisk, if Charlton Heston counts. Also, Last Temptation of Christ and Prince of Egypt).
  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 May Alcott*
  12. Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy*
  13. Catch 22 – Joseph Heller *
  14. Complete Works of Shakespeare*. Yes. Every SINGLE ONE. Even the weird apocryphal ones Shakespeare only wrote bits of. Read, seen on stage, etc. (Except Edward III. Haven’t seen that one).
  15. Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier
  16. The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien* (I asterisked it for the 1960s BBC radio adaptation, which I have on CD, in which the Stereophonic Workshop so went to town on the Eagles they were practically unintelligible. But it’s narrated by Anthony Jackson of Rentaghost fame. Cool, eh?)
  17. Birdsong – Sebastian Faulks. Buried half-way down a minor foothill of Mt ToBeRead with a bus-ticket tucked in somewhere about page 30.
  18. Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger (I hate teenagers).
  19. The Time Travellers Wife – Audrey Niffenegger (So many people have told me to read it I have developed a mental block about it.
  20. Middlemarch – George Eliot*
  21. Gone With The Wind – Margaret Mitchell* (but I haven’t read it. And I don’t think I can be arsed to).
  22. The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald
  23. Bleak House – Charles Dickens*
  24. War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy (Is a cornice of Mt ToBeRead all on its own).
  25. The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams* (One of the few things that kept me sane in the Wilderness Years teenagering in Italy. When the tapes or the radio series wore out, and the pages all fell out fo the books, it didn’t matter as I’d practically memorised the lot)
  26. Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh (Got as far as spanking Aloysius the teddy bear with a silver-backed hair-brush, and threw up. No doubt I am being monstrously unfair).
  27. Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky* (I am notoriously bad at Russians. I am ashamed).
  28. Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck. (Whyever not? We even had a copy for years and years).
  29. Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll*
  30. The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame* (Moley weeping for his little house still makes me weep and cringe in sympathy)
  31. Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy (Did I mention I was dreadful at Russians? Bad Reed! Lazy Reed!)
  32. David Copperfield – Charles Dickens*
  33. Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis*
  34. Emma – Jane Austen*
  35. Persuasion – Jane Austen*
  36. The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe – CS Lewis* (I thought we’d just had Chronicles of Narnia? See what happens when you can’t be arsed to employ proofreaders?)
  37. The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini (But I did tie dozens and dozens of copies up in red ribbon for the launch! Which is probably why I can’t read it!)
  38. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis De Berniere (After Notting Hill, not reading this is a matter of pride)
  39. Memoirs of a Geisha – William Golden
  40. Winnie the Pooh – AA Milne* (Disney version is pathetic. Alan Bennetts version is perfect)
  41. Animal Farm – George Orwell*
  42. The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown (I am ashamed. It was SHITE. No, shiter than that even. Offensively, insultingly, smugly, lazily, shite).
  43. One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabrial 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 Handmaids Tale – Margaret Atwood
  49. Lord of the Flies – William Golding
  50. Atonement – Ian McEwan (I know! I haven’t read a word of it!)
  51. Life of Pi – Yann Martell
  52. Dune – Frank Herbert* (I would watch Patrick Stewart have a nap on a deck-chair. Lepping about in leather? Count me in).
  53. Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons*
  54. Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen*
  55. A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth (The incident with the medals melted down for jewellry made me so steamingly cross I could not continue. Even though the fact I got so steamingly cross proved what an engrossing book it was. And then it avalanched down Mt ToBeRead).
  56. The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon (I have the attention span of a goldfish on uppers)
  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 (And I really can’t be arsed to dig it out and finish it. It was like being trapped in a room with my Dad and uncles after someone had proudly brought out a twist of home-grown Hippy Lettuce)
  67. Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy
  68. Bridget Jones’s Diary – Helen Fielding
  69. Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie
  70. Moby Dick – Herman Melville* (My grandfather, who means well, gave me the same illustrated Library hard-back edition of this every Christmas for three years running)
  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 (I wrote an A-grade essay on the first chapter of this. So, I’ve read the first chapter. Scrotum-tightening.)
  76. The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath (And between 15 and 23 I was convinced I’d never be a poet because I’d not once put my head in an oven, not even to clean it. I think Lolita does less damage to the psyches of little girls).
  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 – Charles Mitchell
  83. The Colour 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 (And after a few pages, I had to compulsively brush my teeth every hour for the rest of the day, the saccharine was so overwhelming)
  89. Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle*
  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 (This is the only, the only, Iain Banks/Iain M. Banks I haven’t read (Iain M. Banks is better)).
  94. Watership Down – Richard Adams* (As my Dad used to say, ‘you’ve read the book. You’ve seen the film. Now, eat the pie’.)
  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* (I have obsessive compulsive Hamlet disorder. I’m going to see it again, for the *counts on fingers* ninth time in January).
  99. Charlie & the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl* (and who do I crush on hardest? Gene Wilder or Johnny Depp?)
  100. Les Miserables – Victor Hugo* (I had nightmares about Fantine’s teeth. Between that and Edgar Allan Poe’s Berenice, I ended my teens with a raging dentist phobia)

So, I have read really cover to cover properly, 72 out the list of 100. And am Aware Of a further twelve. I think I can hold up my head at the sort of literary dinner parties I never ever get invited to. Alas, usually I’m the one everyone’s backing away from because when tipsy I will pinion people against the kitchen counters and Tell Them About Titus Andronicus.

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4 Responses to Not too shabby, for an English graduate

  1. katyboo says:

    Are you going to see Rory Kinnear at the National? Did you see John Simm at the Crucible? Are we very sad? Oh yes :)

  2. I agree with you on Da Vinci Code – and I HAVE read all the Russians. And Shakespeare. Including the sonnets.

  3. Pingback: On another book meme. « Verbosity

  4. Solnushka says:

    Never mind the Russians… you haven’t read Swallows and Amazons?

    *Backs away in horror*

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