Saturday, July 5, 2008

The Big Read

My friend Alex posted about The Big Read from the NEA over on her blog. Purportedly, the NEA has come up with a list of their top 100 books and they estimate that the average adult has only read 6 of these books. The object of this meme is to highlight the ones you've read and share the list on your blog. Well, I consider myself to be a fairly well-read person, what with being a bookworm and majoring in English and Textual Studies back in college and all, so I wanted to give this a shot. Here goes - the ones I've read are bolded:

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen

2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien

3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte

4 Harry Potter series - JK 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 Traveler’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


34 Emma - Jane Austen


35 Persuasion - Jane Austen


36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis


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


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


Well, I've read 51 out of the 100 books on this particular meme list, if you count the entire Harry Potter collection as one book. Also, I'd quibble about including "the Complete Works of William Shakespeare" as one book. I love Shakespeare and have read several of his plays, possibly even most of them. And why does Hamlet count separately? As Alex said over on her blog, I am a bit confused. So confused, in fact, that I googled the NEA's Big Read and nowhere on their site did I find this exact list, which is widely circulating on the blogosphere as it turns out. (Thanks, Google!) I wonder where this list originated, then....?

Anyhow, on the NEA's site, I did find the list of books in their Big Read initiative so far. They include (and I've bolded the ones I've read from these, as well)
The NEA will be adding more books to their list in upcoming weeks, too:

Bless Me, Ultima- Rudolfo Anaya
Farenheit 451 - Ray Bradbury
My Antonia - Willa Cather
The Great Gatsby - F. Scott Fitzgerald
A Lesson Before Dying - Ernest J. Gaines
The Maltese Falcon - Dashiell Hammett
To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
The Call of the Wild - Jack London
The Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
The Joy Luck Club - Amy Tan
The Death of Ivan Ilyich - Leo Tolstoy
The Age of Innocence - Edith Wharton

Washington Square - Henry James
A Wizard of Earthsea - Ursula LeGuin
The Thief and the Dogs - Naguib Mahfouz
Housekeeping - Marilynne Robinson
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer - Mark Twain
Old School - Tobias Wolff

Well, I'm 8 for 18 on that list as it stands so far. Still better than the "average adult" who has supposedly only read six of the books above, I suppose.

It seems to me that someone, somewhere, has come up with a list or adapted a list (perhaps from the BBC's Big Read list from 2003?) to use in this post/meme, but it makes the fact that the list is confusing make a little more sense, if you get what I mean. I certainly could think of many more books that would be deemed worthy of appearing on any such list, you know?

Ah, the blogosphere - someone posts something and it just spreads like wildfire, accurate or not. Perhaps Snopes will debunk it sometime soon.......

2 comments:

Sue said...

Hey - Thanks for commenting today!! Holy Classics, Batman....that's a lot of tough books. I spend all my free reading time reading blogs, so my actual reading material is limited to US magazine and Star. Because I'm on vaca, I'll be posting re-runs this week (sorry- the SUV is one) but come back and visit!

Jack Gordon said...

Seriously, I liked the meme, but couldn't imagine it was a "real" list, given that it was so "chick lit" and "pre-adolescent" heavy. Google of it + snopes got me here. Fun blog.