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

18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger

19 The Time Traveler’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger

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

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

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

78 Germinal - Emile Zola

79 Vanity Fair - William
Makepeace Thackeray

80 Possession - AS

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

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

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.......


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.