Are you a reader? And if so, are you the type who reads because they enjoy books or because society says they are ‘must reads’ and will judge you if you don’t?
I have come across more than one ‘definitive list’ of books that everyone must read before they die. But why? Who says that because I have read a particular (I do like that word) book I am a better person? What is it about these stories which earns respect for the reader? In the case of an epic novel such as War and Peace the sheer volume of words (and at time laborious content) is often enough to earn anyone who successfully conquered the 1,440 pages some respect, but why does picking up Pride and Prejudice or Animal Farm cause the same reaction?
There are some which are points of discussion purely because of their popularity, in these cases (amongst the right age group) it’s more eye raising if you haven’t read them; for example Harry Potter and Twilight, both of which have since become popular movies or Atonement and Memoirs of a Geisha which many people seem to have discovered were books after seeing the movies…either way stories making it to the big screen does seem to encourage more people to seek the original source, which I see as a good thing. But I digress.
Today Peg set the challenge of listing the 5 books I ‘should have read by now’. I have two lists, I have the list which society says I should read (I’ve only selected ones I have heard of), and a list of books I have been meaning to read for some time but have yet to get around to. So, here goes!
The books the BBC says I should I read:
1. The Bible – this is a biggy. I had a children’s bible when I was young which introduced me to many of the tales in a language suitable for my age. Because of this I am familiar with most of the Old Testament (The garden of Eden, Noah and the Ark, Tower of Babel, Joseph and his coat etc etc etc) but I don’t think I’ve ever dipped into an adult bible, certainly couldn’t quote you any psalms! Can’t see this one ever making the read list.
2. Pretty much anything by the Brontes (bar Jane Eyre) – I never really got along with the Bronte sisters, they’re all a bit too dismal and depressing. I only read Jane Eyre after seeing a BBC adaptation, and after Wuthering Heights was referenced in Sabrina the Teenage Witch I considered it, but still yet to delve in.
3. Nineteen Eighty Four – George Orwell. This one has often intrigued me, I just hadn’t really added it to my mental to do list (as in the one in my head as opposed to the crazy one).
4. War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy. Not bothered, not even a little bit. We were encouraged to read Birdsong in school and I detested it, put me off war related novels for life!
5. Notes from a small island – Bill Bryson. Everything about this suggests I would like it, but I attempted it once and gave up. Likewise with a short history of nearly everything. I’m aware that compared to the history of everything that book is pretty short – but it’s still too long for me!
And the list of books I want to read (eventually):
1. Shantaram – Gregory David Roberts. I bought this years ago for my mum and borrowed it back months ago but I just can’t get in to it! It’s on the list though, one day there will be a journey where it fits in my bag and it’ll get read!
2. Terry Pratchett – apparently this guy is a comedy genius and, considering the type of books I enjoy, his Discworld series will be right up my street.
3. The Game of Thrones series – I attempted the first 3 in 2011 and honestly the Red Wedding broke me. Coupled with the fact that for the most part I had little to no idea who anyone was and kept getting mixed up with who was important and who wasn’t. It didn’t matter much, they all died anyway. However, now I have seen the show and got my head around it a little more I feel like I could attempt them again. Not sure if I’ll go all the way back to book 1 but I might pick up where I left off.
We’ve reached the end of my immediate to do list so….
4. Nineteen Eighty Four – I don’t know much about it, but at least one from the other list had to make it to this list surely?!
5. Most of my others are re:reads, such as The Wizard of Earthsea and Alice in Wonderland. I can’t think of anything else right now so I’ll say this one is the book I’m currently reading The Long Earth – a collaborative novel between Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter. It’s pretty good, I intend to finish it!
Also, here’s the list I found from the BBC of the books you simply MUST read. They say to bold any you have and italic any you’ve attempted but not finished. I managed 35 of the former and 11 of the latter leaving me with 56 unattempted, many of which are likely to stay that way! How did you do?
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 – read some, but not others…
15 Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien
17 Birdsong – Sebastian Faulk
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
34 Emma – Jane Austen
35 Persuasion – Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe
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