On Reading the Classics


1) Look at the list and put an ‘x’ after those you have read. 2) Add a ‘+’ to the ones you LOVE. 3) Star (*) those you plan on reading. 4) Tally your total at the bottom.



 1 Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen x+ 2 The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien 3 Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte x 4 Harry Potter series – JK Rowling 5 To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee x 6 The Bible x 7 Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte x 8 Nineteen Eighty Four – George Orwell x 9 His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman  10 Great Expectations – Charles Dickens x 11 Little Women – Louisa M Alcott x+ 12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy x 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 Traveller’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger  20 Middlemarch – George Eliot* 21 Gone With The Wind – Margaret Mitchell 22 The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald x 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 x 31 Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy 32 David Copperfield – Charles Dickens 33 Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis 34 Emma – Jane Austen x+ 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 x 40 Winnie the Pooh – AA Milne  41 Animal Farm – George Orwell x+ 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 x 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 x 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 x 59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Mark Haddon * (starting today) 60 Love In The Time Of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez * 61 Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck x 62 Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov  63 The Secret History – Donna Tart 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 x 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 x 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 x 99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl x 100 Les Miserables – Victor Hugo *


I’ve only read 23 of these, some I started but were boring (persuasion, David copperfield, the three musketeers etc.)  I have a long commute from work and try to use it for fun reading so I guess this list is a good reference/word bank.  ON the OTHER hand, there aren’t many books from minority/developing world authors (Chinue Achebe (sp?) Leila Abou-Leila, Leila Abouzeid, Naguib Mahfouz heck they don’t even have Oscar Wilde on here!…lol) 

So I don’t feel like a butthead for not having read many of these.  


There are some other books I am trying to get into— Kaffir Boy comes to mind, as does this new one called the Night Women, that is written in Jamaican Patua and tells the story of women on a Jamaican slave plantation. 



The Picture of Dorian Grey (boring as butt for the first 1/3 and then gets interesting)


maybe Mamdani’s Good Muslim (yeah kind of old and should have read it a long time ago oh well)


and I will try to get my hands on a copy of the Bite of the Mango (thanks Y.S.). 


I guess I’m trying to mix it up some academic and some entertainment. So far I think its worked ok. Since work


So many books, so little time ;-/


2 thoughts on “On Reading the Classics

  1. KG

    Keep in mind that the BBC came up with this list, which might be why the list is biased towards British authors. I can’t find the original article explaining how they came up with this list, though, which annoys me. Obviously this isn’t just a list of “Classics” since they include recent, “popular” fiction such as “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” and “Harry Potter.” If it’s not just a list of established classics, what were their criteria for choosing the books?

    Also, if the BBC says “most people” have only read 6, what “people” are they referring to? Just the British?

    You pointed out before that you read a lot of these books in high school. That’s true for me too, which definitely means I would have read more than six of these by the time I graduated. I don’t know much about the British system, but one of my friends from India (who model their system after the British), told me she read much fewer of these books in high school. If that’s the case, I could see why the average might be 6 books, although that’s sad. You have family in Britain and spent time there; maybe you have some insights on that…

    Btw, I love Naguib Mahfouz!

  2. gazelledusahara

    Was hitch hikers that good? I have seen people go gaga over it, but their descriptions have not made it look all that enticing (I think you read it yes?)

    BBC is biased in everything…lol… it’s funny how literature is so subjective, but yes until we know what this was supposed to be a list of I guess its hard to tell what their point was. My cousin probably has not read many of these, but that has more to do with them specializing so early and her being in the sciences (and not being much a literature buff). But yeah, their education system could ironically enough focus less on reading canonical literature and focus more on technical writing or writing appropriate for you field which you choose at like 16 (or maybe 18) and never look back… oh well.

    I have actually never read Mahfouz from beginning to end, maybe its the translations I had, he strikes me as someone whose works pick up momentum as they go along (= boring beginings). It is a shame for someone who is supposedly Middle Eastern studies so maybe I need to put him on my to do list… maybe after Madam Bovary…lol

    which Mahfouz novel do you suggest?

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