Wednesday, 6 April 2011

A new book list: a Facebook crowdsourcing challenge

Remember that BBC book list? The one we are all supposed to have read, on average, just six titles from? (I scored 58, smart aren't I?) In case you haven't seen it, I've reproduced it below.
The list itself isn't ridiculous, but it is a bit dull: a mix of classics you'd find on every A level/university reading list, Booker prize winners and the kind of best sellers you couldn't avoid even if you tried.
Each time it circulates I've seen comments from people saying they thought the list was daft, or unbalanced - where are the interesting books, the genre fiction, the romance. There was nothing quirky. Or daring.
So here's my proposal: let's put together a new list.
I've posted this on Facebook. What I want everyone to do is message me a list of five, ten, no more than fifteen novels - title and author please. Forward the challenge on to your friends and have them message me too. I'll collate the lists into one great humungous list. Hopefully we'll get an interesting, honest top 100 and I'll rank them to reflect popularity. If you aren't on Facebook, please give me your own list by listing them in the comments box below.
What I ask is that you give me the books you think are MUST READS. Not the books you think you SHOULD read, but the ones you have read which are unmissable. Unforgettable. And please be honest. List the books you love rather than the books you think you should love.
I've already had some extraordinary answers and the lists I've been sent don't reflect the BBC list at all.
This is an experiment in crowdsourcing and the more people you can encourage to take part the more interesting and varied the list will be.
1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
 2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
 3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
 4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowlin
 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 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 - 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 - Kazu 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 


  1. My choices:
    A Thousand Splendid Suns - Khaled Hosseini
    The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
    The House of Sand and Fog - Andre Dubus III
    The No 1 Ladies Detective Agency Series -
    Alexander McCall Smith
    Cross Stitch - Diana Gabaldon
    All He Ever Wanted - Anita Shreve
    Lady of Hay - Barbra Erskine
    The Help - Kathryn Stockett
    The Time Traveller's Wife - Audrey Niffeneger

  2. Atlas Shrugged - Ayn Rand

  3. thanks Anon, interesting choices. please pass on the link!

  4. This was a good idea, Thomas.

    My 15 "must reads" came automatically,no research other than my memory. All have brought me great pleasure, lasting enjoyment and some I've re-read. Can thoroughly recommend these titles.

    Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy

    Kidnapped – RL Stevenson

    The Wrong Boy – Willy Russell

    The Flight of the Heron – DK Broster

    One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest – Ken Kesey

    War And Peace – Tolstoy

    A Day in the Live of Ivan Denisovich - Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

    To Kill A Mockingbird – Harper Lee

    Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy – John Le Carre

    Our Man In Havana – Graham Greene

    Scoop – Evelyn Waugh

    Alias Grace - Margaret Atwood

    In Cold Blood – Truman Capote

    Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens

    We Need To Talk About Kevin – Lionel Shriver