There have been lots of lists compiled over the years declaring the Best 100 books you should read before you know what…
When I check my completed reading list against these, I find that I have read over 50 on some lists, only about 30 on others and so on it goes.
Some of the lists are compiled purely by numbers of books sold, some by their literary value, but the truth is they are all some one else’s opinion.
Look for a moment at this list of the best 100 novels compiled by the BBC. It can be intimidating to compare your reading efforts! I, for example have read 48 of the books on this list.
|1. The Lord of the Rings, JRR Tolkien|
|2. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen||Yes|
|3. His Dark Materials, Philip Pullman|
|4. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams|
|5. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, JK Rowling|
|6. To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee||Yes|
|7. Winnie the Pooh, AA Milne||Yes|
|8. Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell||Yes|
|9. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, CS Lewis||Yes|
|10. Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë||Yes|
|11. Catch-22, Joseph Heller||Yes|
|12. Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontë||Yes|
|13. Birdsong, Sebastian Faulks|
|14. Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier||Yes|
|15. The Catcher in the Rye, JD Salinger|
|16. The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame||Yes|
|17. Great Expectations, Charles Dickens||Yes|
|18. Little Women, Louisa May Alcott||Yes|
|19. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, Louis de Bernieres||Yes|
|20. War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy||Yes|
|21. Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell||Yes|
|22. Harry Potter And The Philosopher’s Stone, JK Rowling|
|23. Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets, JK Rowling|
|24. Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban, JK Rowling|
|25. The Hobbit, JRR Tolkien||Yes|
|26. Tess Of The D’Urbervilles, Thomas Hardy||Yes|
|27. Middlemarch, George Eliot||Yes|
|28. A Prayer For Owen Meany, John Irving|
|29. The Grapes Of Wrath, John Steinbeck||Yes|
|30. Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland, Lewis Carroll||Yes|
|31. The Story Of Tracy Beaker, Jacqueline Wilson|
|32. One Hundred Years Of Solitude, Gabriel García Márquez|
|33. The Pillars Of The Earth, Ken Follett|
|34. David Copperfield, Charles Dickens|
|35. Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, Roald Dahl||Yes|
|36. Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson||Yes|
|37. A Town Like Alice, Nevil Shute||Yes|
|38. Persuasion, Jane Austen||Yes|
|39. Dune, Frank Herbert|
|40. Emma, Jane Austen||Yes|
|41. Anne Of Green Gables, LM Montgomery||Yes|
|42. Watership Down, Richard Adams|
|43. The Great Gatsby, F Scott Fitzgerald||Yes|
|44. The Count Of Monte Cristo, Alexandre Dumas|
|45. Brideshead Revisited, Evelyn Waugh|
|46. Animal Farm, George Orwell||Yes|
|47. A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens||Yes|
|48. Far From The Madding Crowd, Thomas Hardy||Yes|
|49. Goodnight Mister Tom, Michelle Magorian|
|50. The Shell Seekers, Rosamunde Pilcher|
|51. The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett||Yes|
|52. Of Mice And Men, John Steinbeck||Yes|
|53. The Stand, Stephen King|
|54. Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy||Yes|
|55. A Suitable Boy, Vikram Seth|
|56. The BFG, Roald Dahl||Yes|
|57. Swallows And Amazons, Arthur Ransome|
|58. Black Beauty, Anna Sewell||Yes|
|59. Artemis Fowl, Eoin Colfer|
|60. Crime And Punishment, Fyodor Dostoyevsky||Yes|
|61. Noughts And Crosses, Malorie Blackman|
|62. Memoirs Of A Geisha, Arthur Golden|
|63. A Tale Of Two Cities, Charles Dickens||Yes|
|64. The Thorn Birds, Colleen McCollough||Yes|
|65. Mort, Terry Pratchett|
|66. The Magic Faraway Tree, Enid Blyton||Yes|
|67. The Magus, John Fowles|
|68. Good Omens, Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman|
|69. Guards! Guards!, Terry Pratchett|
|70. Lord Of The Flies, William Golding||Yes|
|71. Perfume, Patrick Süskind|
|72. The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, Robert Tressell|
|73. Night Watch, Terry Pratchett|
|74. Matilda, Roald Dahl||Yes|
|75. Bridget Jones’s Diary, Helen Fielding|
|76. The Secret History, Donna Tartt|
|77. The Woman In White, Wilkie Collins|
|78. Ulysses, James Joyce|
|79. Bleak House, Charles Dickens||Yes|
|80. Double Act, Jacqueline Wilson|
|81. The Twits, Roald Dahl||Yes|
|82. I Capture The Castle, Dodie Smith|
|83. Holes, Louis Sachar|
|84. Gormenghast, Mervyn Peake|
|85. The God Of Small Things, Arundhati Roy||Yes|
|86. Vicky Angel, Jacqueline Wilson|
|87. Brave New World, Aldous Huxley|
|88. Cold Comfort Farm, Stella Gibbons|
|89. Magician, Raymond E Feist|
|90. On The Road, Jack Kerouac|
|91. The Godfather, Mario Puzo|
|92. The Clan Of The Cave Bear, Jean M Auel||Yes|
|93. The Colour Of Magic, Terry Pratchett|
|94. The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho||Yes|
|95. Katherine, Anya Seton|
|96. Kane And Abel, Jeffrey Archer||Yes|
|97. Love In The Time Of Cholera, Gabriel García Márquez||Yes|
|98. Girls In Love, Jacqueline Wilson|
|99. The Princess Diaries, Meg Cabot|
|100. Midnight’s Children, Salman Rushdie|
But here’s the thing: towards the end of this list, there are 5 books by Terry Pratchett.
Who exactly is Terry Pratchett? I’ve never heard of him.
Wiki reveals: Sir Terence David John “Terry” Pratchett, OBE (born 28 April 1948) is an English novelist, known for his frequently comical work in the fantasy genre.
Oh, that makes sense. The fantasy genre is not one I enjoy. You’ll notice that I haven’t ticked off The Lord of the Rings, or the Harry Potter series (although I did enjoy the movies). My almost 12 year old loves this genre, but not me.
I struggled to read The Hobbit while at school but have never even been tempted to pick up The Lord of the Rings Trilogy.
What about all those other fabulous books that are not on the list:
The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Cloudstreet by Tim Winton
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
The Great World by David Malouf
Villette by Charlotte Bronte
The Tree of Man by Patrick White
…and the list goes on.
Reading is about the individual, you and me, because we all bring different knowledge and experiences to the process.
But here’s the absolutely BEST thing about Book Groups, we are encouraged to read books we may not have chosen on our own. This can help broaden our own appreciation and actually contribute in a meaningful way to our overall reading pleasure.
So what is the ultimate Best Book List? It is an amorphous entity.
You need to find the ultimate Best Book List for YOU.
It’s going to be fun to construct my list and I’d love to hear about the books on yours.
There are still so many aspects of reading books to discover.
What makes a book good?
Why do I like one book over another?
Should I read all books by an author I like?
The journey continues.
P.s. By the way, I think it’s perfectly fine for you to have another ‘engagement’ on the meeting night if your Book Group is reading a book that is just not you.