Ecclesiastes 12:12 – Again

..for the writing of many books is 

(carrying on being) 


Indeed so. The BBC reckons that the average reader won’t have read more than six of these, which list has been floating around on the Net since the Guardian article marking World Book day in 2007.

Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen

2 The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien

3 Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte

Harry Potter series – JK Rowling

To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee

6 The Bible (all of it)

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 Faulks

18 Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger

19 The Time Traveler’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 – A.A. 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 Inferno – Dante

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 – E.B. 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

I’m less interested in sharing how many I’ve read – I don’t really think that you get an A* for quantity; I’m much more interested in finding out how the selection was made and in the intervening three years, would any new kids on the block have the literary muscle to displace any of the current postholders on this (rather wobbly) ladder of fame.
I think this rather longer list is much better however, as long as I have a few years left crawling the earth like a superannuated cockroach waiting for the end. Alternatively a long prison sentence would provide me with about the right length of time to get through them all.
The image is of a Gutenberg Bible. 
[Stupid link: Johannes Gutenberg is credited with marketing a periscope, so the faithful could see over the crowds at religious festivals. In 1430 something. Which was so long ago that nobody cares; perhaps this is why nothing on the list except Shakespeare and the Bible is more than two hundred years old. Shame, really]

2 thoughts on “Ecclesiastes 12:12 – Again

  1. It would also be interesting to check weither one has seen more movie adaptations or read the actual books
    I scored poorly, much to my shame.
    For my defence, I read the best of several centuries of french literature, mostly between 10 and 18 (hence my perfect french spelling and grammar-In My Own Arrogance) then there was a 25 years tunnel when I too often fell exhausted at night on my bed thinking how much pleasure it would be to read again when I am retired…before I could tell, I realised I needed reading glasses…yikes…
    In the mean time, Internet was invented, such a lazier way to spend sleepless nights, full of zillion vain non-information but also a galaxy of lonely insomniacs writers
    Any chance with posting :
    “female insomniac would happily share large comfy pillows with reading male and exchange grunts of pleasure reading all the books from the list
    (except Bridget Jones, Harry Potter and the Vinci Code cause I want to start a Facebook Group called:
    “I didn't read The Vinci Code or Harry Potter, fell asleep in front of both movies and am actually proud of it”)



  2. Of course you get an A* for quantity. At least I think I deserve one. I've read most of them, and I'd add “The History of Civilization” (Will & Ariel Durant) to the list and remove 'Bridget Jones' and 'Da Vinci Code.' Somebody had wasta for those two to get on the list.

    I'm with Gipsy. I plan to remain one of the few individuals in the world who did not see ANY part of 'Titanic.' One simply has to draw the line somewhere.


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