Posted by: mew | August 31, 2009

it’s official

I took one of those silly online quizzes recently.  You know the type.  “What kind of X are you?”  One of the questions was about how many books you own… and the choices went something like:  (a) none, (b) 1 – 10, (c) 11 – 40, (d) 41 – 100, or (e) 100+.

All I could think was, “There are people who have less than one hundred books?”

Maybe that answer should have been option (f).


For years I’ve been accused of being a bookworm.  People have gently suggested that maybe I read too much.  Others have cruelly mocked my reading habit.  Screw them, I think, and turning the page, sink back into my own little world where their voices cannot reach.  I admit it’s a fully developed escapist tendency — one that, unlike playing tetris, actually contributes beauty and substance to my life.

Plus, I’m a writer.  I’d like to be a published writer.  Reading seems to me to be the unsung half of that job.

So I was absolutely shocked by my score on the BBC booklist.  I’ve lately seen this on several blogs, most recently on Serendipity.  I don’t know when (or if!) the BBC published this list.  But according to the info circulating, the average person will have read 6 of these 100 well-known titles.  If you want to play along, by all means copy the list below, paste into your own blog (or print it out, or pass it around in an e-mail), and X off the titles you’ve read.

I’ve seen sites where the author was pleased she’d read 10.   I was disappointed I’d read only 42*.  The smallest, teeny tiny bookshelf in my house contains more than 42 books.


And I think it’s official now:  I’m addicted to the printed word.

I’d better get cracking if I want to up my score — keeping in mind that in two weeks’ time we enter the dreaded reading deprivation week of Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way.  This is the week when you all get to see Meredith go a little cuckoo.  I’ve already dropped the smoking addiction (5 weeks today!), and now I’ll have to go cold turkey on the reading, too?  Scary thought.

Here’s my list:

1 Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen X **
2 The Lord of the Rings – J.R.R. Tolkien X
3 Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
4 Harry Potter series X
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

11 Little Women – Louisa M Alcott X
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy X
13 Catch 22 – Joseph Heller (only partial X)
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare
15 Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier X
16 The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien X
17 Birdsong – Sebastian Faulks
18 Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger X
19 The Time Traveler’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch – George Eliot

21 Gone With The Wind – Margaret Mitchell X ****
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 X
27 Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky X
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 X
32 David Copperfield – Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis X
34 Emma – Jane Austen
35 Persuasion – Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe – CS Lewis X
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
42 The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown X
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez X
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney – John Irving X
45 The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables – LM Montgomery X
47 Far From The Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood X
49 Lord of the Flies – William Golding X
50 Atonement – Ian McEwan

51 Life of Pi – Yann Martel X
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 X
58 Brave New World – Aldous Huxley X
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night – 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 X
69 Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick – Herman Melville X

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 (only partial X) *****
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 X
82 Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell X
83 The Color Purple – Alice Walker X
84 The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert X
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 X
92 The Little Prince – Antoine De Saint-Exupery X
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

* The total of 42 does not count any of the partially completed books.

** Pride & Prejudice:  I read this because my 10th grade English teacher could not remember my name and finally settled on “Miss Jane Austen” when she got stuck for “Miss Wickham” one too many times.  The villain of Jane Austen’s famous classic is none other than … the dastardly, virgin-despoiling, debauched and debt-ridden Mr. Wickham.

*** The Bible:  Yes, the whole thing.  In fact, if you really want to know, I’ve read the Holy Book (Protestant version, various English translations) three times cover-to-cover now.  I just knew that fundamentalist religious background was gonna be good for something someday!

**** Gone With The Wind:  Duh!  I grew up in Jonesboro, Georgia, setting of Tara where Scarlett shakes her fist at God and tells him how things are going to go in future.  Of course I read this book — and I’ve channeled the same defiant attitude toward the Divine quite a few times in my life.

***** Ulysses:  F’s favorite book, but I cannot make it to the end.  My brain freezes.

(First photo, courtesy of Stockvault.  Second one is all mine!)



  1. […] I’ve managed to keep it up with books and magazines.  If you knew how much I read, you’d realize the removal of books alone has seriously restructured my day.  It was […]

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