How Many Have You Read and Other Trivia From the BBC Big Read Top 100 Books

In an earlier blog post (Read: BBC Big Read Top 21), I talked about the Top 21 books from the BBC Big Read Survey that was conducted in 2003. The survey was created to determine what was the United Kingdom's most beloved novel of all time. And the winner was J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Lord of the Rings". The books do not only hold appeal to just British readers but to other bookworms of different nationalities as well.

I think if the survey was conducted today in the 2010's, George R.R. Martin's Game of Thrones series would figure prominently on the list. Maybe one of the Young Adult writers like John Green or Rick Riordan will also feature prominently.

I was also lucky enough to get hold of a copy of The BBC Big Read Book of Books which showcased the Top 100. I happened to find one quite by accident in National Bookstore in Ayala. Ever since buying the book in the late 2000's, I've never seen another edition.

If you go through the list of 100 books, how many of the top books have you read? My own personal count is at 29 books (as of this writing). Since I learned about the list a few years ago, I was able to add to my initial count. I read in one article that on average, a person might have read 6 books from the Top 100 list.

The Top 100 books based on the BBC Big Read Survey made in 2003:

1. The Lord of the Rings, JRR Tolkien

2. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen

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

7. Winnie the Pooh, AA Milne

8. Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell

9. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, CS Lewis

10. Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë

11. Catch-22, Joseph Heller

12. Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontë

13. Birdsong, Sebastian Faulks

14. Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier

15. The Catcher in the Rye, JD Salinger

16. The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame

17. Great Expectations, Charles Dickens

18. Little Women, Louisa May Alcott

19. Captain Corelli's Mandolin, Louis de Bernieres

20. War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy

21. Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell

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

26. Tess Of The D'Urbervilles, Thomas Hardy

27. Middlemarch, George Eliot

28. A Prayer For Owen Meany, John Irving

29. The Grapes Of Wrath, John Steinbeck

30. Alice's Adventures In Wonderland, Lewis Carroll

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

36. Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson

37. A Town Like Alice, Nevil Shute

38. Persuasion, Jane Austen

39. Dune, Frank Herbert

40. Emma, Jane Austen

41. Anne Of Green Gables, LM Montgomery

42. Watership Down, Richard Adams

43. The Great Gatsby, F Scott Fitzgerald

44. The Count Of Monte Cristo, Alexandre Dumas

45. Brideshead Revisited, Evelyn Waugh

46. Animal Farm, George Orwell

47. A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens

48. Far From The Madding Crowd, Thomas Hardy

49. Goodnight Mister Tom, Michelle Magorian

50. The Shell Seekers, Rosamunde Pilcher

51. The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett

52. Of Mice And Men, John Steinbeck

53. The Stand, Stephen King

54. Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy

55. A Suitable Boy, Vikram Seth

56. The BFG, Roald Dahl

57. Swallows And Amazons, Arthur Ransome

58. Black Beauty, Anna Sewell

59. Artemis Fowl, Eoin Colfer

60. Crime And Punishment, Fyodor Dostoyevsky

61. Noughts And Crosses, Malorie Blackman

62. Memoirs Of A Geisha, Arthur Golden

63. A Tale Of Two Cities, Charles Dickens

64. The Thorn Birds, Colleen McCollough

65. Mort, Terry Pratchett

66. The Magic Faraway Tree, Enid Blyton

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

71. Perfume, Patrick Süskind

72. The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, Robert Tressell

73. Night Watch, Terry Pratchett

74. Matilda, Roald Dahl

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

80. Double Act, Jacqueline Wilson

81. The Twits, Roald Dahl

82. I Capture The Castle, Dodie Smith

83. Holes, Louis Sachar

84. Gormenghast, Mervyn Peake

85. The God Of Small Things, Arundhati Roy

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

93. The Colour Of Magic, Terry Pratchett

94. The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho

95. Katherine, Anya Seton

96. Kane And Abel, Jeffrey Archer

97. Love In The Time Of Cholera, Gabriel García Márquez

98. Girls In Love, Jacqueline Wilson

99. The Princess Diaries, Meg Cabot

100. Midnight's Children, Salman Rushdie

And because I love Trivia, I gathered the following info:
  • J.K. Rowling has her first 4 Harry Potter books in the Top 50.
  • J.R.R. Tolkien has 2 books in the Top 25.
  • 5 authors in the Top 100 were 30 or younger when their book was first published (Douglas Adams (27), F. Scott Fitzgerald (28), Donna Tartt (28), Emily Bronte (29), Stella Gibbons (30).
  • Charles Dickens has 5 titles in the Top 100
  • There are 75 authors in the Top 100.
  • Thomas Hardy and Charles Dickens are buried at Westminster Abbey.
  • 8 books in the Top 100 were not originally written in English: The Alchemist (Portugese); Anna Karenina, War and Peace, and Crime and Punishment (Russian); The Count of Monte Cristo (French); Love in the Time of Cholera and One Hundred Years of Solitude (Spanish); Perfume (German).
  • Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice is the oldest published book (1813).
  • Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll is the oldest children's book in the Top 100. It was published in 1865. The book also became the most expensive children's book ever sold in auction in 1998 for a rare first edition that had 10 original drawings by John Tenniel, 1.5 million dollars.
  • 5 Authors were considered one-hit wonders since they only wrote one novel (Harper Lee, Emily Bronte, Margaret Mitchell, Anna Sewell and Robert Tressell).
  • Vikram Seth's A Suitable Boy is the longest book since it has 1,474 pages and it took the author 8 years to write (I thought it was Tolstoy's War and Peace).
  • The shortest is Roald Dahl's The Twits at 87 pages (which in most part are covered in illustrations).
  • The most popular decades for the top 100 are the 1980's and 1990's with 16 titles each.
  • 30 of the Top 100 are books written for children.
  • The biggest-selling novel of all-time in the list is J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, which has sold more than 100 million copies at that time.
  • 3 of the Top 100 authors won the Nobel Prize for Literature (William Golding, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and John Steinbeck.
  • 2 of the Top 100 books won the Booker Prize (Salman Rushdie's Midnight's Children and Arundhati Roy's The God of Small Things).
In the BBC Big Read Book of Books, it also listed some Classic Putdowns made by authors:
  • Truman Capote on ON THE ROAD - "That's not writing, it's just typing."
  • Elizabeth Bowen on ALDOUS HUXLEY - "A stupid person's idea of a clever person."
  • Norman Mailer on J.D. Salinger - "The greatest mind ever to stay in prep school."
  • Tom Stoppard on JAMES JOYCE - " An essentially private man who wished his total indifference to public notice to be universally recognised."
  • Henry James on WAR AND PEACE - "A loose, baggy monster."

There is more to a book than meets the eye. The lives of the authors or writers behind it are quite fascinating.

Interested to start reading or collecting?