Monday, March 23, 2009

BBC Book List Meme

So according to the British Broadcasting Corporation, the average person will have read only six of these 100 classic pieces of literature. Now, I think we all know that I'm a pretty advanced fact, back in the eighth grade, my pal Dave and I read a different book than the rest of the class did for our homeroom reading project, and I began my oral report on said book with, "Now, Dave and I read a different novel since we're at a higher reading level than the rest of you." Way to win over the crowd, jerk. That was almost as bad as my opening line at that War Amps fundraiser ("I just flew here all the way from London, and boy are my perfectly-functioning, non-prosthetic arms tired!")

Anyway, onto the book list.

1. The Lord of the Rings, JRR Tolkien
One! Well, now, I guess to be technical, one-third. I got through Fellowship of the Ring before I put it away and just relied on the movies for my Middle Earth knowledge. Has anyone tried to actually read these books before? They're friggin' interminable.

2. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
I believe there's a copy at my parents' house (my mother got it after seeing the BBC miniseries), but I've never read it.

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
Four! Also holds the title of Best Book I Was Assigned To Read In High School. The worst book? 'The Edible Woman', by Margaret Atwood. I'd say the book was crap, but then again I think I'd rather go through my own stool with a magnifying glass than read that one again.

7. Winnie the Pooh, AA Milne
Saw the cartoons, had the pajamas, even once got stuck in a rabbit's hole in search of sweet honey, but never read the actual book. I guess I should clarify that last wasn't an actual rabbit's hole, it was the front door of the condo owned by my meth dealer, Rabbit. And I wasn't looking for honey, I was looking for meth. Oddly enough, there was a talking piglet in a sweater in both instances (ok, so I was looking for MORE meth).

8. Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell

9. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, CS Lewis
Six! The Chronic-WHAT-cles of Narnia!

10. Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë
No dice!

11. Catch-22, Joseph Heller
Seven! How fitting is it that one of my favourite books puts me officially above average? Take that, BBC!

12. Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontë
No, though the Kate Bush song is oddly captivating.

13. Birdsong, Sebastian Faulks
Well, we've officially hit the first book on the list that I've never even heard of, let alone never read.

14. Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier
Nope! Fun fact: the Oscar-winning Best Picture adaptation of this novel was directed by Alfred Hitchcock. So even though the Master never won a best director Oscar himself, at least one of his films got the big prize. Partial credit?

15. The Catcher in the Rye, JD Salinger
Eight! There are two kinds of people in this world: those who think Holden Caulfield is an icon of disaffected youth, and those who think he's a whiny douchebag. I'm in the latter group.

16. The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame

17. Great Expectations, Charles Dickens
No, though I did read a very interesting essay once about how this was the best title in the history of literature.

18. Little Women, Louisa May Alcott

19. Captain Corelli's Mandolin, Louis de Bernieres
This was a book? I thought it was just a terrible Nick Cage vehicle.

20. War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy
Once I set aside a month of my life to read it, I'll get back to you.

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

Yes, yes and yes! Ten, eleven, twelve! Or, in the words of Sesame Street, one two three FOUR FIVE, six seven eight NINE TEN, eleven twelve.

25. The Hobbit, JRR Tolkien

26. Tess Of The D'Urbervilles, Thomas Hardy

27. Middlemarch, George Eliot
Not yet. By the way, has anyone ever made a movie about the life of George Eliot/Mary Anne Evans? How is it that we've seen biopics about every Tom, Dick and Austen author but not one about the author with arguably one of the most interesting personal stories of them all?

28. A Prayer For Owen Meany, John Irving

29. The Grapes Of Wrath, John Steinbeck
Fourteen! A real laugh riot, this book. I'm pretty sure Tom Joad's spirit was reincarnated in the Littlest Hobo.

30. Alice's Adventures In Wonderland, Lewis Carroll
Fifteen! I'm also about at a 15 on a scale of 1-10 for the upcoming Tim Burton adaptation. Stephen Fry as the Cheshire Cat? Crispin Glover as the Knave of Hearts? Anne Hathaway as the White Queen? Depp as the Mad Hatter? Alan fucking Rickman as the caterpillar?! Good lord!

31. The Story Of Tracy Beaker, Jacqueline Wilson
Nope. I'm told it's a dull story...all Tracy ever has to say is MEEP MEEP

32. One Hundred Years Of Solitude, Gabriel García Márquez
No! Who would want to read a book about the Chicago Cubs?

33. The Pillars Of The Earth, Ken Follett
Still no!

34. David Copperfield, Charles Dickens
C'est ne pas.

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
Afraid not!

39. Dune, Frank Herbert

40. Emma, Jane Austen
Fine, I've never read any Jane Austen! Are you happy now, BBC? Quit harping on me!

41. Anne Of Green Gables, LM Montgomery
Seventeen! If I hadn't, I think I would've been kicked out of Canada.

42. Watership Down, Richard Adams
Sadly, no.

43. The Great Gatsby, F Scott Fitzgerald

44. The Count Of Monte Cristo, Alexandre Dumas
Technically no, though I've read an abridged version in French class and I've read a Stephen Fry novel that was a modern update of the story. If I'm giving myself a full one for one-third of LOTR, I'll even things out by sticking to my 'no' vote here.

45. Brideshead Revisited, Evelyn Waugh
No, I'm holding out until I read the original 'Brideshead' before I get to the sequel.....*pause for laughter*.....*just hearing crickets*....okay, moving on

46. Animal Farm, George Orwell
Nineteen! Kind of an odd novel in the sense that though it was only about 150 pages long, I felt it could've been even shorter. Really runs out of steam about two-thirds in or so.

47. A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens

48. Far From The Madding Crowd, Thomas Hardy
No, though I did once write a short story called 'Far From The Maddening Crowd' about two snooty rich people in balcony seats at a theatre. I really need to look through my old high school work sometime. I'll do that just as I can convert the original files from.....Lotus WordPro?! Oh shit.

49. Goodnight Mister Tom, Michelle Magorian
Never heard of it.

50. The Shell Seekers, Rosamunde Pilcher
Again, never heard of it.

51. The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett
Hey, I've heard of this one! And seen a theatrical version! Buuuuut, no book.

52. Of Mice And Men, John Steinbeck
Twenty-one! As part of a class project in high school English class, we had to act out a scene from the novel. To the surprise to no one reading this, I was cast as Lenny.

53. The Stand, Stephen King
If you can believe it, I have never read a Stephen King novel. The only King works I've read are his book on writing and his LOST columns for Entertainment Weekly.

54. Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy
No dice

55. A Suitable Boy, Vikram Seth
Gimme an N, N! Gimme an O, O!

56. The BFG, Roald Dahl
No, even though I appropriated the title for my own nickname, the Big Fuckin' Gangsta.

57. Swallows And Amazons, Arthur Ransome

58. Black Beauty, Anna Sewell
Twenty-two! Though I read this when I was very, very young and remember virtually nothing about it aside from the fact that it features a black horse.

59. Artemis Fowl, Eoin Colfer
Nope! Wasn't this the name of a Darkwing Duck villain?

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
Lou Nega sings 'Mambo No. 5'!

65. Mort, Terry Pratchett
Surprisingly, astounding, impossibly, I've never read any Terry Pratchett books.

66. The Magic Faraway Tree, Enid Blyton
We seem to be hitting a dry patch here. No!

67. The Magus, John Fowles

68. Good Omens, Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
69. Guards! Guards!, Terry Pratchett

Uh oh, now we're getting knee-deep into the Pratchett. No and no.

70. Lord Of The Flies, William Golding
Twenty-three! The streak is broken!

71. Perfume, Patrick Süskind
No, but I have seen the 2006 film adaptation, which is fucked-up with a capital F. Truly one of the most bizarre films I've ever seen, and I'm honestly not sure if that's an endorsement or not.

72. The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, Robert Tressell
Nah nah nah nah, nah nah nah nah nah, get a job

73. Night Watch, Terry Pratchett
Argh! No! How many times do I have to tell you?!

74. Matilda, Roald Dahl

75. Bridget Jones's Diary, Helen Fielding
N to the izzo!

76. The Secret History, Donna Tartt

77. The Woman In White, Wilkie Collins
All signs point to no!

78. Ulysses, James Joyce
No, and honestly, it just seems too daunting. If I wanted to listen to an Irishman ramble, I'll find the YouTube clip of one of the human rights speeches Bono made prior to singing 'One' during the Vertigo Tour.

79. Bleak House, Charles Dickens
This list seems to be dancing around the Dickens works I actually have read --- Oliver Twist, Hard Times and the aforementioned Christmas Carol. Of all the Dickens novels I haven't read, I think I'd like to get to Our Mutual Friend first. Why? Because it's the book that Desmond from LOST is saving to be the last one he reads before he dies. Fun fact: this is apparently based on a real-life statement from John Irving.

80. Double Act, Jacqueline Wilson

81. The Twits, Roald Dahl
Nope! Fun fact: did you know Roald Dahl was a WWII Wing Commander, a fully-credited Flying Ace and an MI6 spy? Holy cow. Does this mean Veruca Salt was an allegory for the Luftwaffe?

82. I Capture The Castle, Dodie Smith
Well, I never captured the book as it ran wild on the shelf, so NOPE.

83. Holes, Louis Sachar
More like 'No-les'

84. Gormenghast, Mervyn Peake
Never read the book. If you have a gormenghast growing anywhere on your person, for the love of god, call your doctor.

85. The God Of Small Things, Arundhati Roy

86. Vicky Angel, Jacqueline Wilson
The land of Noh!

87. Brave New World, Aldous Huxley
Twenty-five! Okay, I feel better, I've gotten at least a quarter of the list. BNW is one of those novels I read once, then proceeded to cite in roughly 40 percent of my school essays. It's a real all-purpose book --- the Swiss army knife of classic lit, if you will.

88. Cold Comfort Farm, Stella Gibbons

89. Magician, Raymond E Feist
Was it anything like Fifth Business? Fifth Business, btw, probably ranks second on the 'Best Assigned Book In High School' list. I've never gotten around to reading the rest of the Deptford Trilogy....god, yet another thing to get to on my reading list. When will I ever sleep?

90. On The Road, Jack Kerouac
I'm saving this one for my next major car trip across the USA. That is, unless I get sidetracked by my usual reading material for such road trips --- Onion books and back issues of Sports Illustrated.

91. The Godfather, Mario Puzo
Twenty-six! I must admit, I enjoyed the novel, but....the movie really does streamline things very nicely. Puzo's novel includes roughly a short story's worth of backstory for every character, including I believe the plumber who originally installed the toilet that Michael hides the gun in.

92. The Clan Of The Cave Bear, Jean M Auel
I would've read it, but Stephen Colbert has warned me about bears.

93. The Colour Of Magic, Terry Pratchett

94. The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho

95. Katherine, Anya Seton
Not me!

96. Kane And Abel, Jeffrey Archer
Uh, seriously, BBC? A Jeffrey Archer book makes your list of classic literature? What next, Danielle Steel? Dan Brown? Margaret Atwood's Edible Woman?

97. Love In The Time Of Cholera, Gabriel García Márquez
Never read it, but honestly, that title is hilarious. I want to write a new version of this novel taking just the title. Sample dialogue: "I have cholera." "I love you."

98. Girls In Love, Jacqueline Wilson
Nope. I realize that Jacqueline Wilson has about five novels on this list, yet I've never heard of any of them, or of her. If I have any more room in my library basket once I get through with all the Pratchett, I'll toss in some Jackie Wilson. I suspect her love will take me higher and higher.

99. The Princess Diaries, Meg Cabot
Uh, seriously, BBC? Boy, my joking suggestions from the Jeffrey Archer entry weren't far off.

100. Midnight's Children, Salman Rushdie
And finally, no. Though Rushdie was able to write this one without a bounty being put on his head, so it's got that going for it. That makes the final tally 26 out of 100 books for me, thus making me roughly 4.3333333 repeater times as great as the average reader. I will let this survey puff up my ego as I get back to my latest reading venture, the label on my Diet Pepsi can. Who was the murderer? Aspertame? What a twist!


Chad Nevett said...

Odd list. My stats:

Read: 15
Haven't read but want to: 13
Haven't read and don't want to: 44
Haven't heard of: 28

So, at very most, I will read 56 of these books, assuming all 28 of the books I've never heard of, I'd want to read, which I doubt.

Peter Lynn said...

You knew that the Pinball Number Count song from Sesame Street is actually by the Pointer Sisters, right?

I've read 24 of these, so far as I can recall. There's a couple where I think I may have read them so long ago that I've forgotten them.

Erik Beck said...

Well I'm at 66. Sorry if that bruises your ego.