Summer is slipping through my fingers like a soft ice cream cone on a sweltering afternoon. Can it really be the middle of July? Where the heck did June go?
In my bewilderment at this unnaturally speedy passage of summertime, I completely missed writing about my little summer reading challenge when I actually started it. So, while I’ve been purposefully reading specific books for a good month, I’m only now getting around to writing about it here.
And what is this reading challenge, you ask? First, I believe a brief back story is on order.
I occasionally read the blog The Bookshelf of Emily J. Among other things, Emily is working her way through The BBC Top 100 Must Read Books List*(her list is here). The BBC Top 100 is a Facebook meme** which has the audacity to claim most people have read no more than 6 of its 100 selections. Reading Emily’s list prompted me to revisit my results of the same compilation which I completed about two years ago. At that time, I’d read 33 of the 100 suggestions but I have since completed several more books. I also realized that many of the books I still hadn’t read were languishing around my home just waiting for some curious soul to crack them open.
And that, dear readers, was when The BBC Top 100 Summer Reading Challenge was born. The goal: to read as many unread books on The BBC Top 100 as I can this summer and still live a somewhat productive life. No buying, borrowing, bartering or stealing allowed; books must to be located somewhere in my house. I’m posting my list below with the books I’ve read so far in bold type. Books with an asterisk beside them are ones I’ve read since the the Summer Solstice (only three so far). Italicized books are selections I’ve started but not finished.
Stephany’s BBC Top 100 Must Read Books List
- Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
- The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien
- Jane Eyre – Charlotte Brontë*
Harry Potter series – JK Rowling
- To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
- The Bible
- Wuthering Heights – Emily Brontë
- Nineteen Eighty-four – George Orwell
- His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman
- Great Expectations – Charles Dickens
- Little Women – Louisa M Alcott
- Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy
- Catch 22 – Joseph Heller
- Complete Works of Shakespeare
- Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier
- The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien
- Birdsong – Sebastian Faulk
- Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger
- The Time Traveler’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger
- Middlemarch – George Eliot
- Gone With The Wind – Margaret Mitchell
- The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald
- Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Baugh
- War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy
- The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
- Bleak House – Charles Dickens
- Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky
- Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck
- Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll*
- The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame
- Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy
- David Copperfield – Charles Dickens
- Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis
- Emma -Jane Austen
- Persuasion – Jane Austen
- The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe – CS Lewis
- The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini
- Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis De Bernieres
- Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden
- Winnie the Pooh – A.A. Milne
- Animal Farm – George Orwell
- The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown
- One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
- A Prayer for Owen Meaney – John Irving
- The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins
- Anne of Green Gables – LM Montgomery
- Far From The Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy
- The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
- Lord of the Flies – William Golding
- Atonement – Ian McEwan
- Life of Pi – Yann Martel
- Dune – Frank Herbert
- Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons
- Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen
- A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth
- The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon
- A Tale Of Two Cities – Charles Dickens
- Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
- The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Mark Haddon
- Love In The Time Of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
- Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck
- Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov
- The Secret History – Donna Tartt
- The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold
- Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas
- On The Road – Jack Kerouac
- Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy
- Bridget Jones’s Diary – Helen Fielding
- Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie
- Moby Dick – Herman Melville
- Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens
- Dracula – Bram Stoker*
- The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett
- Notes From A Small Island – Bill Bryson
- Ulysses – James Joyce
- The Inferno – Dante
- Swallows and Amazons – Arthur Ransome
- Germinal – Emile Zola
- Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray
- Possession – A.S. Byatt
- A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens
- Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell
- The Color Purple – Alice Walker
- The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro
- Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert
- A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry
- Charlotte’s Web – E.B. White
- The Five People You Meet In Heaven – Mitch Albom*
- Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
- The Faraway Tree Collection – Enid Blyton
- Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad
- The Little Prince – Antoine De Saint-Exupery
- The Wasp Factory – Iain Banks
- Watership Down – Richard Adams
- A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole
- A Town Like Alice – Nevil Shute
- The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas
- Hamlet – William Shakespeare
- Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl
- Les Miserables – Victor Hugo
When I began this challenge, I’d read 38 selections (40 books total). To date, the tally is up to 43.5. After reading Alice in Wonderland, Dracula, and The Ocean at the End of the Lane (not part of the challenge but I couldn’t help myself), I felt my reading was taking a definite turn down a very dark road. To lighten things up, I chose The Ultimate Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. And, I’m struggling with it a bit. When I’m in the mood for light and fluffy, the book is fine. However, sometimes I find myself craving more substance and then reading it feels like a chore. This is not a criticism of the book, by any means. It’s more an observation of my capriciousness.
Once I finish The Guide, I have several other choices:
- The Harry Potter series by J.K Rowling
- The Complete Works of Shakespeare
- David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
- The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S.Lewis
- A Prayer for Owen Meaney by John Irving
- Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
- The Count of Monte Christo by Alexander Dumas
- Oliver Twist By Charles Dickens
- The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
- The Three Musketeers by Alexander Dumas
- Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
The BBC Top 100 List Summer Reading Challenge ends on September 21,2013. Looks like it’s going to be a classics kind of reading adventure and that’s just fine with me. Wish me luck!
What are you reading this summer?
*The BBC Top 100 Must Read Books List was probably designed by a Facebook user and doesn’t have any official ties to the BBC. The list slightly resembles The BBC’s Big Read compilation from 2003 but that is probably is as far as the connection goes. Even though the origins of the list are sketchy, it contains many worthy books and that’s why I decided to use it for my little challenge.
**meme: an Internet chain letter that is sent from person to person.
14 thoughts on “Summer Reading: Whittling Away at the BBC Top 100 List”
Very absorbing narrative… good work indeed..!
Thank you very much!
Great challenge 🙂 Looking at the list, I appear to have read 42. Of your short list I would strongly recommend The Count of Monte Christo, which is just brilliant. Good luck 🙂
Thanks for the recommendation. I’ve just started a Prayer For Owen Meaney and then I’ll be diving into The Count of Monte Cristo. I can’t wait!
A wonderful read Stephany and the good old Beeb have come up trumps with a great reading list. I have to agree with you about the months flying past. I hope you have a great week….regards, James
Sorry for the late reply, James. Time really is flying by and I keep losing track of it. I’m enjoying working my way through some of the books on the BBC list this summer. It’s been a great experience.
I totally understand Stephany as we all lead busy lives. Time does seem to fly past when we are engrossed in something we enjoy doing.
What a great list! Thanks for getting my reading juices flowing…..
I agree with SocialEyesNYC.. this is a great list! I’ve read a few but have probably watched more. This gave me inspiration to read some of my favorite movies.. Jane Austen(I’ve only read Pride and Prejudice), and some more Dickens. > LOVE. I’m in a “memoir” phase lately, ( I have Bread and Wine and Freefall to Fly ‘on deck’ ), and I’ve read probably 4 others (memoirs) this year, but I’m excited to read from your lists now too. Thanks for the great blogsite! http://nestingmom2twins.wordpress.com
Jane Austen is one of my favorite authors. I think you could pick any one of her books and be happily satisfied. I’m like you – I’ve seen several of the books on the list as movies before I’ve read them. Because I’ve seen all the Harry Potter movies, I’ve had a very hard time getting into the books. I’m going to try again before the summer is officially over. Good luck with your reading!
It is inspirational, isn’t it? I just finished reading A Prayer For Owen Meaney. What an incredibly original tale! It’s a long one, but I highly recommend it.
So how have you done?! That’s quite a list!! ….. and there are some fabulous books in there.
Hi, Noeline. I’m sorry I missed your comment earlier. I’m still plugging away at the list even though summer is long gone. I started reading the Harry Potter series and am enjoying it so much that’s all I’ve been reading since the middle of September. I’m on Book 4 (Goblet of Fire) now. I’d like to read The Count of Monte Cristo or some Charles Dickens once I’ve conquered Harry. Thanks for asking!