A Book Challenge…

Recently, I received this list from my sister. The average American, the message said, has only read through SIX of these one hundred books. That’s a complete read-through, cover to cover, but still… SIX?!

I couldn’t hardly believe that, so I started counting them for myself. The ones I’ve read are in italics…

1 Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
2 The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
4 Harry Potter series – JK Rowling
5 To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
6 The Bible
7 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 Faulk
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
24 War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
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

Twenty-one! Out of one hundred. Not six but certainly not many. My sister CLAIMS to have read thirty-six, which means she’s more well read than I am. And I just can’t have that, y’all. (I kid! She’s four years older than me, so surely that accounts for the other fifteen books, right? Right?!)

While you probably find it outrageous that I’ve never read Little Women (gasp!) or Anne of Green Gables (GASP!), you probably find it stranger that I’ve actually read The Complete Works of Shakespeare. (University of Houston, junior year, for a class called “The Complete Works of Shakespeare.” Fitting.) While I loved some of these books (Rebecca, Jane Eyre, A Tale of Two Cities), despised others (Anna Karenina, Moby Dick), and think I might have read some but honestly can’t remember what they’re about (Possession, Ulysses), I have to admit that it’s a good list. And an even BETTER list because most of these books are so old that they’re public domain and are FREE in Kindle edition. Oh, yeah.

This new year, I had planned on doing a book challenge that was popular on a lot of other book blogs — 52 books in a year. As of January 29th, I’ve already read 21. (Not the 21 listed above, though that would be something, huh?) I think I need to step it up a notch and read something a bit more challenging or just plain longer. So, I’m using this list and reading all I can for free on Kindle, then seeing what the library has once I’ve conquered that. And seeing as how I just loaded War and Peace onto the Kindle, I’d say it’ll be a long while before that happens.

What do you think about this list? What books would you add or take off? Any of you up for this book challenge? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

3 thoughts on “A Book Challenge…

  1. MarilynDiane says:

    27!! More than half. Woohoo!!! And you have to read the Anne series with your girls. Love them! Also, I don't think it's fair to count the whole Harry Potter series as one. So that makes my total 33. Yes!


  2. Pami says:

    You'd remember Ulysses if you read it…unless you blocked it from memory, which would be quite understandable. I had to skim it for research while reading a play in which James Joyce is a character. Skimming it was enough for me.

    I think the following link is where the list originated, but I don't know where the reference to people only having read six came from. Every time I see the list, it's slightly different.


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