Monday, November 29, 2010

BBC's Underestimation (Clarified)

According to a number of my peers, the BBC has decreed that a majority of us are terribly under-read. Of a list of 100 books, they state that most people have not read more than 6 books found on this list. Here's our chance to prove them wrong!

After doing a little research of my own...there's probably never been such a statement by the BBC. According to this site, this is a meme that has been going around Facebook and various other sites since early 2009. Recently it's made another run and moved on to book blogs (which is where I picked it up).

One commenter (and fellow skeptic) on that site shows his own research into the subject:

I started seeing the “BBC Top 100 Books” meme around Facebook over the last couple weeks, but the "BBC doesn't think you've read more than six of these" part didn't sit right with me.

There’s a BBC Big Read 100 List which was done in 2003. However, the list in the meme is quite different than the BBC Big Read list where some think it started. I thought there might be a list that was closer to the one in the meme. So, I did a little online sleuthing.

First I found this article that mentions a World Book Day survey in 2007 of "100 books Brits can’t live without." And then I found the complete list on The Guardian’s website -- Mystery solved -- it’s the same list as the one in the meme.

So, feel free to see how many of those hundred books you’ve read. As a reader, I always find it fun. However, know that the BBC isn’t judging you. The only thing you'll discover is if you’ve read the same books that a bunch of people in the UK couldn't live without.
So, sorry we thought the worst of you, BBC. But hey, at least you get a bit of free publicity out of this, right? And in return, we get a chance to fill our free-time and share our reading accomplishments.

•Copy this list.
•Bold those books you’ve read in their entirety.
•Italicize the ones you started but didn’t finish or read only an excerpt.
•Tag other book nerds.
•Highlight the ones that you own but haven't read. They are probably in your TBR stack/on your shelf at the back because someone said you should read them.

Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen (required)
The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien (3 books)
Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
Harry Potter series – JK Rowling (7 books)
To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
The King James Bible
Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte
Nineteen Eighty Four (1984) – George Orwell
His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman (3 books)
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 (required)
The Time Traveler’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger
Middlemarch – George Eliot
Gone With The Wind – Margaret Mitchell
The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald
War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh
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 (7 books)
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 DaVinci 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 (required)
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 (required)
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 (required)
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 – AS Byatt
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 (required)
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

Read - 15 (technically 28 counting those in series)
Started - 5
Own But Haven't Yet Read - 13+ (we own a large collection of classics, but I don't recall all the titles)

In short, I'm not fully impressed by this list. Sure, there are a lot of books I've not read, and many of those I have no interest in reading, meanwhile some of the ones I read were forced upon me in school. But the list includes repeats (Narnia & Lion Witch and Wardrobe) and counts series as one entry (HP, His Dark Materials, LotR).

So, how many of these have you read/attempted/bought?