World Book Night 2012 Top 100

This year, World Book Night asked people to nominate their top ten books, to create a list that would feed into the selection of next year’s titles to be given away. That list, the Top 100, was announced today, and here it is; in time-honoured book-blogging tradition, I’m emboldened the books I’ve read.

The 2012 Long List – ordered by number of votes:

1    To Kill a Mockingbird    Harper Lee
2    Pride and Prejudice    Jane Austen
3    The Book Thief    Markus Zusak   
4    Jane Eyre    Charlotte Bronte
5    The Time Traveler’s Wife    Audrey Niffenegger
6    The Lord of the Rings    J. R. R. Tolkien   
7    The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy    Douglas Adams
8    Wuthering Heights    Emily Bronte
9    Rebecca    Daphne Du Maurier
10    The Kite Runner    Khaled Hosseini
11    American Gods    Neil Gaiman   
12    A Thousand Splendid Suns    Khaled Hosseini  
13    Harry Potter Adult Hardback Boxed Set    J. K. Rowling
14    The Shadow of the Wind    Carlos Ruiz Zafon
15    The Hobbit    J. R. R. Tolkien   
16    One Day    David Nicholls
17    Birdsong    Sebastian Faulks
18    The Help    Kathryn Stockett
19    Nineteen Eighty-Four    George Orwell
20    Good Omens    Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman  
21    The Notebook    Nicholas Sparks
22    The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo    Stieg Larsson
23    The Handmaid’s Tale    Margaret Atwood   
24    The Great Gatsby    F. Scott Fitzgerald
25    Little Women    Louisa M. Alcott
26    Memoirs of a Geisha    Arthur Golden
27    The Lovely Bones    Alice Sebold
28    Atonement    Ian McEwan
29    Room    Emma Donoghue 
30    Catch-22    Joseph Heller
31    We Need to Talk About Kevin    Lionel Shriver
32    His Dark Materials    Philip Pullman  
33    Captain Corelli’s Mandolin    Louis De Bernieres
34    The Island    Victoria Hislop
35    Neverwhere    Neil Gaiman
36    The Poisonwood Bible    Barbara Kingsolver
37    The Catcher in the Rye    J. D. Salinger
38    Chocolat    Joanne Harris
39    Never Let Me Go    Kazuo Ishiguro
40    The Five People You Meet in Heaven    Mitch Albom
41    One Hundred Years of Solitude    Gabriel Garcia Marquez
42    Animal Farm    George Orwell
43    The Pillars of the Earth    Ken Follett
44    The Eyre Affair    Jasper Fforde    
45    Tess of the D’Urbervilles    Thomas Hardy
46    Charlie and the Chocolate Factory    Roald Dahl    
47    I Capture the Castle    Dodie Smith
48    The Wasp Factory    Iain Banks
49    Life of Pi    Yann Martel
50    The Road    Cormac McCarthy
51    Great Expectations    Charles Dickens
52    Dracula    Bram Stoker    
53    The Secret History    Donna Tartt  
54    Small Island    Andrea Levy
55    The Secret Garden    Frances Hodgson Burnett
56    Lord of the Flies    William Golding
57    Persuasion    Jane Austen
58    A Prayer for Owen Meany    John Irving    
59    Notes from a Small Island    Bill Bryson 
60    Watership Down    Richard Adams
61    Night Watch    Terry Pratchett   
62    Brave New World    Aldous Huxley
63    The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time    Mark Haddon
64    Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell    Susanna Clarke
65    The Color Purple    Alice Walker
66    My Sister’s Keeper    Jodi Picoult
67    The Stand    Stephen King
68    Cloud Atlas    David Mitchell
69    The Master and Margarita    Mikhail Bulgakov
70    Anna Karenina    Leo Tolstoy
71    Cold Comfort Farm    Stella Gibbons
72    Frankenstein    Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley
73    The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society    Mary Ann Shaffer
74    The Picture of Dorian Gray    Oscar Wilde  
75    Gone with the Wind    Margaret Mitchell
76    The Graveyard Book    Neil Gaiman
77    The Woman in White    Wilkie Collins
78    The Princess Bride    William Goldman
79    A Suitable Boy    Vikram Seth
80    Perfume    Patrick Suskind    
81    The Count of Monte Cristo    Alexandre Dumas
82    The God of Small Things    Arundhati Roy
83    Middlemarch    George Eliot
84    Dune    Frank Herbert
85    Wolf Hall    Hilary Mantel
86    Stardust    Neil Gaiman    
87    Lolita    Vladimir Nabokov
88    Midnight’s Children    Salman Rushdie
89    Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone    J. K. Rowling  
90    Shantaram    Gregory David Roberts
91    The Remains of the Day    Kazuo Ishiguro
92    Possession: A Romance    A. S. Byatt
93    Tales of the City    Armistead Maupin
94    Kafka on the Shore    Haruki Murakami
95    The Magus    John Fowles
96    The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas    John Boyne
97    A Fine Balance    Rohinton Mistry
98    Alias Grace    Margaret Atwood
99    Norwegian Wood    Haruki Murakami
100    The Wind-up Bird Chronicle    Haruki Murakami

So, that’s 22 titles that I’ve read (and I’ve just started The Great Gatsby, which will make 23), which is a higher percentage than I usually manage with this kind of list.

As for the list itself:  it’s the typical mixture of established classics, more recent favourites, and talked-about titles from the past year or two, that one might expect — and, from that point of view, I think it’s not a bad list. Quite remarkable showing for Neil Gaiman, though, I must say, with a full five titles (including one co-authorship) on the list.

And if I were going to choose one of these books to give away? I think I’d go for Notes from a Small Island.


  1. Emma Donoghue has done very well.

  2. David Hebblethwaite

    13th September 2011 at 12:10 pm

    In what sense?

  3. i ve read 33 from list ,it is a good list for public vote not as many supermarket books as you would expect ,and nice a number of translations made list ,all the best stu

  4. I’ve only read ten from that list not that I take lists like this too seriously. My mum had an expression – “I don’t buy rubbish” – and I like to think I don’t read rubbish. There’s just not enough time to read everything out there that people say you should read. I can sleep at nights.

  5. David Hebblethwaite

    13th September 2011 at 1:15 pm

    Stu, I think you’re right about the supermarket books; I’m concerned that one or two of the titles may turn out to be too flash-in-the-pan, but mostly it’s a decent list.

  6. Sorry, I forgot to reply to your question! 29 is very high for such a recent piece of literary fiction particularly if you see Wolf Hall down at 85.

  7. David Hebblethwaite

    23rd September 2011 at 11:24 am

    Hmm, I’m not surprised to see a few very recent popular titles so high up (The Help and One Day are placed even higher than Room). Whether they’ll still be rated so highly in a few years’ time is an open question.

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