Monthly Archives: July 2012

I’ve always considered myself fairly well read and so it was with zeal that I took a red pen to the Guardian UK’s 1000 novels everyone must read list recently to tick off my conquests and thus validate my “well read” status.

55 books exactly – 5.5%. Naturally, I’ve read many more books than those included on this list – some of them bad and some of the good, so I wasn’t too disheartened by my score. What I was disheartened by was the feeling of unsureness over some of the books on the list. What a waste that I may have consumed a book with relish only to think years later “did I read that, or just hear about it?”

I’m hunting for a book to take with me on holiday later this week, that’s why I stumbled on the list. And so, serendipitously, I’ve found myself here. In need of a book and with a list of 9545 that I apparently must read.

I’m taking it on, this mammoth list. I don’t know how far I’ll get but I’m going to give it a red hot go. And I’m going to talk about what I read here, whether it be in detail or just a single sentence. So that when I think “did I read that” I can categorically say yes, and remember what I thought at the time about what it was I read. I’ll probably deviate from the list time to time, but rest assured I’ll be reporting on what I do read.

I haven’t decided on what I’ll start with yet but I’ve got a shortlist of around 50 to choose from. In the meantime I thought I’d share what I have read (in alphabetical order, by title):


A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth
A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque
All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy
Animal Farm by George Orwell
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding
Emma by Jane Austen
Everything is Illuminated by Jonathon Safran Foer
For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by JK Rowling
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
Lord of the Flies by William Golding
Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Mansfield Park by Jane Austen
Misery by Stephen King
Moby-Dick or, The Whale by Herman Melville
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
On the Road by Jack Kerouac
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Persuasion by Jane Austen
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon
The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood
The Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis
The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje
The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers
The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien
The Map of Love by Ahdaf Soueif
The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
The Road by Cormac McCarthy
The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Aged 13 3/4 by Sue Townsend
The Shining by Stephen King
The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There by Lewis Carroll
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh
We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte