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July 31, 2009

Reading for the Weekend

Filed under: Books — Francesca @ 9:48 am

Francesca recently received this meme on Facebook, with a list of 100 books which the BBC supposedly recommends. Wherever the list may have originated, it is interesting, and Francesca found that she has read 62 books from the list.

Her favorites (in terms of light-to-medium weekend reading, be it fun or thought-provoking):

Pride and Prejudice

Little Women

The Time Traveler’s Wife

Gone With the Wind

Alice in Wonderland

The Handmaid’s Tale

Brave New World

Of Mice and Men

The Color Purple

The Five People You Meet in Heaven (Francesca admits to crying over this book)

Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

Watership Down (really. Do not judge a book by its summary.)

How many have you read? And which do you most recommend, for weekend reading or for the improvement of the self?What would you add to the list?

(And, come to think of it, if Francesca made a Facebook page under her Big Girl name, would you friend her? This is an idea.)


  1. I’d friend you for sure!

    Comment by Jewels — July 31, 2009 @ 10:24 am

  2. Still Life with Woodpecker by Tom Robbins. I just got it fresh off of an Amazon delivery truck and I expect to be amused for the next 3-4 days.

    Comment by Sara A. — July 31, 2009 @ 10:41 am

  3. I find I have read 42 in total and several more are books I have begun and found myself unable to finish. Someone gave me a copy of Watership Down when I was eleven, and six attempts to read it over the next ten years all resulted in my putting it down at chapter five and never reading another word. My brother once insisted I needed to read Dune. I waded through about a third of it before I gave up and admitted it just wasn’t for me.

    I do, however, have a serious bone to pick with the creators of the list. The Harry Potter series is listed as one book. If they were separate, I would have a total of 48 books on that list. The Complete Works of Shakespeare are listed separately from Hamlet. Does the creator of this list not count Hamlet as a work of Shakespeare? One random volume of Sherlock Holmes is considered necessary, as is a single volume each of the Anne of Green Gables series and the Narnia books, but having read A Midsummer Nights’ Dream is not good enough on its own? Most of Jane Austen’s books are on the list, but oddly enough Mansfield Park and Northanger Abbey are both MIA.

    As for what I recommend, I recommend picking up a book, period. I don’t care whether it’s a Great Book or flavor of the moment, fiction or non-fiction. I don’t care how many pages there are or what genre it comes from. Read. Fill your mind with thoughts or escape from a stressful reality for a while or teach yourself a new skill. Find out if your favorite movie bears any real resemblance to the book it was based on. If you’re short on cash and big on classics, check out Project Gutenberg ( ) for some great reads.

    But trust your own taste, folks. No power on earth will ever make me read another book by John Steinbeck or Thomas Hardy. I adore Anthony Trollope, Robertson Davies, and Sharyn McCrumb. Your mileage will vary, I guarantee it.

    And you know what? I think that’s great.

    Comment by Twistie — July 31, 2009 @ 10:55 am

  4. I’ve read 34 but only counted the books read from start to finish. I didn’t count the 8 I started but didn’t finish. Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier is a good, suspenseful weekend read.

    For self-improvement I’d recommend The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying. This book changed the way I see the world.

    Comment by Lorraine — July 31, 2009 @ 11:20 am

  5. there is WAY too much jane austen on that list.

    Comment by Rebecca V. — July 31, 2009 @ 11:37 am

  6. Twistie–Have you read East of Eden? My only experience with Steinbeck was Of Mice and Men and The Grapes of Wrath. I suffered through those as forced school-reads and really disliked both of them. But I just finished East of Eden and it was really, really magical and made me reevaluate my previous dislike of Steinbeck.

    But then again, I also like most of Thomas Hardy’s books so it is possible we just have different tastes. :D

    I’ve read about 34 of the books on the list with many more earmarked for future reads.

    Please, please, everyone: READ Wilkie Collins!! He is very much under-appreciated (or practically invisible) on this side of the pond. The Woman in White and the Moonstone are fabulous reads if you like mystery!

    I was just at Borders last night and bought four new books. I can’t go in there and come out spending anything resembling a reasonable amount of money. And then I always feel bad about it because I realize I could have saved A TON of money ordering on Amazon…but I need the instant gratification of lugging home my bag o’books.

    Comment by teteatete — July 31, 2009 @ 12:59 pm

  7. This list has caused so much bitching on my FB friends list, but I feel the need to clarify something: this is a list of the top 100 nominated books by British readers as their favorite book of all time. Check out the BBC page with the list:
    It is not, as many of the memes suggest, the “100 books everyone should read before they die” list, or the “100 best books of all time,” just the books Britons really, really like. Having said that, I think it shows the Brits to much more varied and at times erudite than their Yank counterparts.

    I have read about half, would like to read about another quarter, and would never in a million years read the remaining 25 (hate to admit–“5 People” is on the “never in a million” list). And, you can *never* have too much Austen. :)

    Comment by Alexis — July 31, 2009 @ 3:18 pm

  8. Oh, Twistie, you reminded me of a book I left off of my list in my response to Plumcake’s post:

    Barchester Towers – Anthony Trollope

    Comment by Cat — July 31, 2009 @ 4:42 pm

  9. I’ve read 35 of these, and there were a few more I started but couldn’t manage to finish (Ulysses, I’m looking at you here.)

    I’ve signed on to a project to try to read and blog about 100 books this year, and it’s amazing how much reading I’ve done, even if it’s just during my daily commute (I’m up to 45 books since January.) They’re not all “classics” or “important works” but I feel like I’ve learned a lot (I’ve read a great deal of nonfiction) and have shaken off some of the brain-atrophy I developed during the past few years when I was ‘too busy to read’.

    P.S. Teteatete, I put all the books I want to read on my Amazon/ wishlists, and then wait until I can buy them used for less than a dollar. Sometimes it takes a while, but I get so excited when one I’ve been waiting on finally drops into my price range!

    Comment by Siege — July 31, 2009 @ 5:02 pm

  10. I’ve read a great many of the books on the list, just over half, but I agree with Twistie that these are laid out well. “His Dark Materials” for instance is three books. I’ve read two and a half of them. If you’ve read “The Chronicles of Narnia,” then of course you’ve read “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.”

    There’s very little Science Fiction on the list. “The Time Traveler’s Wife” might be considered science fiction, but like many sci-fi people who tried to read it, I flung the book across the room pretty early on. The concepts aren’t treated well. Seriously, I’ve read Doctor Who fanfic that did better.

    There’s no Oscar Wilde. There’s no Terry Pratchett or PG Wodehouse or Robert Benchley or James Thurber or any humorist that I can think of. I’d throw out about half the Dickens, not because I don’t love his books, I do, but because there are other novels that have had as profound an effect on me.

    Comment by Fabrisse — August 1, 2009 @ 3:23 pm

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