Another reading list

Last week on Book Riot Amanda admitted to slightly obsessive behavior regarding book lists, citing the 1001 Books To Read Before You Die, the MLA's 100 Best Novels, and, a new one to me, the Telegraph's 110 Best Books for the perfect library. Now, I'll admit I'm a fan of reading lists as well (though not to the degree of Amanda). Since I received the 1001 Books book two years ago for Christmas I've been using it to guide my reading choices here and there, keeping track of the dent I make in the list each year.

I was surprised I hadn't encountered the Telegraph's list so I took a closer look and decided it's definitely one to be followed. The best thing about this list it the width of genres it covers; classics, romantic fiction, poetry, children's books, sci-fi, and history to name a few. I'm happy Amanda brought this list to my attention because I've been trying to expand my reading to other genres than literary fiction and classics, and I'm thinking this list will be a good guide.

Below is the list that the Telegraph dubbed "the ultimate reading list". I've crossed out titles I've read, and italicized titles I have on my TBR and plan to read this year.

The Iliad and The Odyssey, Homer
The Barchester Chronicles, Anthony Trollope
Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
Gulliver's Travels, Jonathan Swift
Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë
War and Peace, Tolstoy
David Copperfield, Charles Dickens
Vanity Fair, William Makepeace Thackeray
Madame Bovary, Gustave Flaubert
Middlemarch, George Eliot

Sonnets, Shakespeare
Divine Comedy, Dante
Canterbury Tales, Chaucer
The Prelude, William Wordsworth
Odes, JohnKeats
The Waste Land, T. S. Eliot
Paradise Lost, John Milton
Songs of Innocence and Experience, William Blake
Collected Poems, W. B. Yeats
Collected Poems, Ted Hughes

The Portrait of a Lady, Henry James
A la recherche du temps perdu, Proust
Ulysses, JamesJoyce
For Whom the Bell Tolls, Ernest Hemingway
Sword of Honour trilogy, Evelyn Waugh
The Ballad of Peckham Rye, Muriel Spark
Rabbit series, John Updike (I've read the first book in the series)
One Hundred Years of Solitude, Gabriel García Márquez
Beloved, ToniMorrison
The Human Stain, Philip Roth

Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier
Le Morte D'Arthur, Thomas Malory
Les Liaisons Dangereuses, Choderlos de Laclos
I, Claudius, Robert Graves
Alexander Trilogy, Mary Renault
Master and Commander, Patrick O'Brian
Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell
Dr Zhivago, Boris Pasternak
Tess of the D'Urbervilles, Thomas Hardy
The Plantagenet Saga, Jean Plaidy

Swallows and Amazons, Arthur Ransome
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, C.S. Lewis
The Lord of the Rings, J.R. R. Tolkien
His Dark Materials, Philip Pullman
Babar, Jean deBrunhoff
The Railway Children, E. Nesbit
Winnie-the-Pooh, A.A. Milne
Harry Potter, J.K. Rowling
The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame
Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson

Frankenstein, Mary Shelley
Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, Jules Verne
The Time Machine, H.G. Wells
Brave New World, Aldous Huxley
1984, George Orwell
The Day of the Triffids, John Wyndham
Foundation, Isaac Asimov
2001: A Space Odyssey, Arthur C. Clarke
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, Philip K. Dick
Neuromancer, William Gibson

The Talented Mr Ripley, Patricia Highsmith
The Maltese Falcon, Dashiell Hammett
The Complete Sherlock Holmes, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
The Big Sleep, Raymond Chandler
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, John le Carré
Red Dragon, Thomas Harris
Murder on the Orient Express, Agatha Christie
The Murders in the Rue Morgue, Edgar Allan Poe
The Woman in White, Wilkie Collins
Killshot, Elmore Leonard

Das Kapital, Karl Marx
The Rights of Man, Tom Paine
The Social Contract, Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Democracy in America, Alexis de Tocqueville
On War, Carlvon Clausewitz
The Prince, Niccolo Machiavelli
Leviathan, Thomas Hobbes
On the Interpretation of Dreams, Sigmund Freud
On the Origin of Species, Charles Darwin
L'Encyclopédie, Diderot, et al

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Robert M. Pirsig
Jonathan Livingston Seagull, Richard Bach
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams
The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell
The Beauty Myth, Naomi Wolf
How to Cook, Delia Smith
A Year in Provence, Peter Mayle
A Child Called 'It', Dave Pelzer
Eats, Shoots and Leaves, Lynne Truss
Schott's Original Miscellany, Ben Schott

The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Edward Gibbon
A History of the English-Speaking Peoples, Winston Churchill
A History of the Crusades, Steven Runciman
The Histories, Herodotus
The History of the Peloponnesian War, Thucydides
Seven Pillars of Wisdom, T. E. Lawrence
The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, Compiled at King Alfred's behest
A People's Tragedy, Orlando Figes
Citizens: A Chronicle of the French Revolution, Simon Schama
The Origins of the Second World War, A.J.P. Taylor

Confessions, St Augustine
Lives of the Caesars, Suetonius
Lives of the Artists, Vasari
If This is a Man, Primo Levi
Memoirs of a Fox-Hunting Man, Siegfried Sassoon
Eminent Victorians, Lytton Strachey
A Life of Charlotte Brontë, Elizabeth Gaskell
Goodbye to All That, Robert Graves
The Life of Dr Johnson, Boswell
Diaries, AlanClark

As you can tell I've got a lot of reading to do. I've crossed out 20 of 110, which isn't stellar. Now, it's safe to say there are a few titles on this list that I probably won't ever read, (The Angle Saxon Chronicle, to name one) but I'll definitely be referencing this list when I want to read outside of my comfort zone.


  1. I'm impressed with your 20! A lot of those books seem very...umm...heavy/dense?

    I've only read 15.5 (because I just couldn't finish LotR...the first half of the second book did me in!).

    1. I haven't read ANY Lord of the Rings! I did watch the movies and wasn't nuts about them.

  2. I love lists :)

    I'm impressed with your 20. This is not an easy list! May need to see how I stand on these...

  3. I love book lists so much! This seems like a really really really aspirational one that I may never complete... So maybe I might not even try...

    1. I definitely won't be completing it, but hopefully I'll cross off a few more!

  4. Haha! I started a spreadsheet for this one, too, although I've forgotten how many I've read. Hold on... I've read 24, but read a few as a kid and don't remember them at all.

    1. Wow 24 is solid. I'd be interested to see which ones they are :)

  5. I used to pore over reading lists but haven't looked at them when life got busy. Your post now makes me want to go back to them again and start reading the recommended books!

    From this list, I've only read five of the titles. :/

    Also, the 1001 Books To Read Before You Die book would make a good guide for me. :) Might get a copy or something. It's pretty thick, right?

    1. Yes it's a thick book - it lists each of the 1001 books, often with images of their cover or a photo of the author and a description or analysis of each. It's a fantastic book to have.

  6. I recommend you read The Woman in White and Tess of the D'Urbervilles and The Talented Mr. Ripley. I love those 3 books!

    1. Thanks! I've got The Woman in White at home and plan to read it this year. I loved The Moonstone so I'm looking forward to WinW. I'll make note of your other two recommendations. Thank you!

  7. Oh lists, how I love thee! I've read 16 from this list--what a list it is! Some serious stuff there, I can see why they call it the "ultimate reading list". I'm a bit intimidated by it, but I do like the different categories.

    I've tried to stay away from 1001 Books because there are already so many books I want to read, but it's like the ultimate of book lists & I want it! What do you think about the books on that list?

    1. It is an intimidating list for sure. Especially the history section.

      As far as the 1001 books list, I think it's got a great variety of genres and includes worldly authors. I'd say it is heavy in the western authors, but still includes a good range of prominent eastern authors. Most every classic you expect to be on the list is, so if you're looking for books that are under the radar this isn't your list. For me I've discovered a lot of foreign authors that I may not have picked up otherwise. I also love having an anthology that is so detailed. If you like books about books, this one is a must.

  8. This list is certainly less intimidating than 1001 Books; however, several on this list would never make it into my diet.. namely the history and sci fi sections. I still think I need to carry around a physical book list like you recommended weeks ago. Fun post, Brenna!

    1. Same here! I know I won't read even half of the books in the history category :) Also, I find a physical book list so helpful when I'm book shopping. I do browse without the list now and then, but I find it helpful to have.

  9. Oh man, my compulsive love of book lists made me go through and print off my own copy and mark out what I'd read. I'm at 37, but I have nothing in the Lives, Books that changed the world or History categories. I need to remedy that.

    1. 37! That's amazing. I'm curious as to which titles they are.

      I haven't heard of anyone who has read any of the history titles. Those all sound pretty dense.

  10. Ok, I just counted. I have 14 read. Or 21, if I count the books I was assigned to read in high school and/or college and did read, even if it was under duress/on a deadline/only so I could pass a class/with no intent of really absorbing anything. So, 14 or 21 or somewhere in between. I'll probably post my list next week. Thanks for sharing yours! I'd never heard of this list either. I'm duly impressed by Amanda's own list-keeping, too...

  11. I love lists too, and this one is interesting. But... I have no interest in a whole bunch of these books - and I HATE to start a list that I know I can't finish!