Literary brick wall with titles from the BBC Big Read

So this is gonna be one of the great ones, one I’ve been looking forward to. For some time, I’ve been wanting to read the great classics. You know: Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, F. Scott Fitzgerald. Those kinds of classics. Especially, after I discovered the Penguin Clothbound Classics series, which is a series of (you guessed it) classics each with their own unique hardback cover. (They would look great in my library!)

But we all know that it’s always a bit overwhelming throwing yourself into a project without a specific predefined purpose and goal.

Then, searching the internet, I stumbled upon the site of a fellow book blogger, The Literary Edit (which is a great blog, by the way! You should check it out). The editor had actually started her blog back in the day to document her completion of a reading list known as the BBC Big Read.

Apparently, in 2003, BBC conducted a vote in the UK to establish the most beloved novels in the British nation. And the result of the vote became the BBC Big Read consisting of 100 titles of various authors of various times. Mostly classics, however.

Problem Solved!

And so, I had found the solution to my lack of purpose (I mean, the purpose of my project of reading the great classics – or at least some of them).

So, I have set myself the challenge of completing this reading list by the end of 2024, which gives me five years starting in 2020. This I will do in conjunction with completing another long reading list, consisting of 100 primarily non-fiction titles. So I believe I’ll have plenty on my plate for the next couple of years, book-wise.

Below, you can find the BBC Big Read reading list. I have, of course, crossed out the ones I’ve finished and added the date of completion (yy-mm-dd) – my organisation gene wouldn’t allow me to do it any differently.

The BBC Big Read

  1. The Lord of the Rings, J. R. R. Tolkien
  2. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
  3. His Dark Materials, Philip Pullman
  4. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams
  5. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, J. K. Rowling (20.03.17)
  6. To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
  7. Winnie the Pooh, A. A. Milne
  8. Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell (20.01.31)
  9. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, C. S. Lewis
  10. Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë
  11. Catch-22, Joseph Heller
  12. Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontë
  13. Birdsong, Sebastian Faulks
  14. Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier
  15. The Catcher in the Rye, J. D. Salinger
  16. The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame (20.01.17)
  17. Great Expectations, Charles Dickens
  18. Little Women, Louisa May Alcott
  19. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, Louis de Bernieres
  20. War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy
  21. Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell
  22. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, J. K. Rowling (20.02.02)
  23. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, J. K. Rowling (20.02.08)
  24. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, J. K. Rowling (20.02.24)
  25. The Hobbit, J. R. R. Tolkien (20.01.05)
  26. Tess of the D’Urbervilles, Thomas Hardy
  27. Middlemarch, George Eliot
  28. A Prayer For Owen Meany, John Irving
  29. The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck
  30. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll
  31. The Story of Tracy Beaker, Jacqueline Wilson
  32. One Hundred Years of Solitude, Gabriel García Márquez
  33. The Pillars of the Earth, Ken Follett
  34. David Copperfield, Charles Dickens
  35. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Roald Dahl
  36. Treasure Island, Louis Stevenson
  37. A Town Like Alice, Nevil Shute
  38. Persuasion, Jane Austen
  39. Dune, Frank Herbert
  40. Emma, Jane Austen
  41. Anne of Green Gables, L. M. Montgomery
  42. Watership Down, Richard Adams
  43. The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald (20.01.24)
  44. The Count Of Monte Cristo, Alexandre Dumas
  45. Brideshead Revisited, Evelyn Waugh
  46. Animal Farm, George Orwell
  47. A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens
  48. Far from the Madding Crowd, Thomas Hardy
  49. Goodnight Mister Tom, Michelle Magorian
  50. The Shell Seekers, Rosamunde Pilcher
  51. The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett
  52. Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck
  53. The Stand, Stephen King (20.03.28)
  54. Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy
  55. A Suitable Boy, Vikram Seth
  56. The BFG, Roald Dahl
  57. Swallows and Amazons, Arthur Ransome
  58. Black Beauty, Anna Sewell
  59. Artemis Fowl, Eoin Colfer
  60. Crime and Punishment, Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  61. Noughts and Crosses, Malorie Blackman
  62. Memoirs of a Geisha, Arthur Golden
  63. A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens
  64. The Thorn Birds, Colleen McCollough
  65. Mort, Terry Pratchett
  66. The Magic Faraway Tree, Enid Blyton
  67. The Magus, John Fowles
  68. Good Omens, Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
  69. Guards! Guards!, Terry Pratchett
  70. Lord of the Flies, William Golding (20.01.10)
  71. Perfume, Patrick Süskind (20.04.01)
  72. The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, Robert Tressell
  73. Night Watch, Terry Pratchett
  74. Matilda, Roald Dahl
  75. Bridget Jones’s Diary, Helen Fielding
  76. The Secret History, Donna Tartt
  77. The Woman in White, Wilkie Collins
  78. Ulysses, James Joyce
  79. Bleak House, Charles Dickens
  80. Double Act, Jacqueline Wilson
  81. The Twits, Roald Dahl
  82. I Capture the Castle, Dodie Smith
  83. Holes, Louis Sachar
  84. Gormenghast, Mervyn Peake
  85. The God of Small Things, Arundhati Roy
  86. Vicky Angel, Jacqueline Wilson
  87. Brave New World, Aldous Huxley
  88. Cold Comfort Farm, Stella Gibbons
  89. Magician, Raymond E. Feist
  90. On the Road, Jack Kerouac
  91. The Godfather, Mario Puzo
  92. The Clan of the Cave Bear, Jean M. Auel
  93. The Coulour of Magic, Terry Pratchett
  94. The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho
  95. Katherine, Anya Seton
  96. Kane and Abel, Jeffrey Archer
  97. Love in the Time of Cholera, Gabriel García Márquez
  98. Girls in Love, Jacqueline Wilson
  99. The Princess Diaries, Meg Cabot
  100. Midnight’s Children, Salman Rushdie

Now it’s just about getting going!

Which one are you going to start with? Feel free to leave a comment below or tell me privately on or here.

Also, why don’t you join me on my ultimate reading challenge for the next five years up until the end of 2024? 200 books in five years, mixing all kinds of exciting genres. And if it’s too much of a mouthful, just stick to the one list – no one’s judging you!


Image by Allie Smith on Unsplash.

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