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Alvy

BBC Big Read: Top 21 Books of All Time

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The BBC tonight announced the results of the "Big Read" competition to find the most popular books (ie. novels) of all time. Here are the top 21, from among which Britons are asked to vote for the all-time greatest:

1984, George Orwell

Birdsong, Sebastian Faulks

Captain Corelli's Mandolin, Louis de Bernieres

Catch 22, Joseph Heller

The Catcher in the Rye, JD Salinger

Great Expectations, Charles Dickens

Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, JK Rowling

His Dark Materials, Philip Pullman

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams

Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bront

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Harry Potter? Is this a joke?

I'm not fundie-angry about it. But greatest book of all time. It looks a little silly up there with Orwell, Tolkein and Harper Lee.

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Indeed. Harry Potter is ridiculously out of place on such a list.

And where oh where is Gatsby?

Oh well... at least they included Cather in the Rye, probably my favorite novel of all time.

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Harry Potter? Is this a joke?

Is The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe a joke? Why shouldn't children's literature be considered? I presume from your comment, that you don't even think it's a well written children's book? Well, I beg to differ, and I'm sure that in 50 years it's enduring popularity and place on the children's literary canon will be cemented. Also, I agree that Goblet probably is the best book of the series, thus far.

FWIW, I'd have to vote for Lord of the Rings.

Actually, I'm surprised that I've actually read a good portion of these books. I guess, though, that comes with the territory. (I'm currently in my 3rd year of an English Honours degree).

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A few favorites that weren't on the list:

Watership Down, Richard Adams

Ender's Game, Orson Scott Card

Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad

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Alvy wrote:

: 1984, George Orwell

I've never read this one, but I have read Animal Farm, and I can remember reading a brilliant essay by C.S. Lewis in which he argued that it was Animal Farm, and not 1984, that was the better book. Basically, Lewis figured 1984 was taken more seriously because (1) it was longer, (2) it had sex, and (3) it had no talking animals. Needless to say, for Lewis, these were NOT pluses. smile.gif FWIW, I have not seen film versions of either of those books, yet.

: Captain Corelli's Mandolin, Louis de Bernieres

: Great Expectations, Charles Dickens

: Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bront

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Yes, Peter & Dan, people were asked specifically to vote for their favourites of all time, so it is no surprise that Harry Potter got in there.

Josh,

The Great Gatsby was in the 30s or 40s, I believe, but failed to make the top 21.

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Alvy wrote:

: 1984, George Orwell

I've never read this one, but I have read Animal Farm, and I can remember reading a brilliant essay by C.S. Lewis in which he argued that it was Animal Farm, and not 1984, that was the better book. Basically, Lewis figured 1984 was taken more seriously because (1) it was longer, (2) it had sex, and (3) it had no talking animals. Needless to say, for Lewis, these were NOT pluses. smile.gif FWIW, I have not seen film versions of either of those books, yet.

I believe there was a TV version of Animal Farm a few years ago, with real animals--"Babe"-style, but grimmer, of course. Maybe it's available on DVD.

: Captain Corelli's Mandolin, Louis de Bernieres

: Great Expectations, Charles Dickens

: Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bront

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Beth,

In the UK, ITV made a very popular series (using clay model animation) adapted from Wind in the Willows back in the early to mid-eighties. It is probably twenty years since I saw it as a wee lad of seven or eight, but I believe it is generally considered very close in spirit to Kenneth Grahame's book.

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BethR wrote:

: I believe there was a TV version of Animal Farm a few years ago, with

: real animals--"Babe"-style, but grimmer, of course.

Yeah, I believe there was a cartoon version, too. (I have this strange idea that Jim Henson's company was involved in the TV-movie you're referring to, which makes me wonder if the TV-movie was as grim as it needed to be -- did it stay true to the spirit of the book?)

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In the UK, ITV made a very popular series (using clay model animation) adapted from Wind in the Willows back in the early to mid-eighties. It is probably twenty years since I saw it as a wee lad of seven or eight, but I believe it is generally considered very close in spirit to Kenneth Grahame's book.
Yes I remeber it to. David Jason did the voice of Toad, and I read the book at around that time as well. There is also a real life version using many of the Python actors and other notable British comics (directed by Terry Jones). Though I saw it more recently I can't remember how it related to the books as it was so long ago since I read them.

FWIW of all of the others the only other one I've read is "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe". I'm not a great fiction reader.

Also I think this list compares to the 100 favourite films list we discussed last year sometime that voted Star Wars as top of the tree. Seen through that Lense the inclusion of Harry Potter doesn't seem so out of place. In fact the list looks remarkably more highbrow than its film counterpart. I suppose many people these days read a lot less than they watch films.

Matt

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Wow! What a tough choice. For the last seven years or so I've alternated reading Lord of the Rings and the Hitchhiker's Trilogy, being my two favorite books (or series' or whatever). I have to say that my favorite between the two is whichever one I last read, being HHGttG.

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The BBC tonight announced the results of the \"Big Read\" competition to find the most popular books (ie. novels) of all time. Here are the top 21, from among which Britons are asked to vote for the all-time greatest:

Well they've shifted the rules rather alarmingly mid-way throught, then, haven't they? The list is generated from people's favourites, which is one thing, and then we're to change gears and choose from among them the greatest? Which is an utterly different thing.

Harry Potter? Is this a joke? I'm not fundie-angry about it. But greatest book of all time. It looks a little silly up there with Orwell, Tolkein and Harper Lee.

Frankly, TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD looks a lot silly up there without THE BROTHERS KARAMAZOV, PRIDE AND PREJUDICE or THE SOUND AND THE FURY. Clearly, this isn't any sort of "Greatest Book Of All Time" thing - it's a "Most Popular Book That Lots of People Are Currently Reading" list. Which is just fine, but they shouldn't be bringing "great" into it, and we shouldn't be surprised that Harry Potter is right up there.

This is the People's Choice Awards, not the Nobel Prize. A popularity contest, not a measure of literary significance.

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