Monday, 5 August 2013

The Big Read 2013 - Part One

Yep, it's Monday again and that means a post about books from me.
I found myself wondering a few weeks ago when The Big Read (BBC) was. I Googled it and discovered it was back in 2003. Now for those of you who don't know what The Big Read is/was - here's the link -

Now, The Big Read basically set out to find the world's favourite books. I remember it well, because I was surprised at how many of those books I hadn't read or didn't own. So, I started buying up lots of them on Ebay (to my chagrin, I still haven't read many of those I bought...)

But I wanted to share with you  a few I've read and why, what they meant to me and also some of those I bought and still haven't read. And I'd love if you would click on The Big Read link and see if your favourites are there and which you've read and loved.

I've read precisely 38 of these books and own quite a few more. I confess to never having read Winnie the Pooh, even though I bought the box set in a charity shop round about the time of The Big Read. I have, however, started reading it to my baby now, so that's progress!

The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe is one of my all-time favourite books. As a child, I actually went into my wardrobe a few times, just to be sure. I would have loved to have gone to Narnia. I have the whole series of books, but TLTWATW is still my favourite.

The Wind in the Willows, I even bought on audio CD too, so I could listen to it in the car (this was only about 5 years ago!) because the antics of Ratty and Toad of Toad Hall are as hilarious to me now, as they were back when I listened to it on Jackanory.

I'm currently reading Great Expectations, following on from my recent Classics post, on the suggestion of author Terry Tyler. I think I am going to like it.

Captain Corelli's Mandolin - I even read this before Nicolas Cage appeared in the movie (big NC fan!) What an amazing book, but of course, I love books set in different countries. Fantastic love story

A Prayer for Owen Meany - I have to admit I found this book seriously hard-going, but very worthwhile and it was certainly one which made me reflect. A very sad book, but also uplifting.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - it really needs no explanation, but suffice to say, I wanted a golden ticket!

Dune by Frank Herbert is a science fiction novel (which is probably why I haven't read it yet) and one which I have been assured is a classic. I will read it at some point, but it was one of my Ebay purchases after TBR.

I have to be honest and say, although I've read and loved all of the Harry Potter books, I'm not convinced they deserve a place in the best 100 books in the world ever. I feel it's more to do with what people were reading a decade ago when TBR took place.

Anne of Green Gables. What a fab book. Reminded me a little of Little House on the Prairie too, which I watched as a child. Also, as a young teenager I watched Anne of Green Gables on TV and swooned over the boy she fancied. Gorgeous. A sweet book, which I bought new after TBR 2003.

Goodnight Mister Tom - another of my favourites which was made into a TV drama - with John Thaw. Lovely drama and wonderful heart-warming book about children being evacuated during the war.

The Secret Garden - this was my sister's book, but I read and re-read it as a child.

Artemis Fowl - have read quite a few of the Eoin Coifer books now - loved all of them. Another Kidult book perhaps? Those who like Harry Potter would like Artemis.

Swallows and Amazons - another classic children's book - which I bought after TBR, but haven't read yet.  I've only had ten years to do so, so shame on me. Given how much I love adventure and enjoyed being transported, as a child, through the medium of books to another place, it's shocking that I haven't read this. Must rectify ASAP.

Memoirs of a Geisha - another of my favourite books. I have read this book several times. It might be because it's set far away, but I also loved learning about the lives of the geishas and the history. When I went to Japan for work, I did my best to make time to go to Kyoto to see the places I had read about, but didn't quite manage it. I had to settle for Tokyo.

Lord of the Flies - an amazing book, about boys surviving after a plane crash, but which I perhaps read too young and it frightened me. The detail I found very disturbing, but as an adult I can confirm that it is an excellent book. Very much survival of the fittest.

Bridget Jones' Diary - I bought this in Spanish first of all. What can I say, I was often asked if I was Bridget Jones. My life just seemed to be like hers at the time.

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho - the first book by Coelho I had read and as it turns out, part of a course I was doing in Creative Writing at the University of Strathclyde. Any book which makes you reflect the way The Alchemist does is a winner for sure, and Coelho's works often do this.

Kane and Abel - one of the few books we had at home when I was a kid. It was my father's and I really enjoyed it. The first Jeffrey Archer book I read and I then read everything he read until he went to prison and loved all of his books. However, I have to say, I don't think it should be one of the top 100 books ever.

The Princess Diaries - I read in Portuguese - I was trying to re-familiarise myself with the language after a break away. Enjoyable, but top 100? Again I disagree.

Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie. Bought because of its controversial nature. I started reading it, but simply wasn't in the mood for so intense a read, so am ashamed to say haven't read it yet.

The Thorn Birds - I was amazed to see this on the list. I have read the book, but only because I watched the serialisation when I was very young, which featured Richard Chamberlain. Great book, but again Top 100?
One day I am going to have to write my own Top 100 books ever...

Out of the 38 I have read of this Top 100, my top 3 would have to be:-
The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe
Memoirs of A Geisha and
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (I thought I was a bit nuts, but Lewis Carroll....)

Tune in next time for Part 2, when I will be exploring which books of the past decade might appear on The Top 100 were there to be a The Big Read 2013!


  1. Yes, you're right - these lists tend to reflect the taste at the time, don't they? Fun books, those you mentioned, but not sure they qualify as the top 100. My older son has just finished reading The Lord of the Flies (aged 10) and I think it was a little bit too realistic for him - he had no problems with Harry Potter, though, it didn't scare him at all.

  2. exactly! Yes, Lord of the Flies gave me nightmares. Perhaps 10 is a little young to read it, but I was no older than that. HP is probably less scary because you know it couldn't happen!

  3. I scanned the list, came to A Suitable Boy and stopped there - it's huge, but the most wonderful book I've ever read. It has the scope of War and Peace, set in India (in places I recognised, which may have made it all the more relevant for me), with astonishing characters and the culture is explored with such sensitivity ... even after 1500 pages I didn't want it to end!

    And the children's books - I can't wait for my grandson to be big enough to read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory to him. I know he's be able to read it himself, but I so hope he lets me join in!