Friday, 3 December 2010

Memes and urban legends

I've always been fond of urban legends. When I worked at BA, one of my colleagues, who was a fabled story teller, made up a tall story at a dinner party once (involving a dog being tied to a level crossing gate in Sunningdale), only to find a few months later he went to another party where he was told this as fact.

The interweb is particularly good at generating urban legends, because of the speed with which they can be passed around as so-called 'memes'. (I don't like the meme concept, but that's another post.) All too often, people pass on something without bothering to check the facts. Recently on Facebook a number of my friends have started a post that says: Have you read more than 6 of these books? The BBC believes most people will have read only 6 of the 100 books listed here. The list, which you'll see below consists of fairly popular/classic titles, so that statistic was quite surprising.

After doing a bit of searching around, I couldn't find any evidence that the BBC had ever said this (it's a fairly unlikely way for the BBC to make an assertion, apart from anything else). What it instead seems to be is a list of favourite/should read books someone put in the Guardian newspaper, modified by someone with US sensibilities.

Any road up, the idea is that you highlight those you have read in bold, and those you've read but given up on/not read all of in italics. So in the unlikely event anyone is interested in my reading experience (and bearing in mind there aren't many SF/fantasy/non-fiction books in this list), I've done this:

 1 Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
2 The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien

3 Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
4 Harry Potter series – JK Rowling (all)
5 To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
6 The Bible
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four – George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman

10 Great Expectations – Charles Dickens
11 Little Women - Louisa May Alcott
12 Tess of the D'Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 – Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare
15 Rebecca – Daphne du Maurier
16 The Hobbit – J R R Tolkien

17 Birdsong – Sebastian Faulks
18 Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger (see 22)
19 The Time Travellers Wife – Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch – George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind – Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald (I read either this or Catcher in the Rye or both at school, but can't remember a thing)
23 Bleak House – Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
26 Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck
29 Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll
30 The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame

31 Anna Karenina –Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield – Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis
34 Emma – Jane Austen
35 Persuasion – Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe – CS Lewis

37 The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis de Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - William Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh – AA Milne
41 Animal Farm – George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown

43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney – John Irving
45 The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables – LM Montgomery
47 Far from the Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies – William Golding
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi - Yann Martell
52 Dune – Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen

55 A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities – Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Mark Haddon

60 Love in the Time of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas
66 On the Road - Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary – Helen Fielding
69 Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick – Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72 Dracula – Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson
74 Notes from a Small Island - Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses - James Joyce
76 The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
77 Swallows and Amazons – Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal – Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession - AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83 The Colour Purple - Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte's Web - EB White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven – Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree collection - Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince _ Antoine de Saint Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice – Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet – William Shakespeare
99 Charlie & the Chocolate factory - Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables – Victor Hugo

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