Have I Read: BBC’s Top 100 Books You Need to Read Before You Die

Hi everyone! I started a series a few months ago of me “reacting” to book lists that are “must reads” or “top 100 best” style lists, and last time I reacted to NPR’s Top 100 Fantasy and Sci-Fi. Today, I’m adding another list to this series with BBC’s Top 100 Books You Need to Read Before You Die. After looking through this list, I definitely think it needs to be renamed to classics you should read, or maybe “have you read every book by Charles Dickens or Jane Austen, with some contemporary books thrown in?”

  • Bold titles are books I have read
  • Italic and underlined titles are books that I would like to read eventually but don’t own
  • A single asterisk (*) denotes books/series I’m currently reading
  • Double asterisks (**) denotes books I own and plan to read


  1. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
  2. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien*
  3. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
  4. Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling (series)
  5. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  6. The Bible
  7. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
  8. 1984 by George Orwell
  9. His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman (series)**
  10. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
  11. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
  12. Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
  13. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
  14. Complete Works of Shakespeare
  15. Rebecca by Daphne DuMaurier
  16. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tokien
  17. Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks
  18. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
  19. The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
  20. Middlemarch by George Eliot
  21. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
  22. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  23. Bleak House by Charles Dickens
  24. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
  25. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
  26. Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh
  27. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky
  28. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
  29. Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll**
  30. The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
  31. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
  32. David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
  33. The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis (series)
  34. Emma by Jane Austen
  35. Persuasion by Jane Austen
  36. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
  37. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
  38. Captain Corelli’s Manodlin by Louis De Berniere
  39. Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden
  40. Winnie-The-Pooh by A.A. Milne
  41. Animal Farm by George Orwell
  42. The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown
  43. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  44. A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
  45. The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
  46. Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery
  47. Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy
  48. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
  49. Lord of the Flies by William Golding
  50. Atonement by Ian Mcewan
  51. Life of Pi by Yann Martel
  52. Dune by Frank Herbert
  53. Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons
  54. Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
  55. A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth
  56. The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
  57. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
  58. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
  59. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
  60. Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  61. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
  62. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
  63. The Secret History by Donna Tartt
  64. The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
  65. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
  66. On the Road by Jack Kerouac
  67. Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy
  68. Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding
  69. Midnight Children by Salman Rushdie
  70. Moby Dick by Herman Melville
  71. Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens**
  72. Dracula by Bram Stoker**
  73. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnet
  74. Notes From a Small Island by Bill Bryson
  75. Ulysses by James Joyce
  76. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
  77. Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome
  78. Germinal by Emile Zola
  79. Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray
  80. Possession by A. S. Byatt
  81. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
  82. Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
  83. The Color Purple by Alice Walker
  84. The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro
  85. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
  86. A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry
  87. Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White
  88. The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom
  89. Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
  90. The Faraway Tree Collection by Enid Blyton
  91. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
  92. The Little Prince by Antoine De Saint-Exupery
  93. The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks
  94. Watership Down by Richard Adams*
  95. A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
  96. A Town Like Alice by Nevil Shute
  97. The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas
  98. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
  99. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
  100. Les Miserables by Victor Hugo


This list kind of irritated me because there was nothing really consistent as to why some books were selected – it seems like whoever made this list wrote down every classic they could think of then realized when they were still shy of 100 just started adding in other books. What are your thoughts on this list?



19 Comments on “Have I Read: BBC’s Top 100 Books You Need to Read Before You Die

  1. I think it is a weird list, mainly classics and than randomly Bridget jones’s diary?
    Still happy to say I read around 40 of these haha!


    Liked by 1 person

    • Good for you! Yeah, it’s definitely a weird list and I have no idea what their criteria was for adding books to this list. There are so many other books out there that I would say you should read that aren’t all Charles Dickens!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I totally agree, it does seem like they ran out of classics to add.
    I’m also sort of the opinion that too many classics in a short amount of time reduces your appreciation of the genre?
    – Emma xxx

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I agree that it’s mostly classics. There are so many books that are just as good, that should also be mentioned! Also, the bible isn’t a book that everyone will read because it’s religious!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Exactly! I was so shocked when I saw the bible was on this list! I’m not religious at all and I have no intentions of reading the bible, and I feel like it’s a little christian-centric to say you should read the bible before you die. Other religious texts are just as important to their religions and cultures!

      Liked by 1 person

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