The Big Read

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For the United States communal reading program, see One City One Book.

The Big Read was a survey on books carried out by the BBC in the United Kingdom in 2003, where over three quarters of a million votes were received from the British public to find the nation's best-loved novel of all time.[1][2] The year-long survey was the biggest single test of public reading taste to date,[3] and culminated with several programmes hosted by celebrities, advocating their favourite books.[4]

Purpose[edit]

The BBC started the Big Read with the goal of finding the "Nation's Best-loved Novel" by way of a viewer vote via the Web, SMS, and telephone. The show attracted controversy for adopting an allegedly sensationalist approach to literature, but supporters praised it for raising the public awareness of reading.[5] The British public voted originally for any novel that they wished.[5] From this, a list of 200 was drawn up, with the highest 21 then put forward for further voting, on the provision that only one book per author was permitted in the top 21. As the poll was based on novels, the plays of William Shakespeare were not part of the survey.

Top 200 novels in the United Kingdom[edit]

  1. The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien
  2. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
  3. His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman
  4. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
  5. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J. K. Rowling
  6. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  7. Winnie-the-Pooh by A. A. Milne
  8. Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell
  9. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis
  10. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
  11. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
  12. Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
  13. Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks
  14. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
  15. The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger
  16. The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
  17. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
  18. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
  19. Captain Corelli's Mandolin by Louis de Bernières
  20. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
  21. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
  22. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by Rowling
  23. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by Rowling
  24. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by Rowling
  25. The Hobbit by Tolkien
  26. Tess of the d'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
  27. Middlemarch by George Eliot
  28. A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
  29. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
  30. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
  31. The Story of Tracy Beaker by Jacqueline Wilson
  32. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez
  33. The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
  34. David Copperfield by Dickens
  35. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
  36. Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
  37. A Town Like Alice by Nevil Shute
  38. Persuasion by Austen
  39. Dune by Frank Herbert
  40. Emma by Austen
  41. Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery
  42. Watership Down by Richard Adams
  43. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  44. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
  45. Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh
  46. Animal Farm by Orwell
  47. A Christmas Carol by Dickens
  48. Far from the Madding Crowd by Hardy
  49. Goodnight Mister Tom by Michelle Magorian
  50. The Shell Seekers by Rosamunde Pilcher
  51. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
  52. Of Mice and Men by Steinbeck
  53. The Stand by Stephen King
  54. Anna Karenina by Tolstoy
  55. A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth
  56. The BFG by Dahl
  57. Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome
  58. Black Beauty by Anna Sewell
  59. Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer
  60. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  61. Noughts & Crosses by Malorie Blackman
  62. Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden
  63. A Tale of Two Cities by Dickens
  64. The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough
  65. Mort by Terry Pratchett
  66. The Magic Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton
  67. The Magus by John Fowles
  68. Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Pratchett
  69. Guards! Guards! by Pratchett
  70. Lord of the Flies by William Golding
  71. Perfume by Patrick Süskind
  72. The Ragged-Trousered Philanthropists by Robert Tressell
  73. Night Watch by Pratchett
  74. Matilda by Dahl
  75. Bridget Jones's Diary by Helen Fielding
  76. The Secret History by Donna Tartt
  77. The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
  78. Ulysses by James Joyce
  79. Bleak House by Dickens
  80. Double Act by Wilson
  81. The Twits by Dahl
  82. I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
  83. Holes by Louis Sachar
  84. Gormenghast by Mervyn Peake
  85. The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
  86. Vicky Angel by Wilson
  87. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
  88. Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons
  89. Magician by Raymond E. Feist
  90. On the Road by Jack Kerouac
  91. The Godfather by Mario Puzo
  92. The Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean M. Auel
  93. The Colour of Magic by Pratchett
  94. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
  95. Katherine by Anya Seton
  96. Kane and Abel by Jeffrey Archer
  97. Love in the Time of Cholera by Márquez
  98. Girls in Love by Wilson
  99. The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot
  100. Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie
  101. Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome
  102. Small Gods by Pratchett
  103. The Beach by Alex Garland
  104. Dracula by Bram Stoker
  105. Point Blanc by Anthony Horowitz
  106. The Pickwick Papers by Dickens
  107. Stormbreaker by Horowitz
  108. The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks
  109. The Day of the Jackal by Frederick Forsyth
  110. The Illustrated Mum by Wilson
  111. Jude the Obscure by Hardy
  112. The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Aged 13¾ by Sue Townsend
  113. The Cruel Sea by Nicholas Monsarrat
  114. Les Misérables by Victor Hugo
  115. The Mayor of Casterbridge by Hardy
  116. The Dare Game by Wilson
  117. Bad Girls by Wilson
  118. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
  119. Shōgun by James Clavell
  120. The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham
  121. Lola Rose by Wilson
  122. Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray
  123. The Forsyte Saga by John Galsworthy
  124. House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski
  125. The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
  126. Reaper Man by Pratchett
  127. Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging by Louise Rennison
  128. The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle
  129. Possession: A Romance by A. S. Byatt
  130. The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
  131. The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
  132. Danny, the Champion of the World by Dahl
  133. East of Eden by Steinbeck
  134. George's Marvellous Medicine by Dahl
  135. Wyrd Sisters by Pratchett
  136. The Color Purple by Alice Walker
  137. Hogfather by Pratchett
  138. The Thirty-Nine Steps by John Buchan
  139. Girls in Tears by Wilson
  140. Sleepovers by Wilson
  141. All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque
  142. Behind the Scenes at the Museum by Kate Atkinson
  143. High Fidelity by Nick Hornby
  144. It by King
  145. James and the Giant Peach by Dahl
  146. The Green Mile by King
  147. Papillon by Henri Charrière
  148. Men at Arms by Pratchett
  149. Master and Commander by Patrick O'Brian
  150. Skeleton Key by Horowitz
  151. Soul Music by Pratchett
  152. Thief of Time by Pratchett
  153. The Fifth Elephant by Pratchett
  154. Atonement by Ian McEwan
  155. Secrets by Wilson
  156. The Silver Sword by Ian Serraillier
  157. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey
  158. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
  159. Kim by Rudyard Kipling
  160. Cross Stitch by Diana Gabaldon
  161. Moby-Dick by Herman Melville
  162. River God by Wilbur Smith
  163. Sunset Song by Lewis Grassic Gibbon
  164. The Shipping News by E. Annie Proulx
  165. The World According to Garp by Irving
  166. Lorna Doone by R. D. Blackmore
  167. Girls Out Late by Wilson
  168. The Far Pavilions by M. M. Kaye
  169. The Witches by Dahl
  170. Charlotte's Web by E. B. White
  171. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
  172. They Used to Play on Grass by Terry Venables and Gordon Williams
  173. The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
  174. The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco
  175. Sophie's World by Jostein Gaarder
  176. Dustbin Baby by Wilson
  177. Fantastic Mr Fox by Dahl
  178. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
  179. Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach
  180. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
  181. The Suitcase Kid by Wilson
  182. Oliver Twist by Dickens
  183. The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay
  184. Silas Marner by Eliot
  185. American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis
  186. The Diary of a Nobody by George and Weedon Grossmith
  187. Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh
  188. Goosebumps by R. L. Stine
  189. Heidi by Johanna Spyri
  190. Sons and Lovers by D. H. Lawrence
  191. The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera
  192. Man and Boy by Tony Parsons
  193. The Truth by Pratchett
  194. The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells
  195. The Horse Whisperer by Nicholas Evans
  196. A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry
  197. Witches Abroad by Pratchett
  198. The Once and Future King by T. H. White
  199. The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
  200. Flowers in the Attic by V. C. Andrews

Authors with multiple novels on the list[edit]

Multiple novels in the Top 25

In the first stage, all four extant Harry Potter novels by J. K. Rowling were among the 25 leaders. So were both Middle-earth novels by J. R. R. Tolkien. The second stage featured 21 books by distinct authors: the top 25 with Rowling represented only by her fourth volume, Goblet of Fire, and Tolkien only by The Lord of the Rings. Those two novels finally placed fifth and first; the other preliminary leaders by Rowling and Tolkien nominally led the also-rans in ranks 22–25.

Multiple novels in the Top 50
Multiple novels in the Top 100
Multiple novels in the Top 200
  • Fifteen: Terry Pratchett
  • Fourteen: Jacqueline Wilson
  • Nine: Roald Dahl
  • Seven: Charles Dickens
  • Four: Thomas Hardy, J. K. Rowling
  • Three: Jane Austen, Anthony Horowitz, Stephen King, John Steinbeck
  • Two: George Eliot, John Irving, Gabriel García Márquez, George Orwell, J. R. R. Tolkien, Leo Tolstoy

See also[edit]

Contests similar to the Big Read were conducted in other countries:

Other lists:

References[edit]

External links[edit]