Kate's Queen City Notes

Blundering through Cincinnati, laughing all the way

100 Books by 40: In Retrospect


In August of 2012, I started a journey to write and read more. I committed to read the BBC’s Big Read list and blog my thoughts. I aimed to complete the list prior to my 40th birthday. With my 40th six months away, I met the time limit.

I love reading, but I don’t make time for it. Plus, the unlimited selection of books paralyzes me picking the next read. Finally, I struggle choosing between books that I “should” be reading-anything Jane Austen-vs books that I want to read-Harry Potter Series. The list solved for all of these problems.

Writing, I enjoy the process. I have things to say. I’m not yet sure how interested other people might be in these things. Book reports are the bane of every young student’s existence. I begrudgingly admit that they serve a purpose. My response to a book is guttural, formless emotion. Shepherding those impressions into words challenges me. As a person who struggles to name my feelings, this process has been invaluable.

This meadow has a animal carcass that needs to be addressed. Choose the list wisely. I didn’t. There are very good books in this list. Books seventy-five though one hundred are crap; I am convinced a summer intern came up with them. There are exceptions, On the Road and Ulysses among them. However, considering the sheer amount of time those mediocre to shitty books took up, I would have gladly given that over to more pleasurable reading in retrospect. As an American, this BBC list is very British, and unless you have a thing with Brit Lit the American reader would be better served by this list from Amazon.

This was such a good experience that I am doing it again. I have yet to decide if I will blog about it. I’m sure if I do it will turn up here.

Finished list:
1. The Lord of the Rings, JRR Tolkien
2. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
3. His Dark Materials, Philip Pullman
4. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams
5. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, JK Rowling
6. To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
7. Winnie the Pooh, AA Milne
8. Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell
9. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, CS Lewis
10. Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë
11. Catch-22, Joseph Heller
12. Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontë
13. Birdsong, Sebastian Faulks
14. Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier
15. The Catcher in the Rye, JD Salinger
16. The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame
17. Great Expectations, Charles Dickens
18. Little Women, Louisa May Alcott
19. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, Louis de Bernieres
20. War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy
21. Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell
22. Harry Potter And The Philosopher’s Stone, JK Rowling
23. Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets, JK Rowling
24. Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban, JK Rowling
25. The Hobbit, JRR Tolkien
26. Tess Of The D’Urbervilles, Thomas Hardy
27. Middlemarch, George Eliot
28. A Prayer For Owen Meany, John Irving
29. The Grapes Of Wrath, John Steinbeck
30. Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland, Lewis Carroll
31. The Story Of Tracy Beaker, Jacqueline Wilson
32. One Hundred Years Of Solitude, Gabriel García Márquez
33. The Pillars Of The Earth, Ken Follett
34. David Copperfield, Charles Dickens
35. Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, Roald Dahl
36. Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson
37. A Town Like Alice, Nevil Shute
38. Persuasion, Jane Austen
39. Dune, Frank Herbert
40. Emma, Jane Austen – only 99 cents for Kindle edition
41. Anne Of Green Gables, LM Montgomery
42. Watership Down, Richard Adams
43. The Great Gatsby, F Scott Fitzgerald
44. The Count Of Monte Cristo, Alexandre Dumas
45. Brideshead Revisited, Evelyn Waugh
46. Animal Farm, George Orwell
47. A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens – have on Kindle
48. Far From The Madding Crowd, Thomas Hardy – have on Kindle
49. Goodnight Mister Tom, Michelle Magorian
50. The Shell Seekers, Rosamunde Pilcher
51. The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett
52. Of Mice And Men, John Steinbeck
53. The Stand, Stephen King
54. Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy
55. A Suitable Boy, Vikram Seth
56. The BFG, Roald Dahl
57. Swallows And Amazons, Arthur Ransome
58. Black Beauty, Anna Sewell
59. Artemis Fowl, Eoin Colfer
60. Crime And Punishment, Fyodor Dostoyevsky
61. Noughts And Crosses, Malorie Blackman
62. Memoirs Of A Geisha, Arthur Golden
63. A Tale Of Two Cities, Charles Dickens *I read this when I was too young to appreciate it; I would like to read it again as an adult. I will do so if I have time.
64. The Thorn Birds, Colleen McCollough
65. Mort, Terry Pratchett
66. The Magic Faraway Tree, Enid Blyton
67. The Magus, John Fowles
68. Good Omens, Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
69. Guards! Guards!, Terry Pratchett
70. Lord Of The Flies, William Golding *I’ve read this twice. I will read it again if I have time.
71. Perfume, Patrick Süskind
72. The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, Robert Tressell
73. Night Watch, Terry Pratchett
74. Matilda, Roald Dahl
75. Bridget Jones’s Diary, Helen Fielding
76. The Secret History, Donna Tartt
77. The Woman In White, Wilkie Collins
78. Ulysses, James Joyce
79. Bleak House, Charles Dickens
80. Double Act, Jacqueline Wilson
81. The Twits, Roald Dahl
82. I Capture The Castle, Dodie Smith
83. Holes, Louis Sachar
84. Gormenghast, Mervyn Peake
85. The God Of Small Things, Arundhati Roy
86. Vicky Angel, Jacqueline Wilson
87. Brave New World, Aldous Huxley
88. Cold Comfort Farm, Stella Gibbons
89. Magician, Raymond E Feist
90. On The Road, Jack Kerouac *I’ve read this twice. I will read it again if I have time. I have the unabriged unedited version and will probably take on that if time allows.
91. The Godfather, Mario Puzo
92. The Clan Of The Cave Bear, Jean M Auel
93. The Colour Of Magic, Terry Pratchett
94. The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho
95. Katherine, Anya Seton
96. Kane And Abel, Jeffrey Archer
97. Love In The Time Of Cholera, Gabriel García Márquez
98. Girls In Love, Jacqueline Wilson
99. The Princess Diaries, Meg Cabot
100. Midnight’s Children, Salman Rushdie

3 thoughts on “100 Books by 40: In Retrospect

  1. I have thoroughly enjoyed your reviews and hope to see more of them. They always giveme something to think about, and often something to laugh about. I have read many of the books on the new list, and judging by those, it is a good list that won’t be a waste of your time. I want to recommend Audible to you. I am currently listening to Middlemarch, a book I read and liked in college. It is fabulous, as the narrator makes Eliot’s prose and dialogue sparkle as it deserves to. I tend to read too fast; listening slows me down and also requires me to focus my attention better. I have a friend who can’t bear it, though, so I have to reluctantly concede that there are at least two kinds of people in this world. But for me, this is why iPods were invented and makes my long walks and yard work all the more enjoyable.

    • I am glad you’ve enjoyed them. I very much enjoy listening to books, so I will check out Audible. I am planning to participate in National Novel Writing Month this year, so I am thinking my book reviews will be on hold while I do that in November. So, updates on my book reviews will probably turn back up in December. I’ve already finished Gone Girl from the the Amazon list. It made me feel disgusting… Which displays the power of the writing. I’m excited to blog about that.

  2. Pingback: Correcting for Mistakes 2016 | Kate's Queen City Notes

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