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Book Riot’s “Zero to Well Read in 100 Books” List

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Doing research for today’s post on writers’ favorite books got me back into booklist mode, particularly because many of the books that kept popping up (Moby-Dick, Lolita etc.,) are on 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die and the BBC’s Big Read. Seeing as these are two of the most widely circulated book lists around, I decided to kickstart the Google Machine and check and see if there were other lesser-known lists floating around out there in cyberspace that were equally interesting, and if they had the same books on them. That was when I found Book Riot’s “From Zero to Well Read in 100 Books.”

The list, which was published earlier this summer, was put together by Book Riot’s editor-in-chief and co-founder Jeff O’Neal, who defined the “well read” reader as being someone with,

a familiarity with the monuments of Western literature, an at least passing interest in the high-points of world literature, a willingness to experience a breadth of genres, a special interest in the work of one’s immediate culture, a desire to share in the same reading experiences of many other readers, and an emphasis on the writing of the current day.

Because of this criteria, there were a number of books featured on the list that were a bit…surprising, to say the least. The Hunger Games and Game of Thrones made the cut, for instance, as did 50 Shades of Grey, which was particularly upsetting for me. I was not alone in thinking that some of the inclusions were odd, and more than a few people seemed pretty peeved about it (if the comments are anything to go by, anyway). The push back was so strong, in fact, that prompted at least one fellow Book Riot writer to write a piece on why “Best Of” lists get everyone so riled up.

But regardless of whether you think 50 Shades of Grey should be included in a booklist (no, it shouldn’t, it’s a terribly written book and should in no way be associated with great works of literature like Lolita and 1984), it doesn’t change the fact that it does fit O’Neal’s criteria, nor does it change the fact that this list is, if nothing else, an interesting compilation. So, without further ado, here is Book Riot’s From Zero to Well Read in 100 Books list. Per usual, I’ve bolded the titles that I’ve read; I also italicized The Canterbury Tales, because I’ve read significant chunks of it (and will likely never pick it up again, as Middle English, turns out, is kind of really hard to read seeing as it isn’t 100% English). How many of them have you read, dear reader?

  1. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn~Mark Twain
  2. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes~Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
  3. The Age of Innocence~Edith Wharton
  4. All Quiet on the Western Front~Eric Maria Remarque
  5. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Klay~Michael Chabon
  6. American Pastoral~Philip Roth
  7. Anna Karenina~Leo Tolstoy
  8. Anne of Green Gables~Lucy Maud Montgomery
  9. Atlas Shrugged~Ayn Rand
  10. The Bell Jar~Sylvia Plath
  11. Beloved~Toni Morrison
  12. Beowulf
  13. The Book Thief~Markus Zusak
  14. Brave New World~Alduos Huxley
  15. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao~Junot Diaz
  16. The Call of the Wild~Jack London
  17. Candide~Voltaire
  18. The Canterbury Tales~Geoffrey Chaucer
  19. Casino Royale~Ian Fleming
  20. Catch-22~Joseph Heller
  21. The Catcher in the Rye~J. D. Salinger
  22. Charlotte’s Web~E. B. White
  23. Cloud Atlas~David Mitchell
  24. The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson
  25. The Complete Stories of Edgar Allan Poe
  26. The Complete Stories of Flannery O’Connor
  27. The Corrections~Jonathan Franzen
  28. Crime & Punishment~Fyodor Dostoevsky
  29. The Da Vinci Code~Dan Brown
  30. Death of a Salesman~Arthur Miller
  31. Don Quixote~Miguel de Cervantes
  32. Dream of Red Chamber~Cao Xueqin
  33. Dune~Frank Herbert
  34. Everything is Illuminated~Jonathan Safran Foer
  35. Fahrenheit 451~Ray Bradbury
  36. The Fault in Our Stars~John Green
  37. Faust~Goethe
  38. Frankenstein~Mary Shelley
  39. Game of Thrones~George R. R. Martin
  40. The Golden Bowl~Henry James
  41. The Golden Notebook~Doris Lessing
  42. Gone Girl~Gillian Flyn
  43. The Gospels
  44. The Grapes of Wrath~John Steinbeck
  45. Great Expectations~Charles Dickens
  46. The Great Gatsby~F. Scott Fitzgerald
  47. Hamlet~William Shakespeare
  48. The Handmaid’s Tale~Margaret Atwood
  49. Harry Potter & The Sorceror’s Stone~J. K. Rowling
  50. Heart of Darkness~Joseph Conrad
  51. The Help~Kathryn Stockett
  52. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy~Douglas Adams
  53. The Hobbit~J. R. R. Tolkien
  54. House Made of Dawn~N. Scott Momaday
  55. Howl~Allen Ginsberg
  56. The Hunger Games~Suzanne Collins
  57. if on a winter’s night a traveler~Italo Calvino
  58. The Iliad~Homer
  59. The Inferno~Dante
  60. Infinite Jest~David Foster Wallance
  61. Invisible Man~Ralph Ellison
  62. Leaves of Grass~Walt Whitman
  63. The Life of Pi~Yann Martel
  64. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe~C. S. Lewis
  65. The Little Prince~Antoine de Saint-Exepury
  66. Lolita~Vladimir Nabokov
  67. Love in the Time of Cholera~Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  68. Madame Bovary~Gustave Flaubert
  69. Midnight’s Children~Salman Rushdie
  70. Moby-Dick~Herman Melville
  71. Mrs. Dalloway~Virginia Woolf
  72. Murder on the Orient Express~Agatha Christie
  73. The Odyssey~Homer
  74. Oedipus, King~Sophocles
  75. On the Road~Jack Kerouac
  76. A Passage to India~E. M. Forster
  77. The Pentateuch
  78. Pride and Prejudice~Jane Austen
  79. Rabbit, Run~John Updike
  80. The Road~Cormac McCarthy
  81. Romeo and Juliet~William Shakespeare
  82. The Scarlet Letter~Nathaniel Hawthorne
  83. Slaughterhouse-Five~Kurt Vonnegut
  84. The Sound and the Fury~William Faulkner
  85. The Stand~Stephen King
  86. The Sun Also Rises~Ernest Hemingway
  87. Swann’s Way~Marcel Proust
  88. Their Eyes Were Watching God~Zora Neale Hurston
  89. Things Fall Apart~Chinua Achebe
  90. The Things They Carried~Tim O’Brien
  91. To Kill a Mockingbird~Harper Lee
  92. Ulysses~James Joyce
  93. The Unbearable Lightness of Being~Milan Kundera
  94. A Visit from the Goon Squad~Jennifer Egan
  95. Waiting for the Barbarians~J. M. Coetzee
  96. Watchmen~Alan Moore
  97. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle~Haruki Murakami
  98. Wuthering Heights~Emily Bronte
  99. 1984~George Orwell
  100. 50 Shades of Grey~E. L. James (as much as it pains me to bold this, at least I can honestly say I know what I’m talking about when I say this is a *terrible* book that I wish I hadn’t read)
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3 thoughts on “Book Riot’s “Zero to Well Read in 100 Books” List

  1. Pingback: TIME Magazine’s All-TIME 100 Novels | The Bewildered 20-Something Writer

  2. Pingback: Entertainment Weekly’s 100 All-Time Greatest Novels Ever | The Bewildered 20-Something Writer

  3. Pingback: Modern Library’s 100 Best Novels: The Board and the Reader’s Lists | The Bewildered 20-Something Writer

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