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Last Updated: Monday, 19 May, 2003, 21:44 GMT 22:44 UK
Top 100 books are child's play
Children read Harry Potter
Harry Potter books were almost as popular as Charles Dickens
All four Harry Potter books make a BBC list of Britain's top 100 good reads.

The boy wizard was a favourite with the 140,000 people who voted in the television and online poll.

Children's books, including Anna Sewell's Black Beauty and AA Milne's Winnie The Pooh, did particularly well, making up a third of the titles picked by the public.

The full list will be debated on the Big Read Top 100 on BBC 2 on Saturday but book lovers will have to wait until the autumn to learn in which order the titles came.

Charles Dickens and Terry Pratchett are the most nominated authors, each with five books on the list.

Sixty-six of the titles are by British writers including George Orwell (1984 and Animal Farm) and Charlotte Bronte (Jane Eyre), and just over a half were set in Britain.

Over 14,000 messages were posted by people engaging in heated, passionate and funny debates about why their book was the best choice
Jane Root
BBC Two

Leo Tolstoy's epic War and Peace and Gabriel Garcia Marquez's Love In The Time Of Cholera are among the books people enjoyed in translation.

Jane Root, controller of BBC Two, said there had been a "fantastic" response to the vote.

"On our website over 14,000 messages were posted by people engaging in heated, passionate and funny debates about why their book was the best choice.

"We hope this kind of contagious enthusiasm will spread over the summer and thousands of people will join book groups to discuss, debate and share the experience of books."

Later in the year, the top 20 will be championed by celebrity fans and the public will vote to decide the nation's favourite.

  • The Big Read Top 100 is on BBC Two at 2105 BST. The Big Read Debate with Andrew Marr is on BBC Four at 2205 BST.


    Do you agree with the 100?

    I think that the list represents what people enjoy reading
    Tryphena Penswick, UK
    I found the list of the top 100 books very interesting. There are quite a few books on there that I have read and enjoyed. I think that the list represents what people enjoy reading and not what the critics think we should be reading.
    Tryphena Penswick, UK

    I am just glad to see evidence that people read still, no matter what they choose to vote for. I've read some of the tomes we are advised to in order to better ourselves but a great many are no longer accessible to the public at large.
    Niki, UK

    I believe it is a good thing that so much children's literature has made it into the list as often it is overlooked as worthy of being so classed and considered inferior by those who would have our minds 'improved'.
    Marie, UK

    Any list is debatable but I am astounded that no Frederick Forsyth or John Grisham novels have made it to the top 100. Are people voting for what they really enjoy or what they think they should enjoy?
    Jon Sockett, England

    My first thought on reading the list was Mark Twain's: "A classic is something everyone wants to have read, and no-one wants to read". :) I'm surprised that he didn't get onto the list, incidentally - too politically incorrect for today's readers, perhaps? Interesting to see no entries for Nick Hornby, Martin Amis, Hanif Kureshi, et al - a genre whose time has passed?
    Jim Allen, Scotland

    The variety of the top 100 shows us just how rich literature is. I'm thrilled to see all of my favourites in there, including Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Winnie the Pooh, and of course Terry Pratchett and Douglas Adams.
    Laurelin, UK

    When you start reading you never feel lonely
    Kaise, Somaliland
    First I would like to thank those who organised these comments, because it was something we were waiting for long time. I personally believe books are the most important thing in the world which Allah bestowed on human beings. Books are best friends, they wait patiently for us to talk to. When you start reading you never feel lonely. We use books for reference and many other reasons which I can't concise in here but at least I'm going to join these comments on the BBC.
    Kaise, Somaliland

    My great favourite is there - Brideshead Revisited. There are titles on the list I have not read but have been wanting to read, I am going to try them SOON; provided they are not SF, which I detest.
    A. Guide-Pieters, Belgium

    It would be interesting to find out the number of books that are read by voters say per month - it rather surprises me that so many classics are so near the top of the list considering the wealth of good writing that has come about since these were written.
    Hope Full, UK

    The whole list has been undermined due to glaring omissions, notably - Jeffery Archer and Alan Titchmarsh.
    Richard White, London, UK

    Why is Bridget Jones's Diary on the list and not one book by Graham Greene, every single one of which are vastly superior to that banal tripe?
    Matthew Wentworth, UK

    Ulysses? It's one of the landmark pieces of literature, but I seriously doubt whether enough people have actually read it to make the top 100. Heaven knows, I've tried four times and still can't get past page 50!
    Steve, UK

    If Ulysses makes the top ten, it will say more about voters' honesty than their intelligence.
    Jamie Dyer, UK

    Isn't it a little strange that some of the greatest wordsmiths in the English language came to English as a second language?
    Andy J. Page, UK

    Why do so many people think that Potter and Pratchett are a good read?
    Janacek, UK
    Why do so many people still think that Potter and Pratchett are a good read? I was shocked at how truly awful they were. Potter cannot even begin to compare to Alan Garner or CS Lewis for originality and integrity. But I guess those sad London commuters who discover and read Tolkien only as a film tie-in will continue to purchase such trash. This country makes me weep!
    Janacek, UK

    Janacek - why are you so critical of people who only read Tolkien after seeing the films of Lord of the Rings? Why does it matter what inspired them to read the books? Surely the important thing is that they were inspired - if they aren't put off by sneering comments such as yours.
    Linda, UK

    Come on... clearly some of these are in the list because they were made movies, not because of their literary merit! No poetry? No Shakespeare? No Thomas Man? Graham Greene? Eco? Books by Nobel laureates? The Clan of the Cave Bear? Please... ridiculous. You're just playing the publicity game.
    Lida, USA

    Lida, USA comments "No... books by Nobel laureates?" What about Gabriel Garcia Marquez (1982), William Golding (1983)? Some people seem to be rather exercised about what people should be reading; the list is a reflection of what people actually read, and of people who are interested enough to express an opinion. The 'you should read this, you're reading trash' attitude is what puts people off reading.
    Tim, UK

    Does no one remember Arthur Ransome? Swallows and Amazons? Coot Club? We Didn't Mean to go to Sea? I read the whole series as a youngster and I'd like to think that adventure never goes out of style, but maybe 30-odd years later, they've lost some appeal, not being written with the same fairytale-sugar coating of the H. Potter series.
    Julian, Brazil

    The most life affirming book that I've ever read made the list
    Stuart, Scotland
    I'm so glad that the most life affirming book that I've ever read made the list Paolo Coelho's The Alchemist is the story to read for the stress-ridden population of this island - it's taught me more than my first year at uni...
    Stuart, Scotland

    Can somebody explain to me why The Hound of the Baskervilles is not in the top 100? In fact, there is a distinct lack of detective fiction which I find hard to agree with. This list seems to have been chosen mostly by children and grannies. However, I was pleased to see Pratchett featured several times, Soul Music would be in my top 100.
    Carrie, UK

    I thought the programme should come on more often as it encourages more people to read and shows what books others have enjoyed. I am very pleased that Noughts and Crosses, Malorie Blackman was in there as it is brilliant.
    Aisha, 11 years, England

    OK. I read the list and I can't believe there was no Danielle Steel on there!!! I'm 13 and I have to admit I love her books and I blame my Auntie Claire because she loves them and got me into them. I voted overall for Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban and am looking forward to her next book, Harry Potter and The Order of the Phoenix.
    Alex, England

    A metaphor for 21st century mysticism
    Greg Minissale, UK but living in US
    Children's books are another form of escapism. I am sure everyone remembers the magical moment of Harry Potter seeing the emblem of his father in the form of a stag. A metaphor for 21st century mysticism. Philip Pullman's novels, however, put Harry Potter into the dark. I was proffered a copy of the first novel, Northern Lights, when I was working in a dreary admin job in Central London but it made my journeys to and from work on a 38 bus not only bearable but sadly, desirable.
    Greg Minissale, UK but living in US

    No Jackie Collins?!
    Ronnie May, England

    I agree with the list, it seems people of all ages and tastes have entered the debate. It reflects the nation's true reading habits ie eclectic, rather than the heavyweight "improving" catalogue that critics seem to think should dominate the list.
    Jayne Edgar, Britain

    I was so glad to see Katherine by Anya Seton make the list. To call this a medieval romantic epic with echoes of Gone with the Wind does not do it justice. My mother gave me a copy of the book when I was about 14. I've read it every few years ever since. I hope its existence on the list will renew interest from those who have not yet had the sheer pleasure to read it.
    Tracy Rauss, USA

    How sad, I can only admit to having read two of the top 100
    Howard Balkind, England
    How sad, I can only admit to having read two of the books in the top 100. If there is one resolution I make to come out of this, it is to make time to start reading again and not cop out by watching TV or playing games on my computer.
    Howard Balkind, England

    Sadly, most adults in this country are only able to read children's books.
    Ian David Burrell, England

    It's great to see so much children's literature in the list - it's so influential in helping form who we are. Harry Potter, although not necessarily the greatest 'literature' of all time, has bought children and adults alike back to reading, which is a brilliant thing - but if it wins, or even worse, Lord of the Rings does (great film, downright awful literature) in the face of such genius as Great Expectations, Middlemarch, and of course the most stunning piece of literary brilliance ever produced, Ulysses, then I am afraid I will have to give up on the nation's intelligence forever.
    Simon Dickens, England

    For me, it isn't a case of "agreeing" with the list, as it isn't chosen by a group of worthies telling us what is good for us to read - this list reflects the tastes of the people who bothered to get out there and express an opinion. My reaction is therefore one of interest - what books enjoyed by so many people have I missed out on? Avid reader that I am, my reading list has just got a bit longer!
    Marilyn Moffat, UK

    I would have liked to have seen some good ghost and horror writers represented
    Bill Quinn, UK
    I would have liked to have seen some good ghost and horror writers represented, Algernon Blackwood, M R James or H P Lovecraft. I think the choice shows just how much films and TV have influenced the nations reading habits.
    Bill Quinn, UK

    I can't believe The Catcher in the Rye has made it into the top 100 best reads. I didn't realise this was the 100 books that cause you to give up the will to live. There's no excuse for this monotonous, uninspired collection of words to get a look in. Unless you pay any attention to the babblings of the conspiracy theorists who preach that it was the coded messages within that inspired the likes of Lee Harvey Oswald and Mark Chapman and therefore deserves cult status. This book is enough to push the sanest of us over the edge through inflicting on us the trials and tribulations of a tedious, miserable and annoying character.
    DC, UK




  • WATCH AND LISTEN
    The BBC's Mike Sergeant
    "The two most popular authors are Charles Dickens and Terry Pratchett"



    SEE ALSO:
    Austen leads female author list
    12 May 03  |  Entertainment
    Book lovers have their say
    16 Apr 03  |  Entertainment
    Potter tops library loans
    11 Apr 03  |  Entertainment
    Bryson tops 'England' poll
    06 Mar 03  |  Entertainment
    Potter book is instant best-seller
    18 Feb 03  |  Entertainment
    Booking a place in history
    05 Feb 03  |  Scotland


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