Rules: Read Me!
Admin: sue943
Legal / Conditions of Use

Topic Options
#199141 - Fri Oct 31 2003 02:12 AM BBC Big Read
Elanor Offline
Participant

Registered: Wed Jun 05 2002
Posts: 44
Loc: UK
I was surprised that nobody has mentioned this. The Brits here will know about the BBC's hunt to find the nation's favourite book. They announced the results for numbers 100 to 22 a week or two ago, and over the next few weeks are encouraging votes for the top 21. Read the information and vote at their website http://www.bbc.co.uk/arts/bigread/

What are your favourites from the list? I find it impossible to pick one favourite, but my top ones (from that list) would have to be Lord of the Rings, Pride and Prejudice, Rebecca and Winnie the Pooh.

I have just started reading Pullman's Dark Materials trilogy thanks to the programme. I hadn't considered it before, but I loved the first book, couldn't put it down. I'm currently engrossed in the second one, and can't imagine where it's headed.

Top
#199142 - Fri Oct 31 2003 03:13 AM Re: BBC Big Read
ren33 Online   content
Moderator

Registered: Thu Sep 30 1999
Posts: 11184
Loc: Fanling
  Hong Kong      
That's really interesting project, Elanor. I enjoyed it, thanks. Voting was easy for me ... Pride and Prejudice by far, although I will say that I adore Wind in the Willows.
The quiz was fun,too.
_________________________
Wandering aimlessly through FT since 1999.

Top
#199143 - Fri Oct 31 2003 03:49 AM Re: BBC Big Read
Elanor Offline
Participant

Registered: Wed Jun 05 2002
Posts: 44
Loc: UK
I have heard that Pride and Prejudice is currently second in the voting, behind LotR. I'm sure the diehard Tolkien fans are voting en masse, but I hope P+P can keep up.

Top
#199144 - Fri Oct 31 2003 04:31 AM Re: BBC Big Read
ren33 Online   content
Moderator

Registered: Thu Sep 30 1999
Posts: 11184
Loc: Fanling
  Hong Kong      
I had better PM all the people in the Book of the Month Club then!! Come on guys, we can do it!!!!
_________________________
Wandering aimlessly through FT since 1999.

Top
#199145 - Fri Oct 31 2003 05:43 AM Re: BBC Big Read
TabbyTom Offline
Moderator

Registered: Wed Oct 17 2001
Posts: 8150
Loc: Hastings Sussex England UK    
Ren, I've already cast my vote for Pride and Prejudice.

But I'm not really sure how much my vote is worth, since there are 14 books in the top 21 and 77 in the top 100 that I've never read.
_________________________
Dilige et quod vis fac

Top
#199146 - Fri Oct 31 2003 06:15 AM Re: BBC Big Read
ren33 Online   content
Moderator

Registered: Thu Sep 30 1999
Posts: 11184
Loc: Fanling
  Hong Kong      
Well, TT,maybe in the next 10 years of Book of the Month, some of those should be included?!
I am amazed at some of the absolute rubbish that is in that top 100. I am sorry but I hardly rate Stephen King as top literature...(ducks)
_________________________
Wandering aimlessly through FT since 1999.

Top
#199147 - Fri Oct 31 2003 09:44 AM Re: BBC Big Read
TabbyTom Offline
Moderator

Registered: Wed Oct 17 2001
Posts: 8150
Loc: Hastings Sussex England UK    
Back in May we had this thread about a poll for the best novels written by women. I think many of the general comments made then would apply equally to this poll.

In the Orange Prize thread, someone pointed out that only 6,000 votes had been cast. Does anyone know how many votes there were in the “Big Read” poll? Did voters have to choose just one book each, or could they choose more (100 perhaps, if they wanted to)?

Were people forbidden to go any further back than the elder Dumas and Dickens, I wonder? Or has the BBC audience seriously weighed Don Quixote and Gulliver’s Travels against Lord Archer’s Kane and Abel and found them wanting?

Although I’m inclined to agree with Ren’s judgement of the list as a whole, it does at least seem to be based on purely literary considerations. Maybe the popularity of Brideshead Revisited is due in part to the TV adaptation back in the 1980s, but the phenomenal success of the musical version of Les Misérables hasn’t done Victor Hugo any favours here. John Fowles is represented by The Magus and not by The French Lieutenant’s Woman, though the latter was probably a bigger hit in the cinema.

Although the general bias, as with all popularity polls, is towards the recent stuff, the only Russian writers in the list are Tolstoy and Dostoievsky. Nothing from the twentieth century there at all, not even Solzhenitsyn, who was all the rage after his exile in the 1970s. Similarly the only French writer is the elder Dumas.

I was interested to see Cold Comfort Farm and The Ragged-Trousered Philanthropists in there. I’m not sure that they’re among the hundred greatest novels ever written, but it’s nice to see them anyway. Ditto for Brave New World, which doesn’t get talked about as much as it used to.

What about a poll of our own? The question is What is the most inexcusable omission from the BBC Big Read Top 100? Candidates are:

Don Quixote (Miguel de Cervantes)
The Pilgrim’s Progress (John Bunyan)
Robinson Crusoe (Daniel Defoe)
Gulliver’s Travels (Jonathan Swift)
Vanity Fair (William Makepeace Thackeray)
Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (R L Stevenson)
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (Mark Twain)
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Mark Twain)
or any book of your own choice.



_________________________
Dilige et quod vis fac

Top
#199148 - Mon Nov 03 2003 07:11 PM Re: BBC Big Read
kloot Offline
Explorer

Registered: Wed Oct 22 2003
Posts: 97
Loc: Manchester
England IK
Omissions - many, although as with all of these polls, many people who vote will simply vote for something they've read recently (hence the preponderence of Potters). Anyway, here we go with my (short) list of those I feel most strongly about:
A Clockwork Orange - Antony Burgess
Down And Out In Paris And London - George Orwell
Times Arrow - Martin Amis
Above all though, why A Christmas Carol and not Bleak House?
Out of the top twenty, I'd have to go for either The Catcher In The Rye or Hitchikers, both perfect within their genres.
_________________________
That's not a lie, it's a terminological inexactitude.

Top
#199149 - Tue Nov 04 2003 04:19 AM Re: BBC Big Read
Tielhard Offline
Mainstay

Registered: Thu Oct 24 2002
Posts: 778
Loc: Blackpool UK
Like Tabby Tom I was interested to see The Ragged-Trousered Philanthropists in the top 100 books. Although unlike him I do think it is one of the hundred greatest novels ever written I am absolutely amazed that in 2003 when Thatcher’s children have come into their own and the Labour Party has eschewed Socialism that enough people thought as I did to propel it into position 72!

I think on the whole the top 100 list is not that unreasonable. There are however several observations that it is probably worth making about it. First off I suspect that very few people have read all of the novels on the list and most people will have read only those books they voted for and a few others. I consider myself to be quite well read having spent half a life time with my nose buried in a book, yet I have only read or even perused just under half of them. I note that many of the books are Children’s books, some speak to adults like His Dark Materials, others are simply for children Matilda and Winnie the Pooh for example. Hence I suspect that many of these stories became favourites when they were read to the BBC’s voters as children and the memory stayed with them thereafter. Artemis Fowl however, even as a Children’s book it fails to stand up to any kind of examination. In a similar fashion many other books are set texts from the standard ‘O’ Level and GCSE English examinations; The Catcher in the Rye, To Kill a Mocking Bird, Steinbeck, Animal Farm and several others. Incidentally I have often wondered why so much of the UK schools English Literature syllabus is given over to modern US authors (not that they are not excellent just not British) any ideas anyone? The current ultra-popular series also make an appearance most notably the horrid little Master Potter and Disc World. There are also many many books which have spawned films and I would bet that a large number of people are familiar with the stories through watching the films rather than reading the books. Catch-22, Nineteen Eighty-Four, Gone With The Wind (Swoosh! of Petticoats: “Frankly My Dear I Don’t Give a Damn!”), Great Expectations, Dune(large worm really doesn’t give a damn), Rebecca, The Godfather (mmmmm! mmmmh! ah mmmmh!: what would we do without Method Acting?) and of course Corporal Corelli’s Ukelele. Strange thing, Archer’s Kane and Able stands alone of its genre on the list. Perhaps it has literary merit after all?

Unfortunately, to me the top 21 selections are disappointing, there is a certain degree of inevitability about many of them. No fewer than seven of them are Children’s books including the awful Christian propaganda piece The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe. Several are recent works and have not yet passed the test of time; Birdsong, Corelli’s Ukelele, HPATGF, Hitchhiker's and His Dark Materials. Even Mockingbird, Catch-22 and TLOTR have not yet done a half-century. This is unfortunate as I am a great fan of Lee, Pullman and Heller and will be interested to see what happens when the Beeb re-runs this contest in 2053. I have never been a great fan of either Dickens or the Brontes and although I can see the merit in them, they simply do not appeal to me. Gone With the Wind I have never read (big pout, waft of fan, Mitchell glides of in a huff). This leaves me with four books to think about; Ninteen Eighty-Four; Rebecca; War and Peace and; Pride and Prejudice. All of which are excellent, none of which I would consider the best or even favourite book ever.

I was disappointed that Pratchett’s Night Watch did not make a better showing. I enjoy the Disc World Stories but for the most part they are light bits of froth. Night Watch is a much darker and more mature piece, and I felt deserving of recognition. I was also at once disappointed that Ulysses had only reached No. 78 and amazed it had got that far.

On the subject of omissions I would like to have seen Gibson’s Neuromancer in the list at least. I would suggest that as Brave New World was the work that best saw the future of the 20th. Century. Neuromancer is the book that has help shaped the 21st. century and the way we see it. Clarke’s The City and The Stars and Childhood’s End are the other Science Fiction works I would want to see in the list. Better than any other books they express ‘a sense of wonder’ and the idea of transcendence . Ian Bank’s Use of Weapons I would include on literary merit alone.

Staying with genre fiction for a moment and remembering this is a poll about favourite books not literary greatness. Poor old Agatha did not put in a showing. Yet on every train, in every station and at every airport someone is reading about clever old Miss Marple and the Belgian chappie. Watson and Holmes were also noticeable by their absence, has Moriarty triumphed or has time simply taken it’s toll. Perhaps you like your detectives a little more hard boiled? If so again bad luck, no Chandler and not even a short goodbye (haha). O’Brien, Kent, Forester and Pope, none have found safe harbour in the list. Stoker’s Dracula walks no more and Mary, Frankenstein and The Monster have been lost to fashion if not the ice. No one these days it seems wants to read about; Hawkeye, Chingachook and Uncas running through the great green forests of the east; or The Riders of the Purple Sage; or White Fang. Little Big Man, Hondo, True Grit and Shane are films, their origin in paper long forgotten.

Moving away from what is normally considered genre fiction and into the mainstream. Several books I would have liked to have seen in the list are; Kafka’s The Trial, Melville’s Moby Dick and something from Hemingway For Whom The Bells Toll perhaps? How about Fielding’s Tom Jones or is that too far back in time? I too like Tabby Tom would have hoped that more people wanted to raft down the great river with Tom and Huck and Jim.

NB: spot the inconsistency.
_________________________
Regards, Tielhard

Top
#199150 - Tue Nov 04 2003 06:00 AM Re: BBC Big Read
ren33 Online   content
Moderator

Registered: Thu Sep 30 1999
Posts: 11184
Loc: Fanling
  Hong Kong      
Hmmmm, no Kipling, no Thackeray, no Lawrence,... and the list goes on. I must admit to being amazed also , that Joyce was not there.


Edited by ren33 (Tue Nov 04 2003 06:06 AM)
_________________________
Wandering aimlessly through FT since 1999.

Top
#199151 - Tue Nov 04 2003 01:15 PM Re: BBC Big Read
skylarb Offline
Mainstay

Registered: Thu Jan 30 2003
Posts: 631
Loc: Virginia USA
"The awful Christian propaganda piece, 'The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe..."

Tielhard, what a way to describe one of the most enduring children's classics of the 20th century! A book that can draw such a huge audience and capture the minds of children of all ages, and endure for many decades as a popularly read book, does, I think, does deserve to be on that list.

I read Lewis's Chronicles of Narnia at a young age, and it had a subtle and lasting impact on my mind that lingered for a very long time, long before I ever became a Christain or had any real, prevailing sense of the book's Christian connotations, which are certainly not on the level of "propaganda" but of well-crafted allegory--and allegory far superior, in my opinion, to—say--the boring directness of an English classic like "Pilgrim's Progress."

Harry Potter, however, has absolutely no right to be on that list, and it is sickening how many there are listed. It may be good pop children's literature, but at least WAIT two decades to see if endures or is just a passing fad before putting it on a top 100 list!

There really are far too many contemporary choices for my taste. I think a book should stand the test of at least four decades before it can make it into the top 100—to see if it has a lasting universal impact or is just a passing, trumped up fad of modern academics or a mere temporary pop fad.

I love "Hitchiker's Guide," but really, before "Middlemarch"?

As I am an American, I can't vote, but if I were voting, I would choose Pride and Prejudice. Admittedly, however, of the top 20, I have not read:

Birdsong, Captain Corelli's Mandolin, Catch 22, Gone with the Wind, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, His Dark Materials, and War and Peace – though the only one, I suspsect, that could possibly rival P&P among those is War and Peace.


Edited by skylarb (Tue Nov 04 2003 01:29 PM)
_________________________
"Why don’t you write books people can read?" - Nora Joyce, to her husband James

Top
#199152 - Tue Nov 04 2003 05:02 PM Re: BBC Big Read
kloot Offline
Explorer

Registered: Wed Oct 22 2003
Posts: 97
Loc: Manchester
England IK
I think maybe the point we're missing here is that the poll is not intended to find out the most meritorius works of literature published, but rather the nations favourite books. For instance, personally I detest the likes of P&P as I find them middle-class and middlebrow, give me someone like Burgess or from a contempory viewpoint possibly Will Self whose work requires the reader to think any day. However, it cannot be denied that the likes of Austen and the Brontes are popular and for good or ill regarded as being part of the canon and will hence always be found in lists such as this.
I think that an intersting point was made earlier about many of the books being part of the school syllabus - is that a comment on how many (or rather how few!) people in Britain can be btohered reading these days?...
_________________________
That's not a lie, it's a terminological inexactitude.

Top
#199153 - Thu Nov 06 2003 06:37 AM Re: BBC Big Read
skylarb Offline
Mainstay

Registered: Thu Jan 30 2003
Posts: 631
Loc: Virginia USA
Quote:

I think that an intersting point was made earlier about many of the books being part of the school syllabus - is that a comment on how many (or rather how few!) people in Britain can be btohered reading these days?...




No, I think it's just that when a book is assigned, everyone who goes to school has read it, so larger numbers of people have read it, and it is therefore likely to get more total votes. People may be reading a variety of other books on thier own, but they are not reading the SAME books as each other, so the votes are split.

A slam at Austen...Austen is very subtle, very clever, and, I think, definitely makes you "think." Burgess, on the other hand, toys with potential profound themes but never really fully develops them, and relies a bit too much on shock value or invented words to cement his profundity; give me Austen over Burgess any day.

And you are right--this is a FAVORITE book poll, so I should not be surprised to see so many modern novels. Indeed, the fact that so many popular, modern novels make the list is probably an indication that more people are reading today than at any time in past history; it is NOT just the literati who read these days--it's everyone.
_________________________
"Why don’t you write books people can read?" - Nora Joyce, to her husband James

Top
#199154 - Sat Nov 22 2003 05:56 PM Re: BBC Big Read
TabbyTom Offline
Moderator

Registered: Wed Oct 17 2001
Posts: 8150
Loc: Hastings Sussex England UK    
The order at the beginning of tonight’s “Big Read” programme was:

1. Lord of the Rings
2. Pride and Prejudice
3. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
4. To Kill A Mockingbird
5. His Dark Materials
6. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
7. Winnie the Pooh
8. 1984
9. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
10. Catch-22
11. Wuthering Heights
12. Birdsong
13. The Catcher in the Rye
14. Jane Eyre
15. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin
16. Great Expectations
17. Rebecca
18. The Wind in the Willows
19. Gone With The Wind
20. Little Women
21. War and Peace

I didn’t realize that I could vote more than once, but it seems that I can, so I’ve registered another vote for Pride and Prejudice. I can’t help thinking that this makes the “voting” even more of a farce. As they used to say in Northern Ireland “Vote early, vote often!”
_________________________
Dilige et quod vis fac

Top
#199155 - Sat Nov 22 2003 08:31 PM Re: BBC Big Read
halfbakedangi Offline
Prolific

Registered: Wed Jun 11 2003
Posts: 1576
Loc: Kolkata India                 
I've just noticed this thread. Well, I can't vote but I could, it would be a tough choice between Harry Potter, Pride and Prejudice and The Lion. the Witch and the Wardrobe.

Top
#199156 - Sat Dec 13 2003 04:41 PM Re: BBC Big Read
TabbyTom Offline
Moderator

Registered: Wed Oct 17 2001
Posts: 8150
Loc: Hastings Sussex England UK    
“The Big Read” has just come to an end. The final standings were:

1. The Lord of the Rings.
2. Pride and Prejudice.
3. His Dark Materials.
4. The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
5. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.
6. To Kill a Mockingbird.
7. Winnie the Pooh.
8. 1984.
9. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.
10. Jane Eyre.
11. Catch-22.
12. Wuthering Heights.
13. Birdsong.
14. Rebecca.
15. The Catcher in the Rye.
16. The Wind in the Willows.
17. Great Expectations.
18. Little Women.
19. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin.
20. War and Peace.
21. Gone with the Wind.

_________________________
Dilige et quod vis fac

Top
#199157 - Sat Dec 13 2003 04:41 PM Re: BBC Big Read
Tielhard Offline
Mainstay

Registered: Thu Oct 24 2002
Posts: 778
Loc: Blackpool UK
The good news is Potter didn't win, the bad news is TLOTR did.
_________________________
Regards, Tielhard

Top

Moderator:  LeoDaVinci, ren33, TabbyTom