Thursday, March 02, 2006

World Book Day 2006

Today is World Book Day (at least in the UK - I've yet to figure out why, if it's called WORLD Book Day, it isn't held on the same day in every country !), and a survey of librarians was carried out to discover which book they recommended every adult to read before they die. The survey came out in favour of Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird in first place, The Bible in second place, and The Lord of the Rings in third place. The international best-seller The Da Vinci Code only gained one nomination (and thank goodness ! Sorry if you're a fan, but honestly, I could nominate about a hundred books that are far better than that one !)

Lee's story of a black man being unjustly accused of raping a white girl won her the Pulitzer Prize and was made into a film in 1962 starring Gregory Peck.

Other classics which feature in the rundown are Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre, George Orwell's 1984, Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol and Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. There were fewer new works in the chart, but The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon and The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebbold made the top 30.

The list in full:

1 - To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
2 - The Bible
3 - The Lord of the Rings by J R R Tolkien
4 - 1984 by George Orwell
5 - A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
6 - Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
7 - Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
8 - All Quiet on the Western Front by E M Remarque
9 - His Dark Materials Trilogy by Phillip Pullman
10 - Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks
11 - The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
12 - The Lord of the Flies by William Golding
13 - The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon
14 - Tess of the D'urbevilles by Thomas Hardy
15 - Winnie the Pooh by AA Milne
16 - Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
17 - The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Graham
18 - Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
19 - Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
20 - The Time Traveller's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
21 - The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
22 - The Prophet by Khalil Gibran
23 - David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
24 - The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
25 - The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
26 - Life of Pi by Yann Martel
27 - Middlemarch by George Eliot
28 - The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
29 - A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
30 - A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Alexander Solzenhitsyn

I've read 1 to 9, 14 to 17, 19, 22 and 23. I started, but couldn't get into 10 and 28, and the rest I've not read at all. I'm disappointed there aren't more children's books on the list, so as is inevitable with such lists, I was wondering what my top 5 or top 10 (if 5 is an insufficient number) books to read before you die list would be and I came up with the following (in no particular order):

The Lord of the Rings by J R R Tolkien
The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Graham
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
All Quiet on the Western Front by E M Remarque
The Phantom Tollbooth - Norton Juster
Richard II - William Shakespeare
David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
The Stones are Hatching - Geraldine McCaughrean
The Bible *
A good collection of poetry

* Not for religious reasons, but because of the language it uses - so many common phrases spring from the Bible or Shakespeare that I feel it's important to read both. And, as usual, I've included a poetry collection - poetry is enriching, uplifting, enlightening, moving - everyone should read at least a little bit of poetry as an adult before they die. Not to find out "what it means" as children are taught, but simply for the use of language, rhythm and style.

So what books would you recommend adults to read before they die ?


Fence said...

It is World Book Day in the UK and Ireland today as they always try and make sure that it falls during term time, and I think on a school day, but may be wrong about that one.
Worldwide it is something like the 23rd of April, no matter if the kids are at school or not.

Michele said...

Yes I've been told that by others, but if it's World Book Day, it should be the same date the world over, otherwise it's just National Book Day !

Fence said...

That is a fair point.

Although the fact that it occurs in two seperate counties, albeit the one publishing market, makes it slightly more than national :)

Michele said...

Yes, it's National Book Day in two countries - but that definitely isn't the same as "World Book Day" everywhere...