From Archer to Joyce, the nation's most beloved books

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The Independent Culture

There are not many favourite book lists which include both Jeffrey Archer and James Joyce. But the nation's book lovers are an eclectic lot.

Nearly 140,000 book fans across the country have produced a list of 100 books in a BBC poll to find Britain's favourite read.

Already the Big Read Top 100 has attracted four times as many votes as the BBC's Great Britons series, on which it is based. The list mixes the high and low-brow and proves what any agent will tell you, that people like a good story.

Charles Dickens has five entries, level with Terry Pratchett, making them the most represented authors. JK Rowling is a close second with her four Harry Potter books. That other children's favourite, Roald Dahl, also has four.

Politics is represented by George Orwell's 1984, Catch 22 by Joseph Heller and The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists by Robert Tressell; romantic books include Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights, Louis de Berniere's Captain Corelli's Mandolin and Helen Fielding's Bridget Jones's Diary. Children's classics include Alice in Wonderland, Black Beauty and The Secret Garden.

Tolkien is there, of course, competing with Jeffrey Archer's Kane and Abel and James Joyce's Ulysses.

But a few literary titans are missing, including Ernest Hemingway, HG Wells and PG Wodehouse. Also absent are contemporary authors such as Ian McEwan, Salmon Rushdie or Martin Amis. Bestsellers Barbara Cartland and Catherine Cookson also failed to make the list. Sixty-six of the 100 books are from British authors and 51 are set in the UK. Children's novels make up 30 titles and 71 of the books have been turned into films.

The Big Read Top 100 will be officially revealed on BBC2 tonight. It will be followed immediately afterwards by a debate, led by Andrew Marr, on BBC Four.

In the autumn, the Big Read will return for a major documentary series when the 20 most popular novels will be championed by celebrity advocates attempting to persuade viewers that their book is the best. The series will culminate in a final vote to decide the nation's favourite book.

The format follows the BBC's Great Britons series last year which was won byWinston Churchill.

In the meantime The BBC Big Read website – – has information on the Top 100 list, literary quizzes and a message board for the public. In The BBC Big Read Battle of the Books, a new weekly discussion programme on BBC Four starting in June, two literary advocates pick a book from the list and argue its case to a jury of readers. There will also be special programmes on BBC national and local radio.

Jane Root, Controller of BBC2, said: "There has been a fantastic response to the nomination phase for The BBC Big Read, with over four times as many votes as Great Britons gained in its nomination period. 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."

A British Library spokesman, Colin Beesley, said: "I like the fact that there are a lot of children's books – I think it shows the books you read as a kid resonate well beyond childhood."

'The Big Read', BBC2 tonight, 9.05pm


1984 (George Orwell)

The Alchemist (Paul Coelho)

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (Lewis Carroll)

Animal Farm (George Orwell)

Anna Karenina (Leo Tolstoy)

Anne of Green Gables

(LM Montgomery)

Artemis Fowl (Eoin Colfer)

The BFG (Roald Dahl)

Birdsong (Sebastian Faulks)

Black Beauty (Anna Sewell)

Bleak House (Charles Dickens)

Brave New World (Aldous Huxley)

Brideshead Revisited (Evelyn Waugh)

Bridget Jones's Diary (Helen Fielding)

Captain Corelli's Mandolin (Louis de Bernieres)

Catch 22 (Joseph L Heller)

The Catcher in the Rye (JD Salinger)

Charlie & Chocolate Factory (Roald Dahl)

A Christmas Carol (Charles Dickens)

The Clan of the Cave Bear (Jean M Auel)

Cold Comfort Farm (Stella Gibbons)

The Colour of Magic (Terry Pratchett)

The Count of Monte Cristo (Alexander Dumas)

Crime and Punishment (Fyoder Dostoevsky)

David Copperfield (Charles Dickens)

Double Act (Jacqueline Wilson)

Dune (Frank Herbert)

Emma (Jane Austen)

Far From the Madding Crowd (Thomas Hardy)

Girls in Love (Jacqueline Wilson)

The God of Small Things (Arundhati Roy)

The Godfather (Mario Puzo)

Gone with the Wind (Margaret Mitchell)

Good Omens (Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman)

Goodnight Mr Tom (Michelle Magorian)

Gormenghast (Mervyn Peake)

The Grapes of Wrath (John Steinbeck)

Great Expectations (Charles Dickens)

The Great Gatsby (F Scott Fitzgerald)

Guards! Guards! (Terry Pratchett)

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

(JK Rowling, above)

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (JK Rowling)

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (JK Rowling)

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (JK Rowling)

His Dark Materials (Philip Pullman)

Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (Douglas Adams)

The Hobbit (JRR Tolkien)

Holes (Louis Sacher)

I Capture the Castle (Dodie Smith)

Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte)

Kane and Abel (Jeffrey Archer)

Katherine (Anya Seton)

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (CS Lewis)

Little Women (Louisa May Alcott)

Lord of the Flies (William Golding)

The Lord of the Rings (JRR Tolkien)

Love in the time of Cholera (Gabriel Garcia Marquez)

The Magic Faraway Tree (Enid Blyton)

Magician (Raymond E Feist)

The Magus (John Fowles)

Matilda (Roald Dahl)

Memoirs of a Geisha (Arthur Golden)

Middlemarch (George Elliot)

Midnight's Children (Salman Rushdie)

Mort (Terry Pratchett)

Nightwatch (Terry Pratchett)

Noughts and Crosses (Malorie Blackman)

Of Mice and Men (John Steinbeck)

On the Road (Jack Kerouac)

One Hundred Years of Solitude (Gabriel Garcia Marquez)

Perfume (Patrick Suskind)

Persuasion (Jane Austen)

The Pillars of the Earth (Ken Follett)

A Prayer for Owen Meaney (John Irving)

Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen)

The Princess Diaries (Meg Cabot)

The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists (Robert Tressell)

Rebecca (Daphne du Maurier)

The Secret Garden (Frances Hodgson Burnett)

The Secret History (Donna Tartt)

The Shell Seekers (Rosamund Pilcher)

The Stand (Stephen King)

Story of Tracy Beaker (Jacqueline Wilson)

A Suitable Boy (Vikram Seth)

Swallows and Amazons (Ransome)

A Tale of Two Cities (Dickens)

Tess of the D'Urbervilles (Hardy)

Thorn Birds (Colleen McCollough)

To Kill a Mockingbird (Harper Lee)

A Town Like Alice (Nevil Shute)

Treasure Island (Robert Louis Stevenson)

The Twits (Roald Dahl)

Ulysses (James Joyce, above)

Vicky Angel (Jacqueline Wilson)

War and Peace (Leo Tolstoy)

Watership Down (Richard Adams)

The Wind in the Willows (Kenneth Grahame)

Winnie-the-Pooh (AA Milne)

The Woman in White (Wilkie Collins)

Wuthering Heights (Emily Bronte)