alice grass

What is well read?

Sunday, June 30, 2013
I have seen a few discussions on this list from Book Riot where they recently wondered what it means to be well read.  I think this is a great discussion.  I try to be well read.  I make sure that every few books I read is a classic or a book that people are talking about that made literature better.   But what really makes someone well read?  For me being well read  is someone who reads a lot of different books in many different genres and being able to discuss these with other people.

I have crossed out the books on the list I have read.  Looking over this list I feel that I pretty much am not well read.  Some books on the list surprised me. Watchmen by Alan Moore is a good graphic novel.  But I am not sure why it is on this list?  Maybe to introduce people to that type of book?  Fifty Shades of Grey? I am on the fence about this book being on this list.  I mean.. I guess I read it so that I could know what people were talking about.  25/100 for me?  Yikes.  That is bad. I suppose it's because the past few years I have been reading a lot of young adult books and that's not really on people's list for well read books.  I think I will still give myself a high five!


  1. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
  2. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle
  3. The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton
  4. All Quiet on the Western Front by Eric Maria Remarque
  5. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Klay  by Michael Chabon
  6. American Pastoral by Philip Roth
  7. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
  8. Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery
  9. Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
  10. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
  11. Beloved by Toni Morrison
  12. Beowulf
  13. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
  14. Brave New World by Alduos Huxley
  15. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
  16. The Call of the Wild  by Jack London
  17. Candide by Voltaire
  18. The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer
  19. Casino Royale by Ian Fleming
  20. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
  21. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
  22. Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
  23. Cloud Atlas by 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 by Jonathan Franzen
  28. Crime & Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky
  29. The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown
  30. Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller
  31. Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes
  32. Dream of Red Chamber by Cao Xueqin
  33. Dune by Frank Herbert
  34. Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer
  35. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
  36. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
  37. Faust by Goethe
  38. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
  39. Game of Thrones by George RR Martin
  40. The Golden Bowl by Henry James
  41. The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing
  42. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
  43. The Gospels
  44. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
  45. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
  46. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  47. Hamlet by William Shakespeare
  48. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
  49. Harry Potter & The Sorceror’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
  50. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
  51. The Help by Kathryn Stockett
  52. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
  53. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
  54. House Made of Dawn by N. Scott Momaday
  55. Howl by Allen Ginsberg
  56. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
  57. if on a winter’s night a traveler by Italo Calvino
  58. The Iliad by Homer
  59. The Inferno by Dante
  60. Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace
  61. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
  62. Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman
  63. The Life of Pi by Yann Martel
  64. The Lion, the Witch, and The Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
  65. The Little Prince by Antoine  de Saint-Exepury
  66. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
  67. Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  68. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
  69. Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie
  70. Moby-Dick by Herman Melville
  71. Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
  72. Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
  73. The Odyssey by Homer
  74. Oedipus, King by Sophocles
  75. On the Road by Jack Kerouac
  76. A Passage to India by E.M. Forster
  77. The Pentateuch
  78. Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen
  79. Rabbit, Run by John Updike
  80. The Road by Cormac McCarthy
  81. Romeo & Juliet by William Shakespeare
  82. The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
  83. Slaughterhouse-5 by Kurt Vonnegut
  84. The Sound and The Fury by William Faulkner
  85. The Stand by Stephen King
  86. The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
  87. Swann’s Way by Marcel Proust
  88. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
  89. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
  90. The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien
  91. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  92. Ulysses by James Joyce
  93. The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera
  94. A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
  95. Waiting for the Barbarians by J.M. Coetzee
  96. Watchmen by Alan Moore
  97. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami
  98. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
  99. 1984 by George Orwell
  100. 50 Shades of Grey by E.L. James

I plan on continuing adding books to my list that makes me well read.  I really do try to read a variety of books. What do you think about this list?  Do the books listed make someone well read? 

I hhave also read Sara Says Read and the Relentless Reader posts about this list.. go to their blogs to read their lists.
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26 comments:

  1. Yeah, I agree, this list is good, but still. I have read books of an author on the list, but not necessarily that book - and I am not so sure why 50 Shades of Grey is there, but not other books that have been very popular lately. Who decides what to add to the list and what to keep off?

    Hey, we should make our own list with books that have touched us deeply :)

    I think it's almost funny how YA is always snubbed from lists - a lot of YA is very well written, and is about subjects that are important.

    Great post :)

    Lexxie @ (un)Conventional Bookviews

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    1. I agree... YA is usually snubbed. I would only think Fifty Shades of Grey is on there because everyone was reading it so to be well read you would need t read it and be able to discuss it with people. That is actually the only reason why I did read it. I wanted to know what everyone was talking about and be able to give my own opinion on it. Who does decide what goes on a list of well read books? That is a good question. I am guessing it's books that get people talking.

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  2. This is a pretty interesting list - I haven't read a lot of these (although any well-read list that doesn't have Jane Eyre on it, is pretty sketchy to me LOL) but I think that someone who is well read has read things that contribute to literature and I agree that they can discuss many different books in different genres. So I guess that is why 50 shades is on there... I can't think why it would be there otherwise!

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    1. Jane Eyre I have not read... but most people have. So I would consider that to be on this list. Clearly it resonates with people which for me means people who want to be well read should read it.

      There were a few books on this list I haven't heard of.. Waiting for the Barbarians? A Visit from the Goon Squad? My mom is well read.. think I'll ask her if she's heard of these.

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  3. Agreed on Jane Eyre!

    And no Wells or Verne? Scandalous.

    Still, it's not a bad attempt. If someone read every book on this list, they'd be in a pretty good spot to spot cultural allusions/ play Trivial Pursuit, at any rate! And read some great books, to boot.

    50 Shades of Grey shouldn't be on it, though. That seems more like a fad than anything enduring, but maybe time will prove me wrong. I tried to read it and felt it was atrocious, but I know plenty who enjoy it.

    "Howl" kind of stands out, doesn't it? Nothing against it or its iconography, just that it's a poem. I don't see any other poetry on here. (No "The Waste Lands" or "Four Quarters?")

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    1. I have tried to play Trivial Pursuit I am always so bad at it. This is a good list to me too. It has something from all genres. Though there aren't as many classics on it as I thought there would be. I have attempted Jonathan Franzen and just couldn't get through Freedom. So I will just skip Corrections though I know a lot of people love it.

      I think there should be more poetry too. Also.. just one graphic novel? The Watchmen does stand out as an amazing comic.. but there must've been one more out there. Perhaps I needed 200 books instead of 100.

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  4. This list makes me grumpy because I think it is too male centered, plus it doesn't represent a variety of races/cultures..also in emphases some popular culture books that I don't think as yet have stood the test of time...plus I object flat out to the idea that in order to be well read you need to read only a certain type of book (canon always disregards fantasy/science fiction as not being worth reading)...LOL That being said I have read 68/100.

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    1. There really aren't a lot of female authors on this list. That is so true about fantasy/science fiction. Though the list does include Game of Thrones/Ender's Game/ and Dune. Which are some pretty great books. 68/100 is really good. You my friend... are well read!! ;)

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  5. May I humbly suggest you add The Handmaid's Tale to your TBR pile? It's one of my all time favorites and I'd love to hear your thoughts!

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    1. I hear so much about that book!!! I really do want to read it. I need to sneak it up there a little higher.

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  6. I'm not much better than you. I've read 30 on this list. It's rather an interesting list - unlike most "well read" lists. I do like that it combines classics with modern classics with current popular reads. You can argue that to be well read you should be somewhat in touch with the current trendy books, even if they don't have literary merit - but by having read them you have a taste of what current society values, for better or worse.

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    1. I think this is true... notice on popular blogs that person is usually reading what is on this list. They are reading what get people talking. The Fault of Our Stars is one of those books. I myself will not read that book because I don't want to sit around crying. It is a fairly new book but it still made the list. This book is relevant that is why.

      I am going to attempt to read more on this list. I really think that Book Riot was on to something here when they posted it. The comments on their page are crazy so if you have time stop over there and read them.

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  7. I think your assessment may be correct in judging what well read means in regards to this list. It looks like to me all the books on here have been books that have been popular and had lots of people talking about them. (Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher should be on this list but alas it's YA).

    Not going off this list I always thought well read meant reading a wide range of books (both fictional and non fictional) that have spurred you into discussion but discussion that improves your own thinking or have made you want to learn/read more. Stories that wanted you to dig deep or left a lasting impression. Something not easily forgotten when you close the book.

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    1. I never read non fictional. I have tried soo hard. I read one "Let's Pretend This Never Happened" by the Bloggess but I don't know if most people would consider that a good non fictional book. But it made me laugh and actually got me through the non-fiction genre. So there is that.

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  8. I wouldn't even make it to 25/100, but I don't agree with this list. I mean, it has a great collection of books and all, but does reading them guarantees you are "well read" ? I mean what does it mean to be well read in the first place? If it's about the knowloedge, then some people might have read very few of those books and still be readable. There are a lot of genres to consider when you want to know if you are well read or not.

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    1. That is the question.. What is well read? It is a tough question when you really think about it. I thought I knew what it meant but then I realized that everyone seems to have a different definition of what well read is. Perhaps well read is what is relevant in the social lives we are currently leading?

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  9. What? Damn! I am so not well read!

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  10. Interesting mix - in 5 years, I wonder if some of the newer books (50 shades) would be replaced with others to keep it up to date. A lot of ones on there that I have wonderful intentions of reading!

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    1. That is a good thought. What makes you well read now by reading 50 Shades will not make you well read in 5 years. I find that to be well read you have to read classics but you also have to read what makes an impact on the culture now. Which now is 50 Shades and in 5 years something totally different!

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  11. 29/100 for me, but yeah there are some weird choices on this list. And I wouldn't say that you're "well read" just because you read all 100 books from this list (or any list). But I'm not really aiming to be well read either. I just read what I want to read, be it ya, a classic or anything else :)

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    1. I try to be well read... but I am not sure I will ever reach that goal. I have too many non "well read" books in my TBR pile to go through this entire list above.

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  12. Ive read 26 of those books and thats with doing an undergrad and postgrad in english lit! I think that generally these lists are filled with books that people think should be read rather than books that people would want to read. Being well read to me is to read a variety of genres, to be able to discuss them and to be able to link themes with real life situations. I dont think it should be a case of if you havent read this list youre not well read type of thing xx

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    1. My sister is an undergrad lit major and she probably hasn't read half of these either. It does seem that this lists says you are only well read if you read what people are talking about... not what actually makes a difference in someone's life.

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  13. I'm not sure what I make of this list, or any list for that matter. This one feels as if someone wrote down some classics and more modern bestsellers, put them in a hat, and drew them out.

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