The professional writers have had their say — see earlier post “Novel List” from Feb. 27. Now, the (British) reading public weighs in with its choice of top reads. Interestingly, but perhaps not surprisingly, the results are rather different. For instance, four authors conspicuously absent on the earlier list sit prominently atop the readers’ list, with Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice taking first place.
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte was third; Wuthering Heights by her sister Emily was seventh; and Great Expectations by Charles Dickens 10th.
A modern classic boosted by a film trilogy, JRR Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, came second, the Harry Potter books fourth, the modern US classic To Kill a Mockingbird fifth, and George Orwell’s 1984 equal eighth with Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials.
The Bible is in sixth place, thanks particularly to over 60-year-olds. However it figures in the top 10 of every age group over 25.
The Complete Works of Shakespeare was in at 14, just before Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca and two slots after Hardy’s Tess of the d’Urbervilles.