Wednesday, March 11, 2009

List of the Day: MLA's 30 Books Every Adult Should Read Before They Die

This list is the results of a 2006 poll of British librarians conducted by the Museum, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA), in which librarians around Britain were asked, "Which book should every adult read before they die?"

It looks like the list reflects a split between those librarians who popped off with the name of the book that most recently captured their fancy and those who considered what should really be the one book everyone should read. I mean, The Time Traveler’s Wife was extremely popular, but is it really a book deserving of every adult’s bucket list? On the other hand, The Bible is a space-hogging gimmee – my rule is that all Must Read lists come with a silent caveat: “a list of books other than The Bible . . .” So take this one with a grain of salt.

Those I have read are in red. Those on my TBR shelf are in blue.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

The Bible

The Lord of the Rings Trilogy by JRR Tolkien

1984 by George Orwell

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

All Quiet on the Western Front by E M Remarque

His Dark Materials Trilogy by Phillip Pullman

Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks

The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

The Lord of the Flies by William Golding

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon

Tess of the D'urbevilles by Thomas Hardy

Winnie the Pooh by AA Milne

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame (reviewed here)

Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens (reviewed here)

The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

The Prophet by Khalil Gibran

David Copperfield by Charles Dickens

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov

Life of Pi by Yann Martel

Middlemarch by George Eliot

The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess

One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Alexander Solzenhitsyn

Last updated last on January 9, 2019.



(If you would like to be listed here, please leave a comment with links to your progress reports or reviews and I will add them here)


  1. I never understood why we don't write The Bible by God :)

    I think you are right though in that adding The Bible to a list of must reads, somewhat taints said list. Being that we already are all walking around with that "to-do at some point" in the back of our minds.

  2. Re the Colourful Reading Challenge. The six required colours White,Black,Blue,Red,Gold
    and Silver. You can get full details from Rebecca at:


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