Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The MLA's List of 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. I agree that everyone should read it, but 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.

Here's the list, with notes for those I've read, are on my TBR shelf, or are available as an audiobook from my library.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee FINISHED


The Lord of the Rings Trilogy by JRR Tolkien FINISHED

1984 by George Orwell FINISHED

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens FINISHED

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte FINISHED

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen FINISHED

All Quiet on the Western Front by E M Remarque FINISHED

His Dark Materials Trilogy by Phillip Pullman ON OVERDRIVE

Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks FINISHED

The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck FINISHED

The Lord of the Flies by William Golding FINISHED

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

Tess of the D'urbevilles by Thomas Hardy FINISHED

Winnie the Pooh by AA Milne FINISHED

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte FINISHED

The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame (reviewed hereFINISHED MANY TIMES

Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell FINISHED

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens (reviewed hereFINISHED

The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger FINISHED

The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold ON OVERDRIVE

The Prophet by Khalil Gibran FINISHED

David Copperfield by Charles Dickens FINISHED
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho FINISHED

The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov FINISHED

Life of Pi by Yann Martel FINISHED

Middlemarch by George Eliot FINISHED

The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver FINISHED

A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess FINISHED

One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Alexander Solzenhitsyn ON OVERDRIVE


Last updated last on December 28, 2022. I've read 27 of these 30 books, some of them several times! I could see myself reading the last three and wrapping this one up for good. 


  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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