Tuesday, April 12, 2022

The College Board's List of 101 Great Books Recommended for College-Bound Readers -- BOOK LIST


Back around the turn of the Millennium, when Top 100 book lists were all the rage, thanks in large part to the popularity of the Modern Library's Top 100 Novels of the 20th Century List, the College Board came up with a list of "101 Great Books Recommended for College-Bound Readers." 

Leave it to the creator of the PSAT, the SAT, etc. to come up with a list of books guaranteed to make  every reader feel humble. I'm a fan of classics and do not have a problem with the idea of a "canon" to provide a solid grounding in Western literature. But to suggest that students should read all "101 Great Books Recommended for College-Bound Readers" while they are still in high school is setting some pretty high standards! Maybe that's why the list has completely disappeared from the College Board's website. 

I can now, in my 50s, look at this list and say that I've read most of them, 83 of the 101. But I read 62 of those when I was in college -- as an English Lit major -- or after college. I only read 20 of these when I was in high school, and I was a complete nerd. The idea that I would have read all of them in high school is enough to trigger that nightmare where I am back in school as an adult, trying to take an exam for a class I never attended!

Here is the list, with notes about whether I have read the book and when, if it is still on my TBR shelf, or if it is available as an audiobook from my library. 

Beowulf  FINISHED (college and adult)

Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe FINISHED (adult)

A Death in the Family by James Agee FINISHED (adult)

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen FINISHED (college)

Go Tell It on the Mountain by James Baldwin FINISHED (adult)

Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett FINISHED (college)

The Adventures of Augie March by Saul Bellow FINISHED (adult) (reviewed here)

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte FINISHED (high school)

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte FINISHED (high school)

The Stranger by Albert Camus FINISHED (adult)

Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather FINISHED (adult)

Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes TBR SHELF

The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer FINISHED (college)

The Cherry Orchard by Anton Chekhov TBR SHELF

The Awakening by Kate Chopin FINISHED (college)

Heart of Darkness
by Joseph Conrad FINISHED (high school)

The Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper ON OVERDRIVE

The Red Badge of Courage
by Stephen Crane FINISHED (adult)

Inferno by Dante FINISHED (college)

Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe FINISHED (adult)

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens FINISHED (high school and adult)

Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky FINISHED (adult)

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass by Frederick Douglass FINISHED (college)

An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser FINISHED (adult)

The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas FINISHED (adult)

The Mill on the Floss by George Eliot FINISHED (adult)

Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison FINISHED (adult)

Selected Essays by Ralph Waldo Emerson FINISHED (high school)

As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner FINISHED (college)

The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner FINISHED (adult) (reviewed here)

Tom Jones by Henry Fielding TBR SHELF

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald FINISHED (high school and adult)

Madame Bovary
by Gustave Flaubert FINISHED (adult)

The Good Soldier by Ford Madox Ford FINISHED (adult)

Faust by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe FINISHED (college)

Lord of the Flies by William Golding FINISHED (adult)

Tess of the d'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy FINISHED (college)

The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne FINISHED (high school)

Catch-22 by Joseph Heller FINISHED (adult)

A Farewell to Arms
by Ernest Hemingway FINISHED (adult)

The Iliad by Homer FINISHED (college)

The Odyssey by Homer FINISHED (college)

The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo TBR SHELF

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston FINISHED (college and adult)

Brave New World
by Aldous Huxley FINISHED (high school)

A Doll's House by Henrik Ibsen TBR SHELF

The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James FINISHED (adult)

The Turn of the Screw by Henry James FINISHED (adult)

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce FINISHED (adult) (reviewed here)

The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka FINISHED (high school)

The Woman Warrior by Maxine Hong Kingston TBR SHELF

To Kill a Mockingbird Harper Lee FINISHED (adult)

by Sinclair Lewis FINISHED (adult)

The Call of the Wild by Jack London FINISHED (adult)

The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann TBR SHELF

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez FINISHED (adult)

Bartleby the Scrivener by Herman Melville FINISHED (high school)

Moby Dick by Herman Melville FINISHED (adult) (reviewed here)

The Crucible by Arthur Miller FINISHED (high school)

Beloved by Toni Morrison FINISHED (college)

A Good Man is Hard to Find by Flannery O'Connor FINISHED (adult)

Long Day's Journey into Night by Eugene O'Neill TBR SHELF

Animal Farm by George Orwell FINISHED (adult)

Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak FINISHED (adult) (reviewed here)

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath FINISHED (adult)

Selected Tales by Edgar Allen Poe FINISHED (high school)

Swann's Way by Marcel Proust TBR SHELF

The Crying of Lot 49 by Thomas Pynchon FINISHED (college)

All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque FINISHED (adult)

Cyrano de Bergerac by Edmond Rostand

Call it Sleep by Henry Roth FINISHED

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger FINISHED (high school)

Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw TBR SHELF

Hamlet by William Shakespeare FINISHED (high school)

Macbeth by William Shakespeare FINISHED (college)

A Midsummer Night's Dream by William Shakespeare FINISHED (college)

Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare FINISHED (high school)

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley FINISHED (college)

Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko TBR SHELF

One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Alexander Solzhenitsyn TBR SHELF

Antigone by Sophocles FINISHED (high school)

Oedipus Rex by Sophocles FINISHED (high school)

The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck FINISHED (high school)

Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson FINISHED (adult)

Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe FINISHED (adult) (reviewed here)

Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift FINISHED (college)

Vanity Fair by William Thackeray TBR SHELF

Walden by Henry David Thoreau FINISHED (adult)

War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy TBR SHELF (reading now)

Fathers and Sons by Ivan Turgenev FINISHED (high school)

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain FINISHED (high school)

Candide by Voltaire FINISHED (adult)

Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut FINISHED (adult) (reviewed here)

The Color Purple by Alice Walker FINISHED (college)

The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton FINISHED (adult)

Collected Stories by Eudora Welty TBR SHELF

Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman TBR SHELF (reading now)

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde FINISHED (high school)

The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams FINISHED (high school)

To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf FINISHED (college)

Native Son by Richard Wright FINISHED (adult)


Updated as of December 28, 2022. This is a reposting of a list I first posted in 2009. The links needed refreshing, particularly the link to the College Board because the book list itself is no longer available on the College Board's website. 

The wonderful book blogger and book reviewer, Rebecca Reid at Rebecca Reads, is also working on this list. 

If anyone else adopts this list, please let me know in a comment and I will add your link.

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