The Big Read
There’s a meme going around the blogosphere right now that begins with:
The Big Read reckons that the average adult has only read 6 of the top 100 books they’ve printed.
I’ve also seen a variant:
According to "The Big Read", the average adult has only read 6 of the top 100 books on their list.
It then gives this supposed top 100 list.
At least the second version is more realistic, because it doesn’t claim to be a list of the top 100 books printed. (Whether "they" refers to The Big Read or the great and nebulous They Who Do Things, it matters not.) That would explain how the Bible managed to fall to 6th place and why the Koran doesn’t make an appearance.
The first time I encountered the list, I thought it looked fishy. After all, it is supposed to be a list of 100 books, but includes:
4 Harry Potter series – JK Rowling
Last time I counted, that was seven books. Same with this:
33 Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis
But then there’s this:
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe – CS Lewis
Hmm. What do I do if I’ve read #33, but not #36? Or #14 without reading #98?
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare
98 Hamlet – William Shakespeare
After seeing so many people blog this meme, I decided to do a little checking.
So far, I have been unable to find anyone who actually links to The Big Read’s list of 100 books, or to The Big Read’s claim that the average adult has only read six of the books.
I did find one person who linked to The Big Read at this site: http://neabigread.org. However, a search of that site reveals no list of 100 books, or any page that mentions the #1 book on the list, "Pride and Prejudice" — the only mention is, strangely, for a screening of the movie.
There was a BBC programme called "The Big Read" that held a vote for the UK’s best-loved book, and they have a list of the top 100. But it doesn’t match up with this list.
Apparently I wasn’t the only person to have doubts. The Rabid Paladin has tracked down the source of the list, at least, and a possible source for the (probably wrong) 6 out of 100 number.
Somehow, I doubt that the correct information meme will spread as far and wide as the original meme.