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The Big Read

The Big Read was a survey on books carried out by the BBC in the United Kingdom in 2003, where over three quarters of a million votes were received from the British public to find the nation's best-loved novel of all time.[1][2] The year-long survey was the biggest single test of public reading taste to date,[3] and culminated with several programmes hosted by celebrities, advocating their favourite books.[4]


  • Purpose 1
  • Top 200 novels in the United Kingdom 2
  • Authors with multiple novels on the list 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6


The BBC started the Big Read with the goal of finding the "Nation's Best-loved Novel" by way of a viewer vote via the Web, SMS, and telephone. The show attracted controversy for adopting an allegedly sensationalist approach to literature, but supporters praised it for raising the public awareness of reading.[5] The British public voted originally for any novel that they wished.[5] From this, a list of 200 was drawn up, with the highest 21 then put forward for further voting, on the provision that only one book per author was permitted in the top 21. As the poll was based on novels, the plays of William Shakespeare were not part of the survey.

Top 200 novels in the United Kingdom

Authors with multiple novels on the list

Multiple novels in the Top 25

In the first stage, all four extant Harry Potter novels by J. K. Rowling were among the 25 leaders. So were both Middle-earth novels by J. R. R. Tolkien. The second stage featured 21 books by distinct authors: the top 25 with Rowling represented only by her fourth volume, Goblet of Fire, and Tolkien only by The Lord of the Rings. Those two novels finally placed fifth and first; the other preliminary leaders by Rowling and Tolkien nominally led the also-rans in ranks 22–25.

Multiple novels in the Top 50
Multiple novels in the Top 100
Multiple novels in the Top 200
  • Fifteen: Terry Pratchett
  • Fourteen: Jacqueline Wilson
  • Nine: Roald Dahl
  • Seven: Charles Dickens
  • Four: Thomas Hardy, J. K. Rowling
  • Three: Jane Austen, Anthony Horowitz, Stephen King, John Steinbeck
  • Two: John Irving, Gabriel García Márquez, George Orwell, J. R. R. Tolkien, Leo Tolstoy

See also

Contests similar to the Big Read were conducted in other countries:

Other lists:


  1. ^ The BBC's Big Read BBC - The Big Read April 2003, Retrieved 2008-12-9
  2. ^ Penguin Dominates The Big Read Top 100 Penguin Press Office
  3. ^ John Ezard (15 Dec 2003) Tolkien runs rings round Big Read rivals The Guardian
  4. ^ Boyd Tonkin (24 Oct 2003) A Week in Books: The Big Read aims to reflect mass taste The Independent
  5. ^ a b Book awards: BBC's Big Read - LibraryThing Retrieved 2010-11-28
  6. ^ My Favourite Book - The Top 100 ABC Retrieved 6 Dec 2010
  7. ^ Lielā Lasīšana

External links

  • BBC Big Read website
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