100 Books You Can't Do Without

Name the authors of these books listed in The Guardian's list of books you can't do without.
Does this list look familiar? It was a popular Facebook meme in 2010.
Quiz by Quizmaster
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Last updated: December 11, 2019
First submittedDecember 5, 2010
Times taken33,102
Rating4.39
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Book
Author
Pride and Prejudice
Jane Austen
The Lord of the Rings
J.R.R. Tolkien
Jane Eyre
Charlotte Bronte
Harry Potter series
J.K. Rowling
To Kill a Mockingbird
Harper Lee
The Bible
Wuthering Heights
Emily Bronte
Nineteen Eighty-Four
George Orwell
His Dark Materials
Philip Pullman
Great Expectations
Charles Dickens
Little Women
Louisa May Alcott
Tess of the d'Urbervilles
Thomas Hardy
Catch-22
Joseph Heller
Complete Works of Shakespeare
Rebecca
Daphne du Maurier
The Hobbit
J.R.R. Tolkien
Birdsong
Sebastian Faulks
Catcher in the Rye
J.D. Salinger
The Time Traveler's Wife
Audrey Niffenegger
Middlemarch
George Eliot
Gone With The Wind
Margaret Mitchell
The Great Gatsby
F. Scott Fitzgerald
Bleak House
Charles Dickens
War and Peace
Leo Tolstoy
The Hitchhiker's Guide to
the Galaxy
Douglas Adams
Brideshead Revisited
Evelyn Waugh
Crime and Punishment
Fyodor Dostoyevsky
The Grapes of Wrath
John Steinbeck
Alice in Wonderland
Lewis Carroll
The Wind in the Willows
Kenneth Grahame
Anna Karenina
Leo Tolstoy
David Copperfield
Charles Dickens
Chronicles of Narnia
C.S. Lewis
Emma
Jane Austen
Persuasion
Jane Austen
The Lion, the Witch and
the Wardrobe
C.S. Lewis
The Kite Runner
Khaled Hosseini
Captain Corelli's Mandolin
Louis de Bernieres
Memoirs of a Geisha
Arthur Golden
Winnie the Pooh
A.A Milne
Animal Farm
George Orwell
The Da Vinci Code
Dan Brown
One Hundred Years
of Solitude
Gabriel Garcia
Marquez
A Prayer for Owen Meaney
John Irving
The Woman in White
Wilkie Collins
Anne of Green Gables
L.M. Montgomery
Far From the
Madding Crowd
Thomas Hardy
The Handmaid's Tale
Margaret Atwood
Lord of the Flies
William Golding
Atonement
Ian McEwan
Life of Pi
Yann Martel
Book
Author
Dune
Frank Herbert
Cold Comfort Farm
Stella Gibbons
Sense and Sensibility
Jane Austen
A Suitable Boy
Vikram Seth
The Shadow of the Wind
Carlos Ruiz Zafon
A Tale of Two Cities
Charles Dickens
Brave New World
Aldous Huxley
The Curious Incident of the
Dog in the Night-time
Mark Haddon
Love in the Time of Cholera
Gabriel Garcia
Marquez
Of Mice and Men
John Steinbeck
Lolita
Vladimir Nabokov
The Secret History
Donna Tartt
The Lovely Bones
Alice Sebold
The Count of Monte Cristo
Alexandre Dumas
On The Road
Jack Kerouac
Jude the Obscure
Thomas Hardy
Bridget Jones's Diary
Helen Fielding
Midnight's Children
Salman Rushdie
Moby Dick
Herman Melville
Oliver Twist
Charles Dickens
Dracula
Bram Stoker
The Secret Garden
Frances Hodgson
Burnett
Notes From A Small Island
Bill Bryson
Ulysses
James Joyce
The Bell Jar
Sylvia Plath
Swallows and Amazons
Arthur Ransome
Germinal
Emile Zola
Vanity Fair
William Makepeace
Thackeray
Possession
A.S. Byatt
A Christmas Carol
Charles Dickens
Cloud Atlas
David Mitchell
The Color Purple
Alice Walker
The Remains of the Day
Kazuo Ishiguro
Madame Bovary
Gustave Flaubert
A Fine Balance
Rohinton Mistry
Charlotte's Web
E.B. White
The Five People You Meet
In Heaven
Mitch Albom
Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
Arthur Conan Doyle
The Faraway Tree Collection
Enid Blyton
Heart of Darkness
Joseph Conrad
The Little Prince
Antoine de
Saint-Exupery
The Wasp Factory
Iain Banks
Watership Down
Richard Adams
A Confederacy of Dunces
John Kennedy Toole
A Town Like Alice
Nevil Shute
The Three Musketeers
Alexandre Dumas
Hamlet
William Shakespeare
Charlie and the
Chocolate Factory
Roald Dahl
Les Misérables
Victor Hugo
+10
Level 49
Dec 5, 2010
This is a ridiculous list. Two cases where one of the books is a part of another "book" listed (Lion, Witch and Wardrobe/Narnia; Hamlet/Complete Works of Shakespeare), two that have no answer (!!)- would be better if you stripped the list down to 50 or so, said that all the books appeared on the list/meme in question and gave less time.
+3
Level 79
Sep 1, 2015
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is part of the Chronicles of Narnia series. It, and the other six in the series, were all originally published as stand-alone books, even if today they're sometimes packaged together in a single volume.
+1
Level 59
Jul 10, 2018
So what?
+1
Level 55
Dec 6, 2011
The Bible was written by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John
+5
Level 88
Aug 23, 2012
And Moses, Daniel, Ezra, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Paul, James, Jude... and we're still not to half of the authors. I suppose you could say they were all ghost writing for God...
+1
Level 67
Sep 4, 2019
The bible was not "written" it is a collection of writings put together, some written centuries apart. Though with a common subject.
+2
Level 80
Sep 1, 2018
No it wasn't. Even devout believing Christians who know what they are talking about know this. I'm not being disrespectful I'm trying to save you from looking silly. This is just flat out wrong and we know it to be wrong.
+1
Level 44
Jan 6, 2012
How great is Atonement? I love it...
+1
Level 20
May 22, 2012
I'm surprised how few people got Life of Pi and the Kite Runner. 'course, I just read them both this year...
+1
Level 72
Jul 17, 2013
Kite runner is fantastic. And the movie didn't get NEARLY enought credit.
+3
Level 80
May 14, 2015
1000 Splendid Suns was better
+3
Level 41
May 22, 2012
Count of Monte Cristo is a great read
+2
Level 71
Dec 5, 2014
So true! This might be my all-time favorite book.
+1
Level 56
Dec 29, 2012
sad only 3% knew Toole and Tartt. Two great writers. Good quiz
+1
Level 74
Oct 7, 2013
I thought it was a great quiz, but I did used to work in a bookshop, so that makes it easier. I got 65/80 and there were another half dozen that were on the tip of my tongue but my brain froze.
+1
Level 54
Apr 9, 2014
Coming from Canada, I was surprised as to how much Canadian lit there was (Anne of Green Gables, Life of Pi, The Handmaid's Tale). It seems Canadians do produce good novels after all!
+1
Level 49
May 20, 2014
I'm fairly well-read and I only got 45. I would've gotten 46 if I remembered that Thackeray was spelled with an "ay" at the end rather than just a "y." Still, I'm okay with my result, because I tend to stick to the classics and not knowing the author of books like The Lovely Bones is fine by me.
+1
Level 82
Jun 12, 2014
But The Lovely Bones is a great book! I shared your score, 46, but I suppose I had more modern ones in there.
+1
Level 82
May 13, 2015
Got 50 now I redid it. And I just couldn't remember who wrote Moby Dick! Missed about 5 more that I know/should know.
+1
Level 54
Jun 28, 2014
Got 45. Couldn't spell Du Maurier...
+2
Level 69
May 13, 2015
Pride and Prejudice? C'mon...
+1
Level 79
May 13, 2015
My favorite book ever. Groundbreaking for its day.
+2
Level 85
May 13, 2015
I'm happy that my favorite book made the list. A Prayer for Owen Meany is amazing!
+5
Level 48
May 13, 2015
Da Vinci Code, Bridget Jones Diary, two books of Narnia series but not Don Quixote, the Divine Comedy or Metamorphosis? Who the hell made this list?
+5
Level 60
May 13, 2015
Why are "The Complete Works of Shakespeare" and "Hamlet" listed as two different entries?
+1
Level 79
May 13, 2015
Loved this quiz. But would you consider accepting Lucy Maude Whats-her-name for Anne of Green Gables? ;)
+2
Level 53
May 13, 2015
This would be so much better if you had to guess the book, not the author. I know many of the books here but less than half of the authors
+3
Level ∞
May 13, 2015
Knowing what I do about JetPunk stats that seems unlikely.
+2
Level 66
May 14, 2015
"The Catcher in the Rye," the most overrated book in history. Absolute garbage.
+2
Level ∞
May 14, 2015
Nobody asked me, but my personal vote for most over-rated book is "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance". Never has a book gotten so much mileage out of a great title. Many people claim to like it. Fewer have read it. Even fewer can explain it (probably because it's mostly nonsense).
+1
Level 58
May 15, 2015
Robert Persig! Do I get an extra point??
+1
Level 67
Sep 4, 2019
I read it and I really liked it! I cant remember much about it though, cause it was about 20 years ago. I can almost only remember that a teacher asked his class to look at a coin and keep looking at it and write everything they see. And another part about how input goes through several filters of the mind. Things about perception.

Other than that I dont remember much so, I can't tell you much about what is was about, but I remember the things I felt reading it. (atleast parts of the book could be the rest wasnt interessing) I found it very interesting, refreshin and inspiring if i remember correctly. Completely different than other books, quite weird, but touching subjects I was allready interested in

+1
Level 67
Sep 4, 2019
thoughI feel like I am the only one in my country that has ever heard of it. Well at least one other person, cause I think I got it via a friend of my sister. I wonder where that book went... maybe I should reread it. no idea if I just loaned it or if it is in possesion ( I have got wayy too many books, and I give a lot of them away very often, but they still take up an entire room (and are scattered around all the other rooms expect, usually.. the kitchen haha)
+1
Level 80
May 14, 2015
I'd probably go with The Bible or the Koran. Impossible for a book to be rated more highly than those too, and at the same time, very difficult to write a book worse than either. Even Dan Brown would be hard pressed. And it fits what you said about "Zen." Many (to the tune of billions) claim to not only like the books but that they are perfect, peerless, documents so amazing that they could not possible have been written by mortal men. Almost none of those making this claim about the Bible have actually read more than a couple verses. Those making the claim about the Koran usually have read it, but usually not in a translation that they can understand. And they are both full of nonsense (and much worse).
+1
Level 80
May 14, 2015
those two*
+2
Level 73
Sep 20, 2016
In a very literal sense, that is true. Very hard to get more overrated than those two. I would say if we're assessing them on literary merits the Bible is probably worse than the Quran. Mainly because the Quran at least has a certain amount of commonality of tone and purpose. The Bible is a bizarre, messy collage which alternates between mindbogglingly inane genealogies; long lists of strangely specific, nonsense rules; fairly bland stories that would hardly rate on online collections of amateur fantasy; and obvious, commonsense morality plays. The New Testament improves somewhat on the Old's feckless rambling, but nonetheless doesn't offer much apart from a generic rehashing of older Messianic myths. Now the Quran ain't great, but it is at least a little more focused and consistent.
+2
Level 54
Dec 5, 2017
What's your source? Did you individually survey each of the roughly three to four billion people who claim to believe in the Bible or the Quran/Koran/Qu'ran/Qur'an? Or are you just making a blanket statement in a place that doesn't even have much of anything to do with religion?
+1
Level 80
Sep 1, 2018
You know that I'm right. And I know that you know I'm right. but you feel the compulsion to nitpick anyway. Why is that? Trying to muddy the waters or just feeling defensive? Isn't honesty supposed to be something that Christians value? What percentage of your Christian friends have read the Bible in its entirety? Be honest.
+1
Level 71
Nov 30, 2019
Well said, Hinesbrothers. It's a shame that there is such a lot of anti-religious bigotry on this site (mostly from a small handful of people). Clearly knowing loads about Geography doesn't qualify one to be wise about Theology. Look, I respect peoples' right to follow atheism (however illogical that "religion" may seem to me) , but hearing ignorant criticisms of the value of religious texts such as the above is not going to influence my fundamental philosophy. A happy Advent to all!
+1
Level 80
Nov 30, 2019
For whatsoever man he be that hath a blemish, he shall not approach: a blind man, or a lame, or he that hath a flat nose, or any thing superfluous, Or a man that is brokenfooted, or brokenhanded, Or crookbackt, or a dwarf, or that hath a blemish in his eye, or be scurvy, or scabbed, or hath his stones broken. No man that hath a blemish of the seed of Aaron the priest shall come nigh to offer the offerings of the Lord made by fire: he hath a blemish; he shall not come nigh to offer the bread of his God." (Leviticus 21:18-21)
+1
Level 80
Nov 30, 2019
But if this thing be true, and the tokens of virginity be not found for the damsel: Then they shall bring out the damsel to the door of her father's house, and the men of her city shall stone her with stones that she die: because she hath wrought folly in Israel, to play the whore in her father's house: so shalt thou put evil away from among you." (Deuteronomy 22: 20-21)
+1
Level 80
Nov 30, 2019
"But if she bear a maid child, then she shall be unclean two weeks, as in her separation: and she shall continue in the blood of her purifying threescore and six days." (Leviticus 12:5)

Having a daughter makes you super dirty...

+1
Level 80
Nov 30, 2019
Anyone who beats their male or female slave with a rod must be punished if the slave dies as a direct result, but they are not to be punished if the slave recovers after a day or two, since the slave is their property. (Exodus 21:20-21)
+1
Level 80
Nov 30, 2019
Hines: I don't believe you. Not for a second. And I didn't say that there weren't parts of the Bible that were interesting. I said it's among the worst books ever written. Something can be interesting and horrible at the same time. I never read the whole thing cover to cover in exact verse order but over the years I think I probably have read all of it, skipping forward and backward. It's in parts horrifying, in parts grotesque, in parts nonsensical, in parts ridiculous, in parts boring beyond belief... but also in parts poetic, in parts beautiful, in parts historically or anthropologically fascinating, in parts structurally impressive... but taken as a whole it's still a horrible read and also morally abominable.

The Koran is much shorter and much easier to read, and full of poetry, but similarly morally repugnant.

+1
Level 67
May 14, 2015
I agree with you JesusPotter. One of the worst books I've ever read.

Although The Great Gatsby is right up there with it.

+2
Level 58
May 15, 2015
Missed 18 for a 78% pass rate, which surprisingly beats 98% of takers!

Did The Guardian really list Hamlet separately from the Complete Works? Old Billy Shakes is the only name with an extraneous final letter that you require to type in. Ironically some of the ones I couldn't remember are ones I've actually read (Curious Incident, Capt Corelli).

+2
Level 73
Sep 20, 2016
I think I'd be just fine doing without Dan Brown. That said, I think overall it's a good list. Is it exactly the list I would have chosen? No, but on balance, not bad.
+3
Level 77
Jan 2, 2017
Why can't I do without Hamlet if I already have Complete Works of Shakespeare? The most mind-boggling question about this list.
+1
Level ∞
Jan 2, 2017
That's Facebook memes for you. :)
+1
Level 43
Aug 9, 2017
Spelling is way too tough on this - Margaret Attwood not accepted for Margaret Atwood? Come on!
+1
Level 60
Sep 28, 2017
too personal a quiz. Some classics are missing and several books are personal choice, not yet considered classics..
+2
Level 59
Jul 10, 2018
Nothing is missing as the list is based only on opinions and does not claim to be comprehensive.
+1
Level 66
May 16, 2018
My quizbowl knowledge wasn't good enough for 5 points - I only got 51. I maybe should have gotten Zola, Toole, and Khaled Hosseini, but it still wouldn't have been enough. Shocking that I am not good enough! :)
+1
Level 66
Sep 9, 2020
Up to 60 so I have learned some stuff in the past two years... and that's enough for the 5th point
+1
Level 61
Sep 1, 2018
No Haruki Murakami, Peter Carey, Mickhail Bulgakov, Thomas Pynchon, Henry Miller or Anthony Burgess. But somehow Dan Brown is on here, JK Rowling and Jane Austen 3 times!? Also, it's amazing how a movie series can give credence to a series of books. When I was younger, The Lord of the Rings was only considered serious reading by mega-nerds and people who smoked too much pot.
+1
Level 35
Sep 1, 2018
you did not list Cervantes? as important as Shakespeare!
+1
Level 70
Sep 1, 2018
Every true JetPunker should read 'Extreme Cosmos' by Bryan Gaensler.......... this book is the ultimate non-fiction book regarding the extremes on Earth and the Universe:......... did you know the Sun loses between 4 and 5 Million tons of mass EVERY SECOND!
+1
Level 52
Oct 10, 2018
knew so many but spelling and time defeated me.
+1
Level 22
Feb 17, 2019
What no Frankenstein
+3
Level 67
Mar 22, 2019
Dickens is good. But six books in a list of only 100 seems a bit excessive. (As well as Shakespeare and C.S. Lewis each getting the same book on there twice.) Especially when Twain is left out entirely.
+2
Level 82
Jul 19, 2019
You know it's a tough quiz when you miss 24 answers and still get 5 points.
+1
Level 74
Oct 14, 2019
The bottom guessed book is great. Surprised it is bottom.
+1
Level 53
Nov 30, 2019
pretty sure the book is 'alice's adventures in wonderland', isn't it?
+1
Level 55
Nov 30, 2019
Quite a few books that I've read, but couldn't remember the authors' names
+1
Level 62
Nov 11, 2020
The Guardian is crazy. Some of these books are utter rubbish and some all time great books are missing. The list was distinctly slanted towards snobby books. Catcher in the Rye was dreadful.