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Top 100 Books Of All Time (I Can’t Read) November 23, 2013

Posted by Richard Foote in Richard's Musings, Top 100 Books.

And now for something completely different.

David Bowie recently revealed a list of his top 100 books. It was a really interesting list, especially considering that being such a huge David Bowie fan for so many years, I had only actually read 2 of the books on his list (“Nineteen Eighty-Four” by George Orwell and “A Clockwork Orange” by Anthony Burgess). So as an avid reader, this got me thinking, what would be in my list of top 100 books and thought it would be a bit of fun to compile and share my own list.

Well after lots of consideration and much dwelling back into my distant past, I’ve come up with a list of my favourite 100 books of all time. I’ve tackled this a little differently in that I’ve tried to view this from the perspective of my feelings and impressions of when I actually first read a book, rather than how I might view a particularly book now. So for example, it was the joy and excitement of a nine year old Richard Foote reading “Comet In Momminland” over a couple of dark winter evenings in Manchester that has an equal vote to the somewhat older current version.

I also decided to treat a series of books as being the one logical book, a “partitioned book” if you like, but only when such a complete series deserves credit (for example “The Lord of the Rings”) but not so if the series doesn’t hold up as a whole (such as with the “Dune” series and the less inspiring follow-ups after the brilliant original novel).

Getting to the 70-80 mark wasn’t actually too difficult but deciding which books get to fill the remaining slots was really quite tricky with various books and authors being in then out then in again. Then I remembered an important book or two which meant something else had to go. But in the end, I think the final 100 I’ve selected is a pretty good overall reflection of what I considered to be a really good read at the time.

Finally, the books are ordered alphabetically as it was just a task too far to try and order them in order of preference. However, there is one notable exception as I do have a clear favourite, that being J. R. R. Tolkien’s classic “The Lord of the Rings”. I remember as if it was only yesterday having a week off school, sick in bed with tonsillitis, when my parents bought me “The Fellowship of the Ring” to cheer me up. Not only did it cheer me up but my introduction to the land of Middle-Earth in many ways changed my life as so many fantasy based novels in my list will testify. It’s also about the only book on the list that I’ve repeated read over the years.

I guess that’s why all the books ultimately made it on the list, having helped in some way (some more than others) to mould me into who I am today. That and considering them a damn fine read at the time of course.

So here they are, my top 100 books of all time. I wonder how many you’ve read 🙂

1 “The Lord of the Rings” J.R.R. Tolkien 1954-1955
2 “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” Stephen R. Covey 1989
3 “The Adventures of Tintin” Herge  1929-1976
4 “Alias David Bowie” Peter and Leni Gillman 1987
5 “Animal Farm” George Orwell 1945
6 “Asterix the Gaul”  Rene Goscinny and Albert Uderzo 1961-1977
7 “The Axis Trilogy” Sara Douglass 1995-1996
8 “The Belgariad Series” David Eddings 1982-1984
9 “The Bitterbynde Trilogy” Cecilia Dart-Thornton 2001-2002
10 “The Book of Words Trilogy” J. V. Jones 1995-1997
11 “Casino Royale” Ian Flemming 1953
12 “The Cat in the Hat” Dr Seuss 1957
13 “Charlotte’s Web” E. B. White 1952
14 “The Chronicles of Narnia” C. S. Lewis 1950-1956
15 “A Clockwork Orange” Anthony Burgess 1962
16 “The Complete Tales of Hans Christian Andersen” Christian Anderson 1835-1845
17 “The Complete Tales of Mystery and Imagination” Edgar Allan Poe 1839-1943
18 “The Da Vinci Code” Dan Brown 2003
19 “Dali” Max Gerard 1986
20 “The Dark Tower Series” Stephen King 1982-2012
21 “David Bowie – The Pitt Report” Kenneth Pitt 1983
22 “David Bowie Black Book” Miles 1980
23 “David Robert Jones Bowie: The Discography Of A Generalist, 1962-1979” David Jeffrey Fletcher 1979
24 “The Day of the Triffids” John Wyndham 1951
25 “Dune” Frank Herbert 1965
26 “Effective Oracle By Design” Tom Kyte 2003
27 “Ender’s Game Series” Orson Scott Card 1985-1996
28 “Far from the Madding Crowd” Thomas Harding 1874
29 “The Far Side Gallery Series” Gary Larson 1984-1995
30 “The Farseer Trilogy” Robin Hobb 1995-1997
31 “The First Chronicles of Thomas Covenant” Stephen R. Donaldson 1977-1979
32 “The First Law Trilogy” Joe Abercrombie 2006-2008
33 “Footrot Flats Series” Murray Ball 1975-1994
34 “The Foundation Trilogy” Isaac Asimov 1951-1953
35 “The Gap Series” Stephen Donaldson 1991-1996
36 “The Grapes of Wrath” John Steinbeck 1939
37 “Great Escape Stories” Eric Williams 1958
38 “The Green Mile” Stephen King 1996
39 “Greg Mandel Series” Peter F. Hamilton 1993-1995
40 “Gulliver’s Travels” Jonathan Swift 1726
41 “The Hamlyn Children’s Animal World Encyclopedia in Colour”  1967
42 “The Original Hardy Boys Mystery Stories” Franklin W. Dixon 1927-1979
43 “Harry Potter Series” J. K. Rowling 1997-2007
44 “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” Douglas Adams 1979
45 “HMS Ulysses” Alistair MacLean 1955
46 “The Hobbit” J.R.R. Tolkien 1937
47 “The Hound of the Baskervilles” Arthur Conan Doyle 1902
48 “I, Robot” Iasaac Asimov 1950
49 “The Importance of Being Earnest” Oscar Wilde 1895
50 “Inside Out – A Personal History of Pink Floyd” Nick Mason 2004
51 “Islands In The Sky” Arthur C. Clarke 1954
52 “It” Stephen King 1986
53 “James and the Giant Peach” Roald Dahl 1961
54 “John Lennon – The Life” Philip Norman 2008
55 “Jonathan Livingston Seagull” Richard Bach 1970
56 “Killers of Eden” Tom Mead 1961
57 “Life on Earth”  David Attenborough 1979
58 “Lord of the Flies” William Golding 1954
59 “Magician” Raymond E. Feist 1982
60 “The Midwich Cuckoos” John Wyndham 1957
61 “The Millennium Trilogy” Stieg Larsson 2005-2007
62 “The Mists of Avalon” Marion Zimmer Bradley 1983
63 “Moby-Dick” Herman Melville 1851
64 “Moomin Series” Tove Jansson 1945-1970
65 “Mordant’s Need” Stephen Donaldson 1986-1987
66 “The Name of the Wind” Patrick Rothfuss 2007
67 “The Night’s Dawn Trilogy” Peter F. Hamilton 1996-1999
68 “Nineteen Eighty-Four” George Orwell 1949
69 “The Observer’s Book of Birds” S. Vere Benson 1972
70 “Of Mice and Men” John Steinbeck 1937
71 “Optimizing Oracle Performance” Cary Millsap and Jeff Holt 2003
72 “Oracle 7 Database Concepts Manual” Oracle Corporation 1996
73 “The Original Shannara Trilogy” Terry Brooks 1977-1985
74 “Pigs Might Fly. The Inside Story of Pink Floyd” Mark Blake 2007
75 “Practical Oracle 8i – Building Efficient Databases” Jonathan Lewis 2000
76 “The Pythons Autobiography” The Pythons 2003
77 “The Rain Wilds Chronicles” Robin Hobb 2009-
78 “Rainbows End” Vernor Vinge 2006
79 “The Saga of Pliocene Exile” Julian May 1981-1984
80 “Saucerful of Secrets: The Pink Floyd Odyssey” Nicholas Schaffner 1991
81 “The Second Chronicles of Thomas Covenant” Stephen R. Donaldson 1980-1983
82 “The Silmarillion” J. R. R. Tolkien 1977
83 “The Silver Sword” Ian Serraillier 1956
84 “Soldier Son Trilogy” Robin Hobb 2005-2008
85 “A Song of Ice and Fire Series” Gearge R. R, Martin 1991-
86 “The Stand” Stephen King 1978
87 “Syd Barrett – A Very Irregular Head” Rob Chapman 2010
88 “The Tale of Peter Rabbit” Beatrix Potter 1902
89 “Tales of the OakTable” Various Oracle Experts 2003
90 “The Thirty-Nine Steps” John Buchan 1915
91 “The Time Machine” H. G. Wells 1895
92 “Tinker, Tailer, Soldier, Spy” John le Carre 1974
93 “Treasure Island” Robert Louis Stevenson 1881
94 “The View from the Mirror Quartet” Ian Irvine 1998-1999
95 “Void Trilogy” Peter F. Hamilton 2007-2010
96 “The War of the Worlds” H. G. Wells 1898
97 “Watership Down” Richard Adams 1972
98 “The Wheel of Time Series” Robert Jordan 1990-2013
99 “Where Eagles Dare” Alistair MacLean 1967
100 “The Wind In The Willows” Kenneth Grahame  1908


1. rsiz - November 23, 2013

Nice list. Given your existing list you’ve probably read the following, but just in case you have not, you would probably enjoy “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea” and pretty much the whole works of Kurt Vonnegut, but especially Slaughterhouse Five, Galapagos, and Player Piano. Be careful how you wear your white gold (by the way).
The two that surprise me didn’t make your list are Fred Brooks’ “The Mythical Man-Month” and Knuth’s book on algorithms. But hey, you did list the book from Cary and Jeff; those are probably in the bibliography.


Richard Foote - November 25, 2013

Hi Mark

Yes, I’ve read 20,000 Leagues but not anything by Kurt Vonnegut so I’ll add him to my to do reading list.

I didn’t include any of my tech reading from my Uni days as I genuinely didn’t enjoy my experience at Uni (I studied computing but didn’t really want to do it at the time, long story !!).

Hope all is well 🙂


rsiz - November 25, 2013

All is well. No apparent damage from the early snow and high winds.

By the way, Upton Sinclair’s “The Jungle” is an interesting read if you can live a few months forgetting the details before you eat sausage again.

The “Tar Pits” book would probably read as a comedy to you now. Worth a skim to erase any prior bad memories.


2. Chris Antognini - November 24, 2013

I read 13 of them. FWIW, except for the Oracle related books you mentioned, at the top of my list I would put Asimov’s trilogy.


Richard Foote - November 25, 2013

Hi Chris

Firstly, a big congratulations on being an Oracle ACE Director, very well deserved !!

The Asimov Foundation series would probably make my top 20 list, they’re indeed brilliant.


3. Nuno Pinto do Souto - November 25, 2013

I’m surprised you didn’t put 1984 or Brave New World in that list.
Then again, you’re nowhere near as cynical of modern society as I am.
One thing that scares me: I know a LOT of folks who have NOT read 100 books, let alone be able to select the best 100!…
(ps: what, no Codd or Date or Knuth in that list??? you heathen! 🙂


Richard Foote - November 25, 2013

Hi Noons

1984 made it but I haven’t actually read Brave New World, hummmm, must address that one day.

Yes I know many who haven’t read since school. I can’t sleep if I don’t at least read a chapter of something beforehand 🙂

As for Codd and Co, I read them all while I studied and so aren’t eligible on the grounds that they were tough times and best forgotten 🙂


4. Nuno Pinto do Souto - November 25, 2013

Just realized you called it Ninety Eighty Four, while I called it 1984. Ah well, potato, potahto… 🙂
I see you’re also an Asterix (and other Franco-Belgian BD) reader.
If you get a chance, read Achille Talon, by Greg. In French, if possible: it’s miles better than any of the translations.


Richard Foote - November 25, 2013

Hi Noons

Je ne parle pas francais 🙂


5. Piet de Visser - November 26, 2013

Achille Talon!
Well recommended, and indeed best read in french. The dutch translations were OK, dunno about the english versions, The author Greg lived and worked in the US for some years, so they might be good. Start with “l’appeau d’Ephèse” and “le grain de sable” for some gentle jokes poked at the americans.

And I didnt know there also was an ninety eighty four, apart from the nineteen eighty four I know. 1984, which is, btw, remarkably applicable today.


6. Piet de Visser - November 26, 2013

For the record: 20 items in common, and those include Tintin, Asterix, Douglas Adams, the Asimov items and “where eagles dare”. Memories!


7. Craig Martin - November 26, 2013

Thanks for sharing.. I only have 12 in common, but have seen a lot of the movies.. I am sure that counts 🙂

I love that you have the Oracle Concepts Manual in your list.. I recommend that whenever I can. However, just curious.. why do you have Version 7? Is that when you read through it, or is it somehow better than the newer versions?

Also, do you use Shelfari or something similar to keep track of all the books you have read?


Richard Foote - January 3, 2014

Hi Craig

Actually, it’s interesting just how many of the books have indeed been made into movies, although I wouldn’t hope my breath with Tom Kyte’s book 🙂


8. jgarry - November 26, 2013

If I counted correctly, I’ve read 32 of those. +1 for the Vonnegut suggestion.

I suggested to my book-and-robot loving kid the Foundation Trilogy a few years ago, he got a few pages into it, and said “do I really have to read this?” Maybe in a few years. He’s going to uni next year as an Engineering major (Caltech IhopeIhope), maybe someone else will suggest it, rather than me.

I read several of the Frank Herbert books in college after various finals weeks, in “I must consume more information” mode.

The Thomas Covenant series sat on the shelves for several years before I finally picked it up and read it.

I remember the movie Clockwork Orange, but not the book.

Cat In The Hat is one of my earliest memories.

No Bradbury? I guess I can understand that.

I recently found my “You’re sick Jessy!” t-shirt and started wearing it again. http://img1.etsystatic.com/000/0/5983178/il_570xN.183720813.jpg


Nuno Pinto do Souto - November 27, 2013

Heh! I can sooo understand your frustration with the kid’s reaction to Foundation Series! I made my kids watch Blade Runner a while ago.
Their reactions?
‘How boring, Dad! Do we REEEEALLY have to watch this?’ …
Ah well, I suppose there is no ‘twilight’ anything in it…


Richard Foote - January 3, 2014

Hi Joel

32 is more than I expected anyone to reach 🙂

I’ve read some yearly Bradbury but they didn’t make a big impression at the time.

Love the t-shirt 🙂


9. Rajeshwaran, Jeyabal - January 7, 2019

Hi Richard,

shocked to see “Expert one-on-one Oracle” is not in the list, though it has ‘Effective Oracle by design’ in the list.

is that you dont like “Expert one-on-one Oracle” ?


Richard Foote - February 5, 2019

Hi Raj

What can I say, I love to shock 🙂 Both both are great, the earlier one just made more of an impression on me.


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