31 December 2010

The Emperor of All Maladies

Because I'm a research assistant in hospital epidemiology, people usually assume my Master's degree is in something like health policy/administration or infectious diseases epidemiology.  It is neither (although my scores in ID epidemiology and hospital epidemiology got me my job).  My Master's is in epidemiology and I wrote my thesis in cancer epidemiology; specifically, descriptive and analytic epidemiology of intraocular melanoma among Iowa residents using the SEER Cancer data from 1973- 2000.  I didn't really choose that topic - it fell into my lap, more or less, as a thesis-ready project - but the history and epidemiology of cancer in general is fascinating so when I spied an advance copy of Siddhartha Mukherjee's new book, The Emperor of All Maladies, on the breakroom table at the store I absolutely had to read it.

Mukherjee is an oncologist and researcher at Columbia University and teaches at the medical school.  He stands on the front line, straddling the line between clinician (treating the patient) and researcher (finding new treatments) but he started writing The Emperor of All Maladies while in his fellowship at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston.  Several of his patients make appearances in the book, most notably Carla, a new leukemic whose story begins and ends Mukherjee's history of cancer treatment.

Leukemia is the cancer that provided the puzzle that spurred pediatric pathologist Sidney Farber to start his cancer research in the 1940s.  Leukemia was first described - as we would recognize it today - by physician John Bennett in the mid-nineteenth century.  Prior to the advent of germ theory, cell theory, and an understanding of hematopoesis (the process by which blood cells are made and matured), Bennett concluded that a young male patient had died of a "suppuration of blood" - the patient's blood had spontaneously turned to pus without any known cause (p 13).  Today, we recognize that as the final stage of leukemia where the deranged overgrowth of immature white blood cells has completely squeezed out all the red blood cells from the patient's blood and bone marrow.  Soon other cases were described.  As advances in microscopy and pathology came along, physicians began to classify solid tumors (i.e. breast, colon, lung, etc.) and hematologic tumors (i.e. leukemia).  Mukherjee notes, by 1902 a new theory of cancer had emerged which focused on the hallmark of a cancer cell: uncontrolled cell growth (pathologic hyperplasia).  Cancers could now be classified according to the type of cell grown out of control, including cancers of the blood.

But it brought physicians no closer to creating a medical treatment for cancer.  Solid tumors near the surface of the body, like those of the breast or skin, could be removed by a surgeon, possibly effecting a "cure."  Radical surgery and even more-radical surgery pioneered by William Stewart Halsted in turn-of-the-century Baltimore theorized that the more tissue or "tumor" removed during an operation, the more likely the patient is to have long-term survival.  At one point, a very radical mastectomy included not only removal of the affected breast (breasts) but the pectoralis major and minor muscles of the chest, the lymph nodes under the armpit, above the collarbone, and under the sternum, and possibly a rib or two.  Women were left disfigured and potentially disabled (without the chest muscles it is difficult to use the arms normally and the lack of lymph nodes causes severe swelling).  The discovery of radiation led to the use of radiation therapy in conjuction with radical surgery (in some cases).  But there was still little to no hope for patients with non-solid cancers or metastatic tumors (new tumors that have invaded the body at a site distant from the original tumor) that could not be cut out of the body by the scalpel.

Which brings the reader back to Farber.  Childhood leukemia was a death sentence; children came to his hospital to die of leukemia, not be treated for it.  Pediatricians felt no need to push for treatment so Faber gathered up all the available research and information about the function of normal blood cells and started applying that knowledge to childhood leukemias.  His first treatment trial using folate was a disaster because no one knew, at that time, how cells actually grow and divide.  Farber's second trial using aminopterin, an anti-folate, had good initial responses but, sadly, the children relapsed within months and died.  More trials and new and different chemicals would come; Farber had started picking at the Gordian knot that was cancer and within a few decades the discoveries would come faster and faster.

This is the real meat of the book: the development of cancer research and cancer treatment, i.e. chemotherapy.  The current model for drug development - the multi-phase, randomly-assigned, placebo-controlled clinical trial - was never used initially to develop cancer treatment.  One therapy after another was tried on terminally ill patients to see if a remission could be elicited.  Only after some success were randomized trials initiated to measure response and relapse rates and it is only in the last thirty or forty years that the greatest strides in achieving and maintaining remission have been made.  Mukherjee follows the medical breakthroughs right into the twenty-first century with the advent of inhibitors like Gleevec and ruminates on the future of cancer treatment.

The Emperor of All Maladies is an extremely well-written and engaging book.  Mukherjee doesn't dumb-down the science to the point of boringness but neither does he make it so full of medical jargon and regurgitated research results that it becomes unreadable.  This is very much a book for the everyman, for the general reading public because every person on this planet will, in his or her lifetime, either be personally diagnosed with cancer or have a family member or close friend diagnosed with cancer.  It provides so much needed information about the history of this disease.  Even medical professionals will enjoy The Emperor of All Maladies and it is a book that medical professionals need to read; Mukherjee treats his patients and subject with respect and compassion.  Even with my background, well-versed in cancer epidemiology and well-read in medical and scientific history, I found new bits and pieces of cancer history, and reminders of how quickly researchers can get out-of-hand (although I did find the third or fourth definition of "metastasis" too much repetition).

The Emperor of All Maladies is a Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers Holiday 2010 selection.  I really do urge everyone to visit their favorite bookstore and read this book.

Dear FTC: I read the advance copy received in my store from the publisher.

30 December 2010

3 Mini-reviews: Ponder-ing Much About Flops

Due to the insanity of moving house during the holidays, meaning I have even less free time than normal (into the negative numbers, if such a thing is possible) and I have packed nearly everything I own, I'm going to compress three reviews into one post and save what's left of my sanity.

#1: The Ponder Heart by Eudora Welty

Read as the December pick for Literature by Women at BNBC, this was the first Eudora Welty book for me.  Compared to last December's choice, The Complete Stories by Flannery O'Connor (masterful Southern Gothic but too much all at one time during the holidays), this is a chatty, gossipy family dramedy.  It's a short novel - nearly a novella - and Miss Enda Earle Ponder will tell you all about her dotty Uncle Daniel and the Ponder heart.

#2: Don't Know Much About History (audio) by Kenneth C. Davis

I was looking for a new audio book for my 10 minute commute every day (this is quite handy since network radio is the pits anymore these days and I can get about 20+ minutes of an audiobook listened to while driving) and thought I'd give one of the Don't Know Much About books a try.  I quite liked this one - I learned or re-remembered things from history class (such as the Alger Hiss trial which was one where the name was familiar but couldn't remember why).  I think I like this more because of the audio format - it was quite easy to digest - but I think I would have gotten bored while reading the book because of the repetition in format.  I also think that Davis was very balanced in his assessment of US History; I have read some reviews which called this a "liberal propaganda" piece, but I don't think there's anything conservative or liberal in reporting the facts as they are, particularly when the facts say the US government has behaved less than honorably at times.

#3: My Year of Flops by Nathan Rabin

Last year I read The Big Rewind and found Rabin's AV Club posts so I was eager to read My Year of Flops when it came out in book form.  My Year of Flops takes its name from Rabin's AV Club column and the nice thing, unlike other blog-inspired books, is that the book isn't a simple repetition of the MYoF blog.  Instead, Rabin curated his blog posts, grouping his favorites/best posts by theme, and added some "book only" Flops and interviews.  I especially enjoyed the interview with Roberto Benigni about Pinocchio, a movie I've had the misfortune of seeing (I saw the subtitled original Italian, not the dubbed-in-English-by-Breckin-Meyer one, so I'm sure it was better than the theatrical dubbed release but it was still creepy with a 50-year-old Italian man-child playing a bratty wooden puppet). Some of the movies are, yes, bad movies that result from spectacularly poor judgement on the part of directors/stars/studios/writers/producers (like The Conqueror, The Scarlet Letter, and Exit to Eden not to mention Waterworld) but some of the movies Rabin reviews are secretly quite enjoyable (The Rocketeer is one, and I'm surprised that it was considered a flop because my little brothers watched it all the time).  At the end, there is a very, very funny minute-by-minute review of Waterworld, agreeably one of the worst flops in cinematic history, aside from being a terrible movie on its own.  My Year of Flops was a great distraction from the mess of moving and I very much enjoyed Rabin's style.

27 December 2010

Orchid Thief Shawlette (and other knitted things)

Knitting has occurred in copious amounts at my house.  Knitted gifts galore.

First, there's the shawlette for my boss.

The Orchid Thief Shawlette by Ysolda Teague from Brave New Knits, knit from Malabrigo Sock in Primavera.  The boss has an enormous garden and is a knitter, too, so I think she'll love this.

Then a hat for one of the secretaries - she helps me out a TON throughout the year.

A water bottle/coffee mug cozy for my Secret Santa at the office.

And last, but certainly not least because it was the first one done but last given, is my little niece Alexis's Christmas Stocking.  All three girls' stockings were laid out by the fireplace on Christmas Eve and they looked so sweet together, just like ours did when I was little (it's the same pattern my Grandma used).

I'm still working on a sweater (for me), the DNA scarf (for whoever - maybe me), a pair of socks (half-done, for me), and a summer blouse (also, for me).  I need to knit faster!

25 December 2010

Merry Christmas!

May you enjoy the warmth and blessings of the season.

Or, if you're a cat, enjoy a new catnip Santa Mouse.

I still have a few reviews to finish and blogging/reading resolutions to think about...and a house to move!  What a crazy end to the year!

20 December 2010

The Mischief of the Mistletoe

Lauren Willig gave us a little surprise this year - not just one new Pink book but TWO.  The Betrayal of the Blood Lily debuted last January, and The Orchid Affair will drop on January 20, 2011, but Lauren has provided The Mischief of the Mistletoe, a little Christmastime spy mystery featuring the seemingly brainless Turnip Fitzhugh and new heroine Arabella Dempsey (if you'd like a peek at a Selwick Christmas check out Lauren's website for Ivy and Intrigue: A Very Selwick Christmas).  Arabella has recently arrived in Bath due to the rather hasty marriage of her middle-aged-plus (and rich) aunt/guardian to a much younger (and non-rich) man (who had apparently been courting Arabella, too).  Arabella is determined to make her own way as a teacher at a ladies' seminary in Bath but fate, in the guise of Turnip and a Christmas pudding, have other plans.

Lauren's books are a breath of fresh air for me.  Nice and fun. Happy endings.  Just what I needed this December since I'm about to pull my hair out with this whole selling-my-house mess that's going on. Turnip Fitzhugh gets a chance to be the hero for once, instead of the fop, although he's still Turnip (and always will be), and Arabella makes a nice heroine in the Letty sense (Letty's my favorite Willig heroine). Several characters from other Pink books make cameos - Mischief is set starting between Seduction of the Crimson Rose and Temptation of the Night Jasmine and ends with the Twelfth Night festivities at Girdings from Night Jasmine - so we meet up with the Vaughns, Pinchingdales, various characters' little sisters, Hen, Charlotte, the Dowager Duchess of Dovedale, and that pack of aristocratic idiots from Night Jasmine and Blood Lily who all ought to be in jail.

Oh, and there's Jane Austen, too.  Jane is Arabella's cousin (?, or maybe just dear friend) and she appears in all her sharp-witted glory.  Jane appears to be collecting characters and stories...what could she be doing with them, I wonder? 

17 December 2010

Gratuitous cat picture Friday!

Because I just downloaded more pictures from my camera!

 My Dante kitty.
My Chaucer kitty - who obviously is having his nap interrupted.
 Jeez, mom - go away.  I wants to sleeeeeeep.  I don't want tummy rubs.
But you can pet me!!  I wants tummy rubs!

Seriously, mom, I'm not kidding.  I just want to take a nap under the nice, warm electric blankie!  Put the camera away.

16 December 2010

Happy Birthday, Jane Austen! (PS: Free Sourcebooks ebooks today 12/16/10!)

In honor of Miss Jane Austen's 235th birthday (Many happy returns!) Sourcebooks is offering TEN Austen-inspired titles as free ebooks (my nook is currently busy downloading):

Eliza’s Daughter by Joan Aiken
The Darcys & the Bingleys by Marsha Altman
Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife by Linda Berdoll
What Would Jane Austen Do? by Laurie Brown
The Pemberley Chronicles by Rebecca Ann Collins
The Other Mr. Darcy by Monica Fairview
Mr. Darcy’s Diary by Amanda Grange
Mr. & Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy: Two Shall Become One by Sharon Lathan
Lydia Bennet’s Story by Jane Odiwe
Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy by Abigail Reynolds

Sourcebooks is also offering free downloads of their illustrated editions of Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Persuasion, Mansfield ParkNorthanger Abbey, and Emma.

Strike while the iron is hot!  I believe these titles are free for today ONLY so check your favorite ebook outlet.

I've been burned by Austen-world off-shoot novels before, so I never read any of these after my experience with Mr. Darcy's Daughters, etc., but I'm not turning up my nose at free books!  I'll have them on my nook and when the inclination strikes, I'll be ready!
I found out about the sale via Laurel Ann's Austenprose posting :)

15 December 2010


You have to love freedom, as much as it can be a pain in the tail some days.  Everyone is free to do pretty much whatever they want these days - be a boor, be an environmentalist, be a conservative, be an athlete, reject your parents' values, embrace your parents' values, have an affair, be a little off kilter.  This seems to be the underlying message of Jonathan Franzen's Freedom - you are free to be who you want, and you can allow your children to be who they want, but it may all not turn out the way you want it in the end.

Freedom has an interesting structure.  After an introductory section that introduces the Berglunds - Walter, Patty, Jessica, and Joey - the reader starts in on an autobiography of Patty Berglund "written at the suggestion of her therapist".  It's a good way to start changing perspective between the characters.  I almost started feeling sorry for Patty...almost (there is a specific incident that provokes empathy for her, but most of her personality is grating).  The perspective of Freedom doesn't shift as much as that of The Corrections but it does rotate so we get more sides to each character.

While I enjoyed reading Freedom, I think I like The Corrections a little better.  It felt snappier even though it still had the same change in perspective and moved back and forth in time.  Freedom is very relevant, though, and brings many current issues (terrorism, environmentalism, corporate greed, fraud, racism) to the fore.

I'm not going to write some long-winded paean to the genius that is Jonathan Franzen; it's not my schtick and whether or not he is a genius is something I really don't care about.  Freedom is a well-done book - as was The Corrections - and Franzen certainly has his own unique writing style.  He can create characters that you aren't supposed to like, that are tetchy, annoying, clingy, addicted, self-important, and make you see a situation from their perspective.  These are books to immerse yourself in rather than zip through at lightning speed.

14 December 2010

'Tis the Season: That's more like it

The season is heating up - customers, customers everywhere and nary a place to walk without running into/over someone.  All the phone lines are blinking angrily and everyone has "Just one question" which is best interperted as 100 questions and 10 minutes of time.

Elderly lady on the telephone: "I'm looking for Packing for Mars by Mark Twain."
Me: "Packing for Mars is by Mary Roach - it's a science book about space travel."
Elderly lady on the telephone: "Are you sure it's not by Mark Twain?"
Me [grrrrrr....]: "Yes, I'm sure.  In fact, I'm looking right at it."
Elderly lady on the telephone: "Oh....does Mark Twain have a new book about Mars?"
Me: "Uh, no.  Mark Twain's autobiography was recently published according to the tenets of his will."
Elderly lady on the telephone: "Oh...does he talk about Mars in that book?"
Me [holy crap]: "I'm not sure, I'm not that far into it but this is Mark Twain and I suppose he can talk about whatever he wants in his own autobiography." [pause] "Are you perhaps thinking about A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court?  That one is about a man who travels back in time to Camelot."
Elderly lady on the telephone: "Is that one new?"

Graduate student-aged man: "I'm looking for a book but I don't know much about it so this could be hard.:
Me: "Shoot."
Graduate student-aged man: "The title is The Immortal Life of something something something..."
Me (and the two other booksellers at the desk with me, in unison):  "Henrietta Lacks"
So I fetched the book off the table and he asked: "So what is a hard question?"
Me: "A hard question is 'Do you have this book I saw six months ago? It's blue.' And it turns out the book they want is actually yellow and we haven't had a copy in the store in three years."
Graduate student-aged man: "People really ask you things like that??"
Me: "Yep.  All the time."
*fer shiz*

On Friday I was working with a customer in a wheelchair - it was so crowded it was easier for me to run around and bring everything to her than try and navigate all the people since no one seemed terribly interested in making way for her.  On my way back, I was stopped by a middle-aged man:
Him: "Hey, I have a question."
Me: "I'm sorry, sir, but I'm with a customer right now. [Gestures toward my customer] If you'll wait at the customer service desk a bookseller will be with you shortly." [The customer service desk is maybe 15 feet away across the aisle]
Him: "But it won't take long - that other person can wait."
Me: "I'm sorry but I don't think it would be polite of me to assume that." [And walked the last few feet to my customer who made a very loud fuss about how nice it was to have booksellers who give such wonderful personal service...the man had the good sense to look embarassed before slinking off to the customer service desk]

I was accosted by a teenage couple who proceeded to pick each others' teeth with their fingernails while I looked up a book for them.  I am not kidding.  I stared at them until they stopped then I handed them the bottle of hand sanitizer to use.  The epidemiologist in me was winning that one no matter what.

Last night, the manager did a final sweep of the store and then locked the doors at close - she announced on the PA that the doors were locked and what closing tasks each person was doing.  Turns out we almost locked a customer into our store.  I only found her because she scared the hell out of me - she just popped out of the gift section while I was gathering up some new titles for display and asked if I had a magnetic dart board. [We don't]  I pointed out that it was well after closing and that I'd be happy to see about ordering a magnetic dart board...I was gesturing toward the front doors and trying to call the manager at the same time.  We finally got the customer checked out but none of us could figure out how we missed her in the first place.  None of us had seen her come in and she didn't make a peep when the "Doors are locked" announcement was made - she was so "meh" about it.  I'm pretty sure I would squawk loudly were I locked in a store as a customer.

A few choice bon mots:
  • "I'm looking for a book in a series.  I don't know the name, or the author, or what it's about...where do you keep your series?" [sigh]
  • "Do you have something that would make my parents happy?" [Er....]
  • "Do you have books about that woman who says Brett Favre sent her naked pictures?" [said with waaay too much enthusiasm]
  • "You close at midnight, right?" [Hellz no]
  • "Can I print my paper on your computer?" [Guess who...it's finals week here]
  • "There's something unidentifiable on a shelf." [We couldn't determine if it was mud or a chewed wad of tobacco or poop or what....it was about eye-level on a shelf and none of us were willing to examine it closely.]

INCIDENTAL COMICS: Confessions of a Book Fiend

This. Is. Awesome.  Grant Snider has created a hysterical comic about book fiends.  It's so true.  Click through to see the comic - if you're a book blogger you will agree with the conclusion whole-heartedly.

As a bonus, Grant has posters of his comics available.  Methinks I will have to invest in one after I sort out my current moving/real estate messiness (no end in sight right now).

08 December 2010

'Tis the Season: It could be worse

Oddly enough, holiday season this year has had fewer incidents of customer craziness (at least for me, I have plenty to complain about when it comes to employees).

I've had a customer ask me what exit you take to get to Cedar Rapids from Iowa City. [There's no exit.  You get on I-80 and follow the signs for I-380 Northbound...it goes straight through the center of Cedar Rapids.]

I spent a good twenty minutes with a grandma who had absolutely zero idea what her grandchildren like at all.  The list she got from her daughter wasn't very informative, either, being full of errors and conflations.  I suggested gift cards; grandma decided to call her daughter again. [I still stand by the gift card idea.]

I had a customer ask me if all the millions of ebooks come preloaded on the e-reader. [Er, no.  I don't even want to think about how many gigabytes that would be.]

Another bookseller told me he had a customer who insisted the e-reader "made it's own Internet." [He swears he's not making that up.]

Someone asked if we sold paint...as in the kind you put on the wall. [Lowe's is across the highway.]

A coworker observed that Tuesday was "Little Old Lady with Very Long List" day - she said the LOLs always keep their VLLs on an old steno pad in their purse.  Next to the Kleenex.

I also had a very (very) bashful little boy who wanted to thank me for hosting his school's bookfair. [I personally didn't host it the store did, but he was so darn cute and shy.]

Once again, student fun!
  • I was asked if we had a "quiet study room".  She didn't seem to understand the sentence "No, we do not have a study area, we are a bookstore not a library." [I hear all three public libraries and all the University branch libraries have very lovely study carrells/rooms...I've made use of them from time to time.]
  • I keep getting the "But my paper is due tomorrow! Why don't you have my book??" line. [Nope, still don't care about your lack of time-management skills.]
  • Some idiot actually told me he doesn't like to go to the library and wanted to know what his options were for getting access to a rather expensive, and what seemed like, academic book. [I really wanted to say "Well, I guess you're shit-outta-luck" but I didn't since I was working.  What I really did was hop on the UI libraries site, pull up the catalog, and find the book he wanted...which is on reserve as a book for his course.  I suggested he start by making use of the reserve copy at the library.  I don't think that was the answer he was looking for.]

04 December 2010

BBC Reading List - more than 6?

Have you read more than 6 of these books? The BBC believes most people will have read only 6 of the 100 books listed here (not sure where the "6 books" part of this originated, because I can't find it on the web and it's not The Big Read List, that's a different list). Bold those books you've read in their entirety, italicize the ones you started but didn't finish or read an excerpt. (Note to self: remember to tag people when this uploads on FB; also, I think I've done this before but can't find the original post)

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
6 The Bible
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulk
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveler’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
34 Emma -Jane Austen
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen
*36 The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe - CS Lewis
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh - A.A. Milne
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel
52 Dune - Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding
69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses - James Joyce
76 The Inferno - Dante
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal - Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession - AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte’s Web - E.B. White
+88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
*98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

14 = the number I haven't read at all
10 = the number I haven't finished
76 = the number I have read
* = something tells me the BBC hasn't actually done this list since there are duplicates; if you've read all of Shakespeare you've read Hamlet and if you've read The Chronicles of Narnia you've read The Lion,, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
+ = the likelihood of me actually reading this book is "nil"