In Depth

Amazon's top 100 books: no Don Quixote or Moby Dick

Its books to read before you die has some surprising omissions, including Robinson Crusoe, Ulysses and Frankenstein

AMAZON has published a list of 100 books to read in a lifetime that includes such classics as Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov, The Lord of The Rings by JRR Tolkien and Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. But the list is as notable for its omissions as it is for its inclusions.

The list compiled by the international electronic retailer, which began in 1995 as an online book store, does not include Don Quixote by Miguel De Cervantes, Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe, Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy or Ulysses by James Joyce. Also missing from the 100 is the book regarded by many as the greatest novel of them all, Herman Melville's Moby Dick.

Amazon's list does include a number of uncontroversial choices such as A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking and The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald but also has some rather more surprising inclusions like Born To Run – a book by journalist Christopher McDougall about ultra-runners and Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney, which has enjoyed huge popularity since its publication in 2007, but is yet to be fully accepted by most reviewers into the pantheon of great children's literature.

Sara Nelson, editorial director of print and Kindle books at Amazon.com, told CNN that the list was created after months of deliberation within her team, but used no statistical analysis or mathematical algorithms.

"One of our tasks was to have books that don't feel like homework: 'eat your vegetables' books," Nelson said. "There was nothing in there except 'I loved this book when I was 12 for this reason'. We lobbied each other."

Alison Flood, writing in the Guardian Books Blog, said she was struck by how few of the books she had actually read: "There's an embarrassingly large number of books on Amazon.com's list which have to be filed in my newly created 'haven't really read them' category. The Corrections. The Age of Innocence. Out of Africa. I know what they're about, they feel like they are part of my mental library – but have I actually made my way through their pages? Sadly no. If I am honest, I have read exactly 50."

So how many of the books on Amazon's list have you read? And which of your favourites didn't make the cut? Have a look at the list and leave a comment below.

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