The BBC’s list of the best books of the past 70 years to celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee does not include Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings.

The Lord of the Rings trilogy by the JRR Tolkien and the Harry Potter series by JK Rowling was omitted from the BBC’s choice of the 70 finest books to commemorate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.

The Big Jubilee Read initiative was launched to honor books written by authors from around the Commonwealth published during the monarch’s reign of 70 years – 10 for each decade.

However, despite the enormous popularity of Harry Potter, which has produced film adaptations, a spin-off Fantastic Beasts film franchise, and theatrical production, none of the seven books feature on the list.

Since the Fellowship of Ring was released two years after the Queen’s coronation in 1954 and has since been made into multiple Oscar-winning films, an Amazon TV series is due to premiere later this year, Tolkien’s trilogy of fantasy books has also failed to receive any recognition. Literary luminaries such as Margaret Atwood, Bernardine Evaristo, and Seamus Heaney all cut.

To “celebrate exceptional books and shine a spotlight on lesser-known works and authors who deserve attention,” the BBC reported that a panel of independent librarians, booksellers, and literary specialists selected the titles from a readers’ choice longlist.
BBC Arts and The Reading Agency compiled the list, including 31 countries on six continents.

This is a reading for pleasure campaign, inspired by the Jubilee, aiming to encourage people to explore fiction from around the Commonwealth,’ a BBC spokesperson told While a slew of excellent novels was offered, these are the 70 titles that a panel independent of the BBC and The Reading Agency chose to include. One hundred novels that shaped our world for 2021’s Libraries Week included Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings Author The J.R.R. Tolkien. Canadian novelist Atwood’s 1985 dystopian novel The Handmaid’s Tale, which was later transformed into an award-winning television series by Hulu, is included in the selection.

Girl, Woman, Other by Evaristo, which won the Women’s Prize for Fiction, and Death of a Naturalist by Heaney, which won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1995, both made a list. The West End production of Yann Martel’s Life of Pi, which just won a slew of Olivier Awards, also makes a list.

Suraj Sharma starred in 2012’s blockbuster film adaptation of the book starring Ang Lee, winning four Oscars, including best director. The God of Small Things writting by Arundhati Roy in 1997 and nominated for the Booker Prize that year, makes a list. Both A Clockwork Orange and Midnight’s Children by English-Indian authors Anthony Burgis and Salman Rushdie are included in the list, eventually made into films.

Anuk Arudpragasam’s A Passage North and Damon Galgut’s The Promise are the most recent additions to the list. In 2021, both were released.
Public libraries, reading groups, publishers, retailers, and authors will all be involved in promoting “uniting the public around the common stories that define our social and cultural legacy” as part of the Big Jubilee Read initiative.

Events and activities at libraries and bookshops, and resources for reading clubs all around the country will all help to support this initiative.

“Nineteen years after the Big Read, the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee feels like the perfect occasion to spotlight some of the best writing from around the Commonwealth,” says BBC arts and classical music TV director Suzy Klein.

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