1001 Books to Read Before You Die

If you write a book called 1001 BOOKS TO READ BEFORE YOU DIE...is that book on the list?

I'd buy it and find out but I'm too busy fending off the Grim Reaper.

(also lifted from Max)


Feisty said...

It's over 900 pages long! Who has time for that?

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

I'd buy it and find out, too, but I'm too busy reading books, not books about books.

Stacy said...

I seriously need to start reading again. I have managed to read 5 books this year. 5. This is a person who at one point read a minimum of 5 books each WEEK.

I don't dare look at that list of books. It would precipitate a slide into depression from which I would never recover.

I'm going to cry into my beer now, otherwise called do some more work.

Kanani said...

Everyone has lists!

1. A writing teacher gives his class a list of 70 books that he thinks would make good reading. Over the course of semester, said teacher adds more, xeroxes pages from some of the books.

2. A different teacher provided her students with a 30 page treatise on 'good first pages.' This consisted of xeroxed first pages from 30 different books.

3. Another teacher. Over the course of his semester on short stories, he brings in xeroxed page after xeroxed page of passages with the sentences he likes best underlined.

Ray Goldensundrop said...

I would not buy this book. Nobody can judge what anyone else *should* read at all. Plus I don't recognize any reference value.

However, here's one that I am going to buy:

Building Believable Characters by Marc McCutcheon (1996)

It's a thesaurus for developing characters, a useful thing. I don't see a list of books as being useful. I have that already and for free online. There's the local public library card catalog, Amazon, Library of Congress, Google searches and probably a bunch more, but how much do you need?

Quality, not quantity. If a person reads just one book that changes one's life, that's pretty darn good. If one writes just one book that changes the lives of others (for the good hopefully), even better.

Kafaleni said...

I've seen this at the local bookstores.. I started to flick through it just to see what they thought was a "must-read" and I found a lot of what I call ""worthy" books - books that win literary prizes or are standard reading in HS and college, books that move Oprah to tears.. pretty much all of which bore me silly. So I left it, and I'll just aim to read the books I enjoy in the (hopefully plentiful) years that I have left.

grasshopper said...

Do any two readers agree on the 1001? I read "Wind in the Willows" to my chidren. A more abominable book I've never seen. And I like classics. "Grapes of Wrath?" Historically valuable maybe. Writing style and skiil? Abysmal.
"Winnie the Pooh"? Yes, I seen the earlier version with the exquisite A.A. Milne line drawings. Not that I have anyhing against children's books. Almost any picture book by William Steig. "Tucker" by Natalie Babbit.
"Beloved" by Toni Morrison if you want a civil war story. And/or Russel Banks, "Cloudsplitter." In college I took a class the required us to read the Bible. I followed every one of those "begats" and all of St. Paul's loathing of the human body, male or female, but especially female. Buried within the worst contrivances lie some exquite poems.

Nick said...

Well, there's a pretty big difference between a book that's actually a good book and "flash in the pan" books that churn out hundreds of millions of sales but aren't exactly literary fiction. Sometimes the two can coincide, but they don't necessarily have to.

By the way, MS, don't worry about the Reaper. You probably died about ten years ago, he just doesn't have the nerve to tell you.

Nessie said...

I skimmed through it and though the list is valuable I agree - its just list. The info isnt that much of a help. Kinda dull.

I read Bloom's how to read and why (i think i mentioned it in another comment). Its a) thinner b) the list he provides are not what you HAVE to read but he choses these books as examples on why we read. He also gives a lot of exerpts which is cool because I found myself fascinated with topics/styles I never would have come accross.

ray, I too always go to Amazon and google for lists of suggestions. But I realized that most people give a summary of the book. What I want to know is WHY? So I think I am gonna take on the challenge. Check my blog in a couple of days it may bear some fruit.

Jeb said...

The people who compulsively seek "1001 Books to Read Before You Die" and other directions to getting through life may believe they simply missed the lineup for the 'rules for successful adulthood' on their 21st birthday, and are still looking for the rules instead of enjoying the journey.

I believe the best books for you simply fall into your lap (or your hands) when you're least looking for them.

Case in point: Kem Nunn's 'Tijuana Straits'

It arrived with my son's friend, who said 'This guy is baked. Totally. And this book is f*n UG-LEE. Not your thing, Mrs. J.'

After that I had to take a peek.

By the second paragraph I was hooked by the awesome writing and I stayed up all night with it(although I had to take a break between parts 2 and 3 because the tension was incroyable and I didn't see a way out that wouldn't be simply horrible and I needed to gird my mental loins to face what might be coming down the pike - anyone else do this? Sigh)

Well, the kid got 2 out of 3: the protag was not only baked, he was refried and left in the sun too long; the book was full of UG-LEE people, situations and settings; yet it was definitely my 'thing'.

The writing was so beautiful that I shifted between admiring it with all my heart (wishing I dared even try to write with as much linguistic passion) and being carried along on its current through situations of unsurpassed beauty and vileness and hearbreak, fully inhabiting the minds of people I would never (willingly or otherwise) meet in this lifetime.

'Tijuana Straits' has been called 'surfer noir', mainly because of this author's earlier books, however it has more literary complexity and better writing than any noir I've ever read. It brings me into intimate contact with a part of North America that no sane white person would voluntarily visit. It's on my '1001 books' list along with 'One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich' and 'Cry, the Beloved Country', which share the combination of beautiful writing and cultural ugliness.

Now, for me, it's back to 'Ptolemy's Gate' by Jonathan Stroud, in which the author is hitting his stride as a writer after two books as merely a good storyteller.

This book also blows my little brain at times, and would be on my personal '1001 books' list. But in an entirely different way than 'Tijuana Straits'. Who else could make a book list for me that would include such diversity?

Steorling said...

Oh, this is like that book I was given for Christmas...the 1001 places you MUST see before you die. Listed 50 bars and restaurants in NYC and the only place it listed in my home state was the one over-rated hotel I'll never go to again...not even if George Cloony and Viggo Mortensen invited me TOGETHER. I suspect there is something afoot with these 1001 people. It's a conspiracy. Miss Snark, please, if you'll release the Poodles of Flatbush again, I swear the Labradors of the Great Lakes will lend a paw. We must track down this deviant cult of numerologists and put them to the pen!

Manic Mom said...

Maybe it should be called: 1001 Books To Read Before You Go Blind.

Anonymous said...

well i'm an avid reader and i think it was pretty useful - ive a lot of great books not on the list - but i look at it as a sort of guide to what is out there and why it has been considered for the list. there is so much literature out there having a list like this does help. also i feel connected to those who have read it (these 1001) and those will read it in the future....