Tag Archives: Peter Ackroyd

1001 Books to Read Before You Die

17 Nov

Being a voracious reader, I am forever making lists of books I want to read. The list has reached a point of unruliness. Okay, if I am being truthful, unruliness was surpassed ages ago and I am now well anchored in chaos. It happens. I currently own one bookshelf that is wholly dedicated to my unread books. All of those rows and rows of beautiful books are double-stacked. We recently moved and I ended up with nine good sized boxes of books from this shelf. It makes me a little drooly-happy, though, just looking at this picture. There is so much great literature in the world PLUS all of the great books of nonfiction that offer insights and education in areas we would, perhaps, never have given a second thought to.

Several years ago, I became aware of a monumental list, published as a book, called 1001 Books to Read Before You Die. Aw, crap! Just what I did not need, yet I knew I would consult this . I sort of think it is like a twisted I.Q. test – no matter how many of the titles you have read, you are going to come away feeling like you should have done better! I haven’t been purposefully reading to cross titles off of this list, but every now and then I revisit the spreadsheet (you can save your own copy, which is the free “lite” version), to see if I can add any more notches to my bookmark.

The list is made up of novels, short stories, and short story collections. There is also one pamphlet – A Modest Proposal, one book of collected text – Adjunct: An Undigest, and one graphic novel – Watchmen. The most featured authors on the list are J.M. Coetzee and Charles Dickens with ten titles each. 1001 Books… was hashed out by over one hundred literary critics worldwide and edited by Peter Boxall. (Boxall is an English professor at Sussex University). The text has an introduction written by author Peter Ackroyd. Each title is accompanied by a brief synopsis and critique briefly explaining why the book was chosen.

Today, prompted by someone from the on-line book group I moderate who mentioned 1001 Books…, I did an inventory. I have read 95 of the 1001 titles. Clearly, death must be forestalled so that I can continue reading!! Seriously. I take pleasure in reading. A great deal of pleasure so I am not charging forward to simply strike titles off the 1001 list like some readers I have become aware of recently. Where is the fun in that? If you are always looking to the next book and the next book how can you possibly savour your current read? Anyway…I digress…what I learned today was this list was update this past spring. DANG! Now I have to investigate the new titles added. What does chaos evolve into? Bedlam? Pandemonium? Shoot, I will clearly need to get more bookshelves.

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