Tag: Reading Challange

My Experience with the 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die List

Posted October 27, 2012 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Literature / 29 Comments

One of my favourite bookish podcasts is The Readers; if you haven’t heard it before go and subscribe, it offers random book-based banter which has been both enjoyable to listen to and offers some interesting ideas for future blog posts. This post is inspired by the latest episode about the “1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die” list.

With the newly revised book being released earlier this month, I thought I would share my experience with this list. As most people know I was never much of a reader, I think I read about one or two books a year. In 2009 something clicked in my head (thanks to Craig Schuftan) and I wanted to read everything I could get my hands on. But I had a problem; I really didn’t know where to start. I found plenty of books that looked interesting but I wasn’t sure if they would fulfil my yearning.

So with no idea of what my literary tastes were and not knowing what books would be required reading. I turned to a “1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die” list which I found while searching books that were considered required reading for everyone. The thing I loved about this book was the fact that it was a combination of old and new books ranging from all different genres. This helped start my literary journey and find a real joy in being a literary explorer.

While I don’t read many books from the list now, I discovered the types of books and genres I really like and what hasn’t worked for me. Personally I would love to read every book on the list but as I discovered there are now four different editions. Do you read the entire list from one edition or combine the lot and read every book ever mentioned? I’ve come to the conclusion I would rather use the list as a guide in addition to discovering new books on my own accord as well.

I will always hold this list close to my heart because it did nurture my newly formed love of reading but it also helped my pretentious level as a book critic. I wish the publisher released a list of the books that have been removed from the new edition, I know there was a spread sheet that had the first three lists on it, so you can see which ones disappeared from each update and tick off all the books you’ve read but sadly that was taken down for copyright violations.  The publisher should look into something similar as I’m sure there are people out there that are willing to pay a small fee to have access to all the lists for referencing.

As a point of reference since beginning my reading journey back in 2009, I’ve now read over 400 books and seventy six of them were from the “1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die” list. The list is still a point of reference for me when I feel like I’m not reading books that are literary enough. While the list covers most genres and offers an interesting perspective on your reading life, it never really felt like it was full of highly literary novels. For me it was just a way to explore and cover the essentials in reading. Here are ten books from the ones I’ve read that I loved and highly recommend;

  1. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
  2. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  3. Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
  4. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
  5. Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut
  6. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
  7. The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler
  8. Foucault’s Pendulum by Umberto Eco
  9. Perfume by Patrick Süskind
  10. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess