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1001 books you must read before you die.

Discussion in 'General Book Discussion' started by disconnected, Jul 21, 2008.

  1. Peder

    Peder Well-Known Member

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    Having restrained myself this far, I think I'll finally say that the arguments and criticisms against lists, and their readers, are entirely predictable and have all been made and seen already in other forums where the list has already appeared -- and sometimes made much more vigorously. I myself have made a fair number of such criticisms also.

    However, I think it is also fair to say that, quite apart from value judgements, or any supposed normative value, Boxall's list of 1001 is the longest list of books of Western literature I have ever seen in one place -- short of an actual library catalog -- and it makes interesting browsing for me if only for that.

    Anyone else wishing to exhibit more worthy books that they feel we should give a thought to reading is more than welcome to put up their own collection of suggestions, numerous or not. I am sure many of us who are always on the prowl for books to think about reading would appreciate it. There's a blog space open and waiting for you.

    And yes, I read and have read many more books off-list, it seems, than on-list.

    And yes, I check off which books I have read. Why not?

    And no, I don't even have any intention of reading all of my own short list of 300. They are not all equally appealing. Although some I now lust after, and I am glad they appeared on the long list in the first place. Nobody here or anywhere else has ever mentioned them to me for potential interest. So the list has served a good purpose, despite its supposed inadequacies and wrongheadedness from some points of view.
     
  2. sparkchaser

    sparkchaser Administrator and Stuntman Staff Member

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    I plan on reading at least a page out of each book. That way if someone asks if I have read Billy Budd, Foretopman I can say "yes, yes I have".
     
  3. impalpable

    impalpable New Member

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    Oh my list would be much bigger if I counted everything I read an excerpt from :lol:
     
  4. pontalba

    pontalba Well-Known Member

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    Really? :rofl:

    How fortunate for her to be the only one to know you well enough.
    I beg to differ, it is not "how am I ever going to get through them", it is more OH BOY!, what a feast I have before me! Nothing complicated in that, unless one has an earnest desire to make it complicated.
    Now that would be an entirely different discussion for another forum more focused on neuroses.
     
  5. Wells83

    Wells83 New Member

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    I completely agree. I have a TBR pile because there are many books that I have that I just haven't gotten to--not sure what that has to do with the list.

    Do I feel that I should read every book that is on the list? No way in hell. I won't read anything that I don't enjoy, so if a book on the list doesn't appeal to me, I won't bother to pick it up. However, if I'm in a rut and looking for something new, I'll go through the list and see what's on there that does appeal to me, including books by authors I've never heard of and might not have come across if not for the list.
     
  6. Ronny

    Ronny Well-Known Member

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    I agree with all you said, and some I like to read just because they are often discussed and it's nice to have read them myself just to be able to join in the discussions. I put a copy of this list on my blog here to keep track of what I've read on it because I think it's rather a convenient reference for when I need something to read, there are quite a few books on the list I have heard of and wanted to get to anyways.
     
  7. Peder

    Peder Well-Known Member

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    In a philosophical vein, it might even be argued that the books one has not heard of are the better part of the list, for finding something new and interesting to read. There are certainly enough of those -- 700 by my count! It is not something I often do, being more a creature of habit, but it is an idea that certainly has something going for it. Especially when one can so easily check amazon, google or wikipedia to get an idea about the book.

    So! One more reason for such a list. :flowers:
     
  8. PhilW

    PhilW New Member

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    But look at some of the replies to this thread - it's like being in class at school, when the teacher asks a question to which everyone knows the answer - all the hands go up, "me, me, pick me!" Folks can't wait to list how many of the books they have read/plan to read. If that doesn't have some element of competitiveness in it, I don't know what does! It's the same in all those threads about keeping lists of the books that you have read - why bother? I have no idea how many books I have read, and I care less.

    And all you folks with TBR piles - come on, be honest, how many of those piles actually get smaller? If they are constantly growing, then the idea is self-defeating!

    Your posting seems to have a rather sarcastic tone, which may merely be a misinterpretation on my part, but if it's not, then I see no need for it. I am simply of an age when I know what I like to read and I just don't need or expect anyone else's help in choosing books to read , with the single exception of my wife - she IS the only person who knows me well enough to do so, why should that be such a surprise?
     
  9. Peder

    Peder Well-Known Member

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    Oh, I don't know. One might take a look at all the people who have not posted their count, or even looked at this thread or my blog. On a forum this size that is one huge number. Even if you trim it back to only active members.

    Some people like to keep track of thier reading. Like me. Is that such a sin? I don't have a ready-made literary expert standing in the corner just to guide me. Is that such a sin? I can't thumb through Books in Print for ideas. Is that such a sin? And I don't feel like pulling books off the shelf at random to read. That usually leads to klunkers. Is that such a sin? And if my TBR pile grows, whose care is that but my own? Is that such a sin.

    So, more power to you that you read as you wish, and read well without lists. Whose care is that but your own? Is my lack of interest such a sin?
     
  10. pontalba

    pontalba Well-Known Member

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    If my posting seems sarcastic, perhaps you are looking at it through the lens of your own post. The phrase "I beg to differ..." is not sarcastic, it is a polite expression when differing from another person's opinion that is used by people that wish to present a different opinion without casting aspersions upon the other party in the conversation.

    As far as all the answers clamoring as you imply, well I think that's great! The forum is for communication about books, patterns of reading, and convivial conversation.

    Perhaps you do not care what you have read, or care to remember same, that is your prerogative, I do care what I've read, and wish to grow in my reading taste and habits. I for one have to know where I have been to better plan and formulate future reading.
     
  11. disconnected

    disconnected New Member

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    i beg to differ? there are always two meanings to everything, i believe that, you can either see people being competitive here or the fact that other people can get inspirations from their book list, for example there was a book i was a little skeptical about, i have had on my list of books i want to read, i saw somebody else's book list here and noticed that they had read the book, i asked about the book and their reply helped me decide i might want to read it. its not one genre of books people like to read, maybe your taste is that way, i would try anything once, if i dont like it doesnt matter....but the fact that i tried, no one, even i myself dont know what books i like to read, i have read biographies, fiction, non-fiction, horror, mystery, my mind doesnt stop at just one kind of books, when i see a book list it gives me an idea of books i might want to look into, when i step into a library there are few books i dont want to read, but thats just me, i like to see people's lists here, and pick books i want to get into first....then again thats me :)
     
  12. disconnected

    disconnected New Member

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    totally agree, i love keeping a list of everything, books i have read, classic movies i have watched, i keep lists for EVERYTHING , words i found in books i did not understand with their meanings, books i would like to buy....that list too goes on :D
     
  13. abecedarian

    abecedarian Well-Known Member

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    I like to keep a record of what I've read as a sort of journal. Lists like this one in this book are useful to me as a list of suggestions. I don't like being told what I Have to read any more than I like to be told what I should Not read. I've been told I can be stubborn at times:)
     
  14. Robert

    Robert Active Member

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    Lists like this provide a good starting point when I'm looking for something new.

    So far, I have only read 38 of the books listed, I am currently reading one, and I have 23 others on the shelf waiting to be read.
     
  15. Peder

    Peder Well-Known Member

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    Lists like this have also just provided the names of 17 books that aren't even on the shelves at Borders for me to discover there. I count that a plus, a +17 in fact, to keep my eyes and ears open for.
     
  16. silverseason

    silverseason New Member

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    I don't have a TBR pile, but a shelf. A shelf is self limiting. A pile can be any size that can be kept stable, or can generate subpiles, but the shelf has an absolute limit. (Sometimes I can cheat a little by sticking a book or two behind the ones in front, but that's a temporary expedient, honest!)

    When books come in TBR, then I have to reassess my shelf, move some into other categories, including the perfect terminal category, The Good Will.

    TBR represents aspiration and aspirations are good if they can stay connected to the real world - like my shelf.
     
  17. Real Great Idea

    Real Great Idea New Member

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    One book that you must read before you die is The Hobbit...the first installment in the Lord of the Rings Series.....awesome!! :D
     
  18. PhilW

    PhilW New Member

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    It was the comment about my wife that seemed sarcastic. Maybe you didn't intend it to be.

    I still think all you 'listers' and 'TBR' types are nuts. But obviously I am the odd one out here. I can't help but think that time spent listing or sorting or thinking (agonising?) about what to read next is time that could be better spent....well, reading - maybe, just maybe?
     
  19. silverseason

    silverseason New Member

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    I see it a little differently. Some people are happier when they can act on impulse, uncontrolled by rigid plans or other people's expectations. Others are more comfortable when they can take control, planning, making lists, piling up books.

    The world is a better place with a variety of people and approaches and it is definitely a better place if we can tolerate each other's action styles.
     
  20. Peder

    Peder Well-Known Member

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    I'll try not to get your wife any further into the discussion than you have already brought her. But perhaps, yes, the time we spend listing etc might be better spent reading. But I say 'perhaps' only, because that is part of how we decide what to read and is part of the reading process for us. If you look at it carefully, though, I think you might see that the burden of non-reading time -- of deciding what to read and keeping track of reading preferences etc -- has been removed from your shoulders, but it hasn't disappeared. It is still being done, even in connection with your own reading. The burden of such non-reading time has simply been assumed by your wife and has become invisible to you. You and she just split the tasks that we each have to do both of by ourselves. It makes little difference that she may not keep lists, or TBR's, or do it the way we do. The point is that she is thinking about what to read and you are doing the reading. The same as we think about what to read and then do the reading. We neither of us are reading just any random book that comes before our eyes. The thoughtful selection process is still there, and I don't think you will deny its benefits, for you, or for us.
     

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