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booklit in 2008

Happy New Year!

I’m going to try something a little different with booklit in 2008, as I’m aware that depending on the book I’m reading, a considerable number of days can pass with little-to-no activity. That, and I feel I could add more than just reviews to the blogosphere. So, with that in mind, I’m going to do something I don’t tend to do: a reading challenge.

I was browsing the internet recently, looking for literary lists. Of those that I found the one that intrigued most was one called 1,001 Books You Must Read Before You Die. It’s a compilation of all the titles mentioned in a book titled, would you believe, 1,001 Books You Must Read Before You Die – although in the book there’s three hundred word summaries of the books in question so that, should you not be inspired to read through all 1,001, you’ll at least feel as if you’ve read them.

1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die

(Buy from Amazon: UK | US)

Looking over the list, as a bibliophile, it’s certainly debatable as to whether some of these books you must read before you die. I’ve read The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time by Mark Haddon, for example, and wouldn’t consider it sane to include it if the list extended to a million books. I’ve not read Ardel O’Hanlon’s The Talk Of The Town, so I may be being biased against it, but, perhaps, like most Irish it seems, he has that lyrical, literary streak that justifies it being there. Still, at least there’s no Harry Potter to wade through.

The other thing that I notice from looking at the list is that, while it’s understandable that the bulk of the books listed are from the 20th Century, there are a few authors who are perhaps represented too much. Step forward Paul Auster, J.M. Coetzee, and Ian McEwan. I can’t help thinking that at least one of their books could have been replaced by something by Richard Yates. Say, Revolutionary Road.

Of the list I reckon I’ve read just over fifty off them, although I’ve reviewed little of these. Sitting on my shelves there are about 150 of them. What I’ve decided is that, as a personal reading challenge, I’m going to try and get a review on booklit of each of these books. Of course, I’m not going to set a time limit or any such deadline as, despite the variety on offer, it would be boring to become slave to a reading list. I’ve added a page to the right sidebar linking to the complete list on booklit and as I read the books from the list and review it, I’ll put a link to it. That should at least take the site through to 2068.

January 1, 2008

12 responses to booklit in 2008

  1. Beth said:

    With so many titles to choose from, and plenty of time, it’s doubtful you’d feel hemmed in. Bravo Stewart and I’m glad you placed that link there. I had read the list on your blog one other time but was unable to access it. It’s a great reference.

  2. steffee said:

    Wow, you don’t do things by halves, do you?

    For what it’s worth, I thought the Haddon was alright. It was different enough to warrant a read from most people, anyway. I agree that some authors (such as your examples of Auster and McEwan) are over-represented, particularly as I don’t like either of their works, and am sure I can’t be the only one!

    But yay to reading challenges!

  3. steffee said:

    I’ve read 112 of the 1,001 which is 11.19%. I need to read 16 a year to complete my literary education, to cover the lot before I die.

    Free spreadsheet of the list (er, are we allowed links…) http://johnandsheena.co.uk/books/?page_id=42

  4. Stewart said:

    Yes, you can link. You joining me on the ‘challenge’, steffee?

  5. steffee said:

    Jeez, no! No way. Er, no offence or anything hehe.

  6. jem said:

    This sounds like a great endeavour. A few years ago I try to read through a few more on that UK ‘Big Reads’ list that came out. I didnt get very far.

    I’ve looked at this book in the shops, its appealling but a bit pressuring with its deathly toll. Instead I bought a friend Time Outs ‘1000 books to change your life’ – which seems a more gentle approach.

  7. jen said:

    The Ardal O’Hanlon book is actually very good. I’m surprised that he hasn’t had more recognition for this aspect of his career. I’ve read roughly 120 of the books so far and while I have no intention of trying to read them all every 4th or 5th book I read would tend to be from the book. I have to say it has introduced me to books and authors I otherwise may not have considered.

  8. Stewart said:

    Thanks, jen. It’s not a priority read – more one that if I see it in the library, I’ll pick it up. I need to push on, actually, with the list. I’ve read another three of them recently, but haven’t reviewed them as I’ve just had a period of blog lethargy/burnout that I hope I’m getting over now. It’s still a long way to go though. 🙁

  9. Jeanne said:

    Just found the list for the 1001 books. Better get started. I have 3 already sitting here to read. Get through about 3 a week and so better take time picking. When my time comes to go I don’t think will be able to take books with me.

  10. Tony S said:

    I happpened to catch a look at this book, “1001 Books to Read Before You Die” at my local library, and selected the book “The Devil and Miss Prym” by Paolo Coehlo which was one of the books they listed. It was the worst book I read in 2009. I don’t think this book is a reasonable guide for quality reading.

  11. Stewart said:

    Yes, it’s not the best list ever and I’d purposely go out of my way to avoid Coelho after the pap that was The Alchemist. But it does serve as an interesting guideline.

    What was interesting about it was that after complaints about so many authors – Auster, Roth, etc – making so many appearances in the list, a new edition of the book was released that dropped over 200 titles and replaced them with a more balanced list that included plenty of titles from around the world, some of which are out of print. I’ve been meaning to update the list for some time, and should perhaps do so soon.

  12. Pingback: 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die | mostpopularbooks

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12 responses to booklit in 2008

  1. Beth said:

    With so many titles to choose from, and plenty of time, it’s doubtful you’d feel hemmed in. Bravo Stewart and I’m glad you placed that link there. I had read the list on your blog one other time but was unable to access it. It’s a great reference.

  2. steffee said:

    Wow, you don’t do things by halves, do you?

    For what it’s worth, I thought the Haddon was alright. It was different enough to warrant a read from most people, anyway. I agree that some authors (such as your examples of Auster and McEwan) are over-represented, particularly as I don’t like either of their works, and am sure I can’t be the only one!

    But yay to reading challenges!

  3. steffee said:

    I’ve read 112 of the 1,001 which is 11.19%. I need to read 16 a year to complete my literary education, to cover the lot before I die.

    Free spreadsheet of the list (er, are we allowed links…) http://johnandsheena.co.uk/books/?page_id=42

  4. Stewart said:

    Yes, you can link. You joining me on the ‘challenge’, steffee?

  5. steffee said:

    Jeez, no! No way. Er, no offence or anything hehe.

  6. jem said:

    This sounds like a great endeavour. A few years ago I try to read through a few more on that UK ‘Big Reads’ list that came out. I didnt get very far.

    I’ve looked at this book in the shops, its appealling but a bit pressuring with its deathly toll. Instead I bought a friend Time Outs ‘1000 books to change your life’ – which seems a more gentle approach.

  7. jen said:

    The Ardal O’Hanlon book is actually very good. I’m surprised that he hasn’t had more recognition for this aspect of his career. I’ve read roughly 120 of the books so far and while I have no intention of trying to read them all every 4th or 5th book I read would tend to be from the book. I have to say it has introduced me to books and authors I otherwise may not have considered.

  8. Stewart said:

    Thanks, jen. It’s not a priority read – more one that if I see it in the library, I’ll pick it up. I need to push on, actually, with the list. I’ve read another three of them recently, but haven’t reviewed them as I’ve just had a period of blog lethargy/burnout that I hope I’m getting over now. It’s still a long way to go though. 🙁

  9. Jeanne said:

    Just found the list for the 1001 books. Better get started. I have 3 already sitting here to read. Get through about 3 a week and so better take time picking. When my time comes to go I don’t think will be able to take books with me.

  10. Tony S said:

    I happpened to catch a look at this book, “1001 Books to Read Before You Die” at my local library, and selected the book “The Devil and Miss Prym” by Paolo Coehlo which was one of the books they listed. It was the worst book I read in 2009. I don’t think this book is a reasonable guide for quality reading.

  11. Stewart said:

    Yes, it’s not the best list ever and I’d purposely go out of my way to avoid Coelho after the pap that was The Alchemist. But it does serve as an interesting guideline.

    What was interesting about it was that after complaints about so many authors – Auster, Roth, etc – making so many appearances in the list, a new edition of the book was released that dropped over 200 titles and replaced them with a more balanced list that included plenty of titles from around the world, some of which are out of print. I’ve been meaning to update the list for some time, and should perhaps do so soon.

  12. Pingback: 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die | mostpopularbooks

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