Ambassador of Books ~ Book Club Madam ~ Blogger Gal

Friday, January 23, 2009

Update and Questions ...

*** A Helpful Blogging Pal, and an Update ***

When I was complaining about not having time to finish the 1% Well Read Challenge last week, Amanda helpfully pointed out that there are several short stories I could read instead of the lengthy books on my list. Yeah - now I won’t have to fail the challenge!

By the end of February I only need to read three other selections (plus finish the two I’m currently reading). Here’s what I chose:

  • A Modest Proposal, by Jonathan Swift
  • The Pit and the Pendulum, by Edgar Allan Poe
  • The Fall of the House of Usher, by Edgar Allan Poe

I’ve been meaning to read the Poe works for quite some time. And since this month is Poe’s 200th birthday, the timing couldn’t be better!

*** A Question, or Several ***

This question occurred to me today: Does anyone know WHY these particular 1,001 books made the list? I think that the book about the list claims that you can trace the development of the modern novel from the earliest books on the list to the most recent, but I’m not sure about that. What have you heard?

And also: Does anyone actually HAVE the 1,001 Books You Must Read Before You Die book? I’d like to know if it is worth owning. Does it tell a bit about the purpose of each book on the list? Does it tell why each particular book is important to read? It’s one thing to say these are all “important” books but I’d like to know why. If the book will tell me that, I'd like to have it as a reference.


Amanda said...

Yay! Glad I could help :) Yeah, I am curious too about some of the selections on that list. I have to admit I haven't read or looked at the book. For me it's just a good guideline of some great books out there. Although I think it's pretty biased...many British or post-British colony authors are included. I mean, while I loved Jonathan Swift, I wouldn't call A Modest Proposal a book. I really should check out the book at the library.

Michelle said...

I have the book. I really enjoy it. It's not written by one particular person, I think they had quite a few important literary people choose the books they feel should be on the list and they wrote little essays about the book, some providing more useful information than others. It's quite interesting, with photos of book covers and authors plus other literary information about some of the books. I love flicking through my book and reading something about an author or a book I didn't recognise.

Heather J. said...

Amanda - Yes, I've heard some of the same complaints. Maybe someone should come up with a list of 1,001 books that were originally written in a language other than English. I mean, I know *some* of the books on the current list would qualify, but not the vast majority.

Michelle - Thanks, that is VERY helpful. I'm definitely putting this book on my "purchase as reference" list.

Ken & Carol said...

If you get discouraged, as I was by the "1000 book" book, I saw a "500 book" book at CostCo recently. And in smaller field, a "50 place" book for birders. See my entried on these: and Hmm, maybe I should take a course in HTML. Sorry.

Lezlie said...

According to the introduction of the original 1001 Books (there is a new one now), that was indeed the purpose of the list. As with any list of this type, it is subjective. In my opinion, people have taken the title and the list far too seriously. Have fun with it!

The list was revised to include more world literature in the 2008 edition. I own the original and I love it, and I will purchase the new edition when it becomes available in the U.S. I'd love to make a list like this of my own, except I'd call it, "1001 Books I'm Really Glad I Read"! :-)


Rebecca Reid said...

I think all lists like that are highly subjective. Often compiled by a few people. I think everyone has a different reading style plus different reading preferences, so no list is going to meet everyone's needs for "books to read before I die." I'm working on making up my own list!

Lenore said...

Too bad that tip doesn't help me because I've already read all the short ones!

Amy said...

Yes, I will still without doubt fail this challenge. I haven't read a single book on my list, though I bought them all when I first signed up. I"m still going to give it another go for next year. I just ordered a bunch more LOST books. I have serious problems.

Did you read the Guardian's selections of 1000 books everyone must read? There are always shocking choices on lists like these to me. :)

Happy reading! Poe is fun!

Nit said...

I love coming to your blog for good suggestions of books to read! Although, I know I could never live up to the challenge! :)

Happy reading :)

Sara said...

I just got the book, and it's just fun to flip through it and look at the pictures of the authors or read the little summaries. It was also gratifying to go through and put a check mark on all the books I've already read.

But it does seem very subjective, and biased toward English and American post 19th century books. I also like the Lifetime Reading list, which seems like it has been revised to include more multicultural selections.

More Than Science said...

I really like your blog, I'm reading Poe right now to celebrate his 200th birthday too.

chartroose said...

Oh wow, "The Pit and the Pendulum" is totally freaky so of course you'll love it!

I looked at that list, and most of the books seem like they wouldn't be much fun to read. Sometimes I really wonder how they come up with the titles. I think the list "compilers" are just trying to seem uber-intelligent to their peers, so they choose the most boring and wordishly convoluted books possible because other so-called experts have declared them to be "masterpieces." The list makers are lemmings in scholarly disguise.

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