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1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die by…
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1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die (2006)

by Peter Boxall (Editor)

Other authors: Peter Ackroyd (Introduction)

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: 1001 (Books), 1001 ... before you die, 1001

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
2,118734,641 (3.88)1 / 479
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English (60)  Dutch (4)  Spanish (3)  French (2)  Norwegian (1)  Swedish (1)  Danish (1)  German (1)  All languages (73)
Showing 1-5 of 60 (next | show all)
(Original Review, 2010-04-18)

I found this list rather heavy on very recent fiction. There is also no way of knowing whether books published a few years ago will withstand the test of time, and I suspect many won´t. This is a reason why, apart from a handful of favourites, I tend to restrict my (sadly limited) reading to more established authors. 4 times out of 5, when I believe the "hype", I end up disappointed.

I also found this list astonishingly weak on works not written in English. I certainly didn´t keep count, but it seemed as if about 2/3 of the books on this list were - this is a pretty arrogant and unbelievable figure - especially as many English-language writers appeared multiple times. As someone fortunate enough to have grown up bilingual, I know that some of the best books don´t translate well, but the real problem is that fiction in translation simply occupies not only a very limited market but also a low-status in the English-speaking world. In this respect, Boxall, a Brit, has definitely much to learn from us Continental Europeans.

Along this line, the book I’m glad Boxall didn’t miss the most was Fernando Pessoa´s “The Book of Disquiet.” This Portuguese writer may be largely unknown among Anglophones, but the Spanish, French, Italians and Germans have long since caught on. And not just them. Harold Bloom, who many would argue “knows a great deal” (he has read a lot) about literature, included Pessoa in his "canon" of the 10 (only 10!) writers everyone should have read! But I suppose the fact that this book has neither a definable plot nor belongs in any known genre would mean it's be too much for Boxall to handle. Still, please read it! (And when you do, choose the Richard Zenith Penguin translation, which in my opinion, is far superior to the Margaret Jull Costa one, which even translates the title as the far more awkward “The Book of Disquietude.”) This collection of notes, written around the 19-teens and twenties and published posthumously in no particular order, is by far the most philosophical and prematurely postmodern reflection on the self any of us are likely to come across. (Who else could imbue a sensation we all know with so much poetry - even in translation - and metaphysical weight as Pessoa, when he writes, for example, "... this was denied me, like the spare change we might deny a beggar not because we´re mean-hearted but because we don´t feel like unbuttoning our coat.") Anyone I know who has read it begins to integrate the adjective "Pessoa-esque" into their reflections on life, and I always say, if I had to choose one book to last me the rest of my life, this and certainly not the Bible, would be it. Shame on you Guardian books staff, for ignoring one of the undisputable (but tragically, non-English-language) masterpieces of the 20th century!

Having said this, and to be honest, this whole idea of a "thousand novels to read before you die" is so bloody middlebrow and offensive; it just cannot be taken seriously, especially when the list that resulted from it is so tedious and slapdash. To read through a 1,001 novels just because some bugger says they're important, but with no real and based explanations given as to why they are, nor any idea as to why this particular list of novels should be read, is silly.

I'm sure there are worthy authors missing on this list, but it won't be improved by their inclusion. The whole idea is just patronising.

1,001 books to read... at my age, I don't know if I'd get through them all unless I live till my early 100s (by which time there'll be others on the list). And reading only a handful of novels a year? Please!! That's slacking. I’m reading around 100 a year and I want to read stuff not in this book… 2 stars for the inclusion of Pessoa…wait, wait…No Shakespeare, no Dante, no Marlowe, no Virgil, no Homer, No Plato, no Socrates, …, forget it, 1 star! Boxall is crazy! ( )
  antao | Dec 2, 2018 |
I did a very naughty thing today. In fact I'm still hiding the evidence from my husband. I bought a book. Not any old book. An expensive "do I really need another?" book, aptly named "1001 books you must read before you die" - Preface by Peter Ackroyd, and general editing by Peter Boxall. Advertised as a comprehensive reference source, chronicling the history of the novel and it's an absolute beauty.

For a smallish book it's thick, weighing the equivalent to two, or three 1lb bags of sugar. (I don't know, I'm useless at things like that - they either heavy or they're not!) By the way, as it's so weighty it's
definitely not for reading in bed when you are sleepy, unless you want to knock yourself out for a week!

Not only does it look good with a cover designed (in primary colours) by David Pelham for A Clockwork Orange, written by Anthony Burgess (1972), it's smooth, shiny and smells good, too!

I plan to go through the book and read every single novel the two Peter's recommend, and share my findings on my website. Starting from Aesop's Fables, (4BCE), which I own and have never read - to Never Let Me Go, by Kazuo Ishiguro (2005) that I admit to avoiding when it first came out because it sounded too pepped up by those wealthy critics I love to hate.

It's going to cost a fortune if I can't these recommended books in any of my local libraries, however, I'm a bibliophilist and it's the price I'm (almost) willing to pay! Anyway, I'm a reviewer. It's my job!

From what I have read so far, this is worth every penny.I'm not bothered if I do or don't ag
ree with the two Pete's findings - it will be fun testing each and every book out.

This book alone gives a bibliophile a sense of direction, a new chance to discover critically acclaimed masterpieces, cult classics, and an introduction to some contemporary fiction titles that may have passed you by.

Featuring over 600 full-colour images of books covers and frontispieces, posters and other contextual images, this is a dream come true for me. It also supplies you with quotes from authors and their novels, which makes this even more of delight to read, considering this is a reference book. I gave this book five stars because just the thought of it gets me excited!

Incidentally, as I rushed out of the shop with my book clutched tightly to my chest, scanning the car park for my car (wishing I'd taken more notice where I parked), I couldn't help but wonder how ironic it would be if I died in a car crash on the way home, and they discovered this book "10
01 books you must read before you die" in the boot of my car... ( )
  SassyBrit | Nov 27, 2018 |
Nearly all fiction with a smattering of memoirs and a very few kids' books.

Too many books by some authors. There has been some adjustment over later editions, but that also means that the full list currently stands at 1315 books. ( )
  Dreesie | Nov 5, 2018 |
I agree with many of the reviewers that the title of this book is quite misleading - given that it is a list of novels (loosely defined) only, and quite an unbalanced list as well. One would think "1001 books you must read before you die" would select the most thought-provoking and heart-stirring works in the whole of humanity's several thousand years of literary endeavour - including not just classics such as Homer's Odyssey or The Iliad, but books on breakthroughs in scientific thought, such as Charles Darwin's "The origin of species" or books of significant historical impact such as Thomas Paine's "The rights of man", Karl Marx's "Capital", or Mary Wollstonecraft's "A vindication of the rights of women". Even books of relatively low literary achievement have had enormous impact on our understanding of the world and human experience - such as "the diary of Anne Frank". None of these works are included of course.
Perhaps one of the aims of the book is to draw attention, not to the obvious classics of literature, but to a long list of relatively unknown authors and titles that deserve to be read. In any case it is an impossible task to satisfy everyone - as made clear by Jennifer Byrne in the Preface. Fair enough!
However I was annoyed that this fiction list is still so unbalanced, with virtually all the titles by some authors, such as J. M. Coetzee, Philip Roth, Samuel Beckett (not his plays however), Paul Auster, etc. - but only three by John Steinbeck, only one by Annie Proulx, one by Barbara Kingsolver, and none at all by many other distinguished writers. For all its faults though, I found this book introduced me to an amazing number of authors that I would now like to read - though may never have time to of course..
Checking the list against my own library, I discovered that I own only 53 out of the 1001, and have read only 56 titles out of the list. So many to catch up on!
  noellib | Jul 4, 2018 |
I've noticed a lot of people doing the 1001 books challenge, so I got this out of my library in the hope that it would yield some good recommendations. I needn't have bothered. I certainly don't recommend it to others. It's long and unbalanced really - 12 books by some authors, none by others, and very much focusing on popular books, classics... Nothing obscure or interesting really.

I did get a lot of ideas for my reading list, though not necessarily books I'll like - more like books I will try. I like the style of the book - how it gives small descriptions of each of the 1001 books. However, many of the descriptions are more inclined towards what the contributor thought, rather than details of the actual book or a synopsis. Educated-looking critical essays are all very well, but not particularly helpful for me to choose what I might like to read. Also, this tome hardly mentions any books pre-19th century. All in all, I'm disappointed. Don't buy this book - borrow it if you want to read it. ( )
  lydiasbooks | Jan 17, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 60 (next | show all)
An odd book fell into my hands recently, a doorstopper with the irresistible title “1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die.” That sounds like a challenge, with a subtle insult embedded in the premise. It suggests that you, the supposedly educated reader, might have read half the list at best. Like one of those carnival strength-testers, it dares you to find out whether your reading powers rate as He-Man or Limp Wrist.

 

» Add other authors (114 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Boxall, PeterEditorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Ackroyd, PeterIntroductionsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bassie, SimoneTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Borghi, AntonellaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Byrne, JessicaForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Calzada, Francisco JavierTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Crossley-Lamin, PatriciaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
d'Ormesson, JeanPréfacesecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lamin, LorenaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Marcy-Benitez, AnneTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Philipse, MartheTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0789313707, Hardcover)

For discerning bibliophiles and readers who enjoy unforgettable classic literature, 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die is a trove of reviews covering a century of memorable writing. Each work of literature featured here is a seminal work key to understanding and appreciating the written word.The featured works have been handpicked by a team of international critics and literary luminaries, including Derek Attridge (world expert on James Joyce), Cedric Watts (renowned authority on Joseph Conrad and Graham Greene), Laura Marcus (noted Virginia Woolf expert), and David Mariott (poet and expert on African-American literature), among some twenty others.Addictive, browsable, knowledgeable—1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die will be a boon companion for anyone who loves good writing and an inspiration for anyone who is just beginning to discover a love of books. Each entry is accompanied by an authoritative yet opinionated critical essay describing the importance and influence of the work in question. Also included are publishing history and career details about the authors, as well as reproductions of period dust jackets and book designs.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 17:57:44 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

"From Aesop's Fables to Zeno's Conscience and from Achebe to Zola, 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die offers concise critical insight into the books and the writers that have excited the world's imagination. From Billy Bathgate, Billy Bud, and Billy Liar to Calvino, Camus, and Coetzee, here you'll find the big ideas and the best-sellers. From the popular drama of Louisa May Alcott to the stomach-turning cult fiction of Chuck Palahniuk, you'll find the writing that has made the world over and over again." "Discover the stories behind the adjectives: Dickensian, Kafkaesque, Rabelaisian and the writers behind the stories. From the dark recesses of Marquis de Sade's jail cell to Aldous Huxley's Brave New World, from The Awakening and Enigma of Arrival to The End of the Road and The End of the Story, explore the greatest novels of all time."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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