By February 20, 2008 0 Comments Read More →

1001 Resolutions

When my old Marlboro College roommate, Caitlin, and her husband Ashley last came to visit, we ended up sitting on the couch for an hour poring over the pages of 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die, tallying up our personal scores. We didn’t intend to geek out in this way. But when they saw that bright, brick of a book on my shelf, and opened its shiny, lustrous pages, we just couldn’t resist.

For one, the books are arranged in more or less chronological order, starting with Aesop’s Fables and ending with Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro. The selection also has a European feel to it, having been chosen largely by British academics. It’s inspiring to flip through the pages and marvel at the timeline of literary landmarks over the ages. I delighted in discovering, for instance, that Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five and The French Lieutenant’s Woman by John Fowles (two of my personal favorites) were both published in the same year (1969). Each entry provides background on the book and its author, as well as trivia and historical context, and glossy photographs abound.

But back to the scores. Mine was 176. And I consider myself fairly well-read for my age. Pretty humbling though–only 176 out of 1001! I won’t even try to recall what my friends’ scores were, nor would I want to anger them with a false rememberance (aren’t we all a little bit touchy about just this kind of intellectual achievement?).

I do know that I will probably never read all 1001, nor would all 1001 books be for me. But a group in a rut or one that would like to try a year or two of some great classics or chronological reading could do no better than to spend some time poring over this book for suggestions. Feel free to share your scores amongst yourselves!

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About the Author:

Misha Stone is a readers' advisory librarian with The Seattle Public Library. Follow her on Twitter at @ahsimlibrarian.

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