If you were at last Tuesday’s discussion of Bonk by Mary Roach, you may have heard the conversation turn to booklists and guides after the discussion of sex research and Mary Roach subsided. If you’re looking for a way to find the best books the world has to offer, or you’re just looking to structure your own reading habits, some of these resources can be a great way to start.
I should point out that I am obsessed with lists. I like creating lists, reading lists, creating top 5 lists, and pulling apart other poeples lists. Of course, no list can ever match your tastes or fulfill your own reading needs entirely, but I’ve found its a great way to supplement the kinds of titles I would normally pick up.
My recent obsession with reading lists was kicked off by Entertainment Weekly’s recent New Classics issue in June of 2008. The editors went through the top 100 achievements of the last 25 years in movies, music, tv, fashion, theater, and of course books. Some people may accuse the publishing of ‘best of’ lists as being lazy journalism, but I love the way it gets me thinking about new ideas. The list inspired me to pick up Lonesome Dove, The Handmaid’s Tale, and The Secret History for the first time this year. And then I started thinking – whay am I stopping at 1983?
That brought me to the big book pictured above: 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die. This reference style source is British in origin and the original list (published in 2006) features 1001 books that trace the origin of the novel – not necessarily the best of the best books. Its easy to get engrossed in this list and I immediately wanted to check how many of the 1001 I’d read. Luckily someone at Arukiyomi was wonderful enough to create a spreadsheet where you can keep track of what you read. It will tell you the percentage of the list you’ve already completed and it will let you know how many more you need to read each year for the rest of your life (if you live an average amount of years). The 2008 British edition of the book added another 284 titles to the original list and the spreadsheet also includes those titles and some other neat supplementary features. There is also a 1001 Books Goodreads Group where you can follow a monthly selection and discuss the list with other readers.
If you’re still looking for some books to jumpstart your reading try:
1001 Books for Every Mood by Hallie Ephron
The Well-Educated Mind: The Guide to the Classical Education You Never Had by Susan Wise Bauer