Monday, December 31, 2018

1,000 Books to Read Before You Die: A Life-Changing List by James Mustich

Note:  Since the New Year is traditionally the time to make resolutions, we offer our favorite, the one we'd put at the top of all our lists:  to read more books.  Here is a review of a book that might just get you started.

Reviewed by Kristin

A hefty volume to challenge you, 1,000 Books to Read Before You Die:  A Life-Changing List by James Mustich suggests a wide variety of literature with inherent cultural value.  The book is much more than a checklist; each recommended title is described in about one page.  Other well-known works by the author are also mentioned, as well as supplemental photographs and supporting images.

In other words, it’s a beautifully illustrated menu for the book-hungry reader.

I paged through the book just to see how many of the 1,000 books I had already read.  I’m not sure whether my total is below or above average, but it was about 100.  I was pleased to see the breadth of works included.  Children’s literature is well-represented as well as classical works by Homer and Euripides.  Modern works such as Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates take their place in history alongside The Secret of the Old Clock, the first Nancy Drew mystery by Carolyn Keene.  I was delighted to see Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier, one of the bedrocks of modern romantic suspense.

I find myself inspired to read some of the recommended titles.  Yesterday I picked up Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders, but I will admit that I found the multiple ghostly characters difficult to follow.  That’s okay—I think it’s important to acknowledge that not every book is for every reader, and sometimes it’s okay to put the book down in favor of another.  Next I plan to seek out The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers.  I never realized that McCullers was a woman, and that she wrote her most well-known novel at only age twenty-three.

The authors are arranged alphabetically, with certain multi-author works listed by title.  This ordering makes the mixing of genres interesting.  Science fiction, classical works, poetry, mysteries, history, art—this book has something for everyone.  Pick it up and you may find some of your dearest memories, or you may find your new favorite book.  As Mustich claims, this could be a life-changing list.

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