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1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die (1001 Before You Die)

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  2,332 Ratings  ·  336 Reviews
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 an ...more
Hardcover, 960 pages
Published March 7th 2006 by Universe Publishing(NY) (first published 2006)
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Emily May
Mar 27, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction

I have never had a problem finding books to read.

My whole life, I've never had a problem finding books to read and love. Of all kinds. Of all genres. I would seek them out, one way or another; they couldn't hide from me. From the Goosebumps books I found lying around on the shared shelves in the classrooms of my first school, to my pretentious swanning around my local library in search of those books called "classics" which meant you were totally smart if you read them (oh yes, I was a real deli
Jul 19, 2010 rated it did not like it
Shelves: nonfiction
Edited 8-11-2010 to add Comment no. 4 (below) in response to Paul's follow-up question.

First of all, don't tell me what I "must" do before I die.

Just fuck off.

At Paul's behest, I'm writing my reactions to this list (not really the book, but give me a break - the book is just a bunch of pretty pictures and blurbs defending their idiotic choices). What's important is this shit-for-brains list.

Comment no. 1:

First, they need a subtitle for “1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die.” I’m thinking “I
Paul Bryant
May 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: litcrit
There are so many literary awards these days but I think the following notable achievements have been TOTALLY MISSED. So here are the All Time Award winners :

Best Keith Richard impersonation : W H Auden

Award for the Best exotic dance : Colette and Diablo Cody (tie)

Most transgendered author : Gustave Flaubert

“Madame Bovary, c’est moi” - Ok, if you say so

Creepiest family portrait : The Fitzgeralds

Most ridiculous hats, if that’s what they are : Rebecca West :

Author who most looked like their own bo
Paul Bryant
Sep 26, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: people needing something to step on to reach the top shelf in the kitchen
Has anyone thought of this already? Surely they have....

I wonder if it would be possible here on Goodreads to have a page listing all the 1001 books and - here's the thing - links to our own reviews of them (maybe with a limit in the case of famous books with a zillion reviews). It would be an interesting resource and would encourage people to review those which haven't got any reviews at all - say, for instance, The Taebek Mountains by Jo Jung-rae or Nervous Conditions by Tsitsi Dangarembga. It
As a contributor to this, and having seen a few of the reviews, I thought I could clear a few things up:

1. The title – The publisher commissioned this book as part of its larger series of "1001…before you die". Having this "before you die" was a decision made in the publishing/marketing section as it was decided it would sell better/get more discussion going. It is also, obviously, a little tongue in cheek. "books" rather than "novels", as "novels" was seen as potentially turning people off as
Apr 18, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: 1001-books
I joined the 1001 Books group here on Goodreads, thinking, "What a great way to get exposed to a ton of books!" so I thought I better take a look at the actual list.

Pros: Little descriptions of a lot of classic books. Lots of books described here that I have never heard of, and that I might not have known about otherwise. In fact, I may discover some new favorites through this list. Also, it appeals to my 12-year-old self, who loved to write lists of books I wanted to read. Overall, inspiring, i
Oct 07, 2017 rated it did not like it
While I of course did not in any way expect to agree with EVERY novel or novella that chief editor and book compiler Peter Boxall has considered worthy of inclusion in his 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die (and although MANY of my personal favourites are indeed and happily present) I do have three main and very personally uncomfortable issues with this tome (which actually grate enough for me to now only consider a high one star rating at best, a decent enough compilation and certainly use ...more
Yeah, I know, we GR readers already have too many books on our To Reads list! :-)

As I get older my literary tastes change. I've been a little disgruntled with reading lately and thought I'd check this reference guide out. The first thing I did was to go through my home library and check off how many of these books I actually had. I'm embarrassed to say less than 50! So I'm going to use this list as a guide to broadening my reading horizons, together with recommendations by GR friends.

The 2013 ed
Aug 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Readers looking for a change of pace, a new direction, and broadened horizons
Recommended to Lawyer by: Serendipity to my first copy. Lynda, for our shared copy. May our libraries grow many years.
1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die: An Indispensable Guide

Of course, I didn't read this 960 page behemoth in one day. As a matter of fact, the selected edition is the second of two copies in my library, my personal one, and the one I share with my dearest reading friend and partner, Lynda.

Rather, this is my indispensable guide to broadening my literary horizons. The pictured edition is that published by Cassell in 2012. However, my first edition was the first published in 2006.

I emphasize t
Paul Bryant
Further note, for Ben and anyone else interested in what they've added - here are 20 recent titles they've added to give you an idea. I'm sure a comprehensive list will pop up somewhere soon.

Professor Martens' Departure : Jaan Kross
The Young man : Botho Strauss
Love Medicine : Louise Erdrich
Half of Man is Woman : Zhang Xianling
Black Box : Amos Oz
The First garden : Anne Hebert
The Last World : ChristophRansmayr
Obabakoak : Bernardo Atxaga
Inland : Gerald Murnane
The daughter : Pavlov Matesis
Memoirs of
Marius van Blerck
Feb 26, 2011 rated it really liked it
The secret to immortality is revealed ... read only 1000 of these. No more.
Aug 04, 2016 rated it did not like it
Shelves: haven-t-read-but
I find these lists loathsome, but have no need to go into that, since it has been done so meticulously by Ellen.

However, I think this story may be recorded here. It may change your mind about whether hanging out on GR is what measures the importance of reading in your life. I wonder what these people, in peril every day, would think of this list, so much of which seems to comprise trivia. I wonder if it guides them as they make their life-endangering trips to this library. Or if they have better
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
May 19, 2008
After reading or attempting to read a fairly large number of books listed in this book, I have come back and removed two of the stars I originally gave it. Many of the books are terrible, and many of the ones that aren't terrible are not "must reads".
Below is my original review from before I'd tried some of the suggested books.


March 16, 2008

I can't believe I read the WHOLE thing! I have it from the library, so I wanted to g
Jun 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: people whose TBR lists aren't long enough
Peter Boxall and his panel of high-falutin' lit'ry types got together and made a list of 1001 books they think everyone should read before they die. Now the title might rub some folks the wrong way - hey, who are you, you high-falutin' lit'ry types, up in your academic towers, telling us what we must read? Ultimately this list is probably no better or worse than any other "best books" list compiled by literary scholars, though it's certainly longer than most. (I'd be amazed if any of Boxall's co ...more
Nov 05, 2007 rated it liked it
Of course I didn't read this front to's a reference book, and a wonderful one at that. Besides, there are plot spoilers! The artwork from first and rare editions and photographs of authors are especially nice. This belongs on every bibliophile's shelf.

My three complaints:

1. The awful cover, which looks like a cross between a New Age pamphlet and a college text book. Why?

2. It seems as though every work by some authors is included, so that it could almost be condensed into "500 Author
Luka Fadiurashvili
პიტერ ბოქსალს უნდა დაახიო ლაყუჩები ;დ ერთი ქართველი მწერალი რომ არაა, გასაგებია ნაკითხი არ ხარ საკმარისად, აი ფოლკნერს რო მარტო ერთ რომანს აღირსებ და ისიც აბესალომ, აბესალომს იქ უკვე სერიოზულად იჭრები ; იტოკში არასწორი კაცია პიტერი, თუნდაც მარტო იმიტომ რომ კოელიო 1001 წიგნში შესაყვანად ჩათვალა.
Jan 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ah, the freedom to choose. I love this chunky volume, and one I return to for reading ideas. I have read about a quarter of the 1001, so a few more to go. One qualm about this: it focuses too much on very modern works, at the expense of some really excellent novels which are omitted.
Skylar Burris
Aug 23, 2008 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: Modern book nuts
Shelves: reference, criticism
It's always fun to read some random academic's random list of the books one supposedly should read. It either bestows a sense of satisfaction in seeing one's tastes validated or inspires a pleasing self-righteous indignation at seeing certain books excluded; usually it does a little of both. "1,000 Books You Must Read Before You Die" includes contributions by over one hundred international critics, and, in addition to serving as an amusement, it also serves as a handy reference with summaries of ...more
If you want a compact (well, 900+ page book) list of the books that many people consider to be "classic literature," then sure! Check this book out. It gives a general synopsis of 1001 "classic literature novels" that "you MUST read before you die". For that, it is useful. But it is not even close to being complete.

Surprisingly, the editor has organized the books by century, which I found encouraging, because at least I know they appreciate older literature for its value and influence over the f
Sassy Brit
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 do
Jan 03, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: reference
3-3.5 stars. A great place to harvest fodder for your to-read list. The listings are organized by century of publication (the pre-1700s, 1700s, and 1800s sections are pretty skimpy compared to the 1900s). Each listing is accompanied by a synopsis and pretty pictures. 1001 Books introduced me to some authors and titles that I might not have stumbled upon on my own. It would have received more stars, too, if it presented a more balanced list. I just find it hard to believe that I "must read" TEN I ...more
Eli Easton
Mar 31, 2017 rated it liked it
I love lists. I particularly love book lists. For example, I've compiled in excel lists of horror, thriller, romance, and lit fit books with cross referenced awards and "best of" lists. I particularly like lists such as Mystery Writers of America's Top 100 mystery/thrillers of all time, or RWA's "1001 Best Romance" list. I also like to peruse the Goodread's Choice Awards (voted on by readers in the thousands), Amazon, Publisher's Weekly, and NPR's annual lists. It's certainly valuable to have re ...more
Dec 04, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This is a reference book on, as the title suggests, 1001 very important books. I have to admit, I was skeptical about this book. My first thought was, roughly, "Why should I pay for a book that's just a big list of better books?"

Well, thanks to the Orange County public library system, I don't have to pay for it. So now I have it (for three weeks, anyway), and I'm actually enjoying it a lot.

It's very browsable — it's easy to flip through and skim, and somehow it doesn't feel overwhelming. Each pa
Feb 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 1001-btrbyd
Obviously this "list" isn't perfect. No Shakespeare, no Homer, no Virgil, no Elie Wiesel, no Kent Haruf, no Herman Wouk, among many other favorites. But the managing editor specifically says he knows it's not perfect and that it couldn't possibly ever be perfect. This book about books is meant to spur discussion, and it does that well. I've discovered deeply compelling authors and works listed here that I'm sure I never would have heard of otherwise, and for that alone I'm thankful.
Lisa Vegan
Sep 20, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: bibliophiles
There’s no question that this is a beautiful book. There are many wonderful photos, drawings, book covers, etc. that enhance the text/book descriptions.

I had every intention of reading this book cover to cover, and some day I might do that; I do read many so-called reference books (such as cookbooks) 100%. But, it’s a 960 page book and I’ve decided I’d rather use this as a traditional reference book and read other books instead.

If I refer to it too often I’m afraid my to-read list will get mor
Oct 06, 2014 rated it liked it
I just bought this book used for $2.99. It's the 2008 edition. I have read 67 of these books. I see there's a group out there on Goodreads reading through this, I am going to check them out.

It's a surprising list. Some books are obviously on there. Other books - well? I can't give an opinion yet on some of those I've never heard of. It must all be ultimately subjective but some books have stood the test of time and some of the more recent ones - who knows? Will we be reading them 100 years from
Sep 17, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not read every word of the whole book but this is more the kind of book you keep on your coffee table to savor now and then. On the downside, they added not just one but 2 Coelho books *gasp* that is 2 too many if you ask me. And none of them is the 'best' one: The Alchemist. Oh well...
Of course the point of this book is to make you want to do your own 1001 list. It begs to be challenged.

(added from my update)
I read some of the reviews here and people just need to chill out, they are taking the
It's pretty, but... A list of the titles is more than sufficient for me. I got the impression that the titles were selected less because the author likes them and more because they're historically significant books. Which, believe me, is not a bad thing, and good tends to go hand in hand with significant. However, they're going to be the same titles you'd see on any other Must Read list, but compiled in one expensive book. I much preferred Nancy Pearl's Book Lust titles. Her suggestions are much ...more
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topics  posts  views  last activity   
Lectores Mexicanos: 1001 Libros que hay que leer antes de morir 6 98 Nov 21, 2017 10:20AM  
On Paths Unknown: 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die 101 99 Aug 16, 2016 09:15PM  
Reading 1001: This topic has been closed to new comments. THE LIST 7 115 Jan 20, 2016 03:23AM  
The 2018 Reading ...: Boxall and his 1,001 Books 5 46 Aug 24, 2014 01:52PM  
*~Can't Stop Read...: Liz's 1001 list 3 29 Jun 15, 2014 11:58PM  
*~Can't Stop Read...: This topic has been closed to new comments. May Nominations - 1001 Books 10 46 Apr 22, 2014 12:47AM  
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