Boxall's 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die discussion

1001 Book List > Not impressed.....

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message 1: by Zeke (new)

Zeke | 1 comments In my opinion, a "1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die" list should include books that are so good they've withstood the test of time, or are sure to do so. There are a lot of new books on here that I didn't think were all that impressive and not sure they'll survive, whereas a lot of classics that have done so were not there.

message 2: by Brianah (new)

Brianah (mrsbrianah) I think it would do you well to read the meaning for the creation of this list. It is not about the most classic of literature. Rather, it was put together to showcase books and authors that have added to the development of the novel as well as showing how this type of writing has changed over the years.

I was confused about why some books didn't make this list and once I read more about why it was put together it all seemed to make more sense. I still think they could have come up with a better title for the list, but at least I understand why they have chosed what they have.

message 3: by M.D. (last edited Apr 12, 2008 04:36AM) (new)

M.D. (mdbenoit) There will always be dissension in a list like this one. Some of the books on the list are almost a cliche in the must-read category while others are too "young" in my opinion to make the list. It also doesn't take into account the changing tastes, attitudes, mores, and knowledge of readers; with the advent of television and cars and planes, for instance, there's less of a need for lengthy description, which may make a younger reader impatient and have him/her discard a book.

Nevertheless, the list is an impressive demonstration of the brain's ability to imagine and to create new stories throughout the centuries. On the other hand, it will not restrict me from reading other books that are not on the list, maybe "lighter " ones as well. The list should also use the word novel instead of books since there is no non-fiction in it.

My 2cents anyway.

message 4: by Charity (new)

Charity (charityross) There is some non-fiction on the list...

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson...just to name a couple.

Also, The Metamorphosis of Ovid is an epic poem and there are several short story collections on the list, so novel wouldn't really apply to those either.

Maybe "1001 Influential Works"??

message 5: by Chloe (new)

Chloe (countessofblooms) | 140 comments Octavio Paz's Labyrinth of Solitude is a collection of essays about Mexico. Great read, but definitely not fiction.

message 6: by Meg (new)

Meg | 7 comments I appreciate the fact that this is a list that covers novels down through time. Would this list be different if it were written in 10 or 20 years? Absolutely. But I'm not sure that even the "classics" are immutable. "The Yellow Wall Paper" wasn't considered a classic until fairly recently--I'm pretty sure that there are some books that 20 years ago were "classics" and now are rarely read.

I also love the fact that there is science fiction on this list--not a lot, but definitely a nice sample.

message 7: by M.D. (last edited Apr 14, 2008 02:57AM) (new)

M.D. (mdbenoit) Charity, I stand corrected. Still fiction is predominant, which is interesting in itself since the statistics are that people in general read more non-fiction than fiction. (The proportion between the two in most bookstores demonstrate that, at least here in Canada). I wonder then why most well-remembered books, or influential, as you call them, are mainly works of fiction.

message 8: by M.D. (new)

M.D. (mdbenoit) Meg,

I was also gratified to see some SF on the list; they even included one of Stanislav Lem, who was one of the first SF writer I read and who convinced me that SF could be about more than science but that characters had their place in the genre as well.

message 9: by Charity (new)

Charity (charityross) Hmmm, I think that this list would more or less be 'influential storytelling'....though I have not flipped through the actual 1001 Books book. I believe some that have looked through the book said that the books on the list are the evolution of the modern-day novel. Perhaps 'influential storytelling' would fit then?

I'll definitely have to secure myself a copy of the book so that I can read the determining factors.

message 10: by Dianna (new)

Dianna | 82 comments Peter
I think the list was made for people like me who thrive on lists. lol I am sure there are not very many books on the front of the list that I will ever consider reading because I like classic literature but it is still a goal. I understand what you are saying though. I expect the list is somewhat of a fad but the idea is interesting to me anyway.

message 11: by Kecia (new)

Kecia | 45 comments Peter, They could have listed 973 or 1017 books but 1001 is what they chose. Personally I would have preferred 1000 books even. Yes, it's arbitrary, but so what? 1001 books it is!!!

Now if I had selected the 1001 books the list would have been somewhat different. If you had created the list obviously it would have been different. It's all arbitray and totally meaningless.

I doubt many people think this list is definitive. If you are not a list person, forget it and move on. But for those of us who get a kick out of's simply FUN!

Happy Reading...on or off the 1001 list!!!

message 12: by [deleted user] (new)

How is it that Faust isn't on this list?...and Choke is?

message 13: by Chloe (new)

Chloe (countessofblooms) | 140 comments Thomas Mann's Doctor Faustus is on the list at #553...

message 14: by [deleted user] (new)

Word up, Peter.

message 15: by Karen (new)

Karen | 64 comments I have just found this group and reviewed the list. I don't think it purports to be a list of the "best" books ever written, or even a list of the classics. If people want that, then the Modern Library's 100 best books
would be a good start.

This list is a list of books that have influenced people, that are significant for the time when they were written--even if it was in the last few years. I imagine most of them will end up being classics though.

I was suprised at some things that were not on there--like the Iliad and the Odyssesy.

message 16: by Karen (new)

Karen | 64 comments What I don't like is that ALL books by some authors are listed--Jane Austen for one. While I am a big fan of Austen and would be upset if Pride and Prejudice were not there, I don't think ALL of her books are influential or important--the world could have lived without Mansfield Park or Northanger Abbey. I think the list compilers would have been better off to choose just one or two books by influential authors than include them all. Of course with some like Dickens and Hemingway, that would be hard.

Another contemporary author that is not there is Anne Tyler--I would include her. Or Alice Hoffman.

message 17: by Alan (new)

Alan For the record, I think I come up with 20% read, and some more that I can't remember much about and didn't count.

Certainly I wouldn't try to read all of them -- some I have started, and had no interest. My life expectancy says I would have to read 39 a year, and I do, but non-fiction, poetry, a little drama, and some fluff has to go into that count.

On the list are multiple books by McEwan, Auster, Coetzee, Austen, Oates, Wharton, Sterne, Ballard, Rushdie, Woolf, Trollope, Walker and I would say one is enough for me from any of them. Admittedly I did read multiple books by Dickens (regrets), Hardy, Fitzgerald, Hemingway, and others on the list.

There are authors I don't know, so the list is a good chance to look them up. I haven't thought deeply about what's missing -- if Rand, Cozzens, Cronin, Cheever, Mailer, Styron, Saroyan, Malamud, Singer, Winton, Richler, Richter, Davies, are on there, I missed them. Only saw one Willa Cather; I'd put Death Comes for the Archbishop on. Only Huckleberry Finn is there for Twain. Although science fiction, a little spy and mystery stuff is represented, there isn't genre like Hornblower, Mutiny on the Bounty or great westerns. Where's Boulle? An American Tragedy?

message 18: by Karen (new)

Karen | 64 comments I'm confused. I requested a copy of the book from my library, and looking through it, the 1001 list in the book does not appear to be the same as on the web site. What's up with that?

Alan, I agree that Styron should be on the list--Angle of Repose for sure. No Mailer, although he is mentioned in the blurb on The Electric Kool-Aid Acid test. No Rand. How can anyone not include Atlas Shrugged or The Fountainhead if they are talking about seminal works?

message 19: by Karen (new)

Karen | 64 comments Ooops, I goofed--Angle of Repose is by Stegner, not Styron...but I agree that Stryon (Sophie's Choice) would be a good addition.

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