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

1001 Book List > Rethinking 1001 Books (Your Personalized List?)

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message 1: by Bishop (new)

Bishop (a_bishop) | 72 comments There was some discussion in another thread about making the 1001 Books list more personal, rather than accepting it as dictated by a shadowy cabal of critics and academics. :)

This thread is for those interested in help "tweaking" the 1001 Books list in order to suit our personal interests, values, etc.

Your thoughts?

message 2: by [deleted user] (last edited Jul 27, 2008 06:33AM) (new)

First of all, Bishop, good thread!
I was probably vaguely off-topic in describing how I had personalized my list on the "percentage aiming for" thread. I'll re-mention the few ideas here.

Foremost of these is that 1001 was just too many! So I brought the list down to individual authors who at least had some name recognition for me, and then selected only one book per author, in general. Now I have a very personal list of 'only' 300 books, and even that number of titles is rather overwhelming when they are all gathered in one place. But they are all titles and authors that I have some interest in reading at some time or other. I realize there is no rational reason for discarding authors I haven't heard of, and probably many good reasons for reading works of theirs, but if one is going to trim with an axe, one has to be remorseless.

The second major thought I would add is that the 2008 update, with about a 30% turnover, induced an enormous amount of work in readjusting my own list, just to keep the books already read -- even though they were now eliminated from the 2008 list -- and to keep the list to 300 books. So beware, and be prepared.

In addition, I'll mention a fringe benefit of the shorter list. I've read about 130 books of the 1001, and of course the same 130 from my shorter list of 300. But against my list I am 43% complete, and have only 170 books to go. Big smiles.

And of course I'll still be reading my usual numbers of books that give me no credit on either list. Minor frown.

message 3: by Judith (new)

Judith (jloucks) | 1203 comments I'd be interested in seeing a copy of your list, Russ2. Willing to share? I'll send my email address if you are.


message 4: by Judith (new)

Judith (jloucks) | 1203 comments Bishop:

I'm afraid this thread, as named, could turn into ones that already exist that just name books to add to the list or books that should be removed in an individual's opinion. I'd rather hoped we could collect other people's lists (like russ2's) that they have compiled themselves. Is that what you had in mind also?

message 5: by [deleted user] (last edited Jul 27, 2008 12:00PM) (new)

I'd be glad to send it to you. Let me get the updates correctly interleaved first, and then I'll be back for your adddress. :)

message 6: by Adriana (new)

Adriana (adrianacontreras) | 2 comments Hi Russ I'm new to the group myself. I would love to see your list as well. 1001 is a little overwhelming for now. Thanks

message 7: by Jessica (new)

Jessica (sureshot26) | 11 comments I'm not tweaking the list yet, but I'm making my decisions about what to read based on what I already know and love. I'm a big noir reader, so I'm taking on the classics in the genre that I've never gotten to before - Chandler, Hammett, James M. Cain, and the like. I'm also focusing on more recent fiction that appears on multiple "best of" lists as a means to make my choices. I figure by the time I knock off the ones that fit into these categories, I'll have made a sizable dent in the overall list.

Realistically, I know that I'll likely never be able to get through Ulysses or the multiple Faulkners on the list just because that's not my taste. Overall, I'm trying to treat it less as prescription and more as suggestions to stretch my reading boundaries and delve into some of those works that are often alluded to by current authors.

message 8: by [deleted user] (last edited Jul 27, 2008 05:55PM) (new)

Jess, I'm interested in your reactions to the noir works that are on the list. Would you say that the person(s) making the choices made reasonable choices? That is to say, are the books on the list generally speaking better than the books left off the list, as far as you can tell.
I think that is true in the espionage genre and I have gained respect for whoever put those selections together. Le Carre is on for example, while Len Deighton is off, and that is not a bad place to put a dividing line, although I would have included Funeral in Berlin but not others of Deighton's.
So, how does noir look to you?

message 9: by Bishop (new)

Bishop (a_bishop) | 72 comments I have been working on compiling a list of my own. As soon as I have it close to "ready" I will post it here...

message 10: by [deleted user] (last edited Jul 29, 2008 04:19AM) (new)

Ive been plugging away at updating my condensed list and will soon be done. But looking at it overall, now that I have it in one place, the quality of books seems amazingly variable. Mebbe that's the way it is with the history of the novel, but I certainly can't call mine a list of book recommendations, especially not when other excellent and better books I have read are not on it.
But I'll get it done, and then I'll have it.
(And I haven't forgotten those who have requested it.)

message 11: by Derrick (new)

Derrick (afderrick) | 92 comments I did the same thing, I went through and actually read the plot description of each book and either axed it or kept it (it took me almost 5 weeks to do so). Secondly I also added books not on the 1001 list that I wanted to read for one reason or another, some of the 'highschool classics' that I didn't see on the list I added myself and other books I just wanted to read for one reason or another (like the Bourne series). Lastly, what I have done is I participate in the book clubs in this group and also one from The Complete Idiots Guide to the Ultimate Reading List. So there are many books that I am reading now that I otherwise would have completely skipped. Then as I finish the book of the month for each group I begin to pick up books that are on my list cutting into the number (of about 500). If you are interested in seeing the list i have made for myself look at my to-read shelf.

There is about an extra 136 books that are on the military professional reading list that are on my to-read shelf but I don't particularly count those.

message 12: by Judith (new)

Judith (jloucks) | 1203 comments I thought the noir books were well selected on the list also; however, some were dropped for the 2008 version. Any opinions on whether they were the correct ones to drop (assuming there was a reason to drop any of them) or ones that should be added in that genre?

I do love the Raymond Chandler mysteries! My favorite: "The Long Goodbye".

message 13: by Denise (new)

Denise | 235 comments Being 3/4 of the way through Cocaine Nights, I'd say it's a good one to drop. I don't really know what 'noir' means though. I should probably've google that before popping off.

message 14: by Jessica (new)

Jessica (sureshot26) | 11 comments As far as noir goes, the selections are generally solid thus far - I'm with Judith on The Long Goodbye, which is a particularly great piece of craftsmanship. I do wish they'd included noir by women (such as Dorothy Hughes), or even just mystery in general - there's a lot of really tremendous work by women in the genre that's totally ignored on the list. I can't understand why we need 8 Ian McEwans (when he's only written 10 to date), but we can't throw one to Sara Paretsky, who originated the female p.i., or Laurie R. King, whose tribute to Sherlock Holmes surpasses the original in many ways (especially in the superlative The Game). While it's cheering to see Christie, Sayers, and Highsmith on the list, I feel like three out of a thousand is pretty weak.

message 15: by Melissa (new)

Melissa Jess, I think there is a general poo-pooing in literary circles of so-called "genre fiction," that a novel is somehow less-than because it is a mystery. I completely disagree with that mindset, but I think it comes into play in this list.

I also agree with you on Laurie King's Mary Russell novels. I like Holmes so much more in her books that I did reading Doyle's stories.

message 16: by Liz (new)

Liz (hissheep) I agree with the comment "too many" - at 61, I'm not sure I have time to read 1001 books, especially since new titles are always being added!!!

message 17: by [deleted user] (new)

And, Liz, when one looks at the 2008 update, it is among the most recent titles that there really was a bloodbath of dropped titles. One suspects that after only two years neither they nor this year's new crop were so important to one's life after all. Much better to pick one's own new titles and be content.

message 18: by Kieffala (new)

Kieffala | 76 comments Melissa, I LOVE the Mary Russell novels! I'm a big Holmsian anyway, and a good friend of mine got me into King's stuff. I love it. I find her premise of basically just being an editor on these manuscripts that just appeared on her doorstep hilarious and entertaining.

message 19: by Someone (new)

Someone  Youmayknow (momar13) After looking throught the list and then reading whtat the list is actually about; "the development of the novel", I understand now why contains many books that don't appeal to me. That being said, I see why a lot of the books on the list have been chosen. Therefore, I don't think that now I am going to concern myself so much with the number that I read, just that I read a smattering from each era and of each different type novel. Take for example the author Murakami. His novels are unique and deserve to be on such a list as this. I recommend him to anyone. You may not like his style but it's a new type of novel.
Of course there's Faulkner, I can't read him. Isn't it true that he as well writes a different type of novel so also deserves to be on this list. Perhaps this is just my way of justifying not reading too many on the list and continuing to read the books that truly enjoy.

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