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

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message 1: by Her Royal Orangeness (last edited Feb 19, 2011 04:30PM) (new)

Her Royal Orangeness (onlyorangery) Whenever I'd look at the list of 1001 books, I felt overwhelmed and not certain where to even start. So, I decided to look up summaries for ALL the books from ALL the lists. Yeah, it took me a few weeks. ;)

I sorted them into new lists: Read (116), To Be Read (283), and Will Only Bother With If I Live to A Biblical Age (800+).

I eliminated: books with plots that didn't interest me (How many "sounds-like-Lolita" and "I survived [insert name of war here]" books does a girl need to read, I ask you), books with plots that didn't interest me enough to read a 1000 page book, books that have no summary on goodreads, books that have no English summaries on goodreads, and books so obscure that only like 2 people have rated it on goodreads.

And I found some books that I'm definitely interested in that might have stayed lost in the massiveness of the original list.

Anyone else ever sort through the Monster List in any way?


message 2: by Ellie (new)

Ellie (elliearcher) Love your whole system, especial the Will Only Bother With category (800+ also struck me as funny too, for some reason). I hate summaries tho' unless the 5 lines or, preferably less. Any longer, I feel like I might as well read a book. Or at least a short story.
And I thought your "books so obscure that..." was also hilarious.
Thanks for making me laugh.

However, the 2 people reading obscurit is my hook.

Too bad this review of the list doesn't have that hand like feature. I'd definitely hit it.


message 3: by Jan (new)

Jan (auntyjan) | 24 comments Perhaps if everyone listed their top ten books from the list so far (bearing in mind some of us may have only read 30 or 40 at this point)...then people could see which titles were coming up frequently and that might give them an idea of where to start.My top ten would be... (I have the 2006 book)
1.Pride and Prejudice
2.David Copperfield
3.The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
4.The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time
5.The Time Machine
6.Schindler's Ark
7.Gone With the Wind
8.The Hobbit
9.Nineteen Eighty-Four
10.Wild Swans

One person's favourites don't necessarily help, but if everyone starts listing their top ten it would definitely give a picture of the best reads.


message 4: by Her Royal Orangeness (last edited Feb 19, 2011 09:41PM) (new)

Her Royal Orangeness (onlyorangery) @Ellie - I didn't think my post was humorous but now that you mention it, I guess it kinna is! :)

@Jan - That's a great idea! Thanks for sharing your list. I hope others will chime in.

Most of the books I've read from the list are classics, so I don't know if mine will be very helpful.

Here is my list, randomly chosen from books I've rated either 5 or 4 Stars. (I also mention some other related books I found while searching the list. I haven't read these though.)

1.Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
Wide Sargasso Sea is a prequel to Jane Eyre.

2. Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
The Mysteries of Udolpho is part of the plot of Northanger Abbey.

3. To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf

4. Marya by Joyce Carol Oates

5. The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

6. Of Human Bondage by W. Somerset Maugham

7. Jacob the Liar by Jurek Becker

8. Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe
Foe is related to Robinson Crusoe.

9. Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein

10. In Watermelon Sugar by Richard Brautigan


message 6: by Shovelmonkey1 (new)

Shovelmonkey1 | 190 comments I've only read 162 books from the combined 1001 books list but so far my top ten (in no particular order) are...

1. Dracula by Bram Stoker
2. Under the Skin by Michael Faber
3. Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean M. Auel
4. Hawksmoor by Peter Ackroyd
5. Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh
6. Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
7. Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier
8. Life A users manual by Georges Perec
9. Cannery Row by John Steinbeck
10. The Music of Chance by Paul Auster


message 7: by Liz M (new)

Liz M These are my top 8, the only books from the list that I gave 5-stars (I am really stingy with stars). I couldn't pick just two of the four-star list reads!

On Love by Alain de Botton
Jealousy by Alain Robbe-Grillet
1984 by George Orwell
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey
Suite Française by Irène Némirovsky
The Hours by Michael Cunningham
The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien


message 8: by Philip (new)

Philip Lane | 21 comments Being a List maniac I started my list from various lists on websites and in books - both US and UK. This being prior to discovering the 1001 list. In terms of popularity(turning up on multiple lists) the top 9 (all on more than 10 lists) are:
1. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
2=. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
2=. Beloved by Toni Morrison
4=. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
4=. 1984 by George Orwell
6=. Lord of the Flies by William Golding
6=. On the Road by Jack Kerouac
6=. Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie

I have only read 4 and enjoyed 2; The Great Gatsby and Nineteen Eighty Four, but disliked 2 The Lord of the Flies and Midnight's Children. But that was a long time ago - I will give them all another go.


Her Royal Orangeness (onlyorangery) @Ellie - Wittgenstein's Mistress looks so intriguing...I'm glad to hear you liked it. Which list is Wrinkle In Time on? I thought I had a complete list of all with all updates, but apparently not.

@Shovelmonkey - I've added all of Auster's books to my TBR list. I'd never heard of him before, but the books sound great.

@Liz - Suite Francaise sounds marvelous!

@Phillip - Glad to hear that someone else is a list maniac. ;)


message 10: by Ellie (new)

Ellie (elliearcher) No my bad-I don't know how that blipped in. Probably because I think it should be on a list, it's so a favorite of mine.


message 11: by Gemma (new)

Gemma | 17 comments Interesting to see... I'm working from a combined list of all three and currently (I could probably come up with a different list on a different day) I'm favouring this selection, in no particular order. And I didn't even five-star all of these - I'm pretty stingy...

The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
1984 by George Orwell
Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons
The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham
Watchmen by Alan Moore
The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China by Jung Chang
The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami


message 12: by Ellie (new)

Ellie (elliearcher) I edited my list. Hopefully I now have only books from the 1001 Reading List. I listed P&P instead of my true favorite, Emmaby Jane Austen because I think it's probably the one most likely to be enjoyed by everyone.


message 13: by Anthony (new)

Anthony DeCastro | 167 comments Outside of number 1, this list isn't in any specific order...oh, and I don't share Ellie's love of Wittgenstein's Mistress ;)

1. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
2. On the Road by Jack Kerouac
3. The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
4. Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
5. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
6. The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler
7. Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy
8. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
9. The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien
10. American Rust by Phillip Meyer


message 14: by Linda (last edited Feb 21, 2011 02:38PM) (new)

Linda I've read 135 on the combined list. Gonna try to list my top 10 favorites/recommendations; (seems like I've done this before somewhere on GR, but can't remember where!) After the first three, these are not particularly in order:

1. Pride and Prejudice (But I love all of Austen's novels)
2. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
3. A Tale of Two Cities By Charles Dickens
4. The Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan
5. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
6. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
7. Great Expectations by Dickens again - sorry!
8. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd By Agatha Christie (although if I had my choice I would have And Then There Were None on the List instead)
9. Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons
10. The Lord of the Rings trilogy By JRR Tolkien

I always love comparing others' lists of favorites.


message 15: by Linda (new)

Linda BTW, Royal Orange, I also have some flagged as "Books I have no Intention of Reading" because their subject matter or plot has no appeal to me. Close-minded, aren't we? But life is too short to waste time reading books I'm not going to enjoy. JMO.


Her Royal Orangeness (onlyorangery) Ellie wrote: "No my bad-I don't know how that blipped in. Probably because I think it should be on a list, it's so a favorite of mine."

Me too. I read the whole series umpteen times when I was younger.

And thinking about this made me go in search of a list similar to the 1001 but targeted towards fantasy. I found one on the Guardian that's called Sci Fi/Fantasy, but it's more like Sci Fi/Horror. I've found some *more* books to add to my TBR list. *groan* lol


message 17: by Her Royal Orangeness (last edited Feb 21, 2011 03:18PM) (new)

Her Royal Orangeness (onlyorangery) @Gemma - You have several on your list that I'm very interested in! I'm happy to hear that you liked them.

@Tony - I should probably re-read "The Old Man & The Sea." I don't think I was old enough to appreciate it when I read it (6th or 7th grade, I think).

@Linda - I think we need to be "close minded" about some books or we'd go utterly mad thinking, "Too Many Books, Not Enough Time!!!" lol


message 18: by Linda (new)

Linda Royal O - My sentiments exactly. My email address is "2manybooks" and that is my life's motto.


message 19: by Elizabeth (last edited Feb 21, 2011 07:23PM) (new)

Elizabeth Her Royal Orangeness wrote: "Whenever I'd look at the list of 1001 books, I felt overwhelmed and not certain where to even start. ..."

My feelings precisely. I seem to spend more time sifting through the list trying to decide what to tackle next instead of actually reading the books on the list. One method that has worked very well for me is to review the two lists on GR Listopia featuring people's favorite books from the 1001 lists. In fact that pretty much seems to be what we are doing here...

As for picking out favorites, I find that I'm continually re-evaluating my top picks with each book that I finish. Also, like Gemma, my list changes depending on the day and the kind of mood I'm in. So here are my favorites at the moment in no particular order:

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day by Winifred Watson
1984 by George Orwell
The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
Life of Pi by Yann Martel
Breakfast at Tiffany's by Truman Capote
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Choke by Chuck Palahniuk


message 20: by Judith (last edited Feb 22, 2011 10:51AM) (new)

Judith (jloucks) | 1203 comments I'm never any good at limiting myself to a set number when I choose from many the BEST or the WORST or whatever, but I can rarely resist trying....Therefore, here's my list for today (It might be a little different on another day). BTW, I've read only about 400 of the books on the combined lists.

Wuthering Heights - Bronte
Great Expectations - Dickens
To Kill a Mockingbird - Lee
Brideshead Revisited - Forster
The Good Soldier - Ford
The Power and the Glory - Greene
The Long Goodbye - Chandler
The Great Gatsby - Fitzgerald
Native Son - Wright
Of Mice and Men - Steinbeck

Lolita (Nabokov) and The Old Man and Sea (Hemingway) and The Things They Carried (O'Brien) get honorable mention at the very least as well.

Really liked The Life of Pi, The Reader, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, The Bluest Eye and so many others mentioned or not mentioned in this thread so far!


message 21: by Linda (new)

Linda Judith wrote: "...I've read only about 400 of the books on the combined lists."

ONLY 400?? Well that's 40% of 1000, so that's impressive! I think finding people who've read over 100 on the list is unusual.


message 22: by Berta (new)

Berta Sylvia I've read the picture of dorian gray and didn't like it


message 23: by Philip (new)

Philip Lane | 21 comments Linda wrote: "Judith wrote: "...I've read only about 400 of the books on the combined lists."

ONLY 400?? Well that's 40% of 1000, so that's impressive! I think finding people who've read over 100 on the list is..."


YEs very impressed and agree with your list in the main. I certainly enjoyed the BBC series of Brideshead Revisited but must point out it is by Waugh (not Forster).


message 24: by Judith (new)

Judith (jloucks) | 1203 comments Philip wrote: "Linda wrote: "Judith wrote: "...I've read only about 400 of the books on the combined lists."

ONLY 400?? Well that's 40% of 1000, so that's impressive! I think finding people who've read over 1..."


Oh thank you for the correction! How embarrassing! I'm been on a real Forster kick for a while and see I may have developed a tendency to credit him more than his due!

BTW, I regretted leaving off "A Passage to India" (Forster) and "War and Peace" (Tolstoy) and "The Wings of a Dove" (James)that list. "Anna Karenina" (Tolstoy) was a major one for me also. I just cannot stick to a top ten list out of so many books that have meant a great deal to me!

Also, I read from the combined lists, so that 40% doesn't hold for me. I've never counted, but I think there are more like 1,294 titles in the three lists combined. And then some of those I read so very long ago that I'm very weak in the memory of them....


message 25: by [deleted user] (new)

Berta wrote: "I've read the picture of dorian gray and didn't like it"

I didn't care for it either.


message 26: by Tej (new)

Tej | 120 comments As far as how I'm organizing them, when I first discovered the 1001 book I already had found a "100 books you should read to consider yourself well-read in English" list. Plus I have almost a billion (slight exaggeration) unread books in my house. So, I marked off the ones I already read, then sorted by author. I'm trying to read one book by each author. I started by knocking off those with less than 250 pages that I could find at the library. Now I'm taking a break and reading from the 100 list and my own library. I expect in about six years I'll be able to get serious about the 1001 list again. If I live long enough I'll start on the new authors from the revised lists. :)

So far I've finished 268 from the original list. My favorites are (in order by author):

Maya Angelou: I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
Charlotte Bronte: Jane Eyre
Fyodor Dostoevsky: The Brothers Karamazov
Alexandre Dumas: The Count of Monte-Cristo
Umberto Eco: The Name of the Rose
George Eliot: Adam Bede
Gabriel Garcia Marquez: One Hundred Years of Solitude
Victor Hugo: Les Miserables
John Irving: A Prayer for Owen Meany
Milan Kundera: The Unbearable Lightness of Being
Harper Lee: To Kill a Mockingbird
Yann Martel: Life of Pi
Toni Morrison: Song of Solomon
Zadie Smith: White Teeth

Reviewing my list of favorites, apparently I'm partial to stories about people who have survived tragedy!


message 27: by Tracey (new)

Tracey (traceyjoa) here's my top ten
Persuasion - Jane Austen
Dracula - Bram Stoker
Ballet Shoes -Noel Streatfeild
.Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
Love Letters - Katie Fforde
Heidi Johanna Spyri
Goodnight Mr Tom - Michelle Magorian
Little Women- Louisa May Alcott
The Fall of The House of Usher
A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens


message 28: by Ellie (new)

Ellie (elliearcher) Ok-I keep losing count but I've read between 530-533 books on the list. And I'm disappointed in myself because I know there's a whole bunch I should have read but just got lazy on.
Then, too, there's a whole bunch I know I'm never going to bother reading-like anything by Tombias Smollett. If I didn't like him as an undergrad when I liked just about anything I doubt very much I'll like him now.
But still, that leaves maybe 400 books to read.
In addition to all my other lists.
Help!


message 29: by Philip (new)

Philip Lane | 21 comments Judith wrote: "Philip wrote: "Linda wrote: "Judith wrote: "...I've read only about 400 of the books on the combined lists."

ONLY 400?? Well that's 40% of 1000, so that's impressive! I think finding people who'v..."


I read everything by Forster as a student (before Maurice came out) in the order they were written and loved the sense of increasing mastery. I watched the film of 'Howard's End' yesterday and was very moved. Looking forward to reading them again now.


message 30: by Jan (new)

Jan (auntyjan) | 24 comments Ellie wrote: "Ok-I keep losing count but I've read between 530-533 books on the list. And I'm disappointed in myself because I know there's a whole bunch I should have read but just got lazy on.
Then, too, there..."

Ellie, you should not be at all disappointed with yourself...you're more than halfway! And we were so impressed with Judith!
I'm enjoying reading the lists of everyone's top ten, but I'm sure none of us would mind if people who've read over 400 books list top twenty or even thirty, as it would be hard for them to choose.
I'm wondering if anyone has read more list books than Ellie..


Her Royal Orangeness (onlyorangery) Wow, I'm impressed with those of you who have read multiple hundreds of the books on the list! There aren't even that many I'm interested in reading. ;)


message 32: by Ellie (new)

Ellie (elliearcher) Now that's the heart of my problem. There are quite a few I'm interested in reading (& the others I read without knowing they were any list) but I can't decide if finishing a stupid list is worth reading a lot of books I'm so not interested in.


Her Royal Orangeness (onlyorangery) Ellie wrote: "I can't decide if finishing a stupid list is worth reading a lot of books I'm so not interested in."

I vote no. There are way too many books in the world to spend time reading the ones you're not interested in. I mean, it's not like you're going to get a trophy or a pot of gold or a trip with your favorite author to a tropical island if you complete the list. ;)


message 34: by Ellie (new)

Ellie (elliearcher) I know. I love lists-but maybe I'll make my own: "books I would read if I were immortal but since I'm not..."


message 35: by K.D. (new)

K.D. Absolutely (oldkd) | 248 comments Top of the Head List only:
1) The Little Prince by Saint-Exupery
2) The Grapes of Wrath by Steinbeck
3) Lolita by Nabokov
4) Birdsong by Faulks
5) The Sound and the Fury by Faulkner
6) The Magic Mountain by Mann
7) Enduring Love by McEwan
8) To The Lighthouse by Woolf
9) The Outsider by Camus
10) Soldiers of Salamis by Cercas


message 37: by Anja (new)

Anja | 3 comments I've only read 14 books on the list so far, but I've made a list of mye favourits so far.

1. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
2. The Mayor of Caterbridge by Thomas Hardy
3. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
4. Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro
5. Mansfield Park by Jane Austen
6. Big Expectations by Charles Dickens
7. Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice
8. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
9. Persusion by Jane Austen
10. Sula by Toni Morrison


message 38: by Linda (last edited Feb 27, 2011 10:21PM) (new)

Linda You know, regarding the question of spending time reading books on the list that you're not interested in (just for the sake of checking it off): I think I would rather go back and re-read my favorites than read something I'm not going to enjoy (but then, sometimes you don't know until you give a book a try). As I look through these lists of favorites, I see some that I read a long time ago and don't remember well, and I'm tempted to go back and read them again.


message 39: by Tej (new)

Tej | 120 comments Chiming in on the "read it just 'cuz it's on the list" discussion. The ocd part of my personality will continue to read these books just to check them off. Most times I don't even know what the book is about when I pick it up. When I'm in the middle of one that I am not enjoying, I ask myself this same question. But the truth is I occasionally find a gem where I never would have expected it. I've been known to read books that started out very poorly for me and wound up being a treasure. That's one of the joys of reading for me.


message 40: by Gemma (new)

Gemma | 17 comments Tej wrote: "Chiming in on the "read it just 'cuz it's on the list" discussion. The ocd part of my personality will continue to read these books just to check them off. Most times I don't even know what the b..."

Couldn't agree more - they might not all be to my taste, but if they made it onto the list, there must be something special about them. There have been a few that I'd never have come to if I hadn't found them on this list - Wild Swans is a particular example - very unlikely that I'd have picked it up on my own, but I loved it!


message 41: by [deleted user] (new)

Tej wrote: "Chiming in on the "read it just 'cuz it's on the list" discussion. The ocd part of my personality will continue to read these books just to check them off. Most times I don't even know what the b..."


This is one reason I started using this list. I want to read good books, and while they may not all be my kind of story, I'm hopeful that they will all have something unique to offer.

That said, here is my top ten list

1. Jane Eyre
2. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
3. Little Women
4. The Hobbit: Or There and Back Again
5. Breakfast at Tiffany's
6. A Tale of Two Cities
7. To Kill a Mockingbird
8. Foundation
9. The Hound of the Baskervilles
10. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd


message 42: by Shovelmonkey1 (new)

Shovelmonkey1 | 190 comments I kind of agree with Tej and there are a few books i struggled through just because they're on the list. I just read The Sorrows of Young Werther and my attention wandered a lot throughout. Similarly Blood and Guts in High School and Hunger were two books i abandoned without finishing. List or no list, nothing is worth that mental anguish!


message 43: by mark (new)

mark monday (happy-end-of-the-world) kathy acker (Blood & Guts) is definitely an acquired taste. i can respect her novels but it is hard to love them.


message 44: by Coqueline (new)

Coqueline | 28 comments I especially like the list for the obscure books it contains. I have no patience for Jane Austen et.al type of books, nor for any Russian epics. War stories don't interest me either. So most of the time when I browse through the list I would just skip all of the old classics and headed right to the 1900s onward, with special attention to the lesser known foreign literatures. It's the best resource for great foreign literatures that I know so far.


message 45: by Linda (new)

Linda Veronica - I like your top 10. I agree with about 80% of it, and there's only one there I haven't read (The Foundation).
And Coqueline, I found your perspective interesting, so much the opposite from me. I find the further into the 20th century I get, the less I like the books!

Here's a question for you all: I RARELY quit a book before finishing it, even if it means "slogging through" it over the course of months. But, if I attempt a book that's on the list, and give it a fair shot, but just can't get through it and decide to abandon it, say halfway through, do I still get to check it off??


message 46: by Jan (new)

Jan (auntyjan) | 24 comments I would say a tick for books you've finished and an i for incomplete for those you didn't finish, so you can still mark all the ones you've read, still complete the list (if you ever get that far in a lifetime), and also have an indication of those you did not enjoy. One day a descendant of yours may inherit your list and find it interesting or helpful.


message 47: by Coqueline (last edited Mar 05, 2011 03:33PM) (new)

Coqueline | 28 comments I would never force myself to finish a book I don't enjoy. If I've managed to get more than half the book and still couldn't get into the it, I would give it up, and tick 'read'. Books that I gave up earlier on, I left unticked.

Linda - I have to admit I find it really difficult to relate to the classics. I find modern literature to have more variety on the subject matter and plot. I also have a mild Asperger's syndrome which makes any subtleties of character driven books lost on me (same case with most love stories).

I lost the spreadsheet with my markings on it, so I would just make my top ten list purely on memory. Top ten of most enjoyable books that I read from the list:

1. Lolita
2. The Invention of Curried Sausage (best gem from the obscure book category)
3. The Reader
4. Perfume
5. Hideous Kinky
6. Suite Francaise
7. The Virgin Suicides
8. The Handmaid's Tale
9. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
10. Siddharta


message 48: by Tej (new)

Tej | 120 comments Linda wrote: "Veronica - I like your top 10. I agree with about 80% of it, and there's only one there I haven't read (The Foundation).
And Coqueline, I found your perspective interesting, so much the opposite fr..."


No, you do not, Linda! There's no partial credit on this test. :)


message 49: by Tej (new)

Tej | 120 comments Jan wrote: "I would say a tick for books you've finished and an i for incomplete for those you didn't finish, so you can still mark all the ones you've read, still complete the list (if you ever get that far i..."

I like the way you think, Jan. I am passionate about history and often bemoan the fact that we don't compose letters anymore. So much of what we know from the past comes from personal correspondence. Perhaps future historians will be learning about us from our blogs. Somehow, I don't think we'll measure up to the likes of John and Abigail Adams.


message 50: by [deleted user] (new)

Linda wrote: "Veronica - I like your top 10. I agree with about 80% of it, and there's only one there I haven't read (The Foundation).
And Coqueline, I found your perspective interesting, so much the opposite fr..."


I slog through it :0) There must be a reason they published it and stay with it till the bitter end. I should stop that and get a life. :)


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