1001 Books to Read Before You Die

As I write, the most emailed arti­cle on The New York Times offers a few reflec­tions on Peter Box­al­l’s book, 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die. The Times piece makes a cou­ple of log­i­cal points: First, there’s no time to waste if you hope to read every book on the list. Read­ing a book per month, you’ll get through 1000 books in a mere 83 years. So you had bet­ter get start­ed now. Sec­ond, this “best of” list is bound to be con­tro­ver­sial. (Do you real­ly need to read Anne Rice’s “Inter­view With the Vam­pire” before it’s lights out?) The 1001 books on Box­al­l’s list can be pre­viewed here. The book itself, which runs 960 pages, is obvi­ous­ly more than a raw list. Each entry is accom­pa­nied by an “author­i­ta­tive yet opin­ion­at­ed crit­i­cal essay describ­ing the impor­tance and influ­ence of the work in ques­tion.” And also there’s appar­ent­ly some nice illus­tra­tions. If you’re a bib­lio­phile, it’s worth a look.

For more great books, see the col­lec­tion of Life Chang­ing Books cre­at­ed by our read­ers.

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