Saturday, May 4, 2013

1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die, Edited by Peter Boxall

Rating: 3/5
Publisher: Universe
960 pages
Source: Library

Description: A list, with brief descriptions, of one thousand and one books, that the contributors to this volume feel everyone should read for a well rounded literary experience.

Review: This is the revised and updated version of this book, from 2010. The list in the original 2006 edition had several issues, such as, the inclusion of a large number of works by a certain authors. That issue has been improved in this edition to a certain extent. Charles Dickens is down from ten books to just four, but that's still a lot of Dickens. With some other authors, while the reduction makes sense, the choice of what to drop seems a bit puzzling to me. Iain Banks is reduced from five books to two, but, for some reason, the only one of his science fiction works on the 2006 list is not one of the remaining two. Other odd choices have been corrected. Jack London, for example, has gone from two books, The Iron Heel and Martin Eden, to just one, the more obvious choice of The Call of the Wild.

They also seem to have improved the diversity of the works listed, though it still skews heavily towards works originally in English.

The real question, however, is, is this book worth reading? And well, yes, sort of. Its a nice book. Well made, with nice paperstock. Given its a hardcover, almost a thousand pages long, and weighs almost five pounds, its not very easy to read. But, it is decent reference work, and will probably introduce you works and authors you've never heard of, while giving you a general idea of the content in one convenient place. However, the entries won't give you a great deal of insight into why, specifically, any of these works made the list.

Its definitely a book its best to check out in person, before deciding if its something you'd want to buy.

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