1001 books you must read before you die…
Thanks again to Jodi for pointing me in the direction of this.
Now, I’m not going to relist all 1001 books.
Instead, I’m only going to mention those books that I have actually read, as well as the number they are on the list. Unlike the previous lists, I won’t list books that I own with the intention of reading. Time to be ruthless. The books are ordered by century, most recent first.
200. Foucault’s Pendulum – Umberto Eco
241. Contact – Carl Sagan
275. Schindler’s Ark – Thomas Keneally
293. The Name of the Rose – Umberto Eco
301. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
450. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie – Muriel Spark
456. To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
537. Gormenghast – Mervyn Peake
561. Titus Groan – Mervyn Peake
564. Animal Farm – George Orwell
574. The Little Prince – Antoine de Saint-Exupery
610. The Hobbit – J.R.R. Tolkien
623. At the Mountains of Madness – H.P. Lovecraft
688. Amerika – Franz Kafka
691. The Castle – Franz Kafka
701. The Trial – Franz Kafka
743. The Thirty-Nine Steps – John Buchan
781. The Hound of the Baskervilles – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
804. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
808. Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy
837. The Brothers Karamazov – Fyodor Dostoevsky
873. Les Miserables – Victor Hugo
883. A Tale of Two Cities – Charles Dickens
909. The Purloined Letter – Edgar Allan Poe
911. The Pit and the Pendulum – Edgar Allan Poe
913. A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens
916. The Fall of the House of Usher – Edgar Allan Poe
918. Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens
922. The Hunchback of Notre Dame – Victor Hugo
925. Last of the Mohicans – James Fenimore Cooper
931. Frankenstein – Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley
936. Emma – Jane Austen
937. Mansfield Park – Jane Austen
938. Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
970. Candide – Voltaire
983. Gulliver’s Travels – Jonathan Swift
992. Don Quixote – Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra
37 out of 1001. Is that good, bad? There are many more on the list that I own (if I had bothered to read my Dostoevsky, Dumas, and Orwell, I could claim about 45 I think!) and yet more that I would be interested in.
But again, there are books that are notable by their absence. I have read only one of the handful of pre-1700 books (Don Quixote) but there is no mention of The Odyssey, The Iliad, The Aeniad. Where is Dante? Milton? Where the hell is Winnie the Pooh???
As to the list, I want to be a little nitpicky. At the risk of removing several items from the list, the stories by Poe are not books. They are short stories. I’m not even sure they were ever available as separate stories. The same with At the Mountains of Madness by Lovecraft.
I’m really pleased to see Mervyn Peake’s Titus Groan and Gormenghast on the list. Both are well worth reading (I would avoid the third in the trilogy, Titus Alone). Some of the books are testament to literary vanity on my part. Voltaire and Kafka novels all originally picked up to see what the fuss was about/be able to say I had read them. However, Candide is a wonderful story, rich in humour. As for Kafka… The Trial appealed to me as a lawyer, although it suffers from the fact that nobody knows the correct order it should be arranged in. The Castle is also very good, but I almost gave up on Amerika – the story lost direction very quickly. If you want to read Kafka, break yourself in to his writing style with his short stories, they are infinitely more rewarding.
Most surprising on the list? I don’t think people would expect that I had read The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie.
And possibly my favourite? Well, that would be telling. You know I love Poe, Lovecraft, Eco, and the Sherlock Holmes stories. And I will always have a soft spot for The Little Prince. So, you guess…