The 1001

I just came across this list of the 1001 books you must read before you die.  With a bachelor’s in English and an almost-master’s in Teaching English, you’d think I would have read more of them, but my count only came to 31.  If you care, here they are, from freshest to oldest:

Life of PI

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time

Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency

The Long Dar Tea-Time of the Soul


White Noise


The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

Slaughterhouse Five

The Crying of Lot 49

Cat’s Cradle

A Clockwork Orange

To Kill a Mockingbird

Things Fall Apart

Lord of the Flies


Native Son

Of Mice and Men

Red Harvest

All Quiet on the Western Front

The Great Gatsby

The Awakening

The Yellow Wallpaper

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Portrait of a Lady

A Tale of Two Cities

Moby Dick

The Scarlet Letter

The Purloined Letter

Pride and Prejudice

A Modest Proposal

Some of those are actually short stories, but epics like Moby Dick more than compensate.  Speaking of epics, where’s The Odyssey on that list?  Of course, there’s plenty of contentions to be made with a list like this.  It’s pretty Dickens-heavy, and Elie Weisel’s Night should be read by everyone on the planet (it’s depressing, but short), though it’s nonfiction status is probably what got it excluded.  I was happy to see my boy Douglas Adams represented with three novels (though I think most people would rightly prefer any of the Hitchhiker’s sequels to Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul).  If only they could’ve made some room for The Princess Bride and Bone, I would’ve been so satisfied.

How many have you read?  What else is missing from the list?  Does it mean anything to read “important” books, or is it admirable enough these days to get through most of the Lemony Snicket series?  I await everyone’s spirited comments.


2 responses to “The 1001

  1. I took your challenge and wrote out my list. I’m ahead by a few, but only because my 11th grade American lit teacher made us read three Hemingway novels that year, and because I had a freakish interest in the French Revolution, hence the repeated readings of Dumas and Hugo.

    I am sadly lacking in the Russians and essentially everything in the 21st century. I should have kept up better with Oprah’s reading list. LOL

  2. I just stumbled upon your site and figured I’d add my number of books that I read too.

    I have a BA in English also and have been a bookworm since I could read so I felt a little odd getting such a small number of books out of the list.

    I only read 44 of the books on the list. A lot of the books that were mentioned were ones I had to read in High School or college. There were only a few I actually read for pleasure and about ten on the list that I have but haven’t read as of yet.

    I think a lot of the books listed are very good. They all have substance and seem to educate when read. But, I would’ve been happy to see some of the books that have been made into series and the ‘classics’ such as Shakespeare. I feel so long as you’re able to get from cover to cover it’s still commendable that you’ve read a book.

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