Thursday, February 04, 2010

Book Review : 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die - Ed. Peter Boxall 8*

A book review of a book that reviews books, I think this may be the literary equivalent of standing in between two mirrors. 1001 Books is a great guide to the very best authors the world has produced, in a series of 300 or so word reviews it will introduce you both to the classic works of world literature you already know, and many other stunning pieces of writing that you may be unaware of.

The half page precis really isn't a lot of space to talk about a great work of fiction, but the reviews are packed with relevant information on the novel, the author and the experiences that caused the author to see the world in the way they did, it makes a fascinating read for anyone to help with understanding both the novel and the circumstances that created it.

This is the second edition of 1001 Books, over 250 books have been changed since the first edition, and to show the calibre of the novels chosen, those replaced include Northanger Abbey, A Tale Of Two Cities, The Plumed Serpent, Antic Hay and a host of other classics. Boxall in his introduction makes clear that this can never be a definitive list of the best literature in the world, all opinions expressed within are of course subjective, and although many people will agree on many of the books on the list, many others will not.

The tome is lavishly illustrated with book covers, author photographs and sometimes movie stills, it really is an attractive book, and I'm afraid not one I'm going to give away through Bookcrossing.

Am I likely to read all 1001 books then ? Probably not, quite a lot of the books listed are parts of a trilogy or longer series so to understand the book you would really have to read all the works in the same set. I have not tried to count how long this actually makes the 1001 project. Compulsive/addicted readers will probably also want to read the 'deleted' list from the first edition, adding 282 more novels to their reading pile. What I do plan to do though is to read more books both from this list and from authors contained on the list, after slogging through War And Peace there is little on the 1001 list that I fear to open.

1001 Books Excel File, you can grab a handy copy of the 1001 Books list in Excel format from this link, for the record I have read (I think, my memory can be a little vague)...

1001 Books 2nd Edition - 56 Books read - 28 books each year to complete the list
1st Edition deleted books (282) - 9 books read - 9 books each year to complete

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