Yes, you knew it was a matter of time, didn’t you? Somebody this obsessed about making lists and keeping scores as me was bound to jump on the bandwagon that is this book. For those unfamiliar with the concept: 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die is a fun collection of works that some famous literary critics recommend to the general public as essential for personal intellectual enrichment. The book is being revised at a rate of about once every two years, and I ended up buying its latest reincarnation – the 2010 version. No, I don’t think I will be hunting down other editions; and yes, I do intend to use this collection as a guide to my reading.
After flipping through all 960 pages I realized that I would probably never be able to accomplish the goal of reading all books mentioned for many reasons. First of all, not all books listed there are my cup of tea. A lot of pages are dedicated to the twentieth century publications, which are not my priority at the moment. Secondly, if I do try to read them all, I will not live long enough to finish the challenge. To verify, I whipped out my trusty calculator and tried to estimate my chances. Right now, I am reading at a slow pace of about a book or two a month, so lets round up to one book to be safe. According to my calculations it would take me approximately 83.4166666… years to finish. The good news is, if I read two books a month, the number of years is slashed in two. I know some people speed-reading at a pace of a book every three days, so it would take them meager three years to plow though the list. Not bad for them, impossible for me. Maybe someday my life will consist of sitting on the beach with a good book all day, like portrayed on the cover of this collection, then I will improve my chances drastically.
Another reason why I cannot possibly stick to the list religiously, is because I have infinitely more books I genuinely want to read someday that are not included in neither edition. The collection doesn’t mention very many famous Greek classics, or great works of Shakespear, or even those of my favourite Poe. It doesn’t include any of the fun reads that sneak into my blog once in a while and that would never be considered intellectually fulfilling. There are just so many books out there that deserve to be cherished, a single lifetime would never be enough to get to them all.
Considering all the reasons for not sending myself on this impossible task, I am still keeping track of how many of these books I will get under my belt in the future. For now, I will post the list above and mark the books as I finish them. Also to note, every edition cuts and adds several books, making the actual list slightly longer than 1001 items. I will be adding deleted books as well. Ah, once more, my craving for lists is satisfied!