1,000 Books to Read Before You Die

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 02 Oct 2018

Member Reviews

This book a massive endeavor that encompasses more than 6,000 titles, not just the 1,000 to get through before you croak. Of the making of many book lists, there is no end....

Sure, Mustich hits the classics that you could find in the Modern Library 100 list, or The Great American Read. He also digs up some gems that I had never heard of, which is something I love in a good list of books. Like Lincoln said, my best friend is one who gives me a book I ain't read. Also my friend - someone who will praise a book I already love, which he does.

Since we're all fans of lists, here are my reading stats for this book:
2 months to read from cover to cover
200+ new titles added to my 1000-books-mustich shelf
229 titles of the 1,000 which I've read
15 books read or re-read (before I managed to finish his book - others are on hold at the library)
I gave 68 of those titles I've read 5 stars
12 of those titles got a 1- or 2-star rating from me

I quibble at some of the selections, especially in the fantasy/science fiction genres. I wish there was less creepy old white guy stuff (screw you, Niven and Heinlein!) and more of the fabulous new authors (Martha Wells, Ted Chiang, Sue Burke, Ann Leckie, Susanna Clarke, TERRY EFFING PRATCHETT). I didn't bother tracking author or genre diversity, though I'd love to see an infographic from some dedicated person out there. (Not me. I've done my part.)

To his credit, Mustich includes a surprising number of newer books that aren't sanctified by the ages. Gutsy. But how the HELL did The Da Vinci Code make it on the list? Surely there have been better blockbusters. Or maybe just swap those picks out with a graphic novel or two, like Jeff Smith's Bone: The Complete Edition or Alan Moore's Watchmen.

Boy, this list-making thing is addictive. I'd better watch out.

Out of a possible 1,000, I added 571 to my to-read shelf. You're never going to make me read dreary literary novels about being depressed or Freud's collected works - life is TOO. SHORT. I already had over 5,000 on my to-read list before adding 200+ from Mustich. I needed this book like I needed a hole in my head.

I gave it 5 stars instead of 4 because making a list like this - much less publishing it - is such a quixotic act these days, one only a madman would take 14 years of his life doing. Also, he does some really wonderful, helpful things like recommending specific translations, audiobooks, and methods of wading through the challenging ones. I anticipate revisiting this book to see if he can sway me toward some of those un-added 429. Maybe in another 20 years or so.

To conclude, I suggest we all listen to Virginia Woolf, quoted at the very beginning of Mustich's book: "The only advice, indeed, that one person can give another about reading is to take no advice, to follow your own instincts, to use your own reason, to come to your own conclusions."
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I love books about books, and I'm always looking for book recommendations, so this ticks both of those boxes for me.
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I found this to be a good book but really subjective on whatever the personal taste is. I was glad to see the old classics on there but even my daughter who just graduated high school had never read or read of some of the classic books which surprised me. There is still Charles Dickson, Jane Austen, Jane Eyre, the book The Secret Garden, Agatha Christa to name a few. New books, of course, The Hunger Games, Harry Potter and Alexander Hamilton which helped for the idea for the play. I was glad to see Good night Moon which we read to are daughter, also The Big Sleep, Red Badge of Courage, Sherlock Holmes, Hunt for Red October to name a few. There are science fiction, religion, books about the Underground Railroad, Native Americans and other subjects so you can make your own list. Overall an okay book.
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This is a great reference source for patrons looking for their next book to read. I appreciate that the author includes multiple genres and non-fiction plus the fact that it’s multicultural.
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I am a sucker for lists of books to read. Most copies sold, celebrity recommendations, online and in person book clubs- I am ALWAYS looking for book ideas. I believe it is important to read many different types of books. This book will help suggest all different types. Great book to give as a gift for a high school/college grad.
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So many books, so little time!
Thanks to NetGalley and Workman Publishing for the opportunity to read and review 1,000 Books to Read Before You Die by James Mustich! This book is organized alphabetically by authors’ last names. Some titles are used to organize the book alphabetically, such as the Qur’an which is a work of scripture. Many poets, historians and classics are listed and their books reviewed, as well as newer literary works and popular reads. Each author/work is summarized and evaluated, giving enough information for readers to be able to decide whether or not they want to read the book that’s being discussed. At the end of the book, lists can be found organizing the books differently, such as books to read before 12 years of age. A general index lists the titles and authors alphabetically for ease. A 1,000 books checklist is also included. 5 stars!
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I was sent a link to download this book but it wasn't compatible with the Kindle reading App and I wasn't able to read it on my tablets. However, I have read it at the library and the bookstore and it is a great resource. Lots of wonderful suggestions for all kinds of genres. I love books about books but now I have way too many books added to my TBR list.!
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Every so often one will come across a list such as this one and feel what every reader has felt at some point or another in their lives: So many books, so little time. Even though it made me feel like an underachiever, I enjoyed Mustich's book because it felt more accessible than other books with the same title. In fact, I enjoyed it so much that I bought a copy for my classroom. This way my students can discover the plots of many classic books as well as a few lesser known titles.
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This is a reader's advisory gem for any librarian and I am excited that there is a diversity within the books suggested.  Often volumes like this are not as inclusive.  My TBR (to be read) list is much longer as a result of this book, it is well organized by genre and author, and a wonderful tool to help others in finding new favorites.  I would recommend this reference guide for anyone!
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I purchased my own copy of this book. I marked all of the books I’ve read, and revisited them through the reviews. I will use the other reviews to determine what books to read next.
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I love book lists.  Even though Virginia Woolf advises that its best to trust your instincts and take no advice from anyone when it comes to reading, I’m a total sucker for a thoughtfully compiled list of reading recommendations.  And I’m not talking about NYT bestseller lists, I’m talking about the more fun lists I find on Goodreads and other literary sites.  Like lists of children’s books with strong female characters, books to heal the broken heart, and so on.  For that reason, I was super excited when I found 1,000 Books to Read Before You Die was available as a digital advance reader copy on NetGalley.  Unfortunately I only made it to “Bradbury, Ray” before I decided that I could no longer slog through the morass that is this book.

With few exceptions, the books are organized in alphabetical order by author’s last name.  The main entry for the book is up to a page length entry about the book and the author, including what the book is about, who the author is, and why one or the other or both are significant.  After the entry are end notes that summarize the who, what, when, and where of the book, as well as additional books by the author, additional similar books, adaptations, and additional information about the book.

The selection of books strikes me as esoteric, as there were so many authors (up until Bradbury) that I had never heard of and would never have any interest in reading.  I’m talking about 16th century historians and the like, who would be almost impossible to find in the local library.  I will give him credit including some of my favorite books.  Among my favorites included in the selection we re Isaac Asimov’s Foundation Trilogy, all of Jane Austen’s canon, and the insanely beautiful Seamus Heaney translation of Beowulf.  Curiously, he included Aristophanes’s Clouds rather than Lysistrata, which really should be read in our current geopolitical climate.  Likewise, Margaret Atwood is represented by Cat’s Eye, without even a mention of The Handmaid’s Tale.  And completely missing from the selection is Thomas Aquinas, whose writing I find to be life changing.   If that gives you any idea of where I’m coming from.

It wasn’t the questionable selections that caused this book to end up in my dustbin.  Rather, the super dense writing and obscure vocabulary in the entries was what turned me off.  There seemed to be no joy or excitement in the entries, especially from an author who professed to love books in the Introduction.   The energy was completely missing from the entries, which definitely did not entice me to read the book or author being highlighted.

After the individual entries for the 1,000 highlighted books come a “Miscellany of Special Lists,” which provides smaller subsets of the books tailored by subject or style each with a particular audience in mind.  Unfortunately, I lost patience with the book before I even reached these lists.

I had hoped to that this book would help me discover new material for my to be read list, as well as highlight books that I could give as gifts at Christmas.  It completely failed.  Pretty much the only take away from the book that stuck with me is that the first line of Fahrenheit 451 is “It was a pleasure to burn,” because book burning is a major plot line in the novel.
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Great book! There was a good mix of book I’ve actually heard of and others I haven’t. Where other books like this seem to try and find the most obscure books possible this one gave a good mix. This isn’t just a list of books. At the end of each entry it tells you what kind of book it is, when it was written, other books you may like if you enjoy the current entry. 

There are many other great features and would be a fun book just to flip through from time to time.
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*I received this book from NetGally in exchange for an honest review.

This is a must have for every book lover! While I perused the kindle version, I would highly recommend getting a hard copy of this book for your home. To have this type of reference book in your home would be amazing, especially if you have someone in your house that's not crazy about reading or just getting into reading. Also would make a great coffee table book to show off your bookish vibes!
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I adore this book!

I had the previous edition as well, but the updates on this are spectacular.

Honestly, I read it and immediately download sample after sample to my kindle.  It's only a great resource for what to read, but for *why* to read it.

You also get interesting notes on the authors.

This belongs on every reader's shelf!

*ARC Provided via Net Galley
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1000 Books to Read Before You Die by James Mustich is a delightful compendium of important works through history. This volume is arranged alphabetically by author. There are some exceptions to this, such as religious texts, and those works for which we don't know the author. Each entry gives an overview of the book, and its importance. At the end of each book entry is a section telling what genre the book falls under, other notable books by the author, books you might like if this one interests you, and any adaptations. There are additional works listed in boxes sections called Booknotes, and More to Explore. My only qualm is that though the organisation is alphabetically by author, it is instead the book title that appears first and in bigger, bold font. Decidedly not alphabetic. 

***Many thanks to the Netgalley and Workman Publishing for providing an egalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.
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This book should come with a health warning – Do Not Read If You Can’t Resist Lists. Unfortunately I can’t, and now I have even more books on my TBR which was in any case ridiculously large. Great book. Fun, thought-provoking, intelligent, comprehensive. Essential reading for all book lovers.
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James Mustich is truly an avid reader! He’s loved to read since he was a child. One of his first jobs was at a bookstore where his love of reading was encouraged and enhanced. He ultimately became the cofounder of The Common Reader, a mail order catalog which provided commentary on books.

His idea of writing about “1,000 books to read before you die” was a challenge to say the least! It took fourteen years for him to finally publish his list. It contains book titles that range from children’s books to adult fiction and nonfiction, and from classics to bestsellers and everything in between. He doesn’t presume to leave the impression that his list of books is the standard by which most people should choose their titles. He admits that he wrote and rewrote his list many times. The list is meant to pique readers’ interest and to call attention to books that, in his (humble) opinion are well worth reading. He readily admits that there are many more books that others would add as well. 

The book list is alphabetical by author and gives a brief commentary about each book. This book is a joy to peruse and definitely achieves its intent! Avid readers, whether you agree or disagree, would be absorbed in its recommendations!

Thank you to Net Galley, author James Mustich, and Workman Publishing for giving me the opportunity to read the ARC of this fascinating book.
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This book was great and easy to read. However, it at least doubled my want to read list, which is a good and a bad thing. If you're looking for a way to learn about really amazing books, you should read this. This is the perfect coffee table book or a gift for a bookish loving friend!
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We have a huge interactive display in our library for the Great American Read and should anyone finish those titles, they might want to start in on the recently published 1,000 BOOKS TO READ BEFORE YOU DIE by James Mustich. His compilation has a page or so devoted to each of the wide–ranging (the publisher says: poetry, science fiction, memoir, travel writing, biography, children's literature, the novel) 1,000 titles.  One aspect I really liked was Mustich's comments on "if you like this, you'll like that" recommendations in addition to his frank assessments.  Several years ago someone gave me the gift of the original 2006 version of 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die edited by Peter Boxall.  Both collections are immense fun to explore.
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This is a great resource for those who are looking for more books to read.  I would not sit and read this cover to cover but i would look through it once in a while to find another book to read.
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