1001 Books, Part I

Apparently there’s a book listing the 1001 books you should read before you die. How stressful is that? Books to read before you DIE. Books to read before college I understand, you have a vague notion of when that’s happening. But before you die?

There’s a Shelfari group for people reading the books (if you’re on shelfari, be my friend!). I have no delusions of grandeur, I will not complete this task in my lifetime. I’m still working on the 100 books to read before college and I graduated, uhm a few years ago.

And since the list is 1001 books, I won’t bore you all at once … I’m going to drag the boredom out over 10 posts. You’re welcome.

I’ve read the books in bold – what have you read? And do you recommend it?
1. Never Let Me Go – Kazuo Ishiguro
2. Saturday – Ian McEwan
3. On Beauty – Zadie Smith
4. Slow Man – J.M. Coetzee
5. Adjunct: An Undigest – Peter Manson
6. The Sea – John Banville
7. The Red Queen – Margaret Drabble
8. The Plot Against America – Philip Roth
9. The Master – Colm Tóibín
10. Vanishing Point – David Markson
11. The Lambs of London – Peter Ackroyd
12. Dining on Stones – Iain Sinclair
13. Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell
14. Drop City – T. Coraghessan Boyle
15. The Colour – Rose Tremain
16. Thursbitch – Alan Garner
17. The Light of Day – Graham Swift
18. What I Loved – Siri Hustvedt
19. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time – Mark Haddon
20. Islands – Dan Sleigh
21. Elizabeth Costello – J.M. Coetzee
22. London Orbital – Iain Sinclair
23. Family Matters – Rohinton Mistry
24. Fingersmith – Sarah Waters
25. The Double – José Saramago
26. Everything is Illuminated – Jonathan Safran Foer
27. Unless – Carol Shields
28. Kafka on the Shore – Haruki Murakami
29. The Story of Lucy Gault – William Trevor
30. That They May Face the Rising Sun – John McGahern
31. In the Forest – Edna O’Brien
32. Shroud – John Banville
33. Middlesex – Jeffrey Eugenides
34. Youth – J.M. Coetzee
35. Dead Air – Iain Banks
36. Nowhere Man – Aleksandar Hemon
37. The Book of Illusions – Paul Auster
38. Gabriel’s Gift – Hanif Kureishi
39. Austerlitz – W.G. Sebald
40. Platform – Michael Houellebecq
41. Schooling – Heather McGowan
42. Atonement – Ian McEwan
43. The Corrections – Jonathan Franzen
44. Don’t Move – Margaret Mazzantini
45. The Body Artist – Don DeLillo
46. Fury – Salman Rushdie
47. At Swim, Two Boys – Jamie O’Neill
48. Choke – Chuck Palahniuk
49. Life of Pi – Yann Martel
50. The Feast of the Goat – Mario Vargos Llosa
51. An Obedient Father – Akhil Sharma
52. The Devil and Miss Prym – Paulo Coelho
53. Spring Flowers, Spring Frost – Ismail Kadare
54. White Teeth – Zadie Smith
55. The Heart of Redness – Zakes Mda
56. Under the Skin – Michel Faber
57. Ignorance – Milan Kundera
58. Nineteen Seventy Seven – David Peace
59. Celestial Harmonies – Péter Esterházy
60. City of God – E.L. Doctorow
61. How the Dead Live – Will Self
62. The Human Stain – Philip Roth
63. The Blind Assassin – Margaret Atwood
64. After the Quake – Haruki Murakami
65. Small Remedies – Shashi Deshpande
66. Super-Cannes – J.G. Ballard
67. House of Leaves – Mark Z. Danielewski
68. Blonde – Joyce Carol Oates
69. Pastoralia – George Saunders
70. Timbuktu – Paul Auster
71. The Romantics – Pankaj Mishra
72. Cryptonomicon – Neal Stephenson
73. As If I Am Not There – Slavenka Drakuli?
74. Everything You Need – A.L. Kennedy
75. Fear and Trembling – Amélie Nothomb
76. The Ground Beneath Her Feet – Salman Rushdie
77. Disgrace – J.M. Coetzee
78. Sputnik Sweetheart – Haruki Murakami
79. Elementary Particles – Michel Houellebecq
80. Intimacy – Hanif Kureishi
81. Amsterdam – Ian McEwan
82. Cloudsplitter – Russell Banks
83. All Souls Day – Cees Nooteboom
84. The Talk of the Town – Ardal O’Hanlon
85. Tipping the Velvet – Sarah Waters
86. The Poisonwood Bible – Barbara Kingsolver
87. Glamorama – Bret Easton Ellis
88. Another World – Pat Barker
89. The Hours – Michael Cunningham
90. Veronika Decides to Die – Paulo Coelho
91. Mason & Dixon – Thomas Pynchon
92. The God of Small Things – Arundhati Roy
93. Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden
94. Great Apes – Will Self
95. Enduring Love – Ian McEwan
96. Underworld – Don DeLillo
97. Jack Maggs – Peter Carey
98. The Life of Insects – Victor Pelevin
99. American Pastoral – Philip Roth
100. The Untouchable – John Banville

This isn’t a good start my friends, I have read 2. I wonder if the 2% will hold over the whole 1001 books list: that’s only 20 books. I hope I’ve read 20 of the books considered the best of the best. If not, does that make my taste in books poor or unconventional?

10 smart people left their mark:

  1. Laura, 19. October 2009, 9:11

    This is bullshit. :) I have only read one book listed and it’s Memoirs of a Geisha. I don’t think it added anything to my life, nor do I think I could have not lived without it. I will watch for the other listings and if my number continues to be this abysmal, I may have to write a letter to whoever came up with this list with a list of my own.

  2. Rachel, 19. October 2009, 10:14

    Wow! I had 5 on this portion of the list. The two you had read plus: Memoirs of a Geisha, The Poisonwood Bible, and The Corrections. I guess I have some reading to do!

  3. Tracie, 19. October 2009, 10:29

    Guess I need to figure out how to fit more reading time into my life! I have only read one of the books listed…Middlesex. It was good but I have read other books recently that I like better. Nothing on the lsit so apparently I read crap.

  4. Mary, 19. October 2009, 13:30

    I’ve read the 2 you did plus the Poisonwood Bible and Memoirs of a Geisha. The fact that I can only remember anything from Middlesex out of those 4 doesn’t say a whole lot. I read a lot, but apparently not what this person thinks I “should” be reading…Can’t wait to see if The Glass Castle or Kite Runner or The Time Traveller’s Wife make the list. Those have been my favorites recently.

  5. melissaz, 19. October 2009, 20:23

    I’ve read:

    Life of Pi
    The Corrections
    Memoirs of a Geisha
    Devil and Ms. Prym

    I’ve *tried* to read
    Plot Against America
    City of GOd

    And honestly? I’d only recommend Devil and Ms. Prym. Paolo Cohelo is an amazing writer. Really thought provoking.

  6. Pink Asparagus » 1001 Books, Part II (Pingback), 20. October 2009, 5:54

    [...] from Part I of my wondering about the 1001 Books to read before you DIE. Based on comments from [...]

  7. Beth Partin, 21. October 2009, 11:32

    I’ve read White Teeth by Zadie Smith, Life of Pi, and Poisonwood Bible. I haven’t read Cryptonomicon, but does seeing Army of Darkness count?

    You know what I always notice about these lists? No more than 1 out of 3 on the list are written by women.

    I don’t worry about other people’s opinion of what I should read. If I open a book and the language grabs me, then I’ll buy it.

    I also have trouble remembering books. I remember only the ones that produce a strong emotional reaction in me. Most of the books that the literary powers-that-be like the best are experimental books written by men. I worked at a small press that published experimental fiction for 5 years, and although I appreciate experimental fiction, I think its place in the literary canon is too large.

  8. Pink Asparagus » 1001 Books, Part III (Pingback), 22. October 2009, 7:40

    [...] Parts I and II of the 1001 books list I have read an enlightening 3. Three of 200 is 1.5%. Not good. Even [...]

  9. Abbey, 24. October 2009, 14:41

    Well, if it makes you feel any better, I’ve read NONE of these books! NONE!! How is this possible???

    Oh well…

    I’ve actually started several of these books, but hadn’t gotten past the first chapter or two.

    I’ve got to just suck it up and try to read things like I did in school: Push through it because in the end, I’m sure I’ll learn something from it.

    Maybe you and I should start a long distance Book Club? But would it be like a Long Distance Relationship? Because I hear those things never work out. ; )

  10. Pink Asparagus » 1001 Books, Part VI (Pingback), 25. October 2009, 6:40

    [...] are included on the list. And now that we’ve made it this far, I agree with Beth that “no more than 1 out of 3 on the list are written by women.” You can catch up on the first 650 books [...]