1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die

1001 books to read before you die I have various feelings about books of this sort. One is deep cynicism (‘Great Books’ and there are apparently only FOUR Australians?! You’ve got to be kidding) and it would be easier to debate the omissions rather than the inclusions. Then the morbid part of me questions whether you’re really going to care if you’ve read one or all 1001 once you’re dead anyway.

They’re the quibbles.

On the other hand, the competitive, knowledge-thirsty part of me wants to tackle the challenge. I doubt I will ever, ever, finish them all because I have already begun many of the titles only to put them down for various reasons: boredom being the most prevalent. Yes, okay, ‘Art’ should be celebrated, but most titles have greater meanings and destinies than to find a place in my humble little soul. Besides, (my) life’s too short for books that aren’t engaging.

So my goal is to review books from the list that I believe ought to be there. It will be a continuing project; if you look in the top navigation bar you will see a link to a page of the complete list.

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Karen Andrews is the creator of Karen Andrews. This is one of the most established and well-respected parenting blogs in the country and is a two-time finalist in the Best Australian Blogs competition. She is also an author, award-winning writer, poet, editor and publisher at Miscellaneous Press. Is an exercise junkie (when she finds the time).


  1. bubandpie says

    Well, I’ve read just over 100 of those books, so if I live to be 350, I should have time to get through them all.

  2. Jamie says

    Wow. Uh… does watching the movie count?

    These kinds of lists always make me feel like shit.

    Aside from the books I was forced to read in high school (Mockingbird, Jungle and Scarlett Letter) I have only read Lord of the Flies and I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings. heh.

    I started Catch 22, A Prayer For Owen Meany and Cry, The Beloved Country but never finished any of them.

    I’m pathetic. But I should get points for at least being married to a man that has read probably over 200 of them. I have seen many of them in my own library at home, so I should also get points for owning a good portion of them too, I feel.

    I always said that Mike was responsible for teaching our kids how to be smart and well read and I would be responsible for teaching them how to be popular.

    You’re welcome kids. We planned it so that you would be well rounded little individuals.


  3. Jamie says

    YES! VALIDATION! Mike pointed out that I have read Franny and Zooey as well as The Little Prince.

    Ha! That makes 7! Out of 1001!


  4. cipriano says

    You REALLY know you are on the complete other side of the world when you read a blog-post dated March 26th, and you’ve still got a whole bunch of candles to burn before March 25th is over!
    I want to read ALL of those books before I die!
    If I stay where I am over here…. will I always have ONE EXTRA day to do it?

  5. Miscellaneous-Mum says

    bub – I’ll be that old too, probably.

    jamie – I have a lot of these books on my shelf too, unread. Like you, I’ve hoped to absorb their matter by close proximity. I haven’t read Zooey or Prince, so you’re beating me there!

    cipriano – that’s the spirit!

  6. Libby says

    Thanks for the list, I’ve printed it out. This is a book that I’ve been tempted to buy for a while, and have occasionally browsed it. I’d say that I’ve read about two hundred of the books and put down about forty or fifty after browsing mostly because for one reason or another they didn’t appeal to me, of course I’ve had a few more years of reading time than you. There are quite a few must or should read books on the list. But I can think of a few ‘why not?’ books, sometimes an author has been considered but not his/her best book, or so it seems to me. I’ve always been a sucker for the classic English novel, about 100 of my reads were pre 1900. Thanks again, I’ll keep the list in mind when I next go to the library.

  7. Sarah, Goon Squad Sarah says

    I’m embarassed to say I’ve only read 48 1/2 of these. That is pathetic.

    (I’m reading “Life of Pi” right now.

  8. Miscellaneous-Mum says

    Word is spreading, I see. Don’t be discouraged people!! Lists are so arbitrary anyway, so long as you like what you DO read!

  9. Larry Keiler says

    —-only 1 out of the first 50 — Life of Pi.

    Too busy reading the books I want to read, I guess, rather than someone else’s list.

  10. Sherri Caldwell - The Rebel Housewife says

    I didn’t look at the list — I can’t, as it would be too overwhelming. I have been looking at a lot of lists lately, as I’ve taken over coordinating a local offline Book Group and now I’m responsible for selecting GREAT books each month for a very diverse group — ah, the pressure!

    But I started this comment to ask if, as an obvious Oprah fan (by the quote in your header), you’ve seen her book list, which is currently about 60 books, a good mix of classics & new, my favorite list so far, much less demoralizing:

    Live, Love & Laugh,

  11. Pour of Tor says

    I too am a list addict, and have been working on this as a (very, very) long term project since the book came out. [I will even admit that I have been working on the “1001 Movies” project for a little longer, and haver finally reached the halfway point after several years of watching. The books project will, obviously, take several decades longer.] I have a lot of disagreements with the list, but I appreciate that it has already introduced me to quite a few books that I would never have read otherwise.

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