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1001: Books You Must Read Before You Die [Paperback]

Peter Boxall
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)

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1001: Books You Must Read Before You Die 1001: Books You Must Read Before You Die 4.9 out of 5 stars (14)
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Book Description

9 Mar 2006 1001
From "The Alchemist" to "Thus Spake Zarathustra" and Achebe to Zola, "1001 Books" offers concise critical insights into the books and the writers that have excited the imagination of the world. It offers reviews, author biographies, plot and character assessments and historical information on those books considered the most important, compelling, or simply the best fiction ever written. Whether classics, novels, thrillers, science fictions, or romances, you will never again be stuck for what to read next or how to find the next great book from an author. In the style of the phenomenally successful "1001 Movies", this is an incisive guide to the books that have had a real impact - whether in the form of critical acclaim or as cult classics. It is an eclectic selection by a superb international team of writers and critics, a provides a new take on old classics and is a guide to what's hot in the huge contemporary fiction market. It is also an ideal reference for anyone who loves to read.

Product details

  • Paperback: 960 pages
  • Publisher: Cassell (9 Mar 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1844034178
  • ISBN-13: 978-1844034178
  • Product Dimensions: 16 x 21 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 22,623 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

More About the Author

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Product Description


"...a fascinating guide to some of the most significant books ever
published." -- Daily Mail - Weekend Supplement

"Cleverly illustrated and intelligently compiled..."
-- Saga Magazine

"The only books you ever really need to read...it's like a library
in your pocket - dip into it and feel smugly well informed" -- Tatler

"This is an invaluable guide." -- Easy Living

"Truly is the ideal book for everyone who loves to read." -- Newton & Go borne Guardia

"Truly is the ideal book for everyone who loves to read."
-- Warrington Guardian

"Try this book of suggestions from more than 100 critics." -- The Seattle Times

a hefty compendium of enthusiastic recommendations
-- PopMatters.com

this will reside by my bedside for years to come --The Week

About the Author

Dr Peter Boxall is a lecturer in English Literature at the University of Sussex. He has published widely on 20th and 21st century fiction and drama. His publications include a reader's guide to 'Waiting for Godot' and 'Endgame', and a book on DeLillo entitled Don DeLillo: the Possibility of Fiction. He is currently writing a book about the influence of Samuel Beckett's work on contemporary fiction. He lives and works in Brighton.

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
91 of 93 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Reader's Treasure Chest 31 Aug 2006
As a biblioholic this was guaranteed to have me slavering with anticipation: a book about the 1001 best(?) books ever, with each one receiving a eulogy of around 300 words. It's quite a hefty tome: a bookshelf-bending 2kg in fact, nearly half of which must be due to all the photographs. Someone even managed to find a snap of JD Salinger - extra kudos for that.

Inevitably everyone will quibble about the selection, so why should I be any different? The omission of The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers is an unforgivable oversight. Other surprise absentees include Earthly Powers by Anthony Burgess and anyone called Bradbury (there is no sign of The History Man, or Fahrenheit 451). And it's probably best not to mention Watership Down or Terry Pratchett - I don't envy the publishers having to deal with all those irate fans.

Maybe they were collateral damage in an editorial decision to avoid "children's" books - something which enabled them to sidestep Harry Potter, but also resulted in there being no place for Louis Sachar's Holes, or anything by Philip Pullman, Malorie Blackman or even Roald Dahl. (Is there a 1001 Children's Books You Must Read Before You Grow Up in the pipeline I wonder? If so, can I be a compiler please?)

Such omissions are made harder to understand by the presence of quite a few insubstantial novels from recent years, and some of the choices make no sense at all. For example: two books by Paulo Coelho have been included, neither of which is The Alchemist; while BS Johnson is represented by three books, none of which is his legendary book-in-a-box (The Unfortunates). There is also a page where Youth by JM Coetzee sits next to Dead Air by Iain Banks, despite much stronger novels by both authors being absent.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great book for dipping into....... 31 May 2007
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a great book for "dipping into" rather than reading from start to finish. One of the members of the reading group I belong to brought it along to one of our meetings and I knew I had to buy my own copy. Like many people I had to do a count of how many of the 1001 books I had actually read - it was about 140. So I have a long way to go......

However I don't think the purpose of the book is to spur us on to competitive reading or to demoralise us if we haven't read a lot of the books selected. What this book is great for is to alert you to works you may want to read at some time in the future but have simply never got around to - such as To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf or The Idiot by Dostoevsky (both sitting on my bookshelves gathering dust).

It is also a good reminder of some books read long ago - The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists by Robert Tressell, Germinal by Zola and The Razor's Edge by WS Maugham.

Obviously any list of this type is contentious and we all bring our own prejudices to such a venture. (No William Boyd? Shame on you! Six Margaret Attwoods....hooray)

And it is beautifully illustrated throughout with pictures of writers and original book covers.
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34 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 1 Book You Must Read Before You Die 14 Mar 2006
Even if you're not counting on dying any time soon, you should get reading immediately if you hope to get through every book included in this bibliophile's companion. Luckily though, you don't have to actually read all those classic and influential novels, because this superb reference book provides enough information in itself to give the reader an excellent literary overview. With this single volume, you can avoid feeling that you've read so much that dying might be a merciful release from all that goddamned literature; instead, each pleasantly brief entry provides enough to grasp the essence of the book in question, and allows the reader to decide if they want to read the novel itself. The little fact boxes reveal some interesting kernals of trivia too - for example, Anne Rice was christened Howard. And OK, there are a few mistakes in the index, but frankly that does little to mar an excellent, fascinating and useful book.
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56 of 59 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 19 and a quarter years, and then some 21 May 2006
This is a splendid and much needed guide - the beautiful illustrations are worth the price. It should be stacked on your shelf next to "The Rough Guide to Cult Fiction" and "The salon.com Reader's Guide to Contemporary Authors" which are also recommended and which take completely different approaches. "1001 Books" presents you with The Really Great Stuff . Which is where the fun starts - this is a book all readers will want to argue passionately with. Almost at the same time as I'm finding authors I'd never heard of and making "must buy" lists, I'm shouting at the editors - "what's this? You've got three in here by Douglas Adams, and NONE by Roddy Doyle? What's all that about??" I mean, Douglas Adams is good for one, but not three... And if Douglas Adams, then Garrison Keillor...

Each book gets about 300 words which editor Peter Boxall describes like this : "What each entry does is to respond, with the cramped urgency of a deathbed confession, to what makes each novel compelling, to what it is about each novel that makes one absolutely need to read it." 1001 books - it's a lot. If you had the time and money to read every one at a rate of one per week, you'd need 19 and a quarter years, so you better get going. But seriously, you aren't going to do that. The pre-1700 section, in particular, is strictly for students of literature - I stick my neck out and say that very few will be reading "Euphues : The Anatomy of Wit" by John Lyly or "Aithiopika" by Heliodorus for fun. And then the dogged reader will be coming up against the rarely-scaled Everests of literature such as Dorothy Richardson's "Pilgrimage" (13 vols, thousands of pages) or Proust (likewise) or "Infinite Jest" (one volume, 1100 pages). Each of which are going to take you 6 months solid.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Book of books
I love books, and I love lists and ticking items off, so for me this book has it all!
It's good to know I've already read a few, and gives ideas for some titles that I... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Mrs Meryl Thompson
4.0 out of 5 stars interesting selection of books
Bought this to inspire us for our book club and has been useful for selecting books we would probably not have chosen.
Published 19 months ago by s m sutcliffe
4.0 out of 5 stars 1001 books?
Good but, typically huge structural Christian themes are airbrushed from our moment in history like a mole on an elephant's arse. Read more
Published on 30 Oct 2011 by Mrs. R. H. Winn
5.0 out of 5 stars A source of inspiration
There are some glaring omissions in 1,001 Books to Read Before You Die. My edition (it has been updated on at least one occasion) excludes such classics as East of Eden, I... Read more
Published on 4 July 2010 by Oracle
4.0 out of 5 stars A titillating taster of a book. A road-map for further reading.
I bought this book for my daughter who is studying English A level to encourage her to broaden her reading habits. Read more
Published on 18 May 2010 by Dr. Stephen Smith
5.0 out of 5 stars Is it worth the money?
Yes it is! This book has become my new best friend recently and I dip into it often, everyday. I splashed out more than I have in many a day for this book and it has so far been... Read more
Published on 7 April 2009 by Sterile
4.0 out of 5 stars A bit less than hoped for
Of course this book is a lot of fun but I missed some of my favourite authors there. (Heinrich Böll, Roald Dahl and some feminist writers etc. Read more
Published on 24 Mar 2009 by HH
1.0 out of 5 stars Lukewarm list
It is said that the Bishop of Wakefield, on reading Hardy's Jude the Obscure, was so enraged by it that he threw it on the fire. Read more
Published on 30 Dec 2008 by Stephen Cooper
4.0 out of 5 stars Invaluable
This book is invaluable to any book lover! I have discovered so many new authors and books to add to my wish list. Read more
Published on 27 Nov 2008 by Dot
5.0 out of 5 stars Temptation in paper form
I asked for this as a Christmas gift along with several other books and spent the entire day with my nose in this one. Read more
Published on 21 Sep 2008 by Racheljrm
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