“The ultimate literary bucket list.” —The Washington Post
“If there’s a heaven just for readers, this is it.” —O, The Oprah Magazine
Celebrate the pleasure of reading and the thrill of discovering new titles in an extraordinary book that’s as compulsively readable, entertaining, surprising, and enlightening as the 1,000-plus titles it recommends.
Covering fiction, poetry, science and science fiction, memoir, travel writing, biography, children’s books, history, and more, 1,000 Books to Read Before You Die ranges across cultures and through time to offer an eclectic collection of works that each deserve to come with the recommendation, You have to read this. But it’s not a proscriptive list of the “great works”—rather, it’s a celebration of the glorious mosaic that is our literary heritage.
Flip it open to any page and be transfixed by a fresh take on a very favorite book. Or come across a title you always meant to read and never got around to. Or, like browsing in the best kind of bookshop, stumble on a completely unknown author and work, and feel that tingle of discovery. There are classics, of course, and unexpected treasures, too. Lists to help pick and choose, like Offbeat Escapes, or A Long Climb, but What a View. And its alphabetical arrangement by author assures that surprises await on almost every turn of the page, with Cormac McCarthy and The Road next to Robert McCloskey and Make Way for Ducklings, Alice Walker next to Izaac Walton.
There are nuts and bolts, too—best editions to read, other books by the author, “if you like this, you’ll like that” recommendations , and an interesting endnote of adaptations where appropriate. Add it all up, and in fact there are more than six thousand titles by nearly four thousand authors mentioned—a life-changing list for a lifetime of reading.
“948 pages later, you still want more!” —THE WASHINGTON POST
This compulsively readable reference work from Mustich, cofounder of the Common Reader book catalogs, is sure to send bibliophiles hopscotching through its pages. The 1,000 entries (actually more when taking into account the book's recommended reading lists and many sidebars), ordered alphabetically by author, include classic and contemporary works, literary and genre titles, fiction (mostly) and nonfiction, and children's and adult reading each fleshed out with several short but insightful paragraphs of critical commentary. Some selections are no-brainers, among them Fahrenheit 451, To Kill a Mockingbird, and Colson Whitehead's The Underground Railroad. Others are slightly more unusual: John Updike's The Maples Stories but not his Rabbit Angstrom novels; Margaret Atwood's Cat's Eye but not The Handmaid's Tale. There are also some surprising omissions, with no works by Joyce Carol Oates or Raymond Carver making the cut. Throughout, Mustich shows a knack for getting to the gist of his subjects, as when noting "the intense drama and disregard for orthodox morality" that distinguish Wuthering Heights, or acknowledging the myriad objections of Dan Brown's critics but touting "the sheer energy of his invention" in The Da Vinci Code. Mustich's informed appraisals will drive readers to the books they've yet to read, and stimulate discussion of those they have.