Saturday, May 24, 2008

The Neverending To-Read List

I just read a short NYT review by William Grimes of a book called 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die, by Peter Boxall (©2006). It was nice to hear another book lover poo-poo the idea of an authoritative list on the subject and also admit with guilt and resignation that he has not read some of the commonly agreed upon “great works” himself yet.

I really enjoyed the last few lines of the review, so I’d like to share them with you:

“In his novel Changing Places, David Lodge — not on the list — introduces a game called Humiliation. Players earn points by admitting to a famous work that they have not read. The greater the work, the higher the point score. An obnoxious American academic, competing with a group of colleagues, finally gets the hang of the game and plays his trump card: Hamlet. He wins the game but is then denied tenure.”

Ah, the irony.

Grimes also admits: “I have a personal white whale: Moby Dick. I really must read it before I die.” Oh dear, Mr. Grimes. I’m afraid I share your guilt on that one. I started reading MD sometime the year before I moved to California but put it down and never returned to it. Yet another book to add to my GoodReads to-read list, I guess! Are there any classics that you’re embarrassed to say you haven’t read yet? Do tell.

I say, rather than feeling guilty about the ever-growing list of “must-reads” we may not have gotten to yet, we should be happy to know our options for quality reading are virtually endless!

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