1,000 Books to Read Before You Die: A Life-Changing List Review

Viral Reviews By Louis Spencer JR |

As if I didn’t have enough trouble keeping my TBR pile under control as it is, now this book comes along and recommends even more titles?! It’s not that I haven’t read any of the books the author discusses, it is the sheer number of others that he offers like a bibliophile’s buffet.

Mustich has covered a wide range of genres, age and reading levels, time periods, and cultures. Entries range from Aristotle to Vonnegut, bedtime stories such as Goodnight Moon to horror like Dracula, and adventures like Homer’s Iliad or Ender’s Game.

The entry for a book might include a synopsis, a brief description of the authors’ life, the social climate at the time of publication, or other relevant facts. Endnotes also point out other titles by the same author, books for further information about each subject, adaptations of the work, any awards it won, and read-alikes by other authors. It’s like having an “if you like that, then try this” feature on steroids.

Quotes from critics or other authors underscore the sort of reactions a book inspires in its readers, although Mustich does a wonderful job of expressing his own opinions. He says this about Roald Dahl, for instance, “Standing out among his storytelling treats is Matilda, whose superheroine is heroic – and triumphant – first and foremost because she reads.” Along with the written entries, there are also images of authors, book covers, teaser posters for movie adaptations, historical photos, and reproductions of iconic illustrations.

Booknote sidebars cover related titles, while More to Explore sections group books with similar themes (even other books about books).

Back matter includes a general index of the books and authors mentioned, and “A Miscellany of Special Lists” has curated groupings of titles based on subject, style, or audience. The explanation of the book’s organization explains all these features as well as letting readers know that over 3,000 authors and 6,000 additional books are mentioned besides the main entries. (So does that make it 7,000 books to read before you die?) The companion website has books indexed by chronology and genre.

No matter what sort of reader you are – constant, binge, persnickety, omnivorous – you will find more useful information than you are likely to have the time to implement. I suggest investing in some highlighters or sticky tabs if you purchase a print version, or be prepared to bookmark your e-book edition like crazy. You won’t want to forget any of the entries or other details that catch your interest.

Highly recommended for YA and up – or as a reference for school librarians and teachers to help steer students to titles that suit their tastes.


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