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1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die

1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die - Peter Boxall

First of all, don't tell me what I "must" do before I die.

Just fuck off.

At fellow reader's behest, I'm writing my reactions to this list (not really the book, but give me a break - the book is just a bunch of pretty pictures and blurbs defending their idiotic choices). What's important is this shit-for-brains list.

Comment no. 1:


First, they need a subtitle for “1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die.” I’m thinking “Including Books That Will Make You Want to Die, Peel Your Skin Off, or Shoot Yourself in the Face” might do the trick.

And who the hell just is this Dr. Peter Boxall? Does he know the definition of words like quiddity, esoteric, psychotic, random, fucking insane, etc.? I’m hoping he does because all would apply to this half-assed, biased list.

Comment no. 2:


I take immediate issue (no pun intended) to the word seminal, deriving from "semen," and the whole stodgy, turgid prose describing the holiness of this craptastic list: "Each work of literature listed here is a seminal work key to understanding and appreciating the written word. These works have been handpicked by a team of international critics and literary luminaries..."

"a seminal work key to understanding the written word" [like books?:] !!

"literary luminaries" !? And I can just guess which ones they are given the disproportionate number of works by minor major authors. Hey, if someone is about to die, don't make them read every shithead book Ian McEwan or John Barth ever wrote.

Do you really think Roth's very minor and miss-able The Breast is going to put someone in an orgasm over the "written word"?

Comment no. 3:


I sure hope this list isn’t in any particular order. I’d hate to think Franzen’s metaphorically and literally shit-impacted book, The Corrections is among the top 100.

Oh, and nice coverage of lit before 19th century. There are a few stabs at SEVERAL CENTURIES at about book number 950 or so, but apparently we can just remain illiterate about Chaucer, Shakespeare, the Bible, Spenser, Donne, and the endless number of “SEMINAL” authors/books that are ignored completely.

A medley of the books that are pleasant reads but hardly life changing:

• The Life of Pi
• Curious Incident of the Dog in Night
• The Hours – how could Cunningham take such a good idea for a plot and screw it up so royally?
• Surfacing – nearly anything by Margaret Atwood is worthy, but why pick one of her earliest novels, where her potential has not yet been realized?
• One of Miller’s Tropic books would have been more than enough thank you.
• Who the hell ever heard of Wharton’s Bunner Sisters? I need to read that before I die? Maybe I should read Ethan – this book sucks – Frome again too. No. For Wharton it is House of Mirth and The Age of Innocence.



Colossally stupid list made into a giant and equally stupid book.


Comment no. 4:

So Dr. Boxall/Boxass, to snatch a line from The Rainmaker, “you must be stupid, stupid, stupid.” You’ve now had three tries (2006, 2008, and 2010) to get this sorry ass list in shape, but you’ve fucked it up every time.

In response to your smarmy introduction, which Paul describes: “…this is supposed to be a loose and baggy overview of The Novel, as opposed to drama or biography or history or biography,” I shout BULLSHIT! I’ll agree with the loose and baggy adjectives, but in no way is this list a representative listing of The Novel (and what’s with the reverential capital letters, asswipe?).

For starters, your various lists have included short story collections (not a novel), a single short story (not a novel), autobiographies (not a novel), confessional memoirs (not a novel), histories (not a novel), creative nonfiction (not a novel) and nonfiction essay collections (not a novel). Is there something mysteriously complicated about a novel’s definition, basically, “an extended fictional narrative in prose containing a plot,” that eludes you? Do you find this definition hopelessly complex? There is a cure. Stop creating these inaccurate, nonrepresentational crap-ass lists that suggest you know something about The Novel. You don’t.

Then, even if Boxass were able to plant the definition of a novel firmly into his not particularly fertile brain, he’d want to work on creating a list that’s representational. Let me explain. The good doctor has decided to use 1001 as the definitive number for our pre-death reading pleasure. Given the number of stellar novels produced, that is a tiny number. Logically, you’d accord an author no more than one book, unless there was an immensely compelling reason to do otherwise. Does Boxall do this? Noooooooooooooo!!!!!!!!

In the list’s most recent incarnation (and this is attempt no. 3, Boxass), the good doctor still doesn’t grasp the idea of representation. In a list of only 1001 novels, should any author be accorded FIVE books? Apparently so. Boxall feels it imperative that we read, not one or two, but a whopping five novels each by J.M. Coetzee, Graham Greene, and Thomas Mann.

In comparison, ground-breaking novelists like Mark Twain, Charlotte Brontë, Nathaniel Hawthorne are accorded respectively 1, 1, and 2 novels apiece. But hey! We need to save space so we’re able to read FOUR books by Georges Perec, two books by Dashiell Hammett, and two books by John Le Carré. Aaaaarrgggghhhhh!!!! I’m not even going to touch all the ESSENTIAL and IMPORTANT novelists you omitted altogether, dickhead, but too bad, so sad…

Three strikes. You’re out...