As a lifelong passionate reader, this epic compilation enthralled me. It's not only a brilliant guide to what to read next, but a satisfying read all on its own, with illustrations and fascinating sidebars of information. Recommended By Kathi K., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
It’s time to talk books — and the conversation starts here.
Encompassing fiction, poetry, science and science fiction, memoir, travel writing, biography, children’s books, history, and more, 1,000 Books to Read Before You Die moves across cultures and through time to present an eclectic collection of titles, each described with the special enthusiasm readers summon when recommending a book to a friend.
The expected pillars are here, including Jane Austen and Toni Morrison, Virgil, Dante, Dickens and Tolstoy, Franz Kafka and Simone de Beauvoir — their works made fresh through the author’s animated essays. Established classics are joined by new and unexpected choices like Citizen and Friday Night Lights. A Visit from the Goon Squad and The Pillow Book of Sei Shōnagon, The Day of the Jackal and The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat. The result is a treasury of essential reading for expansive tastes.
The book’s alphabetical listing by last name results in the serendipity of juxtaposition — Cormac McCarthy’s The Road next to Robert McCloskey’s Make Way for Ducklings, John le Carré next to Ursula K. Le Guin next to Harper Lee. Following each entry are rich endnotes that include publication dates and preferred editions, other books by the same author, related books to try, and listings of worthy adaptations, including movies and audiobooks. In total, more than six thousand titles by thirty-five hundred authors are recommended.
A Miscellany of Special Lists at the end of the book offers the reader surprising entry points into the collection, such as “Books to Read in a Sitting,” including The Little Virtues by Natalia Ginzburg and The Third Man by Graham Greene, and “Offbeat Escapes,” including Freya Stark’s The Valleys of the Assassins and Felice Benuzzi’s No Picnic on Mount Kenya. For the truly dedicated reader, “A Long Climb, but What a View” — a perfect way to describe those mountainous texts we long to scale, such as Proust’s In Search of Lost Time and Shelby Foote’s The Civil War.
An insightfully curated personal compendium that will inspire hours of browsing and a lifetime of reading, 1,000 Books to Read Before You Die celebrates the gorgeous mosaic that is our literary heritage.
“If you’ve ever doubted that books were the greatest invention of all time, and that they carry within them our collective memories and dreams, as well as any semblance of intelligence we have as a species, pick up James Mustich’s 1,000 Books to Read Before You Die and start reading.” Ken Burns
“James Mustich’s book is aimed at a society engulfed in words but desperately poor in the talents that reading can bring — judgment, taste, empathy, wit. The book is not a list of canonical works, though many classics are listed and lovingly described. No, the “1000 Books to Read” is an invocation of the pleasures to be had from many kinds of books — genre fiction, journalism, poetry, history, and memoir, the good and the great, the illustrious and the semi-forgotten, all summoned by Mustich’s taste. You open it at any point and jump from author to author; you follow his hints and read related works by other writers, and you find your own taste emerging, proud and strong, from Mustich’s provocations. 1,000 Books is surpassingly useful as well as good.” David Denby, staff writer at The New Yorker and author of Great Books: My Adventures with Homer, Rousseau, Woolf, and Other Indestructible Writers of the Western World
"Mustich's informed appraisals will drive readers to the books they've yet to read, and stimulate discussion of those they have." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
"A treasure chest for book lovers everywhere" Library Journal (Starred Review)
About the Author
James Mustich began his career in bookselling at an independent book store in Briarcliff Manor, New York, in the early 1980s. In 1986, he co-founded the acclaimed book catalog, A Common Reader, and was for two decades its guiding force. He subsequently has worked as an editorial and product development executive in the publishing industry. He lives with his wife, Margot, in Connecticut.