Friday, September 23, 2011

From Aesop's Fables to Zeno's Conscience

"'The life so short, the craft so long to learn.' Chaucer's musings can be applied to the reading, as well as to the writing, of books. For many people, reading fiction remains the supreme pleasure. Many recall it as a first milestone reached and the great joy of childhood, only eventually partially obscured by the forced education of school and university, when reading all too often becomes a painful duty rather than a delight. But somehow, the joy of the novel remains. It is the silent pleasure, the offspring of loneliness or absorption, the nurse of daydreams and reflections, the mistress of the passions, the instigator of adventure and change. And it can literally change lives."
So begins Peter Ackroyd's introduction to 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die, with which I heartily concur. But jeepers, my sense of how much time I have left to address all the books I want to read has been seriously compromised! I now have 861 more items to add to the several thousand tomes in my home waiting to be devoured. Opening up to a typical sequence, I encountered Lampedusa's The Leopard, Capote's Breakfast at Tiffany's, Boll's Billiards at Half-Past Nine, and Spark's Memento Mori. All seem eminently shelfworthy (in fact I have yards of Muriel Spark's fiction owing to an excessive fondness for British women writers). In any event, I look forward to the great enjoyment, learning, and insight that will ensue merely from perusing the choices, which are each presented in several succinct paragraphs. You wouldn't expect a digest of this sort to have such stupendous illustrations, but the mostly full-page ones that accompany nearly every spread of this hefty but compact volume are marvelous, colorful, and very well chosen.


  1. I already have 1,001 + books I still want to read and although I am sure this book will be dangerous and adds at least another 500+ plus to that list... I make purchase this title!

  2. you have my utmost sympathy. I want to be the woman who read a book a day and blogged about it and then made it into a book :)