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  1. #1

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    "1,001 Books You Must Read Before You Die"

    Anyone else attempting this?

    I got the 2008 edition for Christmas 2010, went through it and saw I had read less than 60 of them. Began going through them in chronological order in Jan 2011 and currently read 378 of them (and up to 1937). Would be interested to hear if anyone else is trying to do the same....

  2. #2
    I prefer reading to be an enjoyable relaxation. Your way makes it sound like a chore.

  3. #3
    Felicity, I guess so's Avatar
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    Plus it'd mean buying yet another book, to find out wht they are... (all flat surfaces in our house have a tendency to become covered in books. And that's with me having an office full of books at work, too.)

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    Patrick Thistle's Avatar
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    There are so many of these lists. Perhaps someone should compile them into a handy book.

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    Why do they bother to point out that you have to read them before you die? When else are you going to find the time?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Felicity, I guess so View Post
    Plus it'd mean buying yet another book, to find out wht they are... (all flat surfaces in our house have a tendency to become covered in books. And that's with me having an office full of books at work, too.)
    I have found the lists available online and at least 30% of them are out of copyright and freely available to download via the Web. I have been using my local library to reserve the others for less than £1 each.

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    WOM's Avatar
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    I sort of mish-mash the books I want to read with the books I probably ought to read. I'm currently pushing through Tropic of Capricorn. However, a list of 1,000 'before I die' sounds more like a chore than a joy.

  8. #8
    Amor de Cosmos's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pebblethefish View Post
    Why do they bother to point out that you have to read them before you die? When else are you going to find the time?
    To me it also implies that they'll be useful for what comes afterwords.

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    WOM's Avatar
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    Or that the afterlife will be full of regret cuz you didn't manage The Bridges of Madison County.

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    imp's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Amor de Cosmos View Post
    To me it also implies that they'll be useful for what comes afterwords.
    Yes, you'll be quizzed by St. Peter. If you get all the answers right, he'll send you to work in heaven's library. Because if there is an eternal paradise surely it has to have an eternal library, otherwise what the fuck are you going to do for all eternity? Hang out with your mother-in-law? Learn the harp? Shag the angels?

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  12. #12

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    What the fuck are you going to do for all eternity? Hang out with your mother-in-law? Learn the harp? Shag the angels?
    My answer to this question is no small part of the reason why I won't be getting in there in the first place.

  13. #13
    Hot Pepsi's Avatar
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    I accept that some books are better than others, but the notion that there is an essential canon without which one is uneducated is right-wing bullshit. Nobody can ever read everything worth reading, so we have to just do our best.

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    Amor de Cosmos's Avatar
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    Right wing. How so? It's merely a reading list playing on widespread insecurity. A sort of Book-of-the Month-Club for the internet. I don't see how that's right, or left, wing.

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    Satchmo Distel's Avatar
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    If I were the parent of a teenager, I would be happy if they were reading any books regularly. I might gently recommend a classic or two but would never insist that they read something from a canon. Same with music; explain why I love Billie Holiday or The Beatles but never, surely, say "Please don't just listen to Spotify's hot hits", etc.

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    Satchmo Distel's Avatar
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    Lefties certainly had their canon cliques, most notably Adorno tutting about jazz and Hollywood, which now discredits much of his work, much as I admire his intellect.

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    The very fact that they're in the "canon" has led me to read a bunch of brilliant books that I otherwise wouldn't have touched with a bargepole. I don't particularly dislike the idea of the canon. It's just that when I find there's a style, or author, in the canon that I didn't enjoy, I don't then still force myself to read more of the same. But then, I've never been much of a completist or obsessive with anything.

  18. #18
    Hot Pepsi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Amor de Cosmos View Post
    Right wing. How so? It's merely a reading list playing on widespread insecurity. A sort of Book-of-the Month-Club for the internet. I don't see how that's right, or left, wing.
    I suppose lists are not inherently right-wing, but the ones Iíve seen - especially ones claiming to be Canon - are heavily bent toward white guys, along the lines of ďall philosophy are just footnotes on Plato.Ē

    The idea of Great Books or the Canon of Western Civilization (as if there is such a thing) appears to be rooted in the 19th century patrician idea of education, which was heavily biased toward Europeans and Greco-Roman writers.

    Even a list of 1,001 books is really just ďthe best books ever read by the people we polledĒ and thatís likely to have all kinds of biases. Maybe not, but probably. It canít help but be biased because so much great stuff hasnít been translated into English and, until relatively recently, it was hard for non-white, non-males to get published.

    But if we accept that thereís probably a lot of great stuff outside of the Anglo-American or European traditions and that there might be value in reading stuff that Harold Bloom doesnít like, then we have to accept that nobody will ever know everything worth knowing and that even educated people donít know much in the grand scheme of things. And that isnít something that many very bright and educated people may want to accept.
    Last edited by Hot Pepsi; 28-02-2018 at 04:03.

  19. #19
    Amor de Cosmos's Avatar
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    I'd hope that "nobody will ever know everything worth knowing and that even educated people don’t know much in the grand scheme of things" is the very first thing that bright and educated people would accept. Certainly all the profs I had any respect for said something along those lines at one time or another.

  20. #20
    Hot Pepsi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Amor de Cosmos View Post
    I'd hope that "nobody will ever know everything worth knowing and that even educated people don’t know much in the grand scheme of things" is the very first thing that bright and educated people would accept. Certainly all the profs I had any respect for said something along those lines at one time or another.
    Yeah, that's my experience too.

    When I wrote "that isn’t something that many very bright and educated people may want to accept." I meant it in the more literal sense that "many of them don't think this" not "most of them don't think this." Somehow writing on the phone makes it harder to hear what I write.

    But I think there are a lot of snobs lack that humility, and it certainly seems to be the attitude of right-wing bores like Jordan Peterson and anyone pushing the sanctity of "western civilization" that there's a list of important books that one needs to read to know what you need to know, and almost all of those books just happen to be written in English by white guys or, at least, in the tradition of well-known white guys.

    There was a lot of that about in the 18th and 19th century, but perhaps those people are a shrinking minority now. I sure hope so.


    This is a good overview of that, I think. Not about the books in particular. But, for example, Appiah quotes Hegel, who I would have thought knew better, saying "The foundation of higher study must be and remain Greek literature in the first place, Roman in the second.”

    https://www.theguardian.com/world/20...-reith-lecture

  21. #21
    Amor de Cosmos's Avatar
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    You can't really blame someone, even Hegel, for being a prisoner of his own time and place. We can look at the stars as best we can but we're all still very much in a temporal gutter we have no control over (to mangle Oscar a bit... actually quite a lot really.)

  22. #22
    Hot Pepsi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Amor de Cosmos View Post
    You can't really blame someone, even Hegel, for being a prisoner of his own time and place. We can look at the stars as best we can but we're all still very much in a temporal gutter we have no control over (to mangle Oscar a bit... actually quite a lot really.)
    Is that from "We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars?"


    I know that, I just thought that Hegel in particular - with his dialectic and what not - wouldn't have thought that way, but I never really understood his books, so what do I know.

    But it is a bit unfortunate that what is called philosophy in most North American philosophy departments and journals, perhaps, is really just European philosophy, and often just a part of that. Perhaps that's inevitable because there's not enough funding to have professors covering all the different philosophical traditions in the world, but it should then at least admit that somehow.

    Not that I've read widely beyond white guys. I'd like to, but I keep finding myself reading stuff by white guys.
    Last edited by Hot Pepsi; 28-02-2018 at 07:00.

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    Am I right in thinking if I don't read these books I won't die?

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    Fuck me, I only asked if anyone else was attempting it, and how they were getting on. This is not some attempt at divine purity or philosophical debate. I have an hour's commute to work each way every day and it seemed like a good way to pass the time and to try and achieve something for once in my life.

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    Well, that'll teach you...

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