100 Books to read before you die lists

Chervil

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I am an avid reader and normally have several books on the go at any time. At the moment these include Terry Pratchett’s Men at Arms (I am working my way through the 43 Discworld books), Max Hastings Armageddon, Richard Pike’s Beaufighter Ace and Beyond Band of Brothers by Dick Winter. I am also constantly dipping in and out of reference books.

Someone was telling me that they are working through a “100 books to read before you die” list, which I must admit intrigues me, so I Goggled it.
The first problem that I encountered, was that there isn’t one definitive list, the second was, that some of the lists seem to have been put together, by people, who want to impress their friends at dinner parties and include, Proust, Tolstoy, Virgil and Flaubert. Books which I would find it a chore to get through, and would be reading just to complete the list.

Another list contains the following as the top 8 out of the 100:

To Kill a Mockingbird, 1984, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, The Lord of the Rings, The Great Gatsby, Pride and Prejudice, The Diary Of A Young Girl and The Book Thief.

I have read a lot of these, albeit, some several years ago, but, despite trying several times, cannot get into any of the Lord of the Rings books, or films.

Has any one else completed, or working through any of these 100 book lists, and if so which one?

I read because I love reading, and would like to take on one of these challenges, at the rate I read, it would take a couple of years. Any ideas or suggestions? I do understand, that no matter which 100 books are on a list, there will be some that I don't enjoy.
 

Backwoodsman

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Not certain if any of these which I have read several times makes it on the list. Ernest Hemingway’s the old man and the sea . ALso his ,the sun also rises. Probably my alltime favorite is jack kerouacs on the road
 

Chervil

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Sam Vimes

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I read avidly and have a nasty habit of collecting certain books. I occasionally get suckered into reading books that I otherwise wouldn't, often by the kind of "best books" lists you are talking about. I've rarely enjoyed such books. Even those with themes I may otherwise enjoy have been hard work (Le Morte d'Arthur and The Complete Angler spring to mind). For me, life's too short to read stuff that you don't enjoy. I usually find reading books that are deemed classics, educational or otherwise worthy, to be either a chore or boring as hell.
 

Chervil

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I read avidly and have a nasty habit of collecting certain books. I occasionally get suckered into reading books that I otherwise wouldn't, often by the kind of "best books" lists you are talking about. I've rarely enjoyed such books. Even those with themes I may otherwise enjoy have been hard work (Le Morte d'Arthur and The Complete Angler spring to mind). For me, life's too short to read stuff that you don't enjoy. I usually find reading books that are deemed classics, educational or otherwise worthy, to be either a chore or boring as hell.
Sam, I think I agree with you. I have started reading quite a few books and stopped after a while, because I'm not enjoying them and I'm never going to get a list of 100 books, where I'm going to look forward to picking them all up. It may be a non starter.
 

Sam Vimes

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Sam, I think I agree with you. I have started reading quite a few books and stopped after a while, because I'm not enjoying them and I'm never going to get a list of 100 books, where I'm going to look forward to picking them all up. It may be a non starter.

The best way I've found of finding new stuff, that might appeal to me, is to have an account with Amazon. If you buy books from them it will make recommendations. Even if you don't buy books from them, you can indicate that you "own" certain books and the recommendations will flow. The more books you "own" and rate, the better the recommendations get.
 

Chervil

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The best way I've found of finding new stuff, that might appeal to me, is to have an account with Amazon. If you buy books from them it will make recommendations. Even if you don't buy books from them, you can indicate that you "own" certain books and the recommendations will flow. The more books you "own" and rate, the better the recommendations get.
I do get books from Amazon, just going to order two now, for the Kindle for a short holiday. Never really taken much notice of the recommendations, will take a look. Cheers(y),
 

Geoff P

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Another list contains the following as the top 8 out of the 100:

To Kill a Mockingbird, 1984, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, The Lord of the Rings, The Great Gatsby, Pride and Prejudice, The Diary Of A Young Girl and The Book Thief.

I have read a lot of these, albeit, some several years ago, but, despite trying several times, cannot get into any of the Lord of the Rings books, or films.

I have read Lord of the Rings, watched part of one film but did not like it. The characters were nothing like those in my imagination.

I must read 4 books a week, I have over 200 on my tablet for the Kindle App. I particularly like Who dunits, crime and adventure stories.
 

bluemack

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I think i,m a bit of a strange one where books are concerned,i like to see them on a bookshelf
but have only actually read 1 book "The Greatest Raid" about the raid on St Nazaire in ww 2.
 

Chervil

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I have read Lord of the Rings, watched part of one film but did not like it. The characters were nothing like those in my imagination.

I must read 4 books a week, I have over 200 on my tablet for the Kindle App. I particularly like Who dunits, crime and adventure stories.
Geoff, Just couldn't get into any of the Lord of the Rings books. I read a lot of military and historic books, both fact and fiction and like crime and adventure.
I did get into Ian Rankin and James Patterson, I also like Stephen Coonts, Wilber Smith (I have nearly all of his books on one of my book shelves and am just looking for one or two to complete the collection), some Bernard Cornwell and Lee Child. I get a lot of mine from the library, but do have a lot of reference books on my shelves. Getting more into the Kindle, which I find useful for holidays.
 

Backwoodsman

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I do get books from Amazon, just going to order two now, for the Kindle for a short holiday. Never really taken much notice of the recommendations, will take a look. Cheers(y),
Spot on with your amazon heads up, unfortunately it can become quite addictive
 

Floody

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@Chervil, I totally agree with you – people who put these lists together include a lot of books they probably haven’t read, and just want to impress their friends. Having said that, I have worked through one of these lists – many years ago now, Waterstones invited their readers to vote for the top 100 most influential books of all time. The only caveat was that books less than ten years old could not be included (the thinking was, they wanted books on the list that had stood the test of time).

Some of the titles I ignored; there were a few cookery books in there, and things that people voted for just to impress – I refuse to believe that a lot of the people who voted had read, and enjoyed, ‘Remembrance of Things Past’ – a novel in seven volumes by Marcel Proust. :oops:

I realised that these lists could be split into two – those books that are ‘worthy’ – i.e. the old classics you might feel you should read because they’ve been around for hundreds of years – and those books that are genuinely entertaining. The very best books IMHO are those few that are both at the same time, hundreds of years old AND entertaining. But at the end of the day that boils down to personal taste.

I also realised that to fully understand most of the ‘worthy’ books, you need to read them, then read around the subject – what I mean is, read books about the worthy book, and that will enable you to know why it was written, the context, why certain characters appear and why they do certain things… very much in the same way that someone would study a degree in English Lit. That process might sound a bit daunting or dull but it really puts the flesh on the bones and leads to a deeper understanding of the book in question.

I’m glad I went through that list, but I threw it away many years ago. These days I’m only interested in reading books that entertain, and I love reading quality comedy. For instance, I’ve just discovered the Bob Servant books which are an absolute joy, and I love PG Wodehouse… in his case, I think it’s an incredible talent at work when he writes something funny almost a hundred years ago, and we still laugh out loud when we read it in 2018.

But to answer your question, no top 100 list will be the same as any other because literary critics/readers have their own opinions… but what you WILL find with most lists is that quite a few titles appear in almost every one. Why not make a list of those titles that keep cropping up, google what those books are about, and if they appeal, add them to your own list?

Finally, I have to agree with 160642fishing – Birdsong is a fantastic book. As is ‘A Prayer For Owen Meany’ by John Irving.
 

Geoff P

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Geoff, Just couldn't get into any of the Lord of the Rings books. I read a lot of military and historic books, both fact and fiction and like crime and adventure.
I did get into Ian Rankin and James Patterson, I also like Stephen Coonts, Wilber Smith (I have nearly all of his books on one of my book shelves and am just looking for one or two to complete the collection), some Bernard Cornwell and Lee Child. I get a lot of mine from the library, but do have a lot of reference books on my shelves. Getting more into the Kindle, which I find useful for holidays.

I have all Wilbur Smiths and Lee Childs books on my tablet. Also read CJ Box, Stuart McBride, James Patterson and Andy McDermott. I have read all the Tom Clancy books (not the ones he outlined and were written by other authors) and James Clavell
 

Chervil

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@Chervil, I totally agree with you – people who put these lists together include a lot of books they probably haven’t read, and just want to impress their friends. Having said that, I have worked through one of these lists – many years ago now, Waterstones invited their readers to vote for the top 100 most influential books of all time. The only caveat was that books less than ten years old could not be included (the thinking was, they wanted books on the list that had stood the test of time).

Some of the titles I ignored; there were a few cookery books in there, and things that people voted for just to impress – I refuse to believe that a lot of the people who voted had read, and enjoyed, ‘Remembrance of Things Past’ – a novel in seven volumes by Marcel Proust. :oops:

I realised that these lists could be split into two – those books that are ‘worthy’ – i.e. the old classics you might feel you should read because they’ve been around for hundreds of years – and those books that are genuinely entertaining. The very best books IMHO are those few that are both at the same time, hundreds of years old AND entertaining. But at the end of the day that boils down to personal taste.

I also realised that to fully understand most of the ‘worthy’ books, you need to read them, then read around the subject – what I mean is, read books about the worthy book, and that will enable you to know why it was written, the context, why certain characters appear and why they do certain things… very much in the same way that someone would study a degree in English Lit. That process might sound a bit daunting or dull but it really puts the flesh on the bones and leads to a deeper understanding of the book in question.

I’m glad I went through that list, but I threw it away many years ago. These days I’m only interested in reading books that entertain, and I love reading quality comedy. For instance, I’ve just discovered the Bob Servant books which are an absolute joy, and I love PG Wodehouse… in his case, I think it’s an incredible talent at work when he writes something funny almost a hundred years ago, and we still laugh out loud when we read it in 2018.

But to answer your question, no top 100 list will be the same as any other because literary critics/readers have their own opinions… but what you WILL find with most lists is that quite a few titles appear in almost every one. Why not make a list of those titles that keep cropping up, google what those books are about, and if they appeal, add them to your own list?

Finally, I have to agree with 160642fishing – Birdsong is a fantastic book. As is ‘A Prayer For Owen Meany’ by John Irving.
Floody, A really well written post. One of the lists I looked at had the complete works of Shakespeare on it, I struggled enough with some of his works at school.
I read a lot of the Jeeves and Wooster books a few years ago, and has you say, they are still funny.
I do read a lot of history novels, and like the 100 year war period. But also read quite a lot of "proper" history books about the same period. Must admit, if I was going to do another degree, it would be history.
As you suggest, I think I will make my own list. I started recording all the books I read about 20 years ago, something I wish I had started much earlier and should have done it alphabetical, instead of the order read.
 

Chervil

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I have all Wilbur Smiths and Lee Childs books on my tablet. Also read CJ Box, Stuart McBride, James Patterson and Andy McDermott. I have read all the Tom Clancy books (not the ones he outlined and were written by other authors) and James Clavell
Love Wilber Smith, although he seems to be really churning the books out recently, written with co authors. He must be 84/85 now, I suspect someone is trying to make money out of his name, whilst they can.
 

Dannysdad

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Each style of reading differs with each individual. I'm now more of a holiday reader as I find the internet more entertaining. Whilst certainly not on any classic list, if you fancy an easy but can't put down read, have a look at The Perfect Kill by A J Quinnell.
 
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