The popular saying “never judge a book by its cover” works both ways. Sometimes, browsing the aisles of Barnes and Noble, you find yourself drawn to books with flashy covers, exciting titles, and a quick scan of the synopsis reveals it probably isn’t the next great American novel. Conversely, a trip to your public library reveals plain jackets and solid (or even worn-out) sounding titles, but holds some of the classics of the literary world. I’m certainly not one to criticize a bit of pleasure reading, and fully admit that many of my favorite books would not constitute amazing writing. However, there are many benefits to gaining familiarity with books that have been deemed classics. While slogging through James Joyce’s Ulysses proved impossible for me, I found myself enjoying classics such as Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre. For anyone who wants to be able to flaunt their status as a reader, the 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die list is a great way to beef up your literary acumen.
Reading 1001 books in a year, or even ten years may be impossible. However, the beauty of the list is that it provides a potentially life-long commitment to enjoying literary gems. It provides motivation and guidance for readers who sometimes feel reading to be a chore or a bore. Not every book on the list will be exciting for every reader. Sometimes, you may be unable to finish. In the end, however, you’re bound to find something worth reading.
These books are geared towards older readers, although some of the books can be read by junior high students with great enjoyment and comprehension. These books can also help older students develop stronger vocabularies, as long as dictionaries are consulted and difficult words aren’t simply skipped. Beginning the list is a great summer project, and can even become a family affair. Instead of turning on the television after dinner, why not spend time together as a family, reading?