501 Must-Read Books

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501 Must-Read Books

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1Cecrow
jan 20, 2011, 10:10am

My wife acquired this 501 Must-Read Books for me a couple of Christmas' ago, and I viewed it with skepticism. I didn't care for some ivory tower gang to tell me what to read, so I barely glanced through it.

Later I took a more careful look, actually reading the reviews for each, and found my curiosity touched by a couple. Then a couple more. On a second pass, by a lot more. And it's gotten steadily "worse".

I only know 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die by reputation. 501 seems more wieldy, and they also seem more logically selected from reviews of each that I've read.

Rather than time period, 501 lists by category (children's literature; biography; travel; mystery; etc.). Some I nearly entirely skip over (e.g. 'memoirs') but others I'm exploring in detail.

I've noted that '1001' is listed in a book's data as an 'award'. If I'm to initiate the task of producing a common knowledge list for '501', I suppose I'm to list it under the award category as well?

2Cecrow
jan 21, 2011, 9:19am

I've started adding this information alphabetically from the index; the A and B entries are done. I'll add another letter or two on weekday mornings until all 501 are up there.

There's a few oddities, selections that hardly anyone here has read or reviewed such as Above the Dark Circus. Others everyone's heard of, like Huckleberry Finn and Alice in Wonderland. Then there's the middling selections, fairly popular and known though not considered classics, like Beloved and The Accidental Tourist.

3rsterling
Redigeret: jan 22, 2011, 4:57pm

Cool list. I look forward to checking it out more as you enter the CK.

We don't generally list the source book (501 Must-Read Books) itself in the award list. Instead, you could put a link to its work page in the award description on the right.

Edited to add: I don't know, I'd probably put Beloved in the classics list. It's on pretty much every must read list that's come out recently, and Morrison didn't win the Nobel for nothing... :)

4Cecrow
Redigeret: jan 24, 2011, 8:18am

The "C" list is done. Catcher in the Rye, Charlotte's Web, A Christmas Carol, Crime and Punishment, etc.

There's a number of strange categorizations, especially those listed under Children's Fiction which includes the likes of The Colour of Magic and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. But I'll continue to list them as they're identified in the volume.

I'm glad there's some better means of linking to the source book, as I definitely wanted it included by some means.

Edit: I've added the desription, but I would prefer to continue including the source volume in the list as it seems the most obvious way to make people aware (who are looking at the source book's page) that the listing has been captured in LibraryThing.

5rsterling
jan 24, 2011, 11:09am

I would prefer to continue including the source volume in the list as it seems the most obvious way to make people aware (who are looking at the source book's page) that the listing has been captured in LibraryThing.

That's not how the award/honor field works, though. It is for awards/honors that have been given to the book. That's part of the guidelines for entering CK, and if an award is listed for something that didn't actually receive it, someone will come along and delete that information from the book that didn't receive it (because this is a community project and fielded wiki).

People will become aware of the list as they notice it's been attached to their works, or as it starts to show up on "related awards" on series, author, and award pages. I wouldn't worry about that.

6Cecrow
jan 24, 2011, 11:42am

During a search of the Internet to see whether someone unearthed/revealed the person who made the selections, I was unsuccessful but I did find this quickly-loaded page with the complete listing:
http://www.listology.com/list/501-books-2

My one regret for LibraryThing is that the common knowledge page takes forever to collect the data and load (and I've only done three letters thus far; what happens when I add twenty-three more?)

7Cecrow
jan 25, 2011, 8:04am

The "D" list is up. Most obvious choice, Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Most unusual choice, Death in the Wrong Room. Most intriguing choice, Declares Pereira.

I do have admiration for the selection with respect to its inclusion of literature outside the western cannon; there seems to be a lot of that.

8Cecrow
jan 26, 2011, 7:45am

E: a short addition, nothing particularly unusual. The Epic of Gilgamesh was an obvious inclusion. Intrigued by 84 Charing Cross Road, The End of History and the Last Man, and The Executioner's Song.

9Cecrow
jan 27, 2011, 7:41am

F: obviously the fairy tales of Hans Christian Andersen, Fifth Business, A Fine Balance. Intrigued by Ficciones and Flesh in the Age of Reason.

10Cecrow
jan 28, 2011, 8:10am

G & H: The Golden Notebook, The Grapes of Wrath, The Great Gatsby, Gulliver's Travels, Harry Potter, Heart of Darkness, Heidi, etc.

Intrigued by The Glass Bead Game, The Group, A History of Warfare, The Human Comedy

11Cecrow
jan 31, 2011, 7:44am

I: includes I, Robot, the Iliad, In Search of Lost Time and the lone Stephen King entry on the list, It. Some of the sci-fi looks intriguing, including The Inverted World and Islandia. Personally I find Interview with the Vampire to be a questionable choice.

12Cecrow
feb 1, 2011, 7:53am

J: There's some fairly obscure memoirs listed here, including Amiel's Journal. Thomas Hardy's lone entry, Jude the Obscure; Jane Eyre, of course; a bit surprised that Journey to the Center of the Earth was selected among Verne's works. I'm intrigued by Journal of the Discovery of the Source of the Nile, and maybe July's People.

13Cecrow
feb 1, 2011, 8:02am

K: Only five entries here: Kim, King of the Golden River, King Solomon's Mines, The Kingdom of This World re Haiti, and the Kon Tiki expedition.

14Cecrow
Redigeret: mar 2, 2012, 11:25am

L: Of course we have The Beast in Man (La Bete Humaine), Les Miserables, The Lion The Witch and the Wardrobe, The Little Prince, Little Women, Lolita and Lord of the Flies. Once again, another recommendation for Life of Pi, so I guess I'll have to read that one.

(Edited to trigger touchstones)

15Mr.Durick
feb 2, 2011, 4:32pm

It is curious how it differs in handling the definite article between French and English.

Robert

16Cecrow
Redigeret: feb 11, 2011, 8:03am

M: a large addition. Madame Bovary, The Man Who was Thursday, Mary Poppins, Middlemarch, Moby Dick, The Moonstone, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd (Agatha Christie's lone entry) ...

Intrigued by Memoirs of Hadrian, Ferdinandez-Armesto's Millenium, and The Moving Toyshop, among others.

(Edited to trigger touchstones)

17Cecrow
feb 4, 2011, 8:23am

N: The Naked Lunch, The Name of the Rose, Neuromancer, Nineteen Eighty-Four, North and South (by Gaskell).

I'd have to say, Nobody's Boy takes the cake for most obscure citation so far, at least where LibraryThing is concerned.

More than half done. Taking a week off, then I'll finish this up.

18Cecrow
feb 11, 2011, 8:00am

O: included Balzac's Old Goriot, The Old Man and the Sea, Our Mutual Friend, and Camus' The Stranger (aka "The Outsider", thus listed under "O").

Intrigued by Origins of the Second World War and The Ornament of the World.

19Cecrow
feb 14, 2011, 8:18am

20Cecrow
feb 15, 2011, 7:58am

Q & R: Reading Lolita in Tehran, Rebecca, Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, The Remains of the Day, Ringworld, Robinson Crusoe ...

Some interesting travel writing in this section, including The Road to Oxiana. I had no idea A.A. Milne of Winnie-the-Pooh fame wrote a mystery, much less one that would land amongst 501 must-read books: The Red House Mystery.

21Cecrow
feb 17, 2011, 7:50am

23Cecrow
feb 22, 2011, 7:39am

25Cecrow
feb 23, 2011, 8:02am

That's the end; nothing starting with X, Y or Z made the list, so all 501 books have now been catalogued into Common Knowledge.

It was quite an eye-opener for me to do the indexing, since it led to my scrutinizing every title and I've quite a list of books I'm interested in pursuing now. While I wouldn't read every title (especially in the Thrillers category), I'd say at least one out of every five has my attention.

I've also been able to remark how the books were selected. It seems there was a self-imposed rule not to select works by the same author within the same category. So all we have from Dickens is Our Mutual Friend, all we have from Tolstoy is War and Peace, etc. In some instances, the selector got around this self-imposed restriction by using some odd categorizing: Joseph Conrad has books in Classic Fiction and in Modern Fiction though they could easily be exchanged for one another; same for Robert Louis Stevenson, whose Treasure Island is tucked away in Children's Fiction but also has Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde among the Classics.

Maybe a couple dozen authors were cited twice. A very small number was selected from three times: C.S. Lewis, Robert Louis Stevenson (with a Travel Writing book), and Oscar Wilde.

The largest category is "Modern Fiction", the smallest is "Travel Writing".

26MerryMary
feb 23, 2011, 10:23am

Job well done!

27Mr.Durick
feb 23, 2011, 3:01pm

Yeah, thanks.

Robert

28Cecrow
Redigeret: mar 31, 2014, 2:55pm

I see I've never mentioned here that I launched a group devoted to this list - albeit a fairly lonesome one for several months now. I've encountered a few devotees on Goodreads, but fewer here on LT:
http://www.librarything.com/groups/501mustreadbooks