Prior to this brilliant find, I’ve picked up books to read based on trusted recommendations, cheap sales and (yes!) interesting book covers. I’ve tried using prize winners as a reading guide but it was a hard follow as the books tend to be dry and taxing.
And then, I found IT. My revered book-bible.
501 Must-Read Books (ISBN 978-0-7537-1343-3, by Bounty Books) is a wonderful find. This hardcover, full colour gloss paper tome is a collection of recommendations from a varied team of book-people (lecturers, writers, book-nuts).
The list is organized into categories: Children’s Fiction, Classic Fiction, History, Modern Fiction, Science Fiction, Thrillers, and Travel Writing. Each book gets a full page write up with a by-note on the author’s details and titles. Unlike other must-read list which tend to bias towards the list-makers favourite genre and authors, this list actually includes a lot of really good books.
When I first got my copy, I eagerly browsed the titles to tick off those I’ve read. The count - only 6 out of 501! Shameful.
A lot of the titles are familiar, but unfortunately unread. The Children’s Fiction section especially, I know the story of The Secret Garden, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Heidi and many more but I’ve read the simplified Ladybird version back in those days. Then there are those I’ve seen the cartoon / movie version; Dr Dolittle, Mary Poppins, Peter Pan, Pinocchio. And those that are popular characters yet I’ve never read the original; Winnie-the-Pooh, Pippi Longstocking, The Tale of Peter Rabbit. The list also includes recent good reads; Sophie’s World, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. And also very lovely stories I wouldn’t have picked up otherwise; Terry Prachett’s The Color of Magic, Rudyard Kipling’s Just So Stories.
Whew! And this is only the Children’s Fiction!
This book is my reading guide for now. I hope to be able to read all the books in 5 years time, but even might be aiming too high. So far I’ve upped the read count from the measly 6 to 57, mostly with books from Children’s Fiction. See my recently read list. I stick a nice little star for every book I read, for that little sense of accomplishment.
This book is a treat for any bibliophile. I got mine for RM59.90 form MPH, there’s a softcover (not paperback, just not hardcover) version in Border’s bargain bin.