Lookie, another list book...

1000 Books to Change Your Life
Jonathan Derbyshire (ed.)
280 pages; published 2007

… there are lots of books around that suggest that […] tell you both how to read and what to read; books that prescribe a canon of great works and then tell you how to go about extracting the ore of significant meaning from them.

But we’ve no intention of being anywhere near so prescriptive. Not because we’re sceptical of the existence of literary value – we’re quite sure you can tell a good book from a bad one – but more because we’re unsure that most people’s reading habits are suited to the kind of strenuous mind-expansion programmes recommended by the latter-day zealots of what used to be called ‘improving’ literature.” (7)

Any regular readers of this blog, or anyone who knows me in the slightest, is aware of my list fixation – in fact, if you do, you probably take part of the gentle but constant teasing of the same. So when I saw this book, "Time Out" 1000 Books to Change Your Life, my fingers itched till it made its way to my shopping cart. It was not, however, what I had expected.

I expected something along the lines of 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die – something that was, in essence, a list of 1000 books, perhaps with some contextual information and a bit of a blurb. I was pleasantly surprised with what I found.

1000 Books takes Shakespeare’s ‘Seven Ages of Man’ speech from As You Like It as it’s basic format, breaking the book up into seven main sections – birth, childhood, adolescence, adulthood, middle age, old age, and death. Within each of these sections are various essays, recommendations from known authors, and various suggestion lists based around a topic – ‘birth and motherhood’, ‘siblings’, ‘illicit liaisons’ and ‘mid-life crises’, just to name a few.

The book was an interestingly engaging read, suited to both a long perusal or picking it up for essay or two here or there. It was well written and the suggestions of books were fresh and wide-spread. A welcome contribution to any book collectors (or list collectors) shelf. 4/5

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Tonya said...

Nice blog, I look forward to reading more of your reviews.


Book Zombie (Joanne) said...

Great review, I love list books so this is definitely going on my TBR list :)