The First 250 Books

I am working on making my own ‘1001 Books’ list, reading all the books on the various editions of Boxall’s 1001 Books lists, and on the Guardian’s 1001 Books list, and reading lots of additional books, and putting the ‘deserving’ ones together into a grand list of books I personally can attest to be worth reading.

That will of course take a few more years. In the meantime, I made a short list of 250 books that will probably be on the final list. Here they are, with some explanations.

Established Classics

Classics provide us with a common cultural language, since so many people read them, across all generations. They may not be the best of their respective genres, but they are the ones our parents and maybe even their parents read, and that our kids and their kids will probably also read or at least know about. Such connections help to keep us as a society from fracturing along generational lines when politics, economics, and other divisive forces pop up.

Science Fiction

I included several science fiction genre books, because we live in a world where many of the tech ideas from classic science fiction are no longer futuristic, but simply oddball variations on what we take for granted as everyday technology. The point of sci-fi as a genre is to imagine possible futures and possible alternatives to the world we live in, and reading books in this genre helps us imagine the future, and prepare for it.

My List vs. Boxall’s

The 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die lists edited by Dr. Peter Boxall are excellent for what they are. Thousands of readers refer to these lists for reading suggestions, and some of us ‘super-readers’ actually focus of reading all the books on these lists, checking them off as we complete them. But they tend to focus on canonical ‘classics’ of Western traditional education, and as a result these lists are heavily male, heterosexual, and conservative. I see no reason to avoid these lists, by any means; in fact, for the reasons I gave above for reading established classics, it is vital that many of us in all generations read and discuss the books on Boxall’s lists. But there are many modern and recent authors left off these lists and many topics and perspectives that are very relevant now, but hardly acknowledged by the books on Boxall’s lists. I started with a combined list of all the editions to date of Boxall’s lists, weeded out all the ones I haven’t read yet, and removed all the ones I have read and would not have included in such a list. Then I added in a few books that are particularly deserving of inclusion in a 1001 Books list. I marked the books I added with an asterisk, for this post. I have particular reasons for including each of those titles.

This is only a list of 250 books, so it cannot include all the good books in any genre or on any topic, but I do think these books merit reading, for anyone and everyone. This particular list is still heavily skewed towards male authors, with only 23% of these titles written by women, but it also includes many well established classics, which tend to be almost exclusively male-authored. For the next 3 segments of my 1001 books list I will be paying close attention to the diversity of those list segments, and as I read more great books, some of the books on this first list will probably be bumped to make way for even better/more relevant/more inclusive/??? books.

  1. One Thousand and One Nights – This is why the golden number for super-long booklists is 1001. The number taps into this aesthetic of neverending storytelling, and turns each book in the list into one of Scheherazade’s stories.
  2. Animal Farm
  3. 1984
  4. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
  5. Through the Looking Glass
  6. Wuthering Heights
  7. Jane Eyre
  8. Emma
  9. Little Women
  10. Sense and Sensibility
  11. Pride and Prejudice
  12. Persuasion
  13. Middlemarch
  14. The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum
  15. The Awakening
  16. The Scarlet Letter
  17. Rebecca
  18. Anna Karenina
  19. Madame Bovary
  20. Tess of the D’Urbervilles
  21. Moll Flanders
  22. Therese Raquin
  23. The Great Gatsby
  24. Great Expectations
  25. Lady Chatterly’s Lover
  26. One Hundred Years of Solitude
  27. To Kill a Mockingbird
  28. The Color Purple
  29. I know Why the Caged Bird Sings
  30. Their Eyes Were Watching God
  31. The Hobbit
  32. Lord of the Rings (trilogy)
  33. Lord of the Flies
  34. Of Mice and Men
  35. A Christmas Carol
  36. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
  37. Frankenstein
  38. Brave New World
  39. The Little Prince
  40. The Old Man and the Sea
  41. The Time Machine
  42. The Fall of the House of Usher
  43. Dracula
  44. The Call of the Wild
  45. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde
  46. Aesop’s Fables
  47. The Grapes of Wrath
  48. Robinson Crusoe
  49. Catch-22
  50. Treasure Island
  51. Heart of Darkness
  52. Slaughterhouse Five
  53. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
  54. A Tale of Two Cities
  55. The Hunchback of Notre Dame
  56. Gulliver’s Travels
  57. The Invisible Man
  58. Crime and Punishment
  59. A Clockwork Orange
  60. The Trial
  61. Around the World in 80 Days
  62. The War of the World
  63. Oliver Twist
  64. David Copperfield
  65. The Three Musketeers
  66. Uncle Tom’s Cabin
  67. Don Quixote
  68. Journey to the Center of the Earth
  69. The Island of Dr. Moreau
  70. The Count of Monte Cristo
  71. Ivanhoe
  72. Silas Marner
  73. Tarzan of the Apes
  74. On the Road
  75. The Once and Future King
  76. Cannery Row
  77. One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich
  78. Tender is the Night
  79. The Plague
  80. Things Fall Apart
  81. War and Peace
  82. Steppenwolf
  83. Walden
  84. Les Miserables
  85. Le Pere Goriot
  86. Doctor Zhivago
  87. The Jungle
  88. Babbitt
  89. A Town Like Alice
  90. Germinal
  91. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
  92. The Alchemist*
  93. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime
  94. The Stand*
  95. The Giver*
  96. The Five People You Meet in Heaven*
  97. Beloved
  98. The Godfather
  99. A Prayer for Owen Meany
  100. American Gods*
  101. Good Omens*
  102. The Unbearable Lightness of Being
  103. Something Wicked This Way Comes*
  104. Firestarter*
  105. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep
  106. I, Robot
  107. Neverwhere*
  108. The Poisonwood Bible
  109. A Confederacy of Dunces
  110. Like Water for Chocolate
  111. The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
  112. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd
  113. Franny and Zooey
  114. Stranger in a Strange Land
  115. Foundation
  116. 2001: A Space Odyssey
  117. The Shipping News
  118. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie
  119. The Thirty-Nine Steps
  120. Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency
  121. We Need to Talk About Kevin*
  122. A Pocket Full of Rye*
  123. The Bluest Eye
  124. The Maltese Falcon
  125. For Whom the Bell Tolls
  126. Beowolf, by Caitlin R. Kiernan* – This retelling is excellent, true to the classic story but better.
  127. Veronika Decides to Die
  128. The Sense of an Ending
  129. Night Watch, by Terry Pratchett*
  130. A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius*
  131. Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil*
  132. The Bridge of San Luis Rey*
  133. Mila 18*
  134. Smilla’s Sense of Snow
  135. Hawaii*
  136. Murder Must Advertise
  137. The Namesake
  138. A Canticle for Liebowitz*
  139. Brighton Rock
  140. Jingo, by Terry Pratchett*
  141. Contact
  142. Song of Solomon
  143. The Satanic Verses
  144. Cancer Ward
  145. Pamela
  146. The Girls of Slender Means
  147. Truckers, by Terry Pratchett*
  148. Main Street
  149. Gaudy Night*
  150. The Shepherd’s Crown*
  151. The Museum of Extraordinary Things*
  152. Americanah*
  153. The End of the Affair
  154. Fingersmith
  155. The Fox
  156. 1Q84
  157. The Rainbow
  158. The Way of All Flesh
  159. The Quiet American
  160. The Heart of the Matter
  161. The Razor’s Edge
  162. Silence
  163. The Nine Tailors
  164. The Pilgrim’s Progress
  165. The Devils
  166. The Woman in the Dunes*
  167. Jazz
  168. Billy Budd
  169. Bless Me Ultima*
  170. Invisible
  171. A Million Little Pieces*
  172. The Moon is Down*
  173. Nectar in a Sieve*
  174. A Map of the World*
  175. The Winter of Our Discontent*
  176. The Painted Bird
  177. Zorba the Greek
  178. White Noise
  179. The Thin Man
  180. A Long Fatal Love Chase*
  181. The Life and Times of Michael K
  182. The Scapegoat*
  183. Tom Jones
  184. The Power and the Glory
  185. Momento Mori
  186. Dandelion Wine*
  187. The Trouble With Goats and Sheep*
  188. The Translation of Love*
  189. Bimbos of the Death Sun*
  190. Green Mansions*
  191. Wool*
  192. The Fourth Protocol*
  193. The Glass Bead Game
  194. Solaris
  195. The Joke
  196. Rickshaw Boy
  197. The Music of Chance
  198. London Fields
  199. The Known World*
  200. Pirate Latitudes*
  201. Empire of the Sun
  202. The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love*
  203. Eugenie Grandet
  204. The Manor
  205. There’s No Place Like Here*
  206. Shikasta
  207. Deep River
  208. City Primeval
  209. The Unconsoled
  210. Kokoro
  211. Alaska*
  212. So Long a Letter
  213. Mornings in Jenin*
  214. The Night Watch, by Sarah Waters*
  215. The Panopticon*
  216. The Beautiful Mrs. Seidenman
  217. The Hangman’s Daughter*
  218. Lincoln’s Dreams*
  219. What Came Before He Shot Her*
  220. The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born*
  221. Simple Prayers*
  222. The Bridge of Beyond*
  223. Embers
  224. I Thought of Daisy
  225. Train to Pakistan*
  226. The Heike Story*
  227. One Night in Winter*
  228. The Buried Giant*
  229. The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax*
  230. Thirsty*
  231. Tortuga*
  232. Hell’s Gate*
  233. Unnatural Acts*
  234. Seed*
  235. Of Things Gone Astray*
  236. The Farming of Bones*
  237. Snow Hunters*
  238. The Stone Raft*
  239. Marshlands*
  240. Mexico*
  241. The Six*
  242. The Corporation Wars: Dissidence*
  243. The Book of Lies*
  244. Flawed*
  245. Beggars in Spain*
  246. Brain Jack*
  247. Casting Off*
  248. Clockwork Angels*
  249. The Enchantress of Florence*
  250. Anathem*
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About Ravenmount

Independent science nerd/writer/music blogger/arts enthusiast/theorist currently in Colorado.
This entry was posted in Books, My Bookbag, Ravenblog and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to The First 250 Books

  1. Elyse says:

    Very cool! Sounds like it took a long time! But getting invested in something like this list is so fun and fulfilling! 🙂

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