The popularity of lists — particularly the hackneyed “bucket list” continues unabated. Many people love to devour lists featuring exotic destinations around the world, for example, which are required viewing “before you die”. The clock is ticking, folks, so you’d better make your reservations now.
The world of books is no different. There’s The Modern Library’s 100 Best Novels, and the BBC Book List Challenge (also featuring that magic number of 100 titles). And no gathering of lists would be complete without the bucket, in this case, 50 Books to Read Before You Die. While some of these lists are more grounded in actual selection criteria than others, all of them can have a sobering effect on readers. Some people lament, “so many books, so little time,” while others look at the lists, note which titles they have read, and feel that their reading just doesn’t make the grade.
My advice is to cast a critical eye on these lists. If you see a title on one of them that looks interesting, then read it, but don’t feel obligated to do so because someone else considers it required reading. As with music, art, and many other things in life, reading is a very personal pursuit. The only list of books that really matters is the one you make for yourself.