Looking at ourselves and the world through the lens of the 21st century.

Thursday, November 30, 2023

1,001 Books


Have you ever read a book that was so outstanding that you couldn’t stop thinking about it, even years after you read it? Or maybe you’ve read a book that was so good, that you had to go back and read it again to absorb it all? This week on the podcast, we are discussing our favorite books and why they are so compelling. I know, for my part, my favorite books have stuck with me for many years, and I often replay scenes in my head as I still try to wrap my head around the complexities of the stories. Some books I’ve reread multiple times and am still awed by the skill of the author to craft such a compelling story. One of those books, Shogun by James Clavell, has kept me mesmerized for more than 40 years, and (spoiler alert!) it is probably my favorite book of all time.

It’s no secret that Amber, Christen, and I are avid readers. We talk about it often on the podcast, and Amber is an English teacher, so…. I don’t read as many books as Amber and Christen, but I do try to read a wide variety of literature spanning all decades and genres. In fact, I’ve made it an unofficial life goal to read as many of the classics as possible, which has led me to tackle some very daunting works, including two that most people never finish: War and Peace and 1001 Arabian Nights.

When I first aspired to this lofty idea, I thought about books that friends, coworkers, and family members had read in school, which I had somehow missed out on in my education. These included books like Paradise Lost, Frankenstein, To Kill a Mockingbird, and Tom Sawyer. I was also curious to read some of the controversial (or even banned) books like Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Lolita, and Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses. As time passed, my list included newer releases such as The Giver, A New Earth, and The Poisonwood Bible. Eventually, I began collecting lists of “must-read” books, and I quickly came to realize that there were far more of these books than I had thought to put on my list. That was when I learned about 1,001 Books You Must Read Before You Die.

First published in 2006, 1,001 Books is a literary reference book compiled by literary critics and edited by Peter Boxall, an English professor at Sussex University. Subsequent editions have refined the list, removing some of the titles by authors who appear more than once on the list and adding newer works and more works written in languages other than English. I think I first heard about it on the Oprah Winfrey Show when she had Peter Boxall as a guest. I was intrigued, and I set out to find the book so I could buy it, but what I found first was a spreadsheet – and not just any spreadsheet – a carefully crafted spreadsheet based on the book that contained the entire list along with the ability to sort, highlight, check off, and otherwise manipulate the titles on the list. It could even tell me how many books I had read versus left to go and show me how many books per year I would need to read in order to finish the entire list. According to the version I downloaded in 2012, at my current reading rate (which doesn’t account for books I read that aren’t on the list), I will only read another 264 books before I die – unless I can boost my reading rate to more than 5 books per month.

My version is an old one. As I mentioned, I downloaded it in 2012. However, I was excited to see that Arukiyomi, the creator of the original list, is still offering this spreadsheet as a download for a very modest “donation” of £3.00 (about $3.80). The current version offered is v7.1 and is based on the 2018 edition of the book. You can download a copy here. While verifying that the list was still available, I also stumbled across a blog post by Kirk Kittle, who created a spreadsheet based on the book. You can read about his version (and download a copy) here.

My 1001 Books spreadsheet isn’t the only place I track the books I read. Several months ago, I compiled a much shorter list of “to be read” books that I’d like to work through first. It is a collection of books both on and off the 1001 list. To make tracking more fun, I added it to my bullet journal as a bookshelf graphic that I color in as I complete each book. I posted a picture of my tracker on my Instagram feed here.

And last, but not least, when I searched for the link to the 1001 Books on Amazon.com, I found 1001 Children's Books You Must Read Before You Grow Up by Julia Eccleshare and Indispensable Reading: 1001 Books From The Arabian Nights to Zola by Wm. Roger Louis. If either of these books turns out to be worthwhile, you can be sure I’ll add even more books to my “must-read” list. With all these options, you can bet I will not run out of things to read!

Wednesday, November 15, 2023

Heard it on the Podcast - November 15, 2023


Did you miss a link we mentioned on the podcast? Here's a quick post we do most Wednesdays to share any links or information from the podcast. We'll also keep a running post on the "Links from the Podcast" tab so you can refer back to any previous episode. Here's the links for this week:


S3E46: Dream Travel Destinations

Wednesday, November 1, 2023

Heard it on the Podcast - November 1, 2023


Did you miss a link we mentioned on the podcast? Here's a quick post we do most Wednesdays to share any links or information from the podcast. We'll also keep a running post on the "Links from the Podcast" tab so you can refer back to any previous episode. Here's the links for this week:


S3E44: What Type of Person Would You Be in a Zombie Apocalypse?

    5 Ways to Manifest Your Best Life

    Hi there, and welcome back! Since we have been heavily focusing on goals and planning, I thought we should discuss manifesting. I love this ...