The 2012 version of the 1001 list

Every two years, a new edition of the 1001 books you must read before you die list is out. Every time, those of us who tries to work through the list, is anxiously awaiting to see how the new additions and removals will influence our percentage of finished books.

The new edition was published on October 1st and so far, we know for sure that 11 new books have been added to the list and 1 book that previously has been on the list but was removed, has been put back on. We also know which 12 books have made the cut.

Here’s the 12 books that have been added to the 2012 version:

  1. Julian Barnes: The Sense of an Ending
  2. Arthur Golden: Memoirs of a Geisha (was on the 2006 list but got taken of for the 2008 list – now it’s back on)
  3. Jennifer Egan: A Visit from the Goon Squad
  4. Jeffrey Eugenides: The Marriage Plot
  5. Jonathan Franzen: Freedom
  6. Chad Harbach: The Art of Fielding
  7. Nicole Krauss: The History of Love
  8. Lorrie Moore: A Gate at the Stairs
  9. Haruki Murakami: 1Q84
  10. Philip Roth: Nemesis
  11. José Saramago: Cain
  12. Ali Smith: There but for the

However, it gets interesting when we look at the books that have been removed. So far, I’ve only been able to find 8 books that have been taken off the list in this edition.

Here’s the books that have been removed:

  1. Paul Auster: The Music of Chance
  2. Pat Barker: The Ghost Road
  3. Peter Carey: Jack Maggs
  4. Ardal O’Hanlan: The Talk of the Town
  5. Ian McEwan: Enduring Love
  6. Haruki Murakami: Kafka on the Shore
  7. Ricardo Piglia: Money to Burn
  8. William Trevor: Felicia’s Journey

If 4 more books has been taken off – and to keep the list on 1001 books, 4 more books have to be taken off, then the number of books which have been on at least one of the (so far) 4 different versions of the list, totals 1306 books you must read before you die. 1306! That’s quite a lot of books!

I’m rather excited about the new version. I have only read one of the books that have been taken off – Haruki Murakami Kafka on the Shore. But another Murakami has been added so I’m okay with that. I have yet to read 1Q84 so I don’t know if it’s better/more influential than Kafka on the Shore but it feels okay to me to exchange an author’s older work with a newer one if the newer seems more important. So since I had only read one book of the ones we know have been removed, the removals don’t influence my total that much. Although of course the addition of 12 books that I haven’t read, does set me back.

Of the 12 books that have been added to the list, I own 5: A Visit from the Goon Squad, The Marriage Plot, Freedom, 1Q84 and There but for the. And of the remaining 7, 2 are on my wish list: The Sense of an Ending and The History of Love. This means, that of the 12 added books, I already have an interest in reading 7! And have heard of all the rest as well. So I feel good about the new additions. Although it is a bit weird to have Memoirs of a Geisha on the 2006 list, then take it off the 2008 list – and then put it back on in 2012.

And that’s of course always the issue with newer literature. How do you know if it will be influential and important – or even considered good in a decade or two? The older literature, the books written by Dickens, Austen, Bronte, Fitzgerald and more, you know they are good. You know their importance. But do you know that yet of Ali Smith or Jennifer Egan? I don’t know – as I said, I haven’t read them yet. But I’m eager to find out!

I’m actually trying (not very hard, it must be said) to read all books that have ever been on any one of the lists. Which means (say it with me) 1306 books! 
I have read 76 books from the list – which means I have 1230 to go. Or at least, 1230 books until the list is changed again in 2014… I better get on with it!

How do you feel about the new additions to the list?

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16 thoughts on “The 2012 version of the 1001 list

  1. I’ve been working on the 1001 books since 2007, when there was just the one edition. I’ve never updated my master list, but I read new books that I think will end up on it. Totally called FREEDOM being one if then!

  2. Oh, and I do think it’s weird that MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA is back on the list. the cover art even seems to be a tribute to it. Wonder what’s up with that.

  3. I have read almost every book that was added to the list–whew! Now I don’t feel like I’ve been set even further behind.

    I wonder why they took Kafka on the Shore off the list…it’s just as good as 1Q84. Hmmm…

  4. I find it a little weird that they update this list every few years (or every year?). Because although I can understand that new books come are published all the time that deserve to be there, but what about the books that used to be on the list, but are taken out to make room for new ones? Does that mean that they weren’t that great afterall? It just seems strange that one year a book deserves to be read before you die, then the next it doesn’t anymore just because a new, better book came out.

    Just something that has been bugging me about that compilation – but I do have an edition of that book at home lol.

    • I think it’s okay to remove an older book if a new, better book has come out. But – can you really know if a new book deserves to get on the list only a couple of years after it’s published? If you judge by impact and influence, are we going to see Twilight and 50 Shades of Grey on the list?! What really bugs me, the Memoirs of a Geisha jumping back and forth between being a book you must read – and one you don’t need too … Make up your minds!!

  5. I have a question for all of you avid readers: do you feel the need to learn some background information either about the author or the era in which the books were written – or not?

    • Sally, most of the time, I don’t. I believe a book should be able to stand on it’s own two feet, so to speak. If I have to research the author or the period it was written in, to understand the book, I get annoyed. Or at least – most of the time, I do. To fully appreciate some books – like War and Peace or Les Misérables, it can be necessary to get some additional knowledge about the French Revolution, Napoleon, Napoleon’s war against Russia and such things. Or to get The Satanic Verses by Rushdie, I definitely need to learn more about Islam than I knew the first time I read it. But most of the time, my answer would be no… But sometimes, yes, I do feel the need.

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