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Book Lists

August 24, 2022

Except for the year of and the year after Chuck's death, I have read at least 63 books a year. (I was born in 1963.) During COVID, I read 100 books in a year. My reading is all over the place: literature, poetry, nonfiction, juvenile, spy thrillers, etc. I just finished reading The Girl Who Chased the Moon by Sarah Addison Allen. It was total fluff, but I couldn't put it down. It was one of two books I had not read on a list entitled "Top Ten Magical Realisms." Had it not been for this list, I never would have picked up this title. (The other unread title is Salman Rushdie's Midnight's Children, and I will get to that one eventually.)

I LOVE book lists. I have a folder filled with at least 30 different ones. I just added one last week from the Reader's Digest entitled "Instead of Going to College I Read These Books." Other lists include the Newbery winners, the 100 fantasy/scifi books to read before I die, timeless classics, "AA Sophomore English Book List," the National Endowment for the Arts "Big Read" and "Summertime Favorites. I take great joy in getting to mark off titles.

In the mid 80's, my friend Liza and I chose a list to focus on: "A Reading List of Commonly Recommended Works for College-Bound High School Students" published by the University of Arizona. It has become "THE LIST," and my family even knows it as such. We decided that we would read them all before we die. (We have been a little concerned. Does finishing the list mean we die?) Of the 141 works, I believe Liza has nine left, and I have 24. (I have books like War and Peace, The Life of Johnson, and Gulliver's Travels still to tackle. Seriously though, no high school student, no matter how devoted, would have read all of these before going to college.)

In 2019, I discovered James Mustich's 1,000 Books to Read Before You Die: a Life-Changing List. The book itself is absolutely beautiful with wonderful illustrations. Mustich's summary of the thousand books are delightful to read. (He also lists similar titles and other works by the same author, so you get closer to 5,000 suggestions.) It has become my reading bible. I decided that I would read 630 of the 1,000 (Once again, I was born in 1963). I've read 267 so far. Some of the wonderful books Mustich recommends include: A Canticle for Leibowitz, West with the Night, The Emperor's Last Island, Cider with Rosie, and No Picnic on Mount Kenya, etc. I know there are other gems waiting.

Starting in college, I began keeping a list of all the books I've read and when I read or re-read them. The picture doesn't show the broken binding on my Book Notes journal, but I love my list and refer to it often when I am asked to recommend books.

The two books I recommend to most any and everyone are Robert McCammon's A Boy's Life and Amor Towles's A Gentleman in Moscow. A close third and fourth recommendations are 84 Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff and Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card.

I could go on, but I'll stop for now. If you would like a copy of one of these lists, please email me at, and I'll email you the information. If you have a favorite list, I'd love for you to share it with me on my Facebook page.

Happy reading.

36 views4 comments




I have a copy

of “501 Must-Read Books”. Not a bad place to start. Many of the books mentioned are Penguins, always a reliable choice.

ABE also has a list of 50 Essential Travel Books. Not a clinker in the bunch.



You’re an inspiration SueAn, and such an example of loving to learn.

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