in: Living, Podcast, Reading

• Last updated: September 30, 2021

Podcast #493: 1,000 Books to Read Before You Die

There are over a hundred million books in existence. And the average person only has 8 decades in which to read them. So which books should you choose to read over others before you croak?

It’s a question that’s launched scores of lists and many an argument, and my guest today has fired his own missive in the debate. 

His name is James Mustich, he’s been in the book business for over 30 years as a book seller, reviewer, and editor, and he’s created the ultimate book list in his book 1,000 Books to Read Before You Die. Today on the show, James explains his guiding philosophy on the books he decided to include in his list, and how he designed the book to have the feel of browsing through an ideal bookshop. James then makes the case for why book lists are helpful, but should never be seen as strictly prescriptive. We then dig into the surprising genres of books that James includes in his list, including science fiction, detective novels, and children’s books, and one or two of his very top recommendations in each category. At the end of our conversation, James makes a list just for the AoM audience of books every man should read before he dies.

Show Highlights

  • Jim’s guiding ethos as he selected these books
  • The ire that book lists inspire in others 
  • Why are book lists helpful? When do they become burdensome?
  • What sets Jim’s list apart from other book lists 
  • Why sci-fi often gets shorted when it comes to book lists
  • Why crime fiction is also often seen as low brow
  • Jim’s inclusion of “pleasure” reads 
  • The importance of variety in your reading 
  • What separates a bad memoir from a good memoir?
  • Jim’s favorite type of book 
  • The benefits of books over social media or other online conversations 
  • A short list of books Jim thinks every man should read before he dies 

Resources/People/Articles Mentioned in Podcast

Jim’s List of Books Every Man Should Read

Connect With Jim

Jim’s other writings

Jim on Twitter

Book cover page of "1000 books to read before you die" by James Mustich.

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