Ten Books I Want to Read Before I Die


Some of my “Read Before I Die” Books

I posted a question at my Bob on Books Facebook page yesterday asking people to name one book they would like to read before they die. It seems that this is a popular topic. Here is a link to a Google search I did on the topic. It’s actually a worthwhile question to think about. We can read only so many books in a life, the length of which we have no way of knowing. One book available proposes a list of 1001 books.

Here’s my answer pared down to ten books. One of my criteria is that I’ve not read the book. The other is that I have the book already. That should warn you that it is probably a pretty idiosyncratic list. Don’t feel under any obligation to make it your list but use it simply as an example for doing this yourself.

  1. Charles Taylor, A Secular Age. It seems every other book I read references this book, and it seem a seminal work in helping us understand the time we are in.
  2. Hannah Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism. There seems to be a sense that the horrors of Stalinism and Nazism can’t happen here. I think they can, and I’d like to know what Arendt, who wrote the classic work on this thinks.
  3. T. S. Eliot, Collected Poems and Plays. I have read poetry of Eliot since college and acquired this work several years ago.
  4. Margaret Mitchell, Gone With the Wind. I’ve never read this and it was one of the books I inherited from my mom.
  5. Marcus Aurelius, Meditations. Might be as close as we get to the reflections of a philosopher-king.
  6. Karl Barth, The Epistle to the Romans. Barth’s study of Romans rocked not only his world but the theological world around him.
  7. Ron Chernow, Washington. I’ve delighted in his biographies of Grant and Hamilton.
  8. Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology (3 vols.). I bought this set from a retiring pastor 40 years ago. I suspect Hodge and I might differ on a few things, but his rigorous thought will make the argument worth it!
  9. Kenneth Scott Latourette, A History of Christianity. This has been on my shelves only half as long, but this classic study of church history has been begging to be read.
  10. Honore de Balzac, Pere Goriot and other stories. My mother loved Balzac as a young girl. I have her whole set of Balzac novels, that came from her father. I think I want to read these for what they might tell me about my mom before I pass them along.

It would not be hard to add to this list, and if you ask me another time, I might come up with a completely different one. But doing this makes me ask, why have I waited so long on a number of these? Perhaps the time has come to wait no longer.


15 thoughts on “Ten Books I Want to Read Before I Die

  1. Great criteria for, stories behind, and selection of books. Thank-you Bob! I used to maintain a “hope to read shelf.” Before I had so many tasks to accomplish, I drew from it when going on trips (short / long). Giving it a quick glance, “The Search for God and Guinness: A Biography of the Beer that Changed the World” by Stephen Mansfield jumps out at me. Scanning my other shelves “The Preaching of Chrysostom” edited and with an introduction by Jaroslav Pelikan catches my attention. I better be careful, otherwise I will pick up War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy to give it another shot. Temptation amid a time when I am to write. Back to Google docs . . .

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Excellent and fun list. When I pass from this life, my Heaven will have these and many other books! I am glad you avoided including Proust’s Remembrance of Things Past.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Interesting list. I have never made a list of books to read, but have read so many I couldn’t begin to count them. I inherited, through my mother from my grandfather, a complete set of Charles Dickens, including all his correspondence home to his family when he was in Europe and the US. I have read all 18 volumes, some books more than once or twice. I usually have several books on the go at the same time. The strange thing is that, before I was 20, I hated reading and only did it for school study purposes. Can’t keep my nose out of one now! I’m sure that list will change as other books come to light. Or at least be added to.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: The Month in Reviews: September 2018 | Bob on Books

  5. Pingback: Review: The Origins of Totalitarianism | Bob on Books

  6. Pingback: 2018 Best of the Rest | Bob on Books

  7. Pingback: Reading Resolutions for 2019 | Bob on Books

  8. The more I read – mostly history – the more I discover how little I know! Of course, now that more and more archives are opening it is easy to find ever more stupefying acts. This, of course, is even a greater invitation to read of MORE revelations, thanks to everyone’s compulsion to write down everything, anything or just scribble – wonderful opportunities for us amateur psychologists to interpret ad nauseam. Oh, what would we do without these scribes?

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Pingback: The Month in Reviews: January 2019 | Bob on Books

  10. Pingback: My Reading Goals For 2020 | Bob on Books

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.