The Blue Bookcase is one near and dear to my heart. And it's been awhile since I participated in this super-cool literary "event," so here we go.
The question: What one literary work must you read before you die? I spend far too much time contemplating this question, possibly because I feel like if I want to consider myself an expert book dork, I'd lose credibility if someone asks me if I've read (insert canonical staple here), and I haven't.
I actually wrote about this topic at almost this exact same time last year. Then, the answer was Gravity's Rainbow, by Tommy Pynchon. I started reading right after that post, and spent the next six month in sort of a suspended state of reading masochism. It wasn't fun, except for the rare instances when it was — like when I finished. I decided to invent a conversation between myself and my boy Tommy to air my grievances. That all made the six months somehow strangely worthwhile.
Now, to actually answer the question — and to be absolutely unoriginal. War and Peace is my bucket-list book. I've had various editions of the "greatest novel of all time" on my shelf since high school. I even spent a fruitless hour in a B&N once trying to determine which translation is the "best." I plan to read it this year, however. In fact, conquering Tolstoy's two masterpieces, War and Peace and Anna Karenina, is my literary goal for this year.
You know, I can't even give you a good reason why War and Peace is that one book I must read before I die. It's probably mainly because it stands as a sort of symbol of smart. That, and I like a good literary challenge. Ingrid at The Blue Bookcase, who lists War and Peace as her favorite novel of all time, wrote this fantastic post providing five tips for reading the novel. I just re-read her post, and not only does it terrifically demystify a scary book, but also it got me all amped again to start. No time the like the present!
And if you're also interested in reading the novel, check out Kath at [insert suitably snappy title here]'s progress, as she makes her way. She has a bit of a head start.