Summer Reading?

by COLLEEN KROPP · June 3, 2008

reading, NYtimesNow that I have had some time to properly digest the recent New York Times article entitled "Volumes To Go Before You Die" by William Grimes, I can't help but wonder just how many I have completed on Professor Boxall's list. More importantly, I am curious as to whether or not others actually care and have considered their own numbers.

What strikes me the most about this article is that Boxall crafted and promoted this list of 1,001 books with the intention of causing a stir, making me question greatly how sincere he was about the list. Does HE even believe or take himself seriously, or was this more or less an instance of Monty Python-esque British humor – a "let's see if this will get a rise out of people because that would be funny, especially if people take this list seriously enough to alter their own reading lists." Perhaps I am being overly cynical, but regardless of my sentiments, I feel as if I want to create my own elaborate set of literary goals. Though Boxall did seek out critics, academics and editors, Grimes claims that they were considerably "mostly obscure."

Now, of course, there will always be the existence of bias, and that's okay. Sure, Boxall's list does contain a lot of elements from the literary canon, but more often than not a lot of extraordinary praise is given to one particular author and not enough to another of (now here is possibly some bias but possibly some literary truth) of equal or higher caliber. Point being, Boxall's mere creation of a list made me want to rev the engines on my own literary pilgrimage, and I wonder how many other New Yorkers were equally as driven and intrigued.

As for his obscurity in list-making, I can say that Professor Boxall is responsible for making me want to pick up a copy of German author Uwe Timm's "The Invention of Curried Sausage." Hope you all enjoy making your own summer reading lists, with or without the assistance of Boxall!