Friday, June 1, 2007

Free time

Just on the off-chance that you're sitting around with nothing to do but let the dust settle on your shoulders, we have three books here whose very titles are sure to ratchet up your stress level a notch or two. 1,001 Gardens You Must See Before You Die, edited by Rae Spencer-Jones; 1,001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die, edited by Robert Dimery; and 1,001 Books You Must Read Before You Die, edited by Peter Boxall. Apparently, people have decided to take up the challenge of writing titles even more irritating than the whole Complete Idiot's Guide to... series. I especially like the subtle touch of sneaking the word 'must' into the title, as if the pearly gates will fail to open for you if you haven't plowed your way through the entire list of albums, books and gardens you are required to experience.
If you are particularly well-read, well-traveled, and well-(what? Well-heard? Well-listened?), then looking through these books will be an exercise in self-affirmation. If you're like me, you're limited to the satisfaction of having at least heard of most of the books and albums. (The gardens were a washout for me, since a trip to Quebec is as exotic as my travels have ever been). The Garden book is arranged geographically and the Book book is arranged chronologically. But there is a handy title index, in case you don't remember which year The Mill on the Floss was published. The Album book is chronological also (I was feeling very smug about my musical experience until I realized I had opened the book smack in the middle of the 1980's).
These books are fun to page thorough, and a good source of inspiration if you're looking for something to read or listen to, but don't feel bad if you only get to listen to 973 albums before you peg out. St. Peter will understand.

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