James Mustich, a veteran bookseller and author of “1,000 Books to Read Before You Die: A Life-Changing List,” will visit Transylvania University on Thursday, Oct. 18, for a free, public conversation.
His compendium of noteworthy books was more than 14 years in the making and includes a diverse selection—from classic novels to memoirs to children’s books.
“James Mustich’s work is a unique achievement,” Transylvania President Seamus Carey said. “His book is a model of the highest erudition and reminds us of the vast resources we have for elevating human awareness, discourse and understanding. It is a call back to the art and act of reading and to the cultivation of ever deeper and broader contexts for living. In the age of social media, which strips so much context away, and with it, the social mores of civil society, Mustich’s work could not be more timely. We are honored to welcome this remarkable thinker to campus, and we look forward to an engaging conversation.”
Providing more than 900 pages on notable books, Mustich’s literary guide is the fifth installment of the “1,000…Before You Die” series, which has more than 4.4 million copies in print. Brief, compelling essays accompany each title, providing context for the work and the reason it was included.
“The list is not, as Mustich insists in his introduction, a canon or a prescriptive list. Rather, it’s an invitation to explore,” according to the publisher. “It’s like walking into a dream bookstore where every title is intriguing and rewarding.”
Mustich, who lives in Connecticut, started off at an independent New York bookstore in the early 1980s. He went on to co-found the renowned book catalog, “A Common Reader,” and work in the publishing industry.
While his background as a bookseller gave him valuable experience recommending books to others, compiling this list of 1,000 books was no easy task. “Readers read in so many different ways that any one standard of measure is inadequate,” Mustich said. “Keeping such diversity of appetite in mind, and hoping to have something to satisfy every kind of reading yen, I wanted to make ‘1,000 Books to Read Before You Die’ expansive in its tastes, encompassing revered classics and commercial favorites, flights of escapist entertainment and enlightening works of erudition.”
He asked himself: “What if I had a bookstore that could hold only 1,000 volumes and I wanted to ensure it held not only books for all time but also books for the moment, books to be savored over several months or devoured in a night? A shop where any reading inclination—be it for thrillers or theology, or theological thrillers—might find reward? In the end, I was back in my favorite haunt, a browser’s version of paradise.”
Workman Publishing Company will release the book on Oct. 2.