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Bookish Thoughts

Blog Hop: Your death-bed book

By March 18, 20118 Comments
Literary Blog Hop

This week’s literary blog hop from The Blue Bookcase comes from Debbie Nance at Readerbuzz, a great blog to check out.  If you want to join in the blog hop, go to The Blue Bookcase, grab the button and hop along.  The question to consider for this week is, What one literary work must you read before you die?

So, on my death-bed I would actually not be reading.  If you told me I had 6 months to live, honestly, I would not think to myself, “Crap, I really need to read !”  One of my personal commandments for my happiness project is to try and live as if you were dying.  I know it’s cliche, but when you seriously think about it, quite useful.  If I were dying, would I want to harbor a grudge against my husband for, well, anything?  No, I would not, so why do it now?  So, I can’t imagine spending any of my last 6 months on earth reading, say, Ulysses (has anyone read Ulysses?  I always think of this as the book that you really might have to hold a gun to my head to get me to read, but confess I haven’t actually tried it).

In general, I personally would like to read more Dickens than the standards covered in high school.  I sat down not too long ago to try to read Milton’s Paradise Lost because it seemed like one of those things that kept coming up other places and I wanted to see what a story’s like that has Satan as the hero.  In the same vein, I started On the Origin of the Species a few years ago because I felt like we talk about Darwin a great deal without much knowing what he actually said.  But I personally have no book that I feel I must read before I die.

The other way to approach this question is what book do I think everyone should read before they die, and that just gets entirely too personal.  For me, it’s impossible to pick one book that objectively speaking, everyone should read.  There’s no book out there that everyone will like, or love, or even be able to finish.  There are books that helped make me who I am today, and so those might qualify as should-reads.  But again, that’s fairly personal to me.

In conclusion, what should you read before you die?  Really, whatever you want.  What do you think?  Can there be a literary work everyone should read?  And what would it be?


  • Kathmeista says:

    I've always wanted to read War and Peace before I die so I'm doing it now. Not because I think I'm going to die anytime soon but recent events in NZ and Japan have made me want to embrace the kind of mantra you have – live life to the fullest NOW not later. Delay nothing, regret nothing kind of thing.

    And much as I love my books, if I'm on my death bed you won't find me with a book in my hand. It'll be a cup of tea while I yak as much as possible with all of the folks I love the most.

  • Ha–nice response, Robyn. And congrats on your award!

    I think there might actually be a copy of The Uncoupling (the Lysistrata-reading drama club) in the box I sent you, if you want to check it out for yourself.

  • great answer, my personal answer was something around how do pick one book, without it leading to another & another etc.

  • Jillian says:

    Excellent response! I was thinking the same thing when I read the question: Would I really be worried about reading?

    I mean, I love to read, but if death came calling and I had warning, I'd be with family, with nature, with God. Maybe writing some memoirs. That sort of thing.

    (And also, this question feels really morbid, to me…)

  • There was a movie a long time back–I think it was called A Dog's Life–a Swedish film, and the main character is a little boy whose mother is dying, and she spends all her time madly reading and ignoring him. So, point well taken. But I do have a few titles on my *bucket list* including Proust's huge masterpiece (Remembrance of Things Past, or In Search of Lost Time, depending on the translation).

  • llevinso says:

    Yeah, I picked a book that I think might scare a dying person but…eh! It's a good book 🙂

  • Hey Robyn! I just followed you as well. What a great blog. I get your point about Ulysses and the like…that's why I decided to pick sweeping Southern novels. You get relatively fast-paced read and comprehensive character studies, so at least you're reminded of others' humanity before kicking it. And you won't spend all your deathbed time wishing for CliffsNotes.

  • niree says:

    I read bits of Ulysses in an Irish Lit during college, and without the help of my brilliant professor I would not have understood it. It's such a mind-blowingly (is that a word?) complicated piece, yet most of it gets lost on the reader without research and hours of outlining references and thought trails etc..
    Thanks for stopping by my blog!
    <3 niree

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