Full confession: most people (all sane people) would simply treat this book as a reference. Maybe even just something to look nice on their bookshelf. I might be slightly crazy, and I read it. I couldn't help it! I love books. And there's no way I'll ever have time in my life to read all 1001 books in full before I die, so why not read short synopses/reviews of them?
I ended up really, really enjoying this book! I got a "sampler plate" of 1001 books from around the world and across history! The book is set up in chronological order of publication, starting very, very early in history and proceeding through 2010. Peter Boxall is the main editor, but the synopsis-reviews were written by dozens of reviewers and academics from around the world. I totally loved that about this book! The internationality. All the inhabited continents were fairly represented. There were so many books listed that I probably wouldn't have ever run across casually. You can bet I added plenty of books to my ever-growing TBR list!
I was also impressed that all the reviewers were able to condense these books into 300-350 words each. You saw that correctly: these reviews are definitely bite-sized. Some of the books were many hundreds of pages long, and the reviewer managed to get it down to a few hundred words. Impressive! (As a comparison, my reviews are usually close to 500 words.)
And finally, the book isn't straight text. There are lots of images throughout, of the book's first jacket, or a picture of the author, or a copy of the movie poster. I loved the extra visuals sprinkled liberally throughout.
Because there is a great mixture of different genres, the presentation style is fantastic, and because I was convinced to add so many books to my TBR list, I give this book 5 of 5 stars!
*I checked out my copy of 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die from my local library.