Sharon Clayton of the Grinnell College Libraries and avid reader recommends two books she has read recently:
Boxall, Peter, editor. 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die. New York: Universe, 2006.
101 academics, critics, and editors submitted lists of great novels from which Boxall compiled the 1001 and one books alluded to in the title. The list includes short stories and other genres of fiction as well as novels. When asked about the idiosyncratic nature of the list, Boxall told New York Times reviewer William Grimes, “I wanted this book to make people furious about the books that were included and the books that weren’t, figuring this would be the best way to generate a fresh debate about canonicity, etc..” I like the idea--seems optimistic and ambitious. Read the review by William Grimes from the May 23, 2008 NY Times.
Bragg, Melvyn. Adventure of English: The Biography of a Langauge. New York: Arcade, 2006
Based on the television program hosted by British novelist and broadcaster Melvyn Bragg, this book traces the long history and evolution of the English Language. For a discussion of this work see Michael Quinion's review in World Wide Words.
Both books are available in Burling Library.