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So many books, so little time.

You’ve seen the T-shirt, the tote, the mug. But have you seen the list that tells you what to do with that time?

It’s actually a book called, “1,000 Books to Read Before You Die.”

The Washington Post called it “The ultimate literary bucket list.” O, The Oprah Magazine wrote, “If there’s a heaven just for readers, this is it.” Goodreads called it, “A life-changing list for a lifetime of reading.”

It’s rare to have a 960-page book you actually look forward to reading. James Mustich’s list includes essays, graphic novels, fiction, poetry, fantasy, science fiction, biography, memoir, mystery, history, humor, romance, war and even children’s books.

The books are alphabetically arranged, from Edward Abbey to Carl Zuckmayer, so no one gets top billing. There are Nobel Laureates and Pulitzer Prize winners and one-book wonders.

If you’re like me, you want to see the list to check off what you’ve already read (“Little Women,” “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer,” “To Kill A Mockingbird”) and to create a must read list (“This Home of Sky,” “Skellig,” “The Piano Shop on the Left Bank”).

Mustich, the author of the book, once sold books at an independent bookstore in Briarcliff Manor, N.Y. He co-founded the book catalog “A Common Reader,” considered the best book catalog for bookworms.

The Cuyahoga County Public Library asked me to be on a panel he will emcee Nov. 7 at the Parma-Snow Branch Auditorium. The other presenters are Rick Jackson, host of Ideas on WVIZ/PBS; Brad Ricca, author of “Super Boys” and “Mrs. Sherlock Holmes;” Reverend Leah Lewis, minister, former councilwoman and activist; and Rosa Ransom of Mac’s Backs-Books on Coventry in Cleveland Heights, another Cleveland suburb.

The goal? In five minutes, we convince the audience to read a book that isn’t on the list that we believe should be. I chose “The Untethered Soul” by Michael Singer to present. If I was trapped on a desert island and could only take one book with me, that would be it. Read it and you’ll discover why.

You’ve most likely read classics like “The Diary of A Young Girl,” “The Divine Comedy” and “Dracula.” But I confess, I never did read “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,” “Anne of Green Gables,” or Primo Levi’s “If This Is A Man.”

I’ve read children’s books, like “Goodnight Moon,” “Peter Pan and Wendy,” and “The Little Prince,” but even after reading endless books to my three grandkids, I never came across “A Hole Is To Dig,” “Sparkle and Spin,” and “The Wind in the Willows.”

Mustich’s book is a handy guide to bring to the library, local book store or to your book club.

If you want even more reading options, head to the 20th Annual Cleveland Jewish Book Festival which runs from through Nov. 18 at the Mandel Jewish Community Center in Beachwood.

The 10-day festival offers 13 nationally acclaimed authors plus six local authors who can launch your new book bucket list. Just check out mandeljcc.org. If you can only get to one day of the event, hit the local author’s panel, which will include Judah Leblang, author of “Echoes of Jerry,” about how he created a beautiful bond with his deaf uncle.

So now that you have more books to read, where do you find more time to read them?

Jewish filmmaker Max Joseph confronts that issue in an online video he created called, “Bookstores: How to Read More Books in the Golden Age of Content.” He calls bookstores “art galleries with stories attached” but confesses that he only has time to read one book a year for pleasure. Tim Urban, a popular TED speaker and author of the blog “Wait But Why” helps him figure out how to read more. First, Urban does the math for him, and for us:

How many books do you read a year?

How many years do you expect to live?

Now subtract your current age from your likely death age to see how many years of reading you have left. Then multiply your years left by how many books you read per year.

Yikes. It’s soul searing isn’t it?

What do you do? Read faster. Cut out Netflix. Get off Facebook. Turn off the news.

Or this: Be more selective choosing which books to read, and start by reading one on how to live longer.


Read Regina Brett online at cjn.org/regina. Connect with her on Facebook at Facebook.com/ReginaBrettFans. 2019 Ohio SPJ Best Columnist.

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