Read This Next: 500 of the Best Books You'll Ever Read - Howard Mittelmark, Sandra Newman
What's in a list?

Outside of the things in the actual list itself, in a list of book recommendations, a list can - and does - say a great deal. It tells tales of its own on about the personality, the affiliations and where the truth in the lister lies. In this case, we have two listers at work in this rather ambitious little book - the idea of the title alone is balls-y - it's not a question, it's not even a statement, but a order. The title sets the mood for the whole series of lists - which is what the thing is comprised of, with a large amount of large detours on the way - which are couched in a somewhat surprising amount of humor. It seems to have been written in the attitude that books are (mainly) for enjoyment and for the sake of gaining knowledge.

With the good of the thing out of the way, I can move onto the... well, not quite that awful, given what it could have turned into, but still bad.

The fun and the curse of the book, and its lists, are that they are as wild and as varied as you could imagine.

Well, wild and varied to a point.

This book was made with the idea that it's supposed to appeal to the 30-something age group - which, hell, suits me just fine, but with the caveat that with its rather reasonable scope of interest, we see certain things left out. Certain things that would, certainly, be on my list for anyone else to "read next".

These things would include:

* A multitude of pieces of horror fiction

* A lot of science fiction

* Great works of comedy

* Stuff that might be considered "un-literary"/a little too unpretentious for a Professor to be seen reading in public...

...and it is this last point that really stuck with me. It bothered me, like a sore tooth, while I read the book. It was an obvious reason, for why it really nagged at my conscious as a reader (I mean, come the fuck on, if you don't read for your own pleasure, but instead do it just to look cool and be able to talk with the other bland cool kids about that book that's going to be made into a movie, then you may just have your priorities fucked up), but until I actually popped in the last book that I found interesting - and I made my fourth run to the library for a comic book care package that towers out of the crate that sits next to my recliner - I hadn't fully realized that in this book there exists none of the comics or the graphic novels that I love so much.

It's all too tidy - and very exclusionary - to write off not just a genre, but an entire medium of literature that has spoken in a way that "normal" books are still trying to run to catch up to.

This book ultimately tries to be ambitious in scope, but it falls on the usual sword that these sorts of lists that try to speak to the educated, 30-something crowd do. While reaching up on its tippy-toes to grab onto some of those loftier works literature, it steps too neatly on a lot of other, and in my opinion, in many situations, much worthier literature.

So, besides the physical binding of the book itself and the commentary of the authors themselves, what, really, does differentiate this book from one of the many lists I could easily find on this website? The big difference here is that I could find reliable reviews at the touch of a button, a more varied selections of lists and a voting system in place for these lists, so that no one's personal opinion accounts for the placement of anything in a list - all on this website.

I will keep these failings in mind, when I think about picking up any books with lists like this again.