In the 2007 film “The Bucket List”, two terminal cancer patients escape the cancer ward to do all the things on their bucket lists (the things they want to do before they die). It starred Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman as the men whose deadlines were fast approaching. They set out on one last road trip to do the things they’ve always wanted to do before they shuffled off this mortal coil.

I didn’t know the term “bucket list” before I saw this film. It was a concept totally new to me, and it was a scary idea. It was an idea that hit me in the face because it assumed we would one day die. We weren’t going to live forever. Now that’s a fact all of us have to deal with, but we put it off as something far in the future. It’s a fuzzy concept that we don’t have to deal with right away. If it’s not an immediate problem, we won’t face it now. It’ll happen someday, but not today.

Since that film came out, a bucket list became something more concrete. People aren’t afraid to talk about it. You’ll hear, “I’ll put that on my bucket list”. This may mean they’ll take care of it tomorrow, next week, next month or maybe never, leaving it to their families to handle after they’re gone. Bucket lists have items that we’ll get to someday, something fun like a big vacation, or a project that’s too big or expensive to think about. 

Librarians have bucket lists like everyone else. Many would travel, buy a car, pay off the mortgage, and travel some more. But some librarians have another bucket list that’s special. It’s a reading bucket list. It’s a list of books they want to read before they go to the big library in the sky. Now, you think, “Why would they have to read the books before they kick off? Why don’t they wait until they get to the big library in the sky?”. Well, for one thing we’re only assuming there’s a big library in the sky. If there isn’t, then the librarians have missed out on a lifetime of challenging, enlightening and informative reading. No librarian wants to miss out on that. 

Or what if the late librarians have more to do than they thought? Maybe they won’t have time to do all the reading they want. Maybe Heaven is more than laying around eating bonbons and soaking up the latest romances or mysteries. Librarians can’t take that chance.

Hence the librarian’s bucket list. Most librarians are so well versed in literature they can make up their own bucket lists. Usually, they already have one made up of books they’ve seen while they were working and never had a chance to read. But some librarians, like me, don’t have bucket lists and recognize they need help constructing one. No self-respecting librarian would fail to have a library bucket list.

I’ve found the solution to a librarian’s lagging literary bucket list: “1,000 Books to Read Before You Die, a Life Changing List” by James Mustich. Compiled by Mustich, this list is solely his own. While the title numbers the list at 1,000, promotional blurbs number the list at 3,000, including other titles by listed authors. His list is more than a list of titles. It includes background on the author, other titles he has written, and any similarity or relevance to other books. 

It’s comprehensive and informative, helping the reader decide which book he wants to tackle next. It will be my literary guide to books I should read before I go toes up in the morgue. It will be the next book on my bucket list.