I was leafing through the latest catalog of Bas Bleu (the Champion of the Little Odd Book) and came across the book “Fifty Places To Go Birding Before You Die” and my first thought was “Really?!?”
I guess the whole trend of books about “X Things To Do/See/Go Before You Die” have always sort of bothered me starting with the granddaddy, 1,000 Places to See Before You Die (1) . I’m sure it’s a very nice collection of interesting places, but there’s something judgmental about the titles that I find off-putting, even to the point of being distasteful. I feel like these books are cynically saying that if you want your life to be a “success”, you have to get certain things “done” – checked off the big list – or somehow you’ve lost the game (2). What if I got hit by a bus after seeing #999 – can you IMAGINE the frustration!?!?
I thought about some of the things in life I really enjoy and whether they had “before you die” books. As you might guess, there were plenty:
Food? You betcha
Art? You know it.
Hiking? Start walking
Movies? That’s a lot of popcorn..
Wine? Better get drinking
And there were plenty more about things I cared less about. I find it all vaguely depressing. As if peoples’ lives aren’t already too busy and over-scheduled – now we have to worry about whether we’re “missing out” because we might go on vacation somewhere that’s not on a list or God forbid, go back somewhere more than once.
Although going through all this has made me pretty aware that there’s a pretty strong market for these sorts of books and it got me thinking that maybe there’s one or two that I might be able to capitalize on:
- 1000 Mindless Blog Post Topics to Opine on Before You Die
- 100 Reagents to Use in Chemical Reactions Before You Die
- 10001 Baffling X-Files, Lord of the Rings, Star Trek, Buffy Quotes to Slip into Everyday Conversation Before You Die
- 20000 Different Curses to Hurl at the Philadelphia Eagles Before You Die (3)
Do these books get under your skin too, or am I just turning into an old, crotchety man (4)? Do you guys have any other suggestions for new titles?
(1) Apparently, people are doing pretty well at knocking things off the list because last fall there was a new collection of 1000 MORE places to go…
(2) I also really dislike when vacationers said they “did” places… oh, we “did” Paris and the Louvre, and then we “did” London, and we “did” Buckingham Palace, etc. It suggests that visiting these places were some sort of honey-do list that needed to be accomplished over the weekend.
(3) Already complete.
(4) Not necessarily mutually exclusive answers.