The Last Bestseller

Books to Read Before You Die

If we’re all going to die, we might as well prepare with some good reading. In this month's Vanity Fair, James Wolcott cites a long mortality reading list, and says some books are vastly more helpful than others. He questions our culture for marketing mortality—like The Bucket List and 1,000 Places to See Before You Die—“as if life were a race through the supermarket aisle to grab as many experiences off the shelves as possible before collapsing at the checkout line.” But in the lonely march to death, Wolcott writes, the best companion may be a good writer. In Randy Pauch’s The Last Lecture, a humorous and courageous book about living life to the fullest, Wolcott finds a friend. “But illness plays no favorites, eventually every number on the roulette wheel is called, and Pausch wasn’t one to bewail his fate with the wounded cry of “Why me?” Wolcott writes.