The best of a book is not the thought which it contains, but the thought which it suggests; just as the charm of music dwells not in the tones but in the echoes of our hearts.
~Oliver Wendell Holmes
As many of you know, I am a long-time fan of the t.v. show The Gilmore Girls. It had everything I enjoy in a show: fast-paced dialogue, witty banter, intelligent and strong female characters, and a cast with a great sense of humor.
Of the many things I liked about the show (aside from Lauren Graham’s brilliant delivery of her lines and her great comedic timing), I really appreciated the way the writers infused the characters’ love of books and reading into nearly every episode. Rory, in particular, was rarely seen without a book throughout the show’s seven-year run.
frittering away my valuable time doing research on Pinterest, I discovered someone had compiled a list of all the books mentioned or shown being read by Rory. Of course, I clicked through to see what books were on the list as well as how many of them I had read. Out of the 250 books on the list, I counted a dismal 44 books that I had read.
(You can click here to see the list from the It’s Time to Read blog and compare your reading prowess with Rory’s.)
This got me thinking about my ever-present pursuit to read as much as I can every year. Always a voracious reader, I realized with much dismay that since the birth of this blog early last year I’ve not been reading nearly as much as I would like. Also, I have not been very methodical in reading the books on my towering to-be-read pile, including the large number of classics. And, as each year goes by, the number of books I haven’t read seems to grow infinitely larger. All of this reflection left me feeling disorganized and questioning my claim to be a writer when I am so woefully behind on my reading.
But then, just as I was to give in to despair and let the to-be-read pile bury me under its wordy weight, the Fates colluded with the clever Universe over a cup of tea and a game of Mahjong and sent to my inbox a blog post by the delightful YA author, Brinda Berry. As I read her post, an idea sprang to life and the giant light bulb in my funny little brain went from dim to bright. (It’s the soft white, 60-watt type on a dimmer switch, not the energy-efficient kind that gives off that harsh, unflattering light. In case you were wondering.)
On that particular day, Brinda interviewed fellow YA author, EC Newman (click here to read all about it) who mentioned she recently signed up for a reading challenge of classic literature at the Classics Club blog (http://theclassicsclubblog.wordpress.com). To participate in the challenge, you create a list of all the classics you want to read (or re-read) and the time frame in which you’ll do that (up to five years). Then, when you’ve made your list, you share it on the Classics Club blog and begin your personal Read Fest. Here are the general rules from the site:
- – choose 50+ classics
- – list them at your blog
- – choose a reading completion goal date up to five years in the future and note that date on your classics list of 50+ titles
- – e-mail the moderators of this blog (theclassicsclubblog (at) gmail (dot) com) with your list link and information and it will be posted on the Members Page!
- – write about each title on your list as you finish reading it, and link it to your main list
- – when you’ve written about every single title, let us know!
Between books on the craft of writing, my monthly book group book, keeping up a steady diet of YA books, and listening to audio books, I haven’t been making it a priority to also read the classics. The Classics Club seems like a great way to take a more organized approach to reading the classic literature I’ve been meaning to get to, but haven’t. So, I’ve decided to sign up and see how far I can get on my list. And you, fine readers, are my witnesses to whom I will be accountable. I’ve chosen to read fifty books in five years. Here is my list so far, in no particular order:
Franny and Zooey – J.D. Salinger
Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
The Invisible Man – Ralph Ellison
Tender Is The Night – F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Age of Innocence – Edith Wharton
Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens
A Moveable Feast – Ernest Hemingway
Something Wicked This Way Comes – Ray Bradbury
Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy
Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
Catch-22 – Joseph Heller
Daisy Miller – Henry James
Ethan Frome – Edith Wharton
The Fellowship of the Ring – J.R.R. Tolkien
Finnegan’s Wake – James Joyce
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn – Betty Smith
Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray
The Complete (short) Stories of Truman Capote
This Side of Paradise – F. Scott Fitzgerald
Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter – Simone de Beauvoir
Lady Chatterley’s Lover – D.H. Lawrence
The Metamorphosis – Franz Kafka
A Room of One’s Own – Virginia Woolf
The Name of the Rose – Umberto Eco
Northanger Abbey – Jane Austen
One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
The Outsiders – S.E. Hinton
The Portable Dorothy Parker
Rebecca – Daphne du Maurier
The Second Sex – Simone de Beauvoir
The Sound and the Fury – William Faulkner
The Sun Also Rises – Ernest Hemingway
Galapagos – Kurt Vonnegut
Persuasion – Jane Austen
The Importance of Being Earnest – Oscar Wilde
The Crucible – Arthur Miller
Watership Down – Richard Adams
Around the World in 80 Days – Jules Verne
The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins
The Time Machine – H.G. Wells
My Antonia – Willa Cather
The Martian Chronicles – Ray Bradbury
Flannery O’Connor Stories
The Portrait of a Lady – Henry James
Dubliners – James Joyce
I Capture the Castle – Dodie Smith
Song of Solomon – Toni Morrison
A Child’s Christmas in Wales – Dylan Thomas
The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame
It feels like a big undertaking but I am planning to mix it up by listening to some of the books on audio whenever I can find one read by a good narrator. (I’m looking at you, Favorite Classy British Actor.) I’ve also included a few that I read so long ago I can’t remember much about them as well as some middle grade novels to hopefully balance out some of the heavier and lengthier tomes. And instead of putting tremendous pressure on myself to check off each of these titles on my list, I will use it as a way to organize my reading. Also, I’d love to have discussions here in the kasbah with you fine readers about the books I’ve finished.
Books can be dangerous. The best ones should be labeled ‘This could change your life.’ ~Helen Exley
How about you? Do you have any reading goals or lists for the year (and beyond)? How many books on Rory’s or my list have you read? Are you up for the Classics Club Challenge? The kettle’s just boiled and the tea is steeping. Sit, sip, and share your bibliophilic dreams. I always love to hear from you.