I was updating my reading list on goodreads January 2nd when a little box on the sidebar quietly invited me to a reading challenge for 2013. It said something like “I will read ____ books in 2013.” I’ve seen and been tempted by these challenges before, but stayed away fearing I wouldn’t be able to accomplish one. But this time I did a quick calculation in my head, thinking, What’s realistic…okay, how about 2 books per month…that’ll bring me to 50 books a year. So I entered 50 and clicked “Share” to announce my plan on Facebook, thinking that once I make it official, I’m accountable.
It was only when I turned to tell Max that I realized, D-oh! 2 books a month comes out to 24 books a year, not 50. (I know, I know, what I need to enroll in is a math, not reading, challenge.)
But maybe my momentary mind lapse was a Freudian slip. It dawned on me: why not? Why not stretch myself and read 50 books? The very definition of a challenge means to do something that’ll make you sweat. I’d read around 25 books last year without much pain at all, and I figured a challenge is something that should take me beyond my lower limit.
To my surprise I got very excited, because a reading challenge is like a triathalon for the inner homebody nerd in me. Not only will I get ripped cerebral muscles when all is said and done, but I’ll have pushed myself to a new frontier!
And so here I share with you what’s on my to-read list so far, organized by category, which is how I had set up my original non-numerical reading challenge.
Oh, and I’ll share the rules I’ve made for myself as well:
1) I’ll count 500-600 page books as 2; 600-900 page books as 3. I do not plan on reading anything longer than 900 pages!
2) I can change this reading list at any time.
3) I will not beat myself up if I don’t reach 50.
4) I promise I will make time to get off my butt as well.
Goose Bumps (how I felt when I initially read these books’ descriptions, excerpts, reviews and/or authors’ other work)
1) Tiny Beautiful Things (Cheryl Strayed)
2) Wonder (R.J. Palacio)
3) The Fault in Our Stars (John Green)
4) The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (Junot Diaz)
5) The Book Thief (Markus Zusak)
6) Hikikomori and the Rental Sister (Jeff Backhaus)
To become happier, healthier and more centered
7) Wherever You Go, There You Are (Jon Kabat-Zinn)
8) Domino: The Book of Decorating: A Room-by-Room Guide to Creating a Home That Makes You Happy (Deborah Needleman et al)
9) The Eat-Clean Diet for Family and Kids: Simple Strategies for Lasting Health and Fitness (Tosca Reno)
To better understand my family’s roots and history
10) Red Sorghum (Mo Yan)
11) Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China (Jung Chang)
12) The Light Between Oceans (M.L. Stedman); finished (and took a day to come to grips with the story).
13) Message from an Unknown Chinese Mother: Stories of Loss and Love (Xinran); in progress
To experience someone else’s life
14) Wild (Cheryl Strayed)
15) I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (Maya Angelou)
16) Turning Japanese (David Mura)
Because these have been sitting on my bookshelf and are calling out to me
17) Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith (Anne Lamott)
18) Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith (Anne Lamott)
19) Grace (Eventually): Thoughts on Faith (Anne Lamott)
20) Atonement (Ian McEwan)
The Masters, not only because I should, but because I want to
21-22) Madame Bovary (Gustave Flaubert)
23) Complete Stories (Flannery O’Connor)
24-25) East of Eden (John Steinbeck); in progress
When I want something great but packed light (short story collections)
26) Interpreter of Maladies (Jhumpa Lahiri)
27) Unaccustomed Earth (Jhumpa Lahiri)
28) This is How You Lose Her (Junot Diaz); in progress
29) Drown (Junot Diaz)
30) A Thousand Years of Good Prayers (Yiyun Li); in progress
Funny takes on serious issues
31) Where’d You Go, Bernadette (Maria Semple); finished (and loved it).
32) Then We Came to the End (Joshua Ferris)
On losing it
33) The Bell Jar (Sylvia Plath); to re-read
34) One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (Ken Kesey)
How’s and Why’s
35) Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking (Susan Cain)
36) People Who Eat Darkness: The True Story of a Young Woman Who Vanished from the Streets of Tokyo – and the Evil That Swallowed Her Up (Richard Lloyd Parry)
37) NurtureShock: New Thinking about Children (Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman); in progress
Based on recommendations
38) Rules of Civility (Amor Towles); finished
To review (as part of a review program I belong to)
39) A Thousand Pardons (Jonathan Dee); in progress
40) Hearts on Fire: Twelve Stories of Today’s Visionaries Igniting Idealism into Action (Jill W. Iscol with Peter W. Cookson, Jr.)
Of course this list may go through some adjusting, especially as half the fun of reading for me is choosing the book (I’m actually a little disappointed that I already have 40 slots accounted for).
And I’ll likely be writing about reading a bit more this year, and tying in the themes of my books with the themes of our lives. I look forward to that.
What’s on your list for 2013? Are you taking on a reading challenge or have you ever done one? And do you have any recommendations for me? I’m especially on the look out for humor and emotional jolts