Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Two Year Reading Challenge/ Book List

My writing sucks right now.

I mean it really sucks.

I used to be a lot better at communicating through writing. Now I agonize over every word, wondering, "Am I getting my point across? Does this make any sense at all?"
I look at short stories I wrote when I was 10-14 years old, and I can't help but wonder where my talent went. It came so naturally, like breathing. I've been spending a lot of time trying to figure out where everything went to hell, and I think I've got it.

When I was younger, I would read constantly. My dad and I would go to the library together almost every week. Every week I would check out a stack of books, which I would proceed to devour over the next seven or so days. I always finished the stack.
I think when you read a good book, you don't just soak up the story, but the style of the writing as well. The more you read, the more varied your style becomes, and the more you're able to find your own voice. I wonder if I were to start reading again, maybe I could learn to write again as well.

More than anything I miss the way preteen me approached the books she read. It was always with eagerness and never hesitation. She didn't worry that she might not like the book she was about to read. She didn't worry that someone else would judge her choice of reading material. I want to find that again.

That's why I'm embarking on a self-imposed reading challenge. Read 88 Novels and Stories Commonly Considered to Be Great Works of Literature in Two Years. I think I'll just call it the 2 Year Reading Challenge or 2YRC. I've perused several lists of what people consider the best novels ever written. I've mixed them all together and removed all of the ones I've already read. Then I removed all of the stories that didn't sound all that interesting (Hey, I'm trying to do this in 2 years not ten!) The idea is that I'll get myself into a habit of reading every day like I used to. This list is definitely missing a few books. Books that many people would consider necessary to any reading list. Again, I might have already read it, in which case it's not going to be on here. Then there are the writers that had so many published works that it would be impossible to fit them all in. I'm hoping that once this experiment is over I might try to read more works by the authors I find most enjoyable. So, without further ado, I present my list of 88 Books and Stories I'm Going to Read in the Next Two Years:

The Iliad
The Odyssey
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Giovanni's Room by James Baldwin
Go Tell It On The Mountain by James Baldwin
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
The Postman Always Rings Twice by James M. Cain
The Stranger by Albert Camus
In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? By Philip K. Dick
A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
Deliverance by James Dickey
Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky
Crime And Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky
The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoevsky
The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
The Man in the Iron Mask by Alexandre Dumas
The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas
Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Faust by Johann Wolfgang Goethe
Lord of the Flies by William Golding
The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett
The House of the Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne
Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein
Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway
For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway
The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
Steppenwolf by Herman Hesse
The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo
Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
The Wings of the Dove by Henry James
Ulysses by James Joyce
Ironweed by William Kennedy
On the Road by Jack Kerouac
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey
Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Call of the Wild by Jack London
Atonement (2002), by Ian McEwan
Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
Beloved by Toni Morrison
Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
Don Quixote Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
The Prime Of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark
East of Eden by John Steinbeck
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
The Pearl by John Steinbeck
Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
Dracula by Bram Stoker
Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
Walden by Henry David Thoreau
A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court by Mark Twain
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
Bluebeard by Kurt Vonnegut
Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut
Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut
The Color Purple by Alice Walker
Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace
Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh
The Island of Dr. Moreau by H.G. Wells
The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells
Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton
Native Son by Richard Wright

Short Stories:
The Call of Cthulhu by HP Lovecraft
The Fall of the House of Usher by Edgar Allan Poe
The Purloined Letter by Edgar Allan Poe

Hamlet by Shakespeare

1 comment:

  1. This is awesome, Merchickety! I have a strong urge to play along. However, I have no desire to pick up Dickens or Dumas. Those are some long-winded boys.

    You don't have any Ray Bradbury short stories, and he is the master! I suggest you start with Fahrenheit 451, a book about the importance of books. That and Sirens of Titan are my favorite books.