This year for my birthday, I received two books: Liberty by Garrison Keillor and Blockade Billy by Stephen King. They were both enjoyable reads that I read that same weekend. I decided that I would make a goal for my self. I was going to read 100 books for my 35th year. That lasted about 2 minutes when I realized that 2 books a week might be a little bit (OK, quite a bit) too much to handle. I decided that I would revise that goal to 50. At a month to go before the half way point, I am actually doing pretty well–the count stands at 19.
But as I was looking at the list, I decided that it was time to refocus and recalibrate. I love reading, but the reason that I set a specific goal is that I aspire to be a writer. Almost every writer who talks about the craft has at least one piece of advice if you want to be a writer yourself: read. I realized that I was picking up something that I had around the house, or an interesting looking book at the dollar store, or some pretty short books. Now, I can’t say any of the books that I have read so far have been bad. Quite the contrary. But quite a few have been easy, leisurely reads. For example: Tuesdays with Morrie, by Mitch Albom. Now, if you have read this book, you know that it is a heartfelt tribute to a beloved mentor. It is full of wit and wisdom. Truthfully a very good book. But I finished it in one sitting. While it had life lessons, it didn’t evoke feelings about myself, or make me question how I felt about certain things.
I decided that I was going to read 10 “classic” works. Looking at my list, I had three that could easily fall into that category: The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran, Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell, and To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Seven more to go. I could do this.
Over Christmas, good luck smiled upon me. On Lovely Wife’s side of the family, the adults draw names for gifts. From my brother-in-law, I received a $25 dollar gift card to Barnes and Noble. What a perfect gift. Yesterday I made my mini-pilgrimage and picked up four books. One relatively short: The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger; Two “regular” sized: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, and Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson; and one long one: The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo. So that makes seven. Somewhere in the next seven months I also plan to read an epic novel. Yup, that one. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy. If that was accomplished, that would leave two more to go. In case of a time crunch, I already have a plan: The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway, and Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck. If I finish and have plenty of time to spare, I can revert back to my original goal.
Perhaps it is interesting to note that while you may not have been able to tell me who wrote Liberty or Blockade Billy, I’d be willing to wager that you didn’t need me to tell you who wrote most if not all of my classic selections. Hmmm.
Anyway, wish me luck. I’ll keep you posted.
- Confession of a Book Lover (reclaimingryan.com)