Do you make New Years Resolutions? I’m always on the fence with them because it seems like they are rarely kept and often trite. Lose weight, save money, read more, be more awesome. We’re really just saying we still want to do better.
I still want to do better. Aside from the usual thoughts of “maybe this year I’ll stop pretending I forgot where the gym is” or “maybe there should be less cake” or “maybe I’ll lose Target’s address instead and save some money” – let’s focus on stuff that feels more in my control and also is more fun. Let’s talk about books!!
I was an English major in college which means I’m suuuuuuper well read and have excellent grammar. Uh huh. You believe me, don’t you?
The truth is, when looking at those lists of “classic books that everyone should read” – I graduated college with like five of those under my belt at best. I could cop out and say, “but I was a writing & communications major” but the truth is, yeah, it’s kinda ridiculous. I’ve since then tackled a lot of classics (some Austen, L.M. Montgomery, Louisa May Alcott and others that I’ve already forgotten but I swear I’ve read them) but there are still a lot of titles that I come across and go “MAN I WANT TO READ THAT! HOW HAVE I NOT READ THAT YET???”
Anyway, it’s one thing to talk the talk, but quite another to walk the walk. I can say, “I’m going to read tons more classics next year,” but how do I actually make it happen? A blogging friend is joining The Classics Club next year where you attempt to read 50 classics in 5 years but that seems like a really long commitment and they want you to like map out the 50 books you are going to read and presumably stick to the list. Uh huh. That’s happening. I can barely commit to brushing my hair every day – picking 50 classic books right now and saying “THESE ARE THE BOOKS. IT IS FINAL.” is so not going to happen and I know it. Also, I want to be able to bail on this by at least this time next year and not feel like a FAILURE.
But I thought I could at least break that down and try to read 10 classics in 2014.
That seems pretty manageable and who knows, maybe I’ll keep it up for the next 5 years and get to 50 after all, but if the internet dies before then or I lose interest, no biggie. Looking over my reading habits for the past few years, I tend to read a little more than 30 books every year (this year I’ve finished 35 so far), though granted a lot of them are more like novellas than novels, but realistically this would mean 11 book club titles, 10 classic titles and then 9-14 purely personal choices (i.e. silly YA books and chick lit titles). That’s totally reasonable, I think. In theory. Heck, it can’t hurt to try!
So if I’m going to read 10 classics next year, what will they be? The first 6 are actually already decided. I decided to join the Motherhood & Jane Austen Book Club at Gidget Goes Home. They’ll be reading all six Austen novels over the course of 2014 – a couple of which I’ve already read but thought it would be fun to re-read because, um, Austen? Yeah.
The other 4 books will be some combination of:
The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde – I have been saying, “I really need to read that!” for at least eight years now – even my husband read it after hearing me blather on about it for a few years and he LOVED it. What is taking me so long? Sometimes I think my brain goes, “Oh if hubby has already done it, then I don’t need to,” like reading a book can be compared to taking out the trash. Done & done – no need to do it twice. But, um, contrary to popular speculation, we don’t actually share one brain so I still haven’t read the book even though he has. Crazy, right?
The Complete Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle – see sorry excuses above. My desire to read this is all the more heightened by Benedict Cumberbatch’s series on BBC and the whole I AM SHERLOCKED of it all. And let’s not forget Robert Downey Jr, as if such a thing were possible.
Emily of New Moon by L.M. Montgomery – I read almost all of the Anne books obsessively over the last couple years and the logical next step would be to try the Emily of New Moon books, that a friend of mine says are EVEN BETTER. Could such a thing be possible? I must find out.
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain – Hemingway said American fiction begins and ends with Huck Finn – and I liked Tom Sawyer as a kid, at least I liked the movie (fine, I liked Jonathan Taylor Thomas). But hey, when someone calls a book The Great American Novel, it seems like it might be worth reading and this one isn’t 8 million pages and it’s available for free on my kindle.
Mary Poppins by P.L. Travers – With the new movie coming out with Tom Hanks playing Walt Disney trying to make Mary Poppins happen, my interest has been piqued anew. I LOVED this movie growing up, still love it, and I’d love to read the books. This one is a little less of a sure thing though compared to the others because I don’t own it and it’s not free on the kindle, unlike most of the other books on my list.
Dracula by Bram Stoker – How perfect would this be to curl up with in October 2014? The Original Vampire Story – I feel like it is probably required for me to read this at some point, why not next year?
The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson – If I’m crunched for time this October and can’t make Dracula happen, maybe I’ll read this one instead? Also free on the kindle and only 92 pages – and every bit as much of a cult classic as Dracula, really.
1984 by George Orwell – For someone who is such a big fan of dystopian fiction, it is bordering on absurd that I still haven’t read this so it’s also on the list though I feel like I’ve tried to read it a million times and gotten bored after the first paragraph, I’d love to give it a fair chance in 2014.
See, what I mean? I am pressed to name 4 books and name 8 instead, and if you know me – you know that I might choose 4 other classic titles instead. But after browsing through goodreads.com and Amazon.com, these eight are my highest non-Austen contenders. And let’s be honest – if I manage to read even 5 classics in 2014, I’ll still be pretty happy because that will be 5 more classics under my belt than I have now. And at the end of the day, any day of “good behavior” or “progress” is a good day even if you never meet your end goal, it doesn’t make those good days any less significant.
Wishing you all many significantly good days of progress in 2014!
What are some classic books that you’ve been meaning to read?
What are some of your favorites?