tripping the life unbalanced

Sunday, January 08, 2006

my 50 book challenge

I have seen some New Years resolutions making their way across the blogging world this past week, and have been thinking about how to throw my own hat into the ring. It has to be something that I will REALLY do, as my modus operandi the past few years has been to come up with an elaborate plan, spend time and energy crafting the ways in which it will play out, and then never following through. But this year, I think I have finally come up with something that is workable for me. So therefore, I introduce to you my 50 book challenge for 2006. And if, in 5 months, I fail miserably, you can point at me and laugh.

Many fellow bloggers have been working on different carnations of this challenge over the past few years - in basic terms, it means to read 50 books in the year and then blog about them. One of the great gaps in my present life is reading books that have commanded recent attention (either by their presence on "notable book" lists or somehow in the realm of popular culture). This gap is due mainly because a) trying to keep up with good books these days is almost next to impossible when a energetic toddler requires constant attention on the weekends and b) I am lazy. Mainly it is the latter.

So here's my plan: through a very non-scientific research methodology, I compiled a list of 50 notable books from 2005. I combined lists from the NY Times, Village Voice, Times London, Giller, GGs, Orange Prize, Booker, Amazon Editors' top 50, and so on and so on. There were some obvious repeats. I put all 50 books on my hold request list at my local library and now I will wait to see what comes in first. As each book comes in, I will try to finish it within the week and then document my thoughts. I tried to get a decent enough cross-section of fiction and non-fiction, and writers from across the globe. A few are not actually from 2005, but somehow came up either in pop culture talks or amongst my own friends and therefore I have included them here.

This is not a fail-safe plan - I am aware of that (what if a bunch of books come in at once?) It is a push in a positive direction for me, though, and hopefully a return to reading something worthwhile instead of watching Law And Order: SVU repeats on tv.

And herein lies the list:

1. A Million Little Pieces by James Frey
2. The Accidental by Ali Smith
3. Adrian Mole and the weapons of mass destruction by Sue Townsend
4. Alligator - a novel by Lisa Lynne
5. The Ballad of Lee Cotton by Christopher P. Wilson
6. Can't Stop Won't Stop - a history of the hip-hop generation by Jeff Chang
7. Cloud Atlas: A Novel by David Mitchell
8. Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life: volume one by Amy Krouse Rosenthal
9. Envy by Kathyrn Harrison
10. Epileptic by David B.
11. Everything Is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran
12. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran
13. Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt
14. Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
15. The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
16. The Golden Spruce: A True Story of Myth, Madness, and Greed by John Vaillant
17. Goodnight Nobody by Jennifer Weiner
18. The Harmony Silk Factory by Tash Aw
19. The History Of Love by Nicole Krauss
20. I Didn't Do It For You: How A World Betrayed A Small African Nation by Michaela Wrong
21. I Have Chosen To Stay And Fight by Margaret Cho
22. Kafka On the Shore by Haruki Murakami
23. Liberation: A Novel by Joanna Scott
24. A Long Long Way by Sebastion Barry
25. A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby
26. Luck by Joan Barfoot
27. Lunar Park by Bret Easton Ellis
28. Mark Twain: A Life by Ron Powers
29. My Friend Leonard by James Frey
30. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
31. Old School: A Novel by Tobias Wolff
32. One with Nineveh: Politics, Consumption, and the Human Future
by Paul R. Ehrlich and Anne Ehrlich
33. Outwitting History: The Amazing Adventures of a Man Who Rescued a Million Yiddish Books
by Aaron Lansky
34. The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood
35. A Perfect Night To Go To China by David Gilmour
36. The Plot Against America by Philip Roth
37. Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld
38. Saturday by Ian McEwan
39. Saving Fish From Drowning by Amy Tan
40. The Scorpion's Gate by Richard A. Clarke
41. The Sea by John Banville
42. A Tale of Love And Darkness by Amos Oz
43. The Tender Bar: A Memoir by J.R. Moehringer
44. The Time In Between by David Bergen
45. Tulia: Race, Cocaine, and Corruption in a Small Texas Town
by Nate Blakeslee
46. Veronica by Mary Gaitskill
47. A Wall of Light by Edeet Ravel
48. We Need To Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver
49. Where God Was Born: A Journey By Land to the Roots of Religion by Bruce S. Feiler
50. The Year Of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion


  • WOW. Reading - one thing. Reading and blogging about them - another. I wish you luck, and am doing my best cheer (wearing a totally awesome cheerleader outfit right out of Bring It On, and I totally would date that girl's punk rock loving brother if I were Kirsten Dunst).

    By Blogger Marla, at 3:58 p.m.  

  • Hey I have some of these books here in my possesion thanks to Random House pal. Kazuo Ishiguro and The Golden Spruce. You are welcome to borrow them and whatever else I get over the year. I'll lend them to you next time I see you.

    By Blogger scarbie doll, at 1:58 p.m.  

  • Ooo, good list! I have Joan Barfoot, Freakonomics and We Need to Talk About Kevin on my (much less official)list, too. And I just finished The Penelopiad and am reading A Long Way Down. Looking forward to hearing your opinions!

    By Blogger DaniGirl, at 12:33 p.m.  

  • i think "we need to talk about kevin" is one of the best books i have ever read. seriously. i think it should be manadtory reading.

    i'm always looking for good stuff to read so thanks for your list! it has given me some great ideas!


    By Blogger snarkylicious, at 4:13 p.m.  

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