As a kid, I was a voracious reader. I wouldn’t go anywhere without a book in my hand. I loved to read so much, that I wouldn’t even stop reading in the car after dark… I’d just try to get glimpses of the words under the streetlamps. (Perhaps this contributed to my needing glasses at the age of 8?) We had reading contests in elementary school where you and your parents had to keep track of all the pages that you read during a certain period. I always crushed everyone else (although it was usually a class reward at the end, so I don’t think my classmates minded). My teachers never questioned my parents when they wrote that I had read 50, 100 pages a night as a kid. Even at 8 or 9, I could knock out an entire Babysitters Club book in one evening.
However, once I hit high school and we had so much assigned reading, I strayed away from books. They weren’t fun for me anymore. Sure, I’ve read a few books for pure leisure now and then since then, but number of books I have read — without being assigned — since I hit my teen years is just pathetic, especially compared to how much I loved reading as a kid.
Anyway, I’ve decided to create a reading challenge for myself based upon the Radcliffe Publishing Course’s list of the century’s (20th century, obviously) top 100 novels. If you go to that website, you’ll see that there are actually two other “Top 100” lists there — the Modern Library Board’s list and the “Readers’ List.” Well, one look at the “Readers’ List” makes me wonder who the heck actually cast the votes because four of the top ten were by Ayn Rand and three were by L. Ron Hubbard. It was not hard to decide that was NOT the list I was going to choose. However, I will admit that part of the reason I chose the Radcliffe list over the Modern Library list was because I’ve read more of the Radcliffe ones — 7 or 8 compared to 14. So, it may seem like cheating to start with the list where I’ve already read more, but the first two books on the Radcliffe list are two of my favorite books of all time. That right there sold me. And I will be making myself re-read all the ones I’ve read before, even the ones I didn’t really enjoy the first time.
I’m debating whether I should re-read them in order, or rather reverse order so I end with the best, or just pick up whatever looks most interesting. I think I’ll try to do some combination of the two — start with books that are generally lower on the list and work my way up, but not necessarily require myself to do them in strict order. I’ll keep a link to this entry somewhere on my sidebar and I’ll update as to my progress. I expect it to be quite slow… remember, I’m trying to make myself love reading again here. I don’t want it to backfire if I feel like I have to read one a week or whatever. I’m thinking it’ll actually take me a few years to get through this, but hopefully I will pick up speed as I go along. And anyone who is daring enough to try to do this along with me, let me know. I’d love the support. :-)