Reading Challenge

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 — 14 compared to 7 or 8.  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 update this list with 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. :-)

Stephanie’s Super Awesome Reading Challenge…
I’ll be crossing off the books as I read them. I have read some before, but they will not get crossed off until I have re-read them. My goal is to get through all 100 books… eventually. (Obviously, I will read some books not on this list during the same time.)
1. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
2. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
3. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
4. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
5. The Color Purple by Alice Walker
6. Ulysses by James Joyce
7. Beloved by Toni Morrison
8. The Lord of the Flies by William Golding
9. 1984 by George Orwell
10. The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
11. Lolita by Vladmir Nabokov
12. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
13. Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
14. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce
15. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
16. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
17. Animal Farm by George Orwell
18. The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
19. As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
20. A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway
21. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
22. Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne
23. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
24. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
25. Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
26. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
27. Native Son by Richard Wright
28. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey (6/22/08)
29. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
30. For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway
31. On the Road by Jack Kerouac
32. The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
33. The Call of the Wild by Jack London
34. To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf
35. Portrait of a Lady by Henry James
36. Go Tell it on the Mountain by James Baldwin
37. The World According to Garp by John Irving
38. All the King’s Men by Robert Penn Warren
39. A Room with a View by E.M. Forster
40. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
41. Schindler’s List by Thomas Keneally
42. The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton
43. The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand
44. Finnegans Wake by James Joyce
45. The Jungle by Upton Sinclair
46. Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
47. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum
48. Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D.H. Lawrence
49. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
50. The Awakening by Kate Chopin
51. My Antonia by Willa Cather
52. Howards End by E.M. Forster
53. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
54. Franny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger
55. The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie
56. Jazz by Toni Morrison
57. Sophie’s Choice by William Styron
58. Absalom, Absalom! by William Faulkner
59. A Passage to India by E.M. Forster
60. Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton
61. A Good Man Is Hard to Find by Flannery O’Connor
62. Tender Is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald
63. Orlando by Virginia Woolf
64. Sons and Lovers by D.H. Lawrence
65. Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe
66. Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut
67. A Separate Peace by John Knowles
68. Light in August by William Faulkner
69. The Wings of the Dove by Henry James
70. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
71. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
72. A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams (1/27/08)
73. Naked Lunch by William S. Burroughs
74. Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh
75. Women in Love by D.H. Lawrence
76. Look Homeward, Angel by Thomas Wolfe
77. In Our Time by Ernest Hemingway
78. The Autobiography of Alice B. Tokias by Gertrude Stein
79. The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett (2/2011)
80. The Naked and the Dead by Norman Mailer
81. Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys
82. White Noise by Don DeLillo
83. O Pioneers! by Willa Cather
84. Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller
85. The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells
86. Lord Jim by Joseph Conrad
87. The Bostonians by Henry James
88. An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser
89. Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather
90. The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
91. This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald
92. Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
93. The French Lieutenant’s Woman by John Fowles
94. Babbitt by Sinclair Lewis
95. Kim by Rudyard Kipling
96. The Beautiful and the Damned by F. Scott Fitzgerald
97. Rabbit, Run by John Updike
98. Where Angels Fear to Tread by E.M. Forster
99. Main Street by Sinclair Lewis
100. Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie


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