For Christmas in 2016, a good friend gave me a book called 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die (edited by Peter Boxall, published by Universe, revised and updated 2010 edition). I read an average of 60 books a year – for fun, work, and school – so I did some quick math and told her, “You just gave me a 20 year challenge!”
Challenge accepted. Though I wouldn’t be surprised if that was a gross underestimation and it actually takes me closer to 30 or 40 years!
Thanks to my high school AP English course, an undergraduate major in Language Arts, and seven years of teaching middle and high school English, I had read 79 of the books on the list before receiving this gift-challenge. One of the indexes lists the titles in alphabetical order. So I gave myself an easy challenge in 2017 – read one book from each of the letters for which I had zero books read. I read books for letters K, Q, U, V, Y, and Z.
In 2018, I am challenging myself to read 26 books on the list – one for each letter of the alphabet. That means 2 books a month with the 2 extras thrown into the summer break (or perhaps hastily crammed in at the end of December, depending on how the year goes).
To have even more fun with the challenge, I’m making this blog. For each book, I’ll blog my thoughts in at least 26 sentences, each with a key word in alphabetical order. Thus, I’ll have my ABCs for each book. Although I may not be able to restrain myself from critical commentary due to my English teacher background, these ABCs won’t be strictly reviews. I’ll also write about my experiences while reading and tangential thoughts ignited by words or phrases in the text.
I get some of my inspiration for this from The Shelf from LEQ to LES by Phyllis Rose. Rose chose a shelf at a lending library she frequents and read every book, then wrote and collected essays about her reading experience, which often included research about the book’s author and critical reception. This blog won’t be as scholarly as that book, but I wanted to give a shout out anyway.
I’ll aim to post every 2nd and 4th Friday.
First book up: The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton.
Blog reader questions: What reading challenge did you accomplish in 2017? What reading challenge are you giving yourself for 2018?