I’ve been struggling with this book list lately. I had every intention of having it up and going by the beginning of May at the latest, but I’m still having problems bringing it down to a manageable size.
Currently, the full list sits at just barely under 600 items – far too many for me to reasonably attempt to read in a year, even if I wasn’t working and could devote all of my time to reading. Especially considering that some of these books are very, very long (War and Peace, Ulysses, David Copperfield, most of the science fiction and fantasy, to name but a few).
So I’ve been weeding the list. I’ve crossed off the books I’ve read since graduating from high school. For authors who have several books appearing on the list, I’ve chosen one that will be kept on my list (the others likely to be read later, especially if I actually enjoy said author). For the big names, I’ve tried to keep their most well-known work, but that is sometimes really difficult (F. Scott Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Dickens, Dostoevsky, D. H. Lawrence in particular were tricky). I’ve also deleted any picture books for kids that made the list, and chose to remove the non-fiction books that were on the ALA list of challenged books because they were about human sexuality in some form. Not that these books aren’t worthy of being read, just that I had to do something to get this list under control!
For other authors, more… material… concerns made the decision. I love buying books and supporting good causes, so every year, I spend some time (and more money than I mean to!) buying books at the Children’s Hospital Book Market. I tend to buy books that are nice looking (hardcovers, quality printings) – ones that I could never afford to buy new – and ones that I think I should read. So, there are quite a few authors on my list whose work of choice is just going to be the one that I own.
For a couple of authors, I’ve left more than one book on the list. This is usually because the books are ones that are a) relatively short, and b) ones that I’ve been meaning to/wanting to read for a long time. Or, at least, ones that I cannot believe that I didn’t read when I was younger (Judy Blume is one of these authors). Other times, it’s because I really don’t know how to choose one book (usually because I’m not familiar with the author), and plan on making my decision based on what’s available in the library when I go. This is the case mostly with the books I took from a list that a friend of mine gave me, who reads a lot more contemporary French books than I do (my reading in French has usually been school-based, and tends towards the classics that I have so studiously avoided in English).
To facilitate my final decision-making, I plan on checking the library to make sure that these books are part of their collection before I finalize this list – it makes my task a little easier if I know I have access to these books without having to buy all of them. With the exception of titles that were known to me (and that I’ve wanted to read for a while), if I can’t get the book from the library, it is likely to be dropped from the list. That will be the primary reason why an author whose name is on the long (very very long) list will disappear from my final list. I already know of one that will be gone, and I’m hoping there won’t be too many more, but that’s work for another day.
Right now, as it is sunny and (relatively) warm for the first time in over a week, I’m going outside.