I’ve been making Readolutions for as long as I can remember, but my handwritten reading lists have been lost. It wasn’t until 2003 that I started to make the lists on the computer rather than crouched on the floor next to the bookcases, scribbling furiously, certain that the year ahead would hold twice the reading time as the year that had just passed.
The handwritten lists had to be redone many times, strikeouts and inserts abounding; the delete key and the magic of cut-and-paste made me wonder why I hadn’t started using the computer for my Must Read Lists years ago. Despite the enduring charm of pen and paper list-making, the computer made it possible to start with a list of 200 books and winnow down with single keystrokes. And it’s awfully nice to have copies of my older lists stored in tidy typeface on the screen, safer in virtual folders than scraps of paper tucked in notebooks squirreled away in unpredictable burrows.
So the list-making is an old habit but, as the years passed, my lists got longer, and then I adopted other people’s lists, and then I joined too many bookclubs (which came with their own lists) until, finally, in recent years I started to wonder if the lists (as fun as it was to make them at the start of a Reading Year) weren’t taking some of the fun out of reading.
So in 2008 I took the list out of the equation and just made the general readolution that I would focus on kidlit (which led to 28 young adult and children’s titles) but even that had started to feel a little like work as the year went on, so last year was The Year of Reading Fungerously: a lot of fun fiction and a lot of random library loans that definitely weren’t on any lists. Not on anybody’s lists, really, and certainly not on mind.
But this year I’m ready for list-making once more, although my list is short and practical. The first item might suggest otherwise, but I started reading War and Peace last September, a co-read with a friend who’s re-reading along with me, so I do want to finish that, and have two other classics in mind as well. Click the Continue link if you’d like to see my 2010 list.
1. Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace (1865-67)
2. Anthony Trollope’s The Warden (1855)
3. Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the D’Urbervilles (1891)
Snapshot of Canlit I’ve Missed, 1994:
4. Elisabeth Vonarburg’s Reluctant Voyagers (1994)
5. Hiromi Goto’s Chorus of Mushrooms (1994)
6. M.G. Vassanji’s The Book of Secrets (1994)
7. Winifred Holtby’s South Riding (1936)
8. Paule Marshall’s Brown Girl Brownstones (1959)
9. Dorothy West’s The Wedding (1995)
10. Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs and Steel (1997)
11. Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma (2006)
12. Raj Patel’s The Value of Nothing (2009)