Over at 1% Well-Read Challenge they have set up a reading dare that I found very enticing. It is built around the book 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die, which I ran out and bought and highly recommend to anyone who loves to read widely. It’s richly illustrated and gives fascinating tidbits and short plot synopsis for 1001 books. Oh sure, if you read the reviews on Amazon and other places on the net you’ll see a lot of grumbling that they didn’t include this book or that, but ignore such whining because overall, editor Peter Boxall included an amazing line-up of stories to get to know. I’m now reading through this rather massive volume trying to select the perfect 10 books I’d like to read for the challenge. The challenge is rather simple – read 1% – that is 10 books in 10 months. You can see the list of titles here.
When I get the time, and I’m afraid I say this much too often and never find the time, I’m going to set up a web site for general books like I set up for science fiction. My Classics of Science Fiction created a recommended reading list by finding 28 sources of recommendation, building a cross-tabulation database of all the titles and then deciding that any book that had been on 6 or more of the 28 sources would make my Classics of Science Fiction list. I would use 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die as one of the sources for a Classic Books to Read web site.
Since I started blogging I’ve discovered the concept of the reading challenge, which is a fun blogging activity. Over at A Striped Armchair, Eva seems to be the queen of reading challenges, and you can find a lot of good information there. I don’t have Eva’s ability to read so many books quickly, so I think I’ll start out slow and just stick to this one challenge for awhile, but if you’re a bookworm, I bet they’re addictive. Although scanning down Eva’s right hand column makes me want to bite off a lot more than my eyes can chew reading-wise.
One reason this reading challenge is so enticing is because of the reading rut I’m in. I read all the time, but I seem to be going through a period of less than stellar books. I’m finding plenty to read, even very good books, but few books this year have really jazzed my mind. The last was The Road by Cormac McCarthy back in January. That’s the thing about being a jaded bookworm – reading is only as exciting as your last great book. I want every novel to go nova in my brain. And when I finish that explosion I hunger for a book that will go supernova.
Then I’m willing to back off and read some gentle books for awhile, maybe some nice informative non-fiction, or even a crappy guilty-pleasure novel, but eventually, the gnawing returns and I need another nova level fix. That’s where I’m at right now. I want something that will make every white blood cell tango in my veins and give me a reading fever. As every bookworm knows, unless a book makes you willing to give up food, sleep and sex and contort you body for hours clutching a tome until it hurts, then it’s not much of a page turner.
Scan the list and let me know of any that have blown your mind. I’m looking for 10 Supernova Books!
[The New York Times just reviewed 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die as “Volumes to Go Before You Die” and it is an excellent supplement to the book.]