It’s probably fairly obvious that I’m a keen reader.
What might be less obvious is that I’m a bit of an insane reader. After all, what sane person decides to read a list of 1001 books to read before you die?
Admittedly, it is a little prescriptive. It’s certainly not all I read- that would mean I never again experience the awesomeness of happening across an amazing read. That would be quite the loss, especially considering some of the awfulness it’s recommended I read.
I mean, I don’t think I’m ever going to understand why it was I ‘needed’ to read either John Banville, J.M. Coetzee, or Iain Sinclair. All three of those authors left me thoroughly cold and disinterested. It might be that I didn’t give any of them enough of a chance- but with so many good books out there, I can never see why I should be working away at books. Instead, books need to grab me, or sink their hooks in, or have me slowly fall in love with them.
The best thing about reading through the list is that without even having yet read 100 books on it, I’ve already discovered a fair few authors that I now love. Many of those I’m not sure I ever would have read otherwise. I’m absolutely loving the way it’s broadening the range of what I read.
For example, I very much doubt that whilst skimming titles, and synopses at the library or bookshop, that Rose Tremain’s novels would have appealed at all. That’s a shame, because whilst I don’t love her writing, I do very much enjoy it. Zadie Smith’s novels are similar. White Teeth is a book I’m fairly glad I was prompted to read. The character development and interaction was of a quality such that I can most definitely understand the reason for the recommendation.
It’s also incredibly useful for making myself read those books that ‘you always meant to read, one day’.
The Shipping News is a book that falls under this category, to a large extent. After enjoying Brokeback Mountain, I’d intended to pick up a Proulx at some point for a good couple of years. If it hadn’t been for its inclusion on the list, I may very well have given up at it’s rather clunky and confusing beginning. Once that was overcome however, it became quite emotionally powerful.
Mostly, I quite like the challenge. I aim to read 24 books from the list each year, and very nearly managed that last year. So far this year, I’m only on my second, so obviously I have some catching up to do already!